Roompact’s “Quick Tips” series highlights ideas and suggestions you can put into your practice as either a professional staff or student staff member working in residence life and education. Click to read more from the series.
Many departments utilize intentional conversations as an educational strategy. Intentional conversations are, as their name suggests, touch points between a resident and a peer leader that are timed and designed to help students develop and work through issues they may be confronting. When attempting to assess the effectiveness of these conversations, it can sometimes be difficult due to their qualitative nature. Here are three tips for assessing your conversations:
1. Determine what is useful to know and how you will use it.
Don’t collect data just for the sake of collecting data. Have a plan on how you will use it and what you will use it for. Take time to reflect on why you have intentional conversations and what you hope they will achieve. This will help you identify the data you need to determine your effectiveness and to provide further follow up support to residents. The goal is to not create more work for staff members. Have them focus on the goals and only collect data that you will actually use.
2. Ask for “hashtags” or “qualitative codes.”
Consider developing a consistent set of keywords or tags that denote topics or goal areas that arise in your intentional conversations. These tags could include topics like: homesickness, academic difficulty or success, developing multicultural competence, involvement, etc. With this data, a professional staff member can review notes and codes, run frequencies, and look for emergent themes. These themes can include common issues, struggles, or successes that students may be experiencing. They can also be compared agains other data sets for triangulation.
When explaining to student staff members how to “code” their conversations, it may be easier to refer to them as “hashtags.” Many student staff members are exposed to hashtags in their social media use. These codes function in a similar way.
3. Consider using rubrics.
Rubrics are tools that allow for the evaluation of student learning and development across a continuous scale. If written appropriately, rubrics can provide very concrete evidence to watch out for when speaking with a student. At the end of a conversation, a staff member can record where a student is on a rubric scale. Then, if using a pre-test/post-test type design, you can ask the questions again in a later conversation to check for movement. A student should be able to move through the successive stages over the course of their time in residence. This type of data can also be used to evaluate departmental learning outcomes to gauge if they are reasonably achievable by students, or if they are too ambitious or not ambitious enough.
Roompact provides a number of tools to help with intentional conversation tracking and assessment. Forms can be used for data collection, Resident Profiles, Timelines, and Notes can be used to coordinate follow-up, and Hub posts surface notifications for quick action. Reach out to us to find out more ways we can help!