As a resident advisor, you likely have heard your department talk about assessment. What in the world do they mean when they say assessment? University housing assessment is a process where the university evaluates and gathers feedback from students about their experiences living on campus. It helps the university make improvements to housing services and policies to ensure a better and safer environment for students like you who live on campus. You likely have been asked to submit data to your department for assessment purposes. If you are reading this saying, no I haven’t…want to know my personal opinion? Everything that you submit to your department is actually data that could be used for assessment. Your duty logs and incident reports? Amazing data to understand if a department is effectively keeping their community safe and secure. Your attendance sheet from a program? A great data set to see the frequency of attendance (or to understand dollars spent per student if you also turn in a budget request). Morale of the story, almost everything can be data that can be used for assessment.
Why Are We Doing This?
While you might not always see the results of assessment efforts; your role as a data collector is crucial to the success of your department! You filling out that form for your intentional interaction may feel like a pain, but that information is necessary to help your department improve the residential experience, advocate for campus resources, and maybe even provide outreach to a student in crisis. Here are a few ways I have seen data provided by resident advisors used in housing departments:
Improving Resident Experience
Data allows the housing department to gather feedback from residents about their living experiences. This feedback can help identify areas where improvements are needed, such as maintenance issues, safety concerns, or services that need enhancement. By addressing these issues, which is brought to the departments attention by you entering your data, the department can enhance the overall quality of life for residents
Housing departments often have limited resources, including budgets and staff. The data you provide helps in prioritizing resource allocation. By identifying the most critical needs and areas requiring attention, the department can allocate resources more efficiently to address these issues, ensuring a better living environment for residents. Assessment data can have very real world consequences in decision making at the university.
Policy Development and Revision
Effective policies are essential for maintaining a positive and safe living environment. The data you submit provides valuable insights into whether existing policies are effective or need revision. For instance, if a policy regarding quiet hours is consistently violated, the department may need to revisit and adjust it based on resident feedback and behavior.
Ensuring Safety and Security
Security is a top priority in university housing. Data helps identify safety concerns and security vulnerabilities. By evaluating the effectiveness of security measures and understanding residents’ perceptions of safety, the housing department can make informed decisions to enhance security and emergency response protocols. You entering your incident reports is a form of data collection here.
Retention and Recruitment
A positive housing experience can influence a student’s decision to stay at the university and can be a factor in recruiting new students. Assessment data can provide valuable insights into why students choose to live on-campus or why they may choose to leave. This information helps the housing department tailor its services to better meet the needs of both current and prospective residents.
As a resident advisor, your input and involvement in assessment activities can contribute to creating a better living environment for your fellow students. While we can see the great lessons and stories that data can tell us, we also need to make sure we are being effective and accurate with the data we are inputting into RoomPact. The story we can tell and the decisions we can make are only as good as the data we have. Having data and information that is accurate is known as data integrity. A department’s goal is to have accurate and complete data to make our decisions off of, you are an integral part of that process!
How Can You Help?
How can you help the department, your supervisor, and your team have the most accurate and complete data possible? Here are a few recommendations:
Get Your Forms Completed As Soon As Possible
Do you ever sit down toward the end of your day and struggle to remember what you had for dinner the night before? It happens, our brains are overloaded with information, especially while in college, and it cannot hold on to everything for us easily. There has been some research published that shows that there may be a connection between the stress and fatigue people undergo in college resulting in a negative impact on their working memory (your brain’s ability to retain information and recall it in the short-term). While this research was around pharmacy students, translating those findings to another group of stressed and fatigued students (like Resident Advisors) isn’t a far stretch. Let’s remove some of that mental burden and get into the habit of completing RoomPact forms as soon as possible. Like…same day or while the task is actually happening. For example, does your department do duty logs in RoomPact? Fill out that form while you are completing your duty round. Talk with your supervisor, since they might have some different expectations, but the sooner you can submit your forms the less likely you are to put in inaccurate information due to forgetting.
Be Specific and Accurate In The Information You Provide
This includes being both specific in what information you put into your forms and also making sure you are filling out the correct form. Be mindful, what is put into a form is what is considered the reality about what happened. However, sometimes the information can raise some eyebrows. For example, I have seen forms submitted where a duty round lasted 11 hours and others that went backwards in time 715 minutes. Other rounds had 0 minutes in their length. Also, when 75% of the duty rounds took exactly 30 minutes starting at the top of the hour and ending exactly 30 minutes later…it makes me wonder what the chances of this information being accurate are. Data like this makes it difficult for a department to advocate for their resident advisor, since we don’t have the accurate data to back up the work you are doing. You adding in accurate data about the work you are doing helps your department advocate for you!
Here are a few things to keep in mind while filling out forms:
Do Not Round Your Information: 9:04PM is different from 9:00PM, 7 attendees is different from 10 attendees. Be specific about the numbers and times you are putting into your forms, please don’t round. Pay attention to AM/PM parts of your times too!
Double Check Before Hitting Submit: Errors will happen from time to time, this is completely normal! Double checking all of the information you are submitting before you hit submit can save you from having to edit submissions. If you do notice an error after submitting, please edit your submissions to fix it.
Wrapping It Up
As a resident advisor, you play a crucial role in the assessment process within the university housing department. Assessment is not just a buzzword; it’s a way for your department to gather valuable data and feedback to improve the residential experience for all students. Your contributions are essential for accurate data collection. Remember, your attention to detail and timeliness in submitting data is essential for maintaining data integrity, which helps your department advocate for you, your fellow resident advisors, and your campuses residential student. So, keep up the excellent work, and know that your efforts make a significant impact on campus living!