Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches

These resources are a part of our ongoing efforts to share research and insights into developing a residential curriculum. While these materials may help in providing a broad understanding what a curriculum entails, the ACPA Institute on the Curricular Approach, ICA, (formerly the Residential Curriculum Institute, RCI) goes through step-by-step detail into how to enact these principles in your work. Our staff member, Paul Gordon Brown, also offers workshops and other consultative services related to a residential curriculum. Roompact is a proud sponsor of the Institute on the Curricular Approach and is its official software partner.

The residential curriculum model, currently referenced as the curricular approach, was born out of original work created at the University of Delaware and cultivated as an in-person professional development event/Institute by ACPA. Over the years, ACPA Institute faculty have continued to develop and refine the curricular approach and its components for the Institute.  As a result, the intellectual property rights for the residential curriculum model, curricular approach, and related Institutes belongs to ACPA and to the University of Delaware. It is expected that individuals and institutions not reproduce or re-purpose any content from the Institute in whole or in part, whether for profit or not, without the advance, express written permission of ACPA-College Student Educators International. If additional permissions are needed for intellectual property, ACPA will consult with the University of Delaware and/or Institute faculty as appropriate.

eBooks on Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches:

Roompact offers a number of eBooks related to curricular development and residence life and education. Written by Dr. Paul Gordon Brown, and sponsored by Roompact, we make these freely available to everyone and encourage folks to utilize and share these widely. The following eBooks on residential curriculum and curricular approaches provide you with definitions, instructions, and review materials to aid you in your educational work on campus.

Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches Book Downloads

Posts About the 10 Essential Elements of a Residential Curriculum:

Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approach Q&A Series

Case Studies:

Further Reading on Developing a Residential Curriculum or Curricular Approach:

Publications on Developing a Residential Curriculum or Curricular Approach:

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles:

About Curricular Approaches:

Reference Curricular Approaches:

Contain Sub-Sections on Curricular Approaches:

Research on the Curricular Approach:

  • Organizational Perspective On Implementing The Residential Curriculum Approach: An Ethnographic Case Study by Hilary L. Lichterman. This qualitative descriptive case study describes how one, mid-size, co-educational residence life department in the Midwestern region of the United States adopted the residential curriculum approach… Research questions for the study address changes that occurred in the residence life unit when adopting the residential curriculum approach, participants’ perceptions of positives and challenges in the transition to the approach, and how residence life staff characterize their experience of adopting the approach. Findings reflect that institutional values influence the design of educational practices and tools and that participants reported positive experiences and challenges with communication… A new organizational tool incorporating Bolman and Deal’s (2014) four frames is presented. (See also: Lichterman’s Organizational Barometer)
  • Residence Life as Learning Organizations: An Inquiry Into Organizational Elements that Support Integration of the Residential Curriculum by Heather Kropf. This inquiry investigated five residence life curricular model organizations in order to identify common best practices and strategies that can be replicated to support student learning. The findings outline a new model (curricular integration model) and eight critical components in the organizational structure and culture to operationalize the curricular approach; the model can be utilized and adapted for many organizations to support a thriving curricular model.
  • The Influence of Residential Curriculum on First-Year Residential Students in Higher Education by Laura Andrea Sanders. (Requires ProQuest access). The purpose of the study was to determine the extent of first-year student inputs and residential curriculum environments on personal development, community engagement, cultural exploration, and institutional commitment. This research used Astin’s (1993) Input-Environment-Outcome (I-E-O) model to measure how residential curriculum influenced residential students. The Residential Curriculum Survey categorized questions into three sections: pre-college characteristics; college environments students participated in during college (academic, co-curricular, and housing); and outcomes… Significant findings were found for student inputs and college environments for all priorities.
  • Using Inclusion Assistants Within a Residential Curriculum to Improve the Experiences and Success of Historically Marginalized Populations. (ACUHO-I funded research. Requires ACUHO-I access.) In this paper, we explore a campus-wide program implemented to increase the support provided to marginalized students at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) in the Midwest. The inclusion assistants’ program is part of a broader residential curriculum in place at the institution… We found that the inclusion assistant program positively supported marginalized students, as well as students in the majority. We, however, identified challenges that the inclusion assistants faced and provide recommendations that can further improve the inclusion assistant program.

Professional Development Videos:

Institutional Example Videos:

ACPA Institute on the Curricular Approach

Institute on the Curricular Approach / Residential Curriculum Institute:

2019 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

2018 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

2017 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, #ACPARCI 2017 by Erin Simpson (PDF)

2016 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

2014 Institute Social Media Recaps: Day 1 (PDF), Day 2 (PDF), Day 3 (PDF), Reflections on the 2014 Residential Curriculum Institute by Nicolas Babarskis

2013 Institute Social Media Recaps: #ACPARCI 2013 Twitter Recap by ebeeler (PDF)

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Past Institute Showcase Institutions:

  • American University (2010)
  • Appalachian State University (2017)
  • Carleton University (2017, 2018)
  • Central Michigan University (2017, 2018, 2019)
  • Clemson University (2014, 2019)
  • Colorado Mesa University (2012, 2013)
  • Dartmouth College (2009)
  • East Tennessee State University (2016)
  • Eastern Kentucky University (2018)
  • Florida International University (2019)
  • Georgia Southern University (2015)
  • Gettysburg College (2010, 2011)
  • Indiana State University (2014, 2015, 2018, 2019)
  • Indiana University Bloomington (2018)
  • Lehigh University (2013, 2014, 2019) *Divisional
  • Macalester College (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016)
  • Messiah College (2011)
  • New York University (2010, 2015)
  • North Carolina State University (2017)
  • North Dakota State University (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020) *Divisional
  • Northern Illinois University (2011, 2012)
  • Pennsylvania State University (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015)
  • Quinnipiac University (2018)
  • Radford University (2018)
  • St. Lawrence University (2012)
  • Saint Louis University (2011, 2012, 2013)
  • San Jose State University (2020)
  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2018)
  • SUNY Brockport (2011, 2013)
  • SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology (2018)
  • SUNY Geneseo (2019) *Divisional
  • SUNY University of Buffalo (2014, 2018, 2019)
  • Syracuse University (2009)
  • Texas A&M University at Galveston (2020) *Divisional
  • The College of New Jersey (2020)
  • University of Central Florida (2016, 2018, 2019)
  • University of Colorado Boulder (2020)
  • University of Connecticut (2017)
  • University of Dayton (2012, 2015)
  • University of Illinois Springfield (2019) *Divisional
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2016)
  • University of Iowa (2019)
  • University of Kansas (2018) *Divisional
  • University of Kentucky (2019)
  • University of Maryland Baltimore County (2019, 2020)
  • University of Massachusetts-Amherst (2017, 2018)
  • University of Minnesota (2010, 2012, 2013)
  • University of Mississippi (2016)
  • University of New Hampshire (2009, 2014, 2016)
  • University of North Carolina School of Arts (2018) *Divisional
  • University of Oklahoma (2015, 2017, 2018, 2020 *Gender + Equality Center)
  • University of South Carolina (2013, 2015, 2016)
  • University of South Florida (2014, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020)
  • University of St. Thomas (2019, 2020) *Divisional
  • University of Texas at Austin (2019, 2020)
  • University of Utah (2018, 2019)
  • Virginia Tech (2013, 2014)
  • Wesleyan University (2020)
  • West Chester University (2019) *Divisional
  • Western Washington University (2011, 2012, 2020)
  • Whitman College (2009)
  • Wilfrid Laurier University (2017)

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Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approach Examples:

Although there are many schools implementing curricular approaches to residential and student life, detailed information on these approaches can be difficult to find online. The following is a list of schools that have references to curricular frameworks and/or planning documents (including learning goals and outcomes, strategies, lesson plans, etc.) online. Note that these are of varying quality, and although an institution may list or reference a curricular-type frame work, they may not implement a true approach in practice. The links providing the most detail are listed first. Schools with demonstrated student affairs divisional curricula are noted with an asterisk.

Most useful links:

Additional institutions:

Presentations on Residential Curriculum and Curricular Approaches:

The following are presentations on residential curriculum that are publicly available online. The most useful links are in bold.

Student Leader Training and Curricular Approaches:

The following are links provide information on student leader training and curricular approaches including RA training and residential curriculum.