About Univesity of Texas at Dallas
The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) was initially founded as a private research arm of Texas Instruments in 1961 and is a public research university in Richardson, Texas. The university has seven degree-granting colleges and a student body of approximately 32,000 (22,000 undergraduates and 10,000 graduate students). UTD is a a Division III Athletics institution and is classified as a doctoral research University with highest research activity.
Beds On Campus
Providing proactive individualized support to residents is an important strategy for many departments to stay ahead of student crises, rather than reacting to them. In order to be effective at providing this type of proactive support, departments need to be able to track interactions they have, provide follow up support when needed, and empower staff through data and metrics that allow a team to understand how well their efforts are proceeding. Handling large amounts of data, however, can be time consuming. This is where technology can help.
The staff at UT Dallas wanted a way to better track their interactions with residents–both planned and spontaneous. They also wanted a way to provide actionable insights to their staff that was informed by data. By giving supervisors and front line staff tools to handle these efforts more efficiently, they could better serve students and make sure all were receiving the same level of support.
“Utilizing Roompact’s wide array of features has increased the continuity of care when it comes to our student population. Documenting interactions with residents has become routine for both our student and professional staff team. The ability to see a snapshot of a student’s experience on-campus is invaluable and allows staff to address concerns quickly.”
– Cassandra Winland, UT Dallas
To ensure curricular goals are met.
To ensure staff are interacting with residents on a regular basis.
To improve individual student case management.
Comet Connections are UT Dallas’ name for their intentional conversations. Intentional conversations each have specific topical areas staff members should touch on with their residents. UT Dallas utilizes Roompact’s Forms feature to log and tag each conversation. This also allows them to run an Insight Report to see which residents have not been met with, and who have been met with, and how many times. Separate forms are used for each connection conversation and are customized to each:
- First Year Students (4): August/September, October/November, January/February, March/April
- Non-First Year Students (2): Fall, Spring
Roompact 201 Training
Roompact provides a number of training and development opportunities for staff throughout their year. Our 201 Training series includes webinars on special topics and use cases for our software. One of our most popular offerings is our 201 Training on Intentional Conversations.
In addition to the intentional Comet Connections, staff are asked to note any other interactions they’ve had with residents in-between. Each week, student staff complete a weekly report which asks them:
Residents interacted with are tagged in the Weekly Report and a note is left on each resident’s profile detailing the nature of the interaction. There are a number of benefits to this method:
- An Insight Report (Forms – Tag Count – Resident (Selected Form)) can be run to determine how many overall interactions residents have had with staff. An Insight Report (Notes – Frequency Count by Resident) can also be run to determine which students had the most notes, and therefore interactions, and which had the least.
- Notes left on a resident’s profile can allow staff to look up history of individual interactions when needed. This provides better context for conversations with residents when they may be new to a particular staff member. It also helps staff members remember important details about the resident and the support the provide to them.
- All Notes can be exported as a group for analysis or review. When leaving a note, staff also have the option of adding “subject tags” to them. Subject tags act like hashtags denoting a theme in that particular note. A tag could be something like “homesickness” or “struggling academically.” Insights allows you to run reports to find out the frequency of tags used, both overall for campus (Notes – Tag Count) and broken out by building (Notes – Tag Count by Building)
UT Dallas combines their Comet Connections and interactions with a robust plan for completing Roommate Agreements and Suitemate Agreements at the beginning of the year. This increase opportunities to connect with residents.
Use In Supervision
In order to ensure that resident interactions and check-ins weren’t treated as just a “check list” item, the staff at UT Dallas made sure that data sharing and follow up with staff occurred in supervision settings. By engaging in thoughtful supervision meetings, UT Dallas was able to improve the quality of the data they collected.
One of the features of Roompact’s software is the Hub. The Hub is the first screen you come to when logging in and is a “social media” feed of all the actions taken throughout the system. Each staff member’s Hub is customized to them, surfacing only the relevant actions that are happening in their buildings or on their floors. At UT Dallas… supervisors are encouraged to comment on notes left by their staff.
Roompact Insights also allows staff to pull a Staff Engagement report. At a glance, this allows supervisors to see how many notes each staff member has left, how many forms they have filed, and other data. This can help in identifying staff members who may be engaging with residents heavily as well as those that are not.
Closing The Data Loop
UT Dallas makes it a priority to not just collect data, but share it so staff members can make informed decisions and ensure accountability. At regular intervals through the year, staff review their data and discuss ways they can improve. This helps staff members understand the “why” behind certain practices. Examples like the following are shared with staff:
(actual data is fictionalized, but the examples are real)
Insights allows you to take the data collected by Roompact’s software and view it in multiple ways. This powerful feature opens up new avenues for assessment that are limitless. Schools are experimenting with Insights and coming up with new use cases every day.
UT Dallas has already seen some of the advantages of staying on top of their interactions and the more proactive stance they have taken to get ahead of student crises and issues. As they look to the future, they are improving the connection between their practices and their broader curricular goals and outcomes. This includes making these interactions more intentional and focused on helping residents where they need it the most.
Technology adoption and changes in practice also require a cultural and organizational change in the way a department goes about their work. For UT Dallas, this means continuing to support their staff through training on the goals and outcomes of their interactions, and how to utilize Roompact’s software most effectively to scheme these goals. Changing practices takes time, but with a clear idea as to the intended objectives, sharing data, and being transparent and open to feedback, UT Dallas is making progress in their journey.
Suggestions on how you can apply lessons learned from UT Dallas to your own Roompact usage:
- Encourage the use of Staff Notes on residents by asking all student staff to leave a note on each resident’s timeline when they first meet them. This could include personal details they want to remember so they can better connect with the resident. (ex. hometown, major, pet names, etc.)
- Your Roompact Hub provides you with a personalized feed of information about every action happening related to your residents. Utilizing the comment/reply feature allows staff to communicate about those interactions and reinforces that notes and other actions are important. It also encourages staff investment.
- Roompact Insights and other related features allow you to pull and analyze data quickly. Make sure to “close the assessment loop” and share this data with all levels of staff regularly. At staff training or during inservice activities, you can share staff progress towards goals (How many intentional conversations have we completed?) and student trends (Which issues are arising most in specific communities?). By closing this loop, it ensures staff are more informed and can find purpose in their work. This encourages behaviors that will give you even better outcomes in the future.
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