Office of Residence Life

Residential Curriculum


Residential Curriculum Overview

Foundations of the Curriculum

Educational Priority, Goals and Learning Outcomes


Departmental Stategies

RA One-on-One Conversations
Corridor/Community Meetings
Community Standards/Agreements
Bulletin Boards
Roommate Agreements
Community Council
Diversity & Social Justice Programs
Living Learning Community Kick-Offs
Fire Safety Fair & Online Module
Conversations with Documented Students
Only FY Community Strategies

Strategy Development and Lesson Plans

Strategy Evaluation


If you find errors on any page in the manual, let Rob Abowitz know immediately.
Updated July 2011
Residential Curriculum Overview

The Residential Curriculum is the framework upon which we base all of our work in the Office of Residence Life. The Curriculum answers the question, "What do we want students to learn as a result of living in our residential communities?"

All of our staff in ORL are educators who support student learning. The Curriculum outlines what we want student to learn.

The Curriculum is a process that consists of:

  • identifying an educational priority, broad goals and specific learning outcomes
  • identifying and implementing intentional strategies to achieve the priority, goals and learning outcomes
  • assessing students' achievement of the priority, goals and learning outcomes
  • revising the learning outcomes and strategies to be more effective.

Back to top

Foundations of the Curriculum

The development and implementation of the Curriculum is guided by many philosophical foundations. These theories, goals, values, mission and philosophy statements form the backbone of the Curriculum. The foundations include but are not limited to:

  • Miami University Strategic Goals
  • The Goals of the Miami Plan for Liberal Education
  • Learning Partnership Model
  • Student Development Theory
  • Office of Residence Life Mission
  • Office of Residence Life Departmental Values
  • Living Learning Community Mission
  • Appreciative Advising Philosophy
  • Professional Standards and Ethics statements from professional organizations
  • University Mission Statement ("The Engaged University")

No one of the above is dominant over the other. Some are more applicable based on the specific learning outcome and strategy.

Back to top

Educational Priority, Goals and Student Learning Outcomes

In developing the Residential Curriculum a wide array of staff in the Office of Residence Life, answered the question, "What do we want students to learn as a result of living in our residential communities?" Over the course of several years, the responses to that question was narrowed and refined. From those discussions, we derived an overall educational priority, four broad goals, and specific learning outcomes.

Educational Priority
Our educational priority is to enable residents to become citizen leaders and students as engaged scholars within their community.

During the process described above, a long list of things we want student to learn was generated. Each of those items fit well into one of four broad categories, which we have labeled our goals:

  1. academic success
  2. cultural competency
  3. effective community engagement
  4. intrapersonal development.

Learning Outcomes
Once connected to a goal, each item we want our students to learn was further refined into learning outcomes using the following guidelines. Learning outcomes should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable: can we determine if students have achieved the learning outcome?
  • Results from intentional strategies inplemented by our staff: we recognize that students will grow in some ways regardless of what we do. The Curriculum is designed to support only those things that we affect by what we do and how we do it.
  • Understandable: it is more difficult than it might appear to answer the question "What do we want our students to learn as a result of living in our communities?" in ways that are easily understood by all ORL staff. Much energy has been devoted to writing the learning outcomes to make this possible. This process is on-going. For some learning outcomes, some discussion may be necessary to ensure that all ORL staff understand their intent.
  • Student development theory teaches us that students are at various stages of development which affects their learning and future development. For example one must first identify one's beliefs and values before one can refine them, after which one can intentionally integrate them into one's world view.
  • All of the learning outcomes are outlined on the first page of the Residential Curriculum.

To account for the development of residents between years, we organized each learning outcome into one of three tiers. Generally speaking, we believe that traditionally-aged, first-year students moving into our residence halls for the first time will be at the Moving In tier of their development. Generally, students should exhibit the learning outcomes of the Moving Through tier by the end of the second year of college. Finally, students in their third, fourth, and fifth years should exhibit the learning outcomes outlined in the Moving On or Advanced tier of the Residential Curriculum.

To better understand the curriculum and view all the learning outcomes, click here for an electronic copy of Miami University Residential Curriculum.

Back to top


We implement the Residential Curriculum using what we call strategies.

There are many kinds, types, categories of strategies:

  • One on one / conversation (proactive or reactive, formal or informal, always natural)
  • Program/workshop/event/activity (corridor or community-wide, planned, one-time or series)
  • Community/corridor meeting
  • Passive program (bulletin board, newsletter, e-mail)
  • Community council
  • Academic advising
  • University/community event (with intentional reflection)
  • Community standards/agreements
  • Spontaneous initiative
  • Social events/simple recreational programs

Following is a guideline for how staff identify and use a strategy:

  • Identify a need of your students
  • Connect that need with a learning outcome on the Residential Curriculum
  • Develop a strategy to achieve that learning outcome - using a lesson plan
  • Evaluate the strategy - using the on-line strategy evaluation
  • Assess - when possible - if you were effective in achieving the learning outcome
Assessment - How can we tell if our residents are achieving the learning outcomes?

Assessment of learning outcomes can occur at the macro level (institutional research, national surveys, ect) or at the micro level (assessment of individual resident or corridor). Possible means of assessment include:

  • Pre-test /post-test
  • Survey
  • Observed, obvious changed behavior
  • Follow-up discussion
  • None (some outcomes can't be easily measured or will not reveal themselves until later)

One strategy can achieve multiple learning outcomes.
Strategies can be related to your LLC objectives, but do not have to be.
Seek advice from supervisor and peers when needed; heed instructions of supervisor.

Back to top

Departmental Strategies

Most strategies will be developed by advisers and RAs. In some cases, all staff will use common strategies referred to as departmenal strategies. Some departmental strategies are for particular types of communities where appropriate. The lesson plan for many of the departmental strategies has already been written for staff.

RA and Resident One-on-One Conversations
All Resident Assistants will meet one on one with each of their residents four times a year. These one-on-one conversations are meant to build strong rapport with residents while helping residents access resources in an intentional way. A lesson plan has been developed to provide some direction for each of the discussions.

RA One-on-One Lesson Plan - First-Year Students
RA One-on-One Lesson Plan - Upper Class Students

Corridor/Community Meetings
Resident Assistants use Corridor/Community Meetings to build community, assess and meet community needs, plan community events and disseminate information. Following is a set of Lesson Plans for each meeting every RA should conduct.

First Year and Mixed Corridor Meetings
Time Frame/Supplies Needed

University/ORL Expectations

August - Hall Opening Night
Need: Note cards from supervisor; Planned Ice-Breaker, FYI Schedules

Community Agreements Discussion

September - Fourth Week of School
Need: Printed CA Guide

Community Evaluation
& Thanksgiving Break Closing Information

Lesson Plan - Meeting #3
Additional docs from supervisor
Late October/Early November
Need: Printed Comm. Evals

Winter Break Closing Information & Negotiating Parental Relationships

Late November/Early December
Need: Semester closing info; printed article on parents, if applicable

Revisit Comm. Agreements & LLC Selection Information from HDGS

Need: Your Comm. Agreement & Housing Selection from supervisor

Responsible Decision-Making & Spring Break Closing Information

Late February/March
Need: Spring Break Safety Activity & Note cards for assessment activity

Closure Activity & Building Closing Information

Need: Closure Activity


Upper Class Corridor/Community Meetings
Time Frame

Welcome Back
& Intro to Community Standards

Lesson Plan - Meeting #1
Housekeeping Fact Sheet
Academic Goals & Study Groups

August - Hall Opening Night

Community Standards

Second Week of School

Community Evaluation, Career Development, Break Closing Memos

Lesson Plan - Meeting #3
Thanksgiving Break Information
Winter Break Information
Career Development - 2nd Years
Career Development - 3rd/4th Years

Early November

Revist Community Standards & Values Clarification Activity


Off-Campus Affairs: Like a Good Neighbor Info
Need: OCA Publication #2

After Spring Break

Closure Activity & Building Closing Info


Communtiy Agreemnts (FY & Mixed)/Community Standards (Upper Class)
The Community Standards/Agreement process is meant to empower residents to make decisions about policies, behavior, and use of space/common property within a corridor or apartment community. Resident Assistants will facilitate these conversations. In the first year communities, they may end up leading these discussions. In the mixed and upper class communities, we encourage RAs to seek out residents to lead these conversations, while the RA might step in to ask additional reflective questions or help keep the group on task. RAs will hand out Community Agreement Guides and Community Standards Guides to help residents to reflect and prepare prior to coming to the meeting. These documents are printed centrally by the Office of Residence Life. You will recieve your corridor/communities copies from your supervisor. Resident Assistants should direct questions to their supervisor.

Bulletin Boards
Resident Assistants must post a new bulletin board every month including August. Following are guidelines and suggestions for posting bulletin boards:

  • The bulletin board in August should be a welcome and introduction to your community
  • The bulletin board in April should clearly outline hall closing procedures
  • Bulletin boards must intentionally address one or more learning outcome from the Residential Curriculum
  • Celebrating your students' successes and achievements is encouraged for at least one of your bulletin boards
  • RAs may use pre-made bulleting boards from the Center (210 Warfield), from other offices across campus or from the internet
  • Bulletin boards should be creative and interesting
  • RAs will list the topic of each new bulletin board in their weekly report (if a new one was created that week)
  • Strategy Evaluations should NOT be submitted for bulletin boards

Roommate Agreements
Resident Assistants will be distributing and discussing Roommmate Agreements with all residents. Our goal is to collect 100% of these agreements from each room/suite/apartment. Resident Assistants should revisit the Roommate Agreements in the middle of the first semester. If a roommate conflict emerges the Roommate Agreement should be used and, if necessary, revised.

Community Council
All communities, including the Commuter Center, will have Community Councils to engage student leaders in various learning outcomes within the Residential Curriculum. Resident Assistants will assist Advisers in recruiting students to participate in this departmental strategy. To learn more about the Residence Hall Association, the student government organization that helps organize and govern the Community Councils, read this Guide.

Diversity & Social Justice Programs
All communities, including the Commuter Center, will plan and implement Social Justice programs designed to educate residents on issues of multiculturalism, power, privledge, and difference. These active programs will be designed to meet several of the learning outcomes and better enact the Cultural Competency goal.

Living Learning Community Kick-Offs
Living Learning Communities are a trademark of the residential education experience at Miami University. All Living Learning Communities will create and implement a LLC Kick-off event that introduces residents to the conceptual framework on each particular LLC. Resident Assistants should consult with their Adviser for the logistics and details of this LLC Kick-off event as well as their role in planning and implementing it.

Fire Safety Fair & Online Module
First Year students are required to complete the On-line Fire Safety Training and attend the Fire Safety Fair, which includes "The Great Escape" activity. RAs in first year and mixed residence halls will assist in the marketing and implementation of the Fire Safety Fair in their area.

Conversations with Documented Students
Professional Staff will conduct follow-up conversations with every student in their community who is documented. The nature of the conversation is to express care for the student and the community, share information if necessary, and where appropriate, make a follow-up plan with the student. In many cases, these conversations will be an opportunity for Professional Staff to help students "understand how one's actions and decisions affect the community" among other competencies in the Curriculum.

Only First-Year Community Strategies
There are a few strategies that are only used with our first-year student population. These include: participation in Convocation, participation in Summer Reading Book Discussions , participation in First-Year Ethics Workshop, participation in academic advising (In-hall Advising Workshop and meeting with their academic adviser) and completion of the Map-Works Transition Survey.

Resident Assistants will be trained on Welcome Week initiatives during August RA Training. At this session, Resident Assistants and Professional Staff will learn more about the Convocation and Summer Reading Book Discussions. There is also a facilitator training session for all Resident Assistants to complete the First Year Ethics Workshop strategy.

Professional Staff will further cover the Map-Works Transition Survey and In-Hall Academic Advising student requirements within in-hall training times and staff meetings throughout the semester.


Back to top

Strategy Development and Lesson Plans

The Lesson Plan is a tool to help staff develop intentional and effective strategies. A Lesson Plan should be used each time you create a strategy (with exception to spontaneous strategies, and departmental strategies). The Lesson Plan & Strategy Evaluation are available on the Resources for Current Staff website under the Strategies menu.

If you would like more specific guidance when developing your strategy, you may use this strategy worksheet which prompts you with more specific questions about your strategy.

In writing your lesson plan you should also be using your Living Learning Community objectives.

Back to top


Strategy Evaluation

For each strategy that a Lesson Plan has been written, the RA should submit a Strategy Evaluation through the Resources for Current Staff web site. The on-line evaluation will enable our department to:

  • assess our overall effectiveness at achieving some aspects of the Residential Curriculum
  • share effective strategies
  • report some of our strategies outside the department.

A copy of each strategy you evaluate will be sent to your supervisor. You will be able to edit the strategy evaluations which you submit. Only one strategy evaluation should be submitted per strategy - even if multiple RAs were involved in the planning. The form allows the submitter to indicate which other staff were involved in the implementation of the strategy.

Back to top