What do we mean when we say ‘residential curriculum?’
Dates back to 2006, where the first residential life department identified the need to focus the student’s experience on campus to be learning outcome driven rather than program driven (Kerr and Tweedy, 2006). Since then, professionals across college campuses have implemented this approach; which led to the need to educate institutions about a curricular approach at a national level (ICA – 2009 to present).

What does Community Learning Model (CLM), in relation to Residential Life mean?
Residential Life focuses on the whole student experience and fosters learning beyond the classroom. First introduced in 2007, Residential Life’s Community Learning Model (CLM) is an intentional framework for on-campus living communities that furthers student engagement around Macalester College’s mission and core values. Residential Life’s educational priority is to support the development of people who are invested in their own holistic development as well as actively engaged in building and advocating for equitable and just communities.

What is the history of Residential Life’s CLM?
For the past 13 years, the curricular approach in Residential Life at Macalester College has evolved and shifted based on the needs of our students to ensure a strong focus on student learning. During the 2019-2020 academic year, the department developed and implemented a robust assessment of the 2nd version of the CLM. The new curriculum was developed to address the change in student needs and create more focused opportunities for student learning.

What are the foundations of the CLM?

By informed assessment and strategic planning, we know that our students learn and move through experiences with the following foundations in mind:

  1. Identity
  2. Community
  3. Involvement
  4. Well-Being

We believe that while a student may understand their foundations differently as they persist through Macalester, they are ever-present and should be affirmed and acknowledged when we support students living on campus. These foundations align with three of the Division of Student Affairs’ strategic priorities:

  1. Identity -> Diversity and Inclusion
  2. Well Being -> Student Well-Being
  3. Community and Involvement -> Student Engagement and Development

To ensure consistent language across divisional engagement, Residential Life will utilize the following three strategic priorities in it’s documentation and reports, and refer to the descriptions of these strategic priorities as learning goals. These learning goals are considered individually and intentionally woven through our implementation of student learning in residential areas.

  • Diversity and Inclusion: Cultivate a culture in which individuals and groups thrive, are engaged, and have a sense of belonging, community, and purpose. Multicultural learning and international perspectives are integrated into all aspects of learning. Actively focus attention and efforts on issues related to race, systemic and structural racism, anti-Blackness, white supremacy, and xenophobia.
  • Student Well-Being: Provide and expand programs, services, and resources that support student health and well-being, with particular attention given to addressing the multi-dimensional toll of the viral pandemic as well as the compound impact of the health conditions and issues associated with racism. Provide trauma-informed support and care that builds community within and across diverse cultures and traditions
  • Student Engagement and Development: Enhance student learning and the student experience through comprehensive, practical, and immersive experiences that promote student leadership, well-being, and success. Support students as they make meaning and discover the ways they can use their voice to make a meaningful contribution in their communities.

What are the Pillars?
Given our two-year live on requirement, we identified four larger stressors that each student at Macalester moves through during their First-Year (FY) and Sophomore Year  (SOY) experience (E). These are in order of how they most often show up during the year, starting with one at the beginning of the first semester, the middle to end of the first semester, the beginning of the second semester, and middle to end of the second semester.

  • First-Year Experience (FYE)
    • Transition
    • Course Registration
    • Housing
    • Major
  • Sophomore-Year Experience (SOYE)
    • Major
    • Study Away
    • Housing
    • Career Exploration
  • Junior-Year Experience (JYE)
    • Career Connection
    • Study Away
    • Housing
    • Concentration
  • Senior-Year Experience (SYE)
    • Transition
    • Career Navigation
    • Creating a Home
    • Legacy

Tell me more about the acronyms you use for First-Year Experience, Sophomore Year Experience, etc..
In alignment with national best practice from the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, Residential Life outlines the following acronyms that will be embedded in our residential curriculum:

  • First-Year Experience – FYE
  • Sophomore-Year Experience – SOYE
  • Junior-Year Experience – JYE
  • Senior-Year Experience – SYE

What are the Learning Strategies?
Learning Strategies are the types of engagement opportunities we use to facilitate learning for students who live on campus. Regardless of where a student lives on campus, we want to ensure they are individually supported through the experiences they are moving through. Thus, we utilize the following five learning strategies during each pillar of learning. Each pillar is designed for different modes of student learning and will scaffold off of each other:

  1. Residence Hall Director (RHD) Email
  2. Bulletin Board/Newsletter
  3. Intentional Conversation
  4. Community Pillar Party
  5. Door Decoration Evolution

How will students engage with the CLM and Learning Strategies?
Engagement entails:

  • Students reading and responding to emails sent by their Residence Hall Director (full-time, Master’s degree-level, professional staff)
  • Interacting and reflecting on contents displayed on bulletin boards throughout various residence halls or reading and engaging with newsletters disseminated via email. Both Bulletin Boards and Newsletters are created by students’ Resident Assistant (paraprofessional, student staff)
  • Participating in a one-on-one conversation with their Resident Assistant
  • Attending a party hosted by their Resident Assistant that provides for an opportunity of storytelling and affirming experiences within a residential community

Can I get involved with the CLM, even though I am not a Resident Assistant?
Absolutely! Students are able to collaborate with their Resident Assistants on bulletin board / newsletter creation, helping with planning Pillar Parties, as well getting their peers engaged with other aspects of the CLM.  

Will I be evaluated or receive a grade from engaging with the CLM and Learning Strategies?
In short, the answer is “No.” Co-curricular learning (i.e., learning outside the classroom) is exceptionally valuable for the growth, development, and overall college experience for students. Thus, while there are some formal aspects of engaging with the CLM, students are not receiving assignments, papers, etc. in relation to Residential Life’s CLM.