Residence life has historically played an important role in building community and ensuring students' success in college. While colleges’ focus these past few months has been on keeping students healthy throughout the pandemic, many have been making adjustments to dorms and dining halls to support on-campus learning and ensure student success well before COVID-19. For the second year, Skyfactor Benchworks, a Macmillan Learning Company, recognized three of colleges - Florida State University (FSU), University of Northern Iowa (UNI), and University of St. Francis (USF) - with an Assessment and Impact Award for Residence Life.
“From the classroom to students' living areas, the college experience is undergoing a significant amount of change this year. It’s more important than ever that colleges are able to make informed investment decisions. USF, UNI and FSU were early adopters in uncovering how to best support student success through smart use of data and we’re proud to recognize them,” said Steven Ray, Vice President, Macmillan Learning.
The Assessment and Impact Award for Residence Life was established in 2019 to recognize colleges that have successfully used data to analyze and make changes to better their residence life programs. Previous winners were John Carroll University in Ohio, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Southwest Oregon Community College.
Though the assessments took place prior to COVID-19, many of the insights and resulting decisions benefit students' on-campus experiences, even today. For example:
FSU’s University Housing identified patterns in student dissatisfaction with aspects of dining, and used data to help strengthen the collaborative relationship with dining services operations. The data sharing led to meaningful changes in meal plans and dining operations, and ultimately increased student satisfaction with both.
UNI used survey data to inform strategic investments in housing-related technology and experiences. For example, they identified spaces where Wi-Fi access was problematic and made strategic modifications to existing facilities in order to improve the student experience by moving and adding laundry facilities and planning mixed-purpose spaces for student studying and socially-distanced socializing.
USF’s survey data on resident learning related to interactions, diversity, and transferable skills informed their selection of and measured progress on program learning outcomes. They’re transitioning their residential education model from a traditional programming model to a curricular approach, an intentional process of promoting student learning in the residence halls.
The 2020 winners were chosen this spring through a careful analysis of multiple years of data from the ACUHO-I/Benchworks Resident Assessment. The Skyfactor Benchworks Analytics and Research Team first conducted a quantitative analysis and review of applications and then interviewed finalists to learn about improvements in residence life.
Please drop a comment below to congratulate this year's Assessment & Impact Award Winners!
Benchworks assessments are the most widely used programs in higher education housing, and have been available for nearly 20 years. The ACUHO-I/Benchworks Residents Assessment is used by nearly 300 institutions each year, and is one of more than 50 different assessments from Benchworks on topics important to college success, including housing, orientation, and student affairs and service. The survey includes questions about student satisfaction with facilities, programs, dining, safety, room assignment, and roommates, as well as learning related to personal interactions, diversity, sense of community, academic success, transferable skills, sustainability, and healthy habits.