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Running head: RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 1

Residential Curriculum Evaluation

Gabby Bacha and Morgan Ruebusch

Loyola University Chicago


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Executive Summary

Loyola University Chicago’s Department of Residence Life launched a residential

curriculum at the beginning of the fall 2017 semester aimed to increase intentional student

learning and to streamline the student experience. The Department of Residence Life intended

for the introduction of this curriculum to assist in creating a path for the education of the 4,700

residential students living on Loyola’s campus. In addition, the curriculum was created with a

designated structure of learning outcomes guided by student development theory and including

intentional placement throughout the year. The timeline and structured deadlines were designed

to benefit the Resident Assistants (RAs) who facilitate the educational strategies in recognition

that they are students with full academic commitments and also that as they are mostly

undergraduate students their role should be clearly delineated from that of an educator to that of

a facilitator.

The intentionality behind the design of a residential curriculum to serve the Loyola

student body was supported by several studies conducted on student learning, benefits of student

employment, student development theory, as well as the Council on the Advancement of

Standards (CAS) guidelines for housing and residence life professionals. The committee tasked

with creating the curriculum also utilized student development theory when designing the

structure and timing of specific learning outcomes. Some specific data supported the design of

our curriculum for the impact potential it has for student academic success. Wang, Arboleda,

Shelley, and Whalen (2003) found that students who found a balance between active

involvement in their residential communities and involvement in their academics were more

likely to achieve higher grades. The curriculum design allows students to find this balance

because of its focus on incorporating passive programming after the initial six weeks of high
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impact community building. In addition, students in peer leadership roles, like the Resident

Assistants (RAs) in the Department of Residence Life, have reported gaining oral

communication, civic engagement, and critical thinking skills among other things through their

student employment positions (as cited in Shook & Keup, 2012). Since scholarship supports the

use of a curriculum to enhance out-of-classroom learning our next step was to complete an

assessment to measure each part of the residential curriculum experience.

With the implementation of a new curriculum comes the responsibility to assess the

effectiveness of programming as well as the impact it has on the facilitators. The purpose of the

assessment, and subsequent evaluation of the outcomes, was to gain understanding into the

experience of the RAs as they acted as the primary facilitators. We recognized that evaluation

must also take place to measure the learning of the residential students whom the curriculum was

primarily focused on educating. However, given our resources and timeline it was most logical to

begin with assessing the RAs experience as it more directly impacts their roles currently. In

order to gather feedback from the RAs we designed a qualitative assessment that included a

focus group and guided questions to seek information about specific areas of concern. The focus

group design allowed us to collect a wide variety of narratives through discussion and verbal

reflection.

Our focus group consisted of five RAs representing differing levels of experience in the

role and serving a mixture of both first year and upper-class residents on campus. The results

consisted of several critical and positive themes as well as recommendations for future practice.

One of the positive themes was an appreciation of the structured expectations and due dates laid

out from the beginning of the year, which one RA commented helped them manage their own

outside commitments better. They also felt positively about the content and timing of the
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learning outcomes included in the curriculum. They felt the educational goals were consistent

with what they believed their residents needed during the time of the semester in which they fell.

The critical feedback received from the focus group participants focused first on the

workload assigned to them, especially the densely scheduled pre-fall break portion of the

curriculum. Tying into this theme was specific feedback about an assigned task called

Residential Connection Logs. The logs are employed to ensure that RAs are having intentional

conversations with each of their residents. While the RAs appreciated the reasoning for carrying

out the logs, they did not agree that they occurred during an appropriate time. The last piece of

critical feedback was focused on collaboration, both between RAs and with partners outside of

the department. RAs felt that the design of the curriculum made it difficult to work with peers in

their building because of strict administrative deadlines. Additionally, RAs felt that working

with partnering departments was difficult because of communication challenges and unreliable

commitments.

This assessment allowed us to evaluate how the RAs experience the residential

curriculum and take their feedback into consideration moving forward with improvements and

changes. From this feedback, we are able to recommend that the timing of the curriculum

learning outcomes be re-evaluated based on the academic calendar and self-reported issues with

the amount of work needed to complete the residential connection log. We are also

recommending that further outlets for feedback from RAs be established and training offered to

help RAs understand how to better advocate for themselves through difficult conversations with

supervisors regarding the balance of their roles. Lastly, we are encouraging the idea of

introducing more intentional ways to increase collaboration across teams by creating “education

teams” of assigned RAs as well as establishing “point-people” for each of our most utilized
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campus partners.

Overall, this assessment has allowed us to continue the Department of Residence Life’s

practice of including RA input and feedback into the way that we serve our residential students.

The information we gathered will now be utilized to improve the RA experience in relation to

facilitating the residential curriculum. Since the department plans on expanding assessment of

the curriculum and regularly re-assessing the RA experience, we feel that our project design and

implications will assist in continuing these efforts.


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Residential Curriculum Evaluation

This academic year, the Department of Residence Life at Loyola University Chicago

decided to implement a residential curriculum. The focus of this curriculum is to provide

intentional learning opportunities for students in the areas of community building, academic and

professional development, and social justice. Residential curriculums are being implemented

nationwide to increase the effectiveness of student development and learning in residence halls

on campus. The main facilitators of the learning taking place in the residential curriculum are

Resident Assistants (RAs) with direct coaching from Graduate Assistants and support from the

Department of Residence Life. This assessment was designed to inform the Department of

Residence Life of the experience of RAs with relation to the newly implemented residential

curriculum. Specifically, we focused on seeking feedback in several areas where we thought that

our RAs would potentially have significant opinions based on our experience supervising the

implementation of the curriculum and anecdotal feedback we received from informal

evaluations.

In order to collect information from our participants we conducted a focus group with

five RAs. They each had differing levels of experience, including a few who have used different

programming models in the same role in the past, and they represented staff for both first year

and upper-class housing areas. We chose our questions as well as the focus group approach to

allow the RAs a space to most freely express their feelings being the primary executor of the

curriculum. The results collected revealed the RA’s critical evaluation of the difficulty in

collaborating with peers and campus partners, challenging workload, and timing of intensive

tasks. However, the RAs also had positive feedback focused on the foundational structure of the

curriculum and the relevancy of the learning outcomes. The feedback we received from the
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focus group will be utilized by a task force, made up of members of the Department of Residence

Life senior staff, professional staff, and RAs, working to create and implement positive changes

to the curriculum components and design for next school year.

Curriculum Background

The residential curriculum was developed in a work-group last academic year comprised

of Residence Life professional staff. The curriculum was developed to fulfill several goals

outlined by the Department of Residence Life. One such goal was to situate student learning in

the greater context of Plan 2020, Loyola’s strategic plan to improve the student experience.

Learning outcomes within the curriculum are directly connected to this plan and seek to follow

the mission and goals of Plan 2020. The residential curriculum was designed to give greater

purpose to student learning within residence halls. Previously, the Department of Residence Life

utilized a general programming plan, with vague themes and no structured learning outcomes.

The residential curriculum sought to provide structure to RAs work by outlining learning

outcomes, strategically placing them throughout the year, and utilizing student development

theory to explain the intentionality of these outcomes. The intentional nature of the residential

curriculum also sought to provide more meaning behind the work of RAs, and focus on their role

as facilitators, rather than educators.

Within the curriculum itself, there are three themes: connecting with community,

building skills, and commitment to faith, justice, and service. The first goal aims to create

responsible citizens, capable of living amongst peers in a community. The second goal is aimed

toward building academic and professional skills. The third goal is aimed toward helping

students explore social justice concepts, and reflection of their faith and spirituality. The

curriculum is split into eight units, with four occurring each semester. Each unit has designated
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learning outcomes that reflect the overarching learning themes and have learning strategies RAs

can employ to achieve the designated outcomes. Refer to Appendix A for more details regarding

the residential curriculum structure.

The Department of Residence Life launched the residential curriculum in the 2017-2018

school year with no formal plan to assess the curriculum. With that said, one of the continual

conversations when developing the curriculum was the role of RAs and ensuring that the

curriculum is manageable for them as students. Although RA feedback was garnered throughout

the creation of the residential curriculum, an avenue had not yet been created to solicit formal

feedback from RAs who implemented the new residential curriculum. This assessment is

pertinent in ensuring RAs have the capacity and efficacy to carry-out the learning outcomes of

the residential curriculum. It is also important in ensuring the RAs have a manageable schedule

between their roles as student employees, and students who are involved on campus.

Furthermore, as the facilitators of the residential curriculum, RAs have direct experience with the

effectiveness of the designated learning outcomes, and whether or not these outcomes are

impacting students’ learning. The RAs lived experience reveals a great deal about the learning

that may or may not be taking place as a result of curriculum efforts.

Evaluation Focus

The purpose of this assessment of the residential curriculum was to gain a better

knowledge of the feasibility, practicality, and impact on the RAs who facilitated the curriculum.

The questions we asked to achieve this purpose focused on the following criteria: relevance of

the learning outcomes, quantity of work within the curriculum, administrative aspects of the

curriculum, collaboration within the curriculum, and available resources to achieve learning

strategies. These questions were created in conjunction with the Assistant Director for Academic
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Support and Learning Communities and covered the main areas of concern as articulated by the

Department of Residence Life. Additionally, the focus group questions followed Krueger’s five

types of focus group questions (as cited in Henning & Roberts, 2016) which are: opening

prompts, introductory topic questions, transition questions, key questions, and ending questions.

The complete list of questions can be found in Appendix B.

Within this assessment, there were several stakeholders. One of the biggest stakeholders

is the Department of Residence Life. The residential curriculum is the Department’s enactment

of their goals for Plan 2020 and demonstrates their ability to prioritize student learning and needs

with the Division of Student Development at Loyola University Chicago. Furthermore, this

curriculum validates the work of the professionals and RAs employed by the Department of

Residence Life. Thus, this assessment is paramount in demonstrating the necessity and worth of

RAs on campus. The RAs are also a large stakeholder, as their feedback will shape the

transformation of the residential curriculum over time and will impact the requirements and

essential duties of the RA position. It may also affect students’ ability to have an effective work-

life balance. Overall, this assessment serves the greater purpose of ensuring the Department of

Residence Life is properly allocating their priorities and resources to best serve students, and

more specifically their student leaders.

Literature Review

Residential Curriculums have been growing in popularity across institutions of higher

education in the United States as a way to further integrate student learning into every aspect of

the college experience. The integration of traditional educational practices into the residential

experience supports the trend of student affairs professionals working to enhance the university

experience for participating students. The transition of the student affairs profession from
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enforcing traditional ideas of in loco parentis, or in place of a parent, to focusing on student

development and holistic learning explains a similar change in residence life. Residence life

professionals are responsible for ensuring the safety and security of their students, but they are

also tasked with helping students find transformative learning experiences and developing inter-

and intrapersonal skills. Loyola University Chicago, and many other schools around the nation

are shifting to a residential curriculum model in their living environments to ensure that the

residential experience of students is consistent and offers high quality and diverse educational

strategies. This curriculum design meets the standards set forward by the field of student affairs

and incorporates several theories of student learning.

The basis of residential curriculums is founded on the idea that Housing and Residential

Life Programs (HRLP) are intended to support students curricular and co-curricular education,

student progression, preparation of students for their careers and lives, as well as student learning

and development (The Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education [CAS],

n.d.). In order for HRLP’s to meet the CAS standards for residential programming they have to

continuously work to achieve student learning and development particularly. The CAS standards

call for residence life professionals to create learning outcomes associated with the competencies

set forward. Then, they have to regularly incorporate assessment into their work to provide

evidence that student learning associated with their established outcomes is occurring. The

learning outcomes must be centered on the six domains described by CAS.

The necessary domains as described by CAS are (a) knowledge acquisition, integration,

construction, and application; (b) cognitive complexity; (c) intrapersonal development; (d)

intrapersonal competence; (e) humanitarianism and civic engagement and; (f) practical

competence. These domains work to set a framework for all residence life and housing
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operations, but when applied to a residential curriculum they become increasingly important to

the design. Loyola’s residential curriculum incorporates these domains with assistance from the

strategic plan of the university and the guiding principles of Ignatian spirituality. The learning

outcomes laid out by Loyola include space for all of these vital learning experiences to happen,

but assessment is necessary to ensure that the outcomes being proposed are being received by

students. The stakeholders in this learning include both the residential students who are having

programming delivered to them as well as the RAs delivering the educational strategies. Given

that RAs are the primary vehicle by which we achieve CAS standards, it is essential we gain

their perspective on the effectiveness of the residential curriculum.

In order to create a curriculum in a non-traditional setting we must evaluate how student

learning occurs. Using a co-authored report from the American College Personnel Association

(ACPA) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) titled

“Learning Reconsidered: A Campus Wide Focus on Student Experience” we can begin to

recognize where to best focus campus resources to enhance student development. “Learning

Reconsidered” posits that transformative learning experiences, like the ones that are often

encouraged in residential settings, materialize from the combination of knowledge, attitudes, and

skills in the classroom and the actionable experiences found in the community and peer groups

(ACPA & NASPA, 2004). Student learning is taking place in transformative learning only when

students are given the space to synthesize the information they are provided with intentional or

circumstantial spaces to enact and test this knowledge through action (ACPA & NASPA, 2004).

Transformational learning supports the existence of a residential curriculum because a

curriculum is more easily able to address and measure specific learning goals for students in non-

classroom settings. For this reason, residential curriculums are keeping up with the trend in
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academia to enhance learning through partnerships within universities and communities.

In another attempt to bridge the gap between academia and student affairs, student

development theory can be applied to assist in explaining the need for residential curriculums.

Student staff enacting a residential curriculum are typically led by master’s level professionals

and graduate students who are versed in the language of student and leadership development

theories. Most residential curriculums find support in several theories that enhance their

necessity to steer students to greater personal growth. Both Schlossberg, Waters, and

Goodman’s Transition Theory and Baxter Magolda’s Theory of Self-Authorship clearly fit into

the ideals of a residential curriculum.

Schlossberg, Waters, and Goodman (1995) proposed a theory that helps professionals

understand the thinking that goes into both expected transitions, like from high school to college,

and sudden transitions, like losing a romantic partner or close friend. Their theory suggests that

transitions can be approached with the four S’s: situation, self, support, and strategies. The

expected transitions for residential students are built into a residential curriculum with specific

focus on the support and strategies roles specifically. RAs and professional staff are able to offer

a combination of social, personal, and academic resources and support either preemptive to a

student's need or in reaction to a current struggle. Schlossberg, Waters, and Goodman’s (1995)

theory would suggest that these services could act as assets to students during a time where they

feel unsure.

Baxter Magolda’s (2007) Self-Authorship theory posits that individuals must develop

more than academic knowledge to come to a full ability to recognize “the internal capacity to

define one’s beliefs, identity, and social relations”. A residential curriculum supports the phases

of Baxter Magolda’s (2007) theory including (a) following formulas, (b) crossroads, (c)
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becoming the author of one’s life, and (d) internal foundation. Using a curriculum to offer

guidance on the emotional and personal development of students fits into the core of Loyola

University Chicago’s current residential curriculum model. Intentional programming focused on

dialogue and education on diverse views allows students to expand their understanding of

themselves and the world right where they live. This is also true of the RAs who experience the

curriculum as facilitators, as they may often find themselves challenged by crossroads with

resident issues and within their roles. In turn, their RA experience plays a role in shaping their

internal foundations as they are exposed to life-changing experiences and large responsibilities

within their role.

Participation in residential living environments, both as students and as employees, has

been found to be beneficial for the academic success of students. Specifically, a residential

curriculum that balances traditional social programming with passive educational programming

supports the outcomes for increased academic success as suggested in a study done by Wang,

Arboleda, Shelley, and Whalen (2003). In this study, the authors found that it was important for

a balance of hall involvement to occur in order to see the most significant increases in GPA for

both male and female students. Wang et al. (2003) defined hall involvement as students who

attend programs and activities, interact informally with other residents, participate in intramurals,

attend hall/floor meetings, studies with other residents, and leave their door open. Male students

who reported very high hall involvement tended to have lower GPA’s while the female students

with the highest GPA’s reported a lower level of hall involvement (Wang et al., 2003). This

relationship predicts that offering a balance of educational opportunities that are both active and

passive will encourage students to find a healthy level of involvement. There is the possibility

that this will also encourage increased academic achievement of the RAs by creating a better
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balance of the time they spend working as student employees.

Student employment, and more specifically peer leadership positions, have been known

to increase the overall achievement and development of the leaders involved. Studies have

shown that students in peer leader positions have reported an increase in their ability to use

critical thinking skills, perform under pressure, and have an appreciation and awareness of

diversity (as cited in Skipper & Keup, 2017). These skills are vital for RAs to gain employment

post-graduation. Self-direction, oral communication, leadership, intercultural skills, civic

engagement, teamwork, and critical thinking are all included in a set of twenty-first century

learning objectives established by the Association of American Colleges and University that peer

leaders reported meeting within their leadership roles (Shook & Keup, 2012). The ways that

RAs can learn critical skills through application in their positions is vast, but by using a

residential curriculum we can offer these same opportunities with more space for creativity and

less time-consuming requirements. Ideally the implementation of a residential curriculum will

eventually make it easier to create a set of easily accessible educational resources, with multiple

learning styles and differing levels of involvement intensity demonstrated. This will hopefully

lead to high impact programming for residents and require a manageable dedication of time from

RAs, benefitting both groups of students more evenly than traditional programming models.

By combining development theory, student affairs standards, and student learning in a

mission driven university and department, we are able to achieve a residential curriculum that in

theory should be able to serve our residential students, the RAs, and professional staff. By

completing this evaluation, we will be able to understand the experience from the perspective of

the RAs working through this new curriculum on a daily basis.

Methodology
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Within this assessment, we utilized a qualitative design method. As described by Corbin

and Strauss (as cited in Henning and Roberts, 2016), a qualitative approach to assessment can be

helpful to, “... explore the inner experience of participants,” and to “... explore areas not yet

thoroughly researched” (p. 151-152). Additionally, Henning and Roberts (2016) noted that

qualitative design is helpful in realizing meaning and understanding, to build patterns and

themes, and can provide a holistic picture of a phenomenon. We chose qualitative design

focused on narrative because we believe the experiences of RAs are complex and require a space

that can provide room for follow-up questions and the ability for researchers to clarify narratives.

Since there are no designated learning outcomes to measure RAs’ experience, we needed a tool

that can capture a wide array of opinions and thoughts. Furthermore, since this is the first year of

the residential curriculum, we are anticipating a larger quantity of feedback that may be best

articulated through discussion and verbal reflection. Although we sought to capture RAs

experiences’ in-depth through a qualitative design, the Department of Residence Life will

supplement this assignment with efforts of their own, not reflected in this assessment.

The qualitative method we selected to use are focus groups. According to Henning and

Roberts (2017), focus groups provide a flexible method that allow participants to reflect on one

other’s responses to questions in order to formulate their own. Additionally, Henning and

Roberts (2017) noted that focus groups are ideal to assess those who may have had a collective

experience, as common themes will more easily reveal themselves in a group as participants find

commonality in articulating experiences. The quick emergence of themes can help the

researcher determine important follow-up questions on the spot that dig deeper into participants’

experiences. In accordance with our Assistant Director for Academic Support and Learning

Communities, we determined a focus group would be the best method to assess the narratives of
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RAs engaging with residential curriculum in-part because of the flexibility and ease of this

method. The Department of Residence Life is looking to implement some suggestions based

upon RAs feedback for next semester, thus a focus group can ensure we capture a variety of

experiences within a smaller time-frame. Furthermore, we believe that a focus group will allow

our RAs to give more comprehensive feedback, as they are inspired by their peers to reflect and

articulate aspects of their experience they may not otherwise offer without prompting.

While the focus group was occurring, we recorded participants’ responses and took loose

notes with timestamps to ensure consistency. When the focus group finished, we transcribed the

dialogue and determined codes based upon common themes that were mentioned.

Henning and Roberts (2017) described coding as the aggregating a word or phrase that ascribes

meaning to a data pattern. Although our key questions in the focus group suggested what codes

were already determined, we utilized open coding and then axial coding to capture themes we

did not anticipate emerging. After the conclusion of the focus group we determined initial codes

(i.e. curriculum structure, previous RA experience), and then aggregated these codes into larger

themes discussed later in this paper under the ‘Findings’ section.

The transcribed dialogue from the focus group also served as an audit trail. Henning and

Roberts (2016) described an audit trail as documentation of the process of how data were

collected and analyzed. The audit trail will be made available to the Department of Residence

Life which can ensure our integrity in creating themes from the data. We also utilized member

checks, which is a way of “... soliciting feedback on the preliminary findings from participants”

(Henning & Roberts, p. 164). Prior to publishing our findings, we sent out coded material and

themes to members of the focus group to ensure validity. Additionally, we offered optional

meetings with participants to clarify any questions or concerns from participants. Lastly, we had
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the Assistant Director for Academic Support and Learning Communities, check our results to

ensure our findings are reasonable.

As mentioned previously, the sample for this assessment is RAs employed by the

department of Residence Life at Loyola University Chicago. In our selection of participants, we

initially reached out to the Resident Assistant Advisory Council (RAAC) which has one member

from each hall on the council, and a variety of experience in the RA role between the RAs who

sit on the council. Additionally, RAAC is specifically designed to give feedback about the RA

experience, thus members are more likely to be knowledgeable and invested in the RA

experience. We believe that this represents purposeful sampling, which according to Henning

and Roberts (2016) is helpful in identifying those with a wealth of information on the topics at

hand and can respond to the inquiry in a comprehensive manner. Since we did not receive an

adequate number of individuals from RAAC, we then utilized convenience sampling and

snowball sampling. We put out a call to all RAs available at the time of the focus group to

participate if they’d like and had participants who were already selected identify others who were

interested in the opportunity. Thus, in our final sample we had five participants, each from a

different residential area on campus. Of the five participants, we had three RAs with previously

held RA experience, and two RAs who were new to the role. Additionally, two of the

participants worked in areas with first year students, two of participants worked in upper-class

areas, and one participant worked in a mixed first and year and upper-class residence hall.

Timeline

The Residential Curriculum Task Force in the Department of Residence Life at Loyola

was first created in the fall semester of 2016. The task force was led by Sam Siner, Assistant

Director for Academic Initiatives and Learning Communities and began with two Resident
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Directors and two Graduate Assistants as well as the sponsorship of the Associate Director for

Residence Life. The task force worked throughout the entire 2016-2017 school year creating

several draft documents and seeking input from the Residence Life team and student

representatives. Based on best practices for residential curriculums, the drafts proposed were

consistently forty percent complete to ensure that there is room for the development of resources

as the curriculum is implemented and changed according to assessment and feedback. Once a

more complete draft was done in April 2017, the task force shifted to include more staff

members for the summer.

Between May and August, the Department of Residence Life worked to build up the

administrative foundation of the curriculum. They worked on creating the necessary forms and

resources and ensured the technology being used was ready for the start of the fall 2017

semester. The final curriculum was introduced to the hall leadership team during training in late

July to allow time for the professionals to learn the requirements in order to teach their RAs.

RAs learned about the curriculum during training in early August and completed several

instruction sessions and conversations to ensure they knew how to implement the program. In

planning the residential curriculum, there has always been a plan to assess the effectiveness of

the residential curriculum starting at the end of the first semester of its implementation. While

the details of the assessment were not determined before the launch of the curriculum, the current

residential curriculum task force is creating plans for continual evaluation of the curriculum.

The timeline of this assessment was designed to occur before the end of the fall 2017

semester. The first major step in completing this project was holding a focus group. The focus

group occurred on Monday November 13. This allowed us to make time for review and coding

of the information shared with us. Review of the recorded material from the focus group as well
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as of the written notes taken during the conversation, occurred between December 2 and

December 5. This is also when we developed the written report of the final evaluation outcomes.

After the findings and implications were determined, they were sent to focus group participants

to ensure validity before being included in the final draft of this paper. After validity was

confirmed from all necessary parties, the final assessment evaluation was completed between

December 5 and December 10. The information provided from the focus group will be utilized

in spring semester of 2018 as the residential curriculum work group uses these findings to create

proposed suggestions to the curriculum and assessment process for the future. All

communications related to focus group permission, recruitment, and confirmation are located in

Appendix C.

Findings

Within our evaluation, we found that focus group participant had both positive and

critical points of feedback regarding the residential curriculum. The positive feedback points

included the structure provided by the residential curriculum, and the content of the learning

outcomes. Critical feedback points included the curriculum workload, the residential

connections log, and opportunities for collaboration. Two themes we intended to extract from

the focus group were opinions on resources provided and administrative tasks, however the

group did not provide much feedback on these items.

Positive Feedback

The RAs within the focus group noted that the residential curriculum provided a better

structure to accomplish the learning outcomes set out for them. One of the participants noted, “I

like how we have our due dates, and we know what’s expected of us the entire year, so we can

add that to our calendar and start brainstorming ahead of time.” Another participant commented
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on the structure provided by the curriculum as she stated, “From last year this is a big

improvement.” Additionally, one of the participants in the focus group echoed these sentiments

and offered that, “It’s very nice to have the structure and the dates, and the expectations that are

very clearly laid out.” Four of the five focus group participants noted that the structured nature of

the residential curriculum assisted them in meeting expectations within their RA role. One

participant even offered that the structured nature of the curriculum enabled them to better

prioritize their academic and extracurricular commitments.

Another positive point of feedback was around the content of the learning outcomes.

Both of the participants in the focus group from upper-class student areas noted that the learning

outcomes created for their students were accurate. One participant noted that stress-management

before finals and community building efforts in the beginning of the semester “made sense.”

Another participant noted that topics like building career skills and financial planning were

important topics, however they did not have the best timing within the semester. A few

participants noted the social justice learning outcomes were difficult to achieve seemingly

because of their content, although they still felt these learning outcomes were worthwhile and

relevant to students’ learning. One important note is that only one of the RAs present was from a

living-learning community. This participant felt that the curriculum created “forced

programming” in this community, due largely to the differing schedules between the academic

curriculum and the residential curriculum present within the community.

Critical Feedback

One of the main points of critical feedback was the fact that nearly all of the participants

felt the residential curriculum had an overwhelming workload, specifically within the pre-fall

break unit. Nearly every participant noted that this increased workload affected the first year
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RAs in their community. One participant stated, “Some first year RAs who are new to the role,

who have never had this before and there’s like four targets due by the same day, in like a month,

was a lot.” Another point of contention was the fact that many of the learning outcomes also had

due dates around the time of midterms. As a participant observed, “To really be slammed with

programming then [during the RAs’ busy time] created less fulfilling programming, less thought-

out programming …” To this point, another participant stated that had to skip class to fulfill

curriculum requirements. The already tight timeline for curriculum requirements, combined with

high expectations and limited flexibility from supervisors made meeting expectations difficult

for some participants. Overall, these findings suggest that the workload within the residential

curriculum has proved difficult to handle for RAs. Additionally, the number of learning

outcomes present in curriculum units make it difficult for RAs to use a variety of educational

strategies to engage students. While the RAs of the focus group see value in the designated

learning outcomes and want to use a variety of educational strategies to meet these outcomes,

they do not always feel they are able to do this.

Within the residential curriculum, one of the largest initiatives is the residential

connections log. This is done to ensure that RAs are connecting with each resident to check-in

on their academic and social transition. Within the focus group, nearly every participant stated

that they felt rushed when trying to complete this task. One participant stated that the timing of

the residential connections log was not ideal and would have been more beneficial had it been

sent alongside the roommate agreements. Other members of the focus group echoed this same

sentiment. Because of the limited time allotted for the residential connections logs, one

participant noted that, “... my connections weren’t meaningful with my residents.” Additionally,

one of the participants questioned the entire rating system utilized in the connections log as one
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 22

of their residents was seemingly green, or in good standing, but left the university only a few

weeks later due to personal issues. Overall, the feedback suggests that the residential

connections log could be timed better, administered over a longer period of time, and audited for

clarity of standards.

One last piece of critical feedback is the ability to collaborate within the curriculum.

Collaboration is encouraged within the various educational strategies utilized to carry-out

learning outcomes of the curriculum. Nearly every participant recognized the benefits in

collaboration between team members, however some noted the difficulty in doing this within a

larger team. One participant said, “As the unit set in, there would be a certain number of RAs

that would get together, and everybody would start to collaborate and plan everything, and then

anyone who was left behind it was like, oh shoot, what do I do?” Aside from inter-team

collaboration, participants also found difficulty in securing campus partners to collaborate with.

Every participant either personally experienced difficulty with a campus partner or had a

teammate who experienced this difficulty. As one participant stated, “resources can flip on you,”

and can be “unreliable.” Participants noted that this pattern of behavior makes it difficult for

them to achieve their learning outcomes in a timely manner and meet expectations of the

residential curriculum.

Implications and Recommendations

In gathering feedback regarding the residential curriculum, we solicited feedback on

recommendations to fix participants’ issues with the curriculum. Thus, the implications sections

will include both student recommendations, and recommendations we have created based upon

the feedback we received.

One of the biggest points of contention among participants was the workload within the
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 23

residential curriculum, especially around the timing of midterms and other academic

commitments students have. Skipper and Keup (2017) noted that having student employment in

addition to classes actually proved positive students, contributing to their overall development

and ability to handle challenging tasks. However, it is worth noting that many universities have

limits for the number of hours a student can work. This is incredibly important in helping

students achieve balance in their dual roles. It is also worth noting that RAs are in a special

circumstance in that they work and live in the same environment. While the residential

curriculum provides structure and goals for RAs roles as educational facilitators, it does not take

into account other key functions of their job such as duty, crisis response, and serving as a

resource for other students. Given the large scope of the RA role, increased workload in

facilitating learning among residents can lead to overworked students who are more likely to

experience burnout. Beyond this, new RAs may have difficulty creating efficacy in the role as

they feel overwhelmed with the work and being a student. Thus, adjustments in the RAs’

workload may be necessary to ensure that these students are giving the necessary energy to both

roles they hold.

Given this context, one recommendation we have is to redistribute the learning outcomes

of the heavier units in the residential curriculum. Although the participants in the focus group

have already experienced the heaviest unit of the curriculum (pre-fall break), it is worth noting

that some of these learning outcomes could be distributed to lighter units elsewhere in the

curriculum. Additionally, due dates within units could be further adjusted to account for

academically rigorous points in the semester. For instance, in the pre-fall break unit, there are

several learning outcomes with vastly different focal points due at staggered dates in the

semester. By synchronizing these due dates at the end of the unit, RAs would have greater
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 24

flexibility to complete these outcomes based upon their individualized schedules. Another

suggestion would be to gather the data from attendance of certain educational strategies and use

this data to prioritize some learning outcomes over others in the curriculum. While not every

strategy utilizes attendance (i.e. bulletin boards), this could provide helpful data in determining

the essential learning that needs to take place, as identified by our students. Some learning

outcomes that are redundant of other efforts on campus, especially in the realm of academic

success, may be removed altogether. Regardless of the edits that take place in the curriculum, it

is essential that RAs still have opportunity to be educational facilitators and receive available

facetime with residents. As noted by Wang et al. (2003) hall involvement is essential to the

success of on-campus students, especially in the realm of increased GPA.

Along similar lines of workload, the focus group participants had a great deal of feedback

regarding the residential connections log. This log serves as a database of resident concerns and

helps the Department of Residence Life determine retention and transition issues of residents.

This speaks directly to the work of Schlossberg, Waters, and Goodman (1995) which contended

that intentional student support may be necessary to ensure that students are transitioning well to

their new environment. While the log has been tremendously helpful to the work of the

Department of Residence Life, the timing and quick turnaround of the log created stress for focus

group participants. Thus, this log may be better utilized if it is a tool of continual use for RAs,

given to them at the beginning of the semester, so they have ample time to complete the log and

generate genuine conversations with residents. Additionally, within the curriculum, RAs already

have mandatory points of contact with residents as they complete roommate agreements

alongside each resident. Allowing RAs to complete this log in conjunction with the roommate

agreement process may provide more structured opportunity to complete the residential
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 25

connections log.

Within the focus group, several comments were made regarding the role of professional

staff, and the pressure put on RAs to achieve curriculum. Given that we know RAs often felt

overwhelmed with their workload, we believe one implication for further practice would be to

include more avenues for RA feedback on the curriculum and their experiences, as well as

formal training on how to effectively advocate and give feedback in their roles. Shook and Keup

(2012) explained that skills such as leadership, teamwork, and critical thinking are not only skills

gained in roles of student employment, but also essential twenty-first century learning objectives.

The ability to give constructive feedback not only benefits the products of the residential

curriculum, but teaches RAs the value of advocacy, and is essential in building leadership,

teamwork, and abilities to critically think. Providing outlets and formalized training to help RAs

give the Department of Residence Life feedback aids in creating a transformative learning

experience for RAs, as a byproduct of the formalized learning within the residential curriculum.

Another large theme within the focus group feedback was on the topic of collaboration.

Within the residential curriculum, there are several avenues to collaborate on educational

strategies, both with outside entities and between team members. The Department of Residence

Life continually tells RAs is that they are not educators, but rather, educational facilitators.

However, this expectation cannot always be met when RAs have difficulty soliciting assistance

from campus partners to educate on topics such as financial literacy and social justice. It may

also be difficult for campus partners to accommodate RA requests to facilitate learning outcomes

because of the sheer number of requests taking place at one time, as every RA follows the same

curriculum. One recommendation to help both RAs and campus partners with requests would be

to designate a “point person” from every campus department to field RA requests for programs.
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 26

This ensures that campus departments are responsive to RAs inquiries and eliminates

miscommunication between RAs and campus partners. As it relates to collaboration between

team members, RAs noted that this can be difficult to coordinate, especially as team members

form relationships and may tend to collaborate based upon similar work styles and other factors.

This practice means that some RAs are left out of collaborative processes. A recommendation to

assist with this issue would be to establish “education teams” within the larger RA team so RAs

are aware of who they have to collaborate with, and to encourage interactions between team

members.

Limitations

Within this evaluation, we had several limitations. One of the limitations was the smaller

sample size. For the focus group, we only spoke with five percent of all RAs on campus. While

the Department of Residence Life collected qualitative information from all RAs in an online

form, outside of this evaluation, this method of soliciting information still does not provide the

ability to clarify or expand on the thoughts of RAs. In the future, several focus groups may be

necessary to capture the nuances of the curriculum. This could be helpful to gather how RAs in

first year areas, upper class areas, and living learning communities experience the residential

curriculum. Another limitation was the timing of the focus group. At the time the focus group

took place, RAs had only experienced three of the eight units in the curriculum. Within the

curriculum design, the beginning half of the year is intentionally filled with more learning

outcomes, recognizing that this is time where student engagement is at its best. Thus, the RAs in

the focus group have not yet had the opportunity to have a comprehensive view of the curriculum

and can only speak to a portion of the residential curriculum experience. In the future, it may be

best to implement large alterations to the curriculum only after gathering data on the complete
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 27

experience of RAs.

Conclusion

A residential curriculum is a way to structure intentional learning for on-campus students.

This style of curriculum is backed by key student development theories and helps the

Department of Residence Life practice CAS standards. Capturing the experience of RAs in this

process is essential, as we rely on these student employees to facilitate student learning. During

the focus group, RAs mentioned that they liked the structure of the curriculum and transparency

that guaranteed by this structure. RAs also felt the learning outcomes were relevant to student

learning. However, the focus group participants noted that the workload was at times

overwhelming, and that they could not collaborate as much as they would like within curriculum

efforts. The recommendations we provided will provide a proposed road-map to adjust the

curriculum and ensure that expectations of RAs as educational facilitators are manageable and

sustainable.
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 28

References

American College Personnel Association & National Association of Student Personnel

Administrators. (2004). Learning reconsidered: A campus-wide focus on the student

experience. Retrieved from

https://www.naspa.org/images/uploads/main/Learning_Reconsidered_Report.pdf.

Baxter Magolda, M. (2007). Self-authorship: The foundation for twenty-first century education.

New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 109, 69-83. doi: 10.1002/tl.

Henning, G.W., & Roberts, D. (2016). Student affairs assessment: Theory to practice. Sterling,

VA: Stylus.

Schlossberg, N.K., Waters, E.B., & Goodman, J. (1995). Counseling adults in transition: Linking

practice with theory. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

Shook, J.L. & Keup, J.R. (2012). The benefits of peer leader programs: An overview from the

literature. New Directions for Higher Education, 157, 5-16. Doi: 10.1002/he.

Skipper, T.L., & Keup, J.R. (2017). The perceived impact of peer leadership experiences on

college academic performance. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 54(1),

95-108. Doi: 10.1080/19496591.2016.1204309

The Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education. (n.d.). Housing and

residential life programs. Retrieved from

http://standards.cas.edu/getpdf.cfm?PDF=E86C866B-C486-7362-C0A9C712A36B8AA7

Wang, Y., Arboleda, A. Shelley, M.C., & Whalen, D.F. (2003). The influence of residence hall

community on academic success of male and female undergraduate students. Journal of

College and University Student Housing, 23(2), 16-22.


RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 29

Appendix A

Residential Curriculum 2017-2018:


The Loyola Experience at Home
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 30

What is the Residential Curriculum?


The Residential Curriculum puts student learning at the forefront of the residential student
experience at Loyola.
 Educational Priority Statement prioritizes three themes of the Loyola Experience: Connect with
Community, Build Your Skills, and Commit to Faith, Justice, Service.
 Learning Outcomes have been tailored specifically to the time of year when they are most
developmentally appropriate for students. They increase in variety and depth over the course of the
residential experience.
 Educational Strategies are used by RAs (guided by RDs, GAs, and resources provided on Sakai) to
engage students in meaningful learning. These flexible strategies leave room for creativity. At the
same time, clear expectations and due dates create structure for RAs. Workload is highest in the first
six weeks of the year, with a comparable workload for all RAs.
 Assessment consists of documentation of Educational Strategies and program attendance through
LUCentral, RA surveys to improve the curriculum, and a student learning assessment, which
Residence Life will design in conjunction with the departmental assessment plan.
 Loyola’s Plan 2020, grounded in Jesuit tradition and aiming for a transformative educational
experience, informs the Residential Curriculum:
o Plan 2020 describes Loyola as a “diverse community seeking God in all things and working to
expand knowledge” (p. 3). For our students, this diverse community begins at home, in their
residence halls.
o Plan 2020 calls for staff to “implement advanced student support programs and academic
initiatives to enhance student success” (p. 11). Residence Life has the unique opportunity to carry
out targeted student success and skill-building initiatives where students live.
o Plan 2020 describes Loyola as a “transformative educational experience in the Jesuit tradition and
a commitment to the underserved and social justice.” The Residential Curriculum places faith,
justice, and service front and center.
 Student Development Theory informs the developmental nature of the curriculum:
o Transition Theory (Schlossberg) – student transition is affected by situation, self, support, and
strategies. The curriculum pays attention to timing, staff support, and teaching strategies to
assist with students’ transition into and through college.
o Identity Development (Phinney) – by engaging in exploration of identity, power, and privilege,
students learn to become aware of their identities and those of others.
o Self-Authorship (Baxter Magolda) – students learn to become the authors of their own lives,
deciding their own goals and developing a coherent worldview.
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 31

Residence Life Mission


In partnership with our residents, the Department of Residence Life
enhances the Loyola Experience by providing safe and supportive living
communities where students can engage with others, explore their
personal identity, and develop a deeper understanding of their impact on
the world.

Residence Life Vision


By providing excellent customer service and fostering diverse and
inclusive communities in well- maintained buildings, Residence Life will
be the preferred housing choice for Loyola students.

Through our innovative practices, living on campus will become an


integral part of the educational experience and help prepare students to
create meaningful change in the world.

Residence Life Departmental Learning


Outcomes
Students who participate in Residence Life programs and services will...

 Explore, articulate, and act consistently with their personal


values, while understanding how their actions impact others.
 Independently navigate processes while recognizing the
importance of self-advocacy and personal responsibility.
 Recognize the value of inclusion by engaging in diverse
communities and will be able to identify ways to advocate for
others locally and globally.
 Achieve a higher level of academic success as a result of
engaging with students, faculty, and staff of varied academic
interests.
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 32

Educational Priority Statement


The Department of Residence Life enhances the Loyola Experience by empowering our residents to live
out Jesuit values. By engaging in the residential experience at Loyola, students will learn how to connect
with their communities, build skills necessary for success at college, and commit to a personal worldview
on faith, justice, and service.

Learning Goals:
Connect With Community:

Residents will learn about Loyola’s culture, values, resources, and Community
Standards, develop residential living skills, and learn how to engage in conflict
management, build and deepen social connections, and get involved in their residential
communities.

Build Your Skills:

Residents will develop academic success skills, reflect on personal and professional
goals, engage in exploration of Chicago, and learn about safety and wellness, healthy
relationships, financial literacy, career planning, and sustainability.

Commit to Faith, Justice, Service:

Residents will learn about social justice, service and advocacy, and faith formation in the
context of Loyola University’s Jesuit mission and values.
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 33

Educational Strategies
 RA Program: General program in the residence hall facilitated by the RA
 Guest-Facilitated Program: Program in the residence hall facilitated by a campus partner or
outside guest
 Dialogue Group: RA leads discussion in residence hall, acting as moderator and asking
residents to discuss specific questions relating to a learning outcome
 Field Trip (off-campus): RA brings students to an off-campus event or location
 Take-To (on-campus): RA brings students to an on-campus event or location
 Themed Conversation: RA has an intentional one-on-one conversation with each resident on
the floor around a learning outcome
 Presentation: RA creates a visual/verbal content that is distributed in a lecture style format
 Bulletin Board: RA content turned into visual elements hung on board in a common space
 Newsletter: RA creates electronic document with information distributed to residents via
email
 Visual Display: RA creates display (tri-fold, door hangers, posters in bathroom stalls, etc.)
posted in community spaces
 Digital Media Creation: RA creates original multimedia (video, podcast, song, play, etc.) and
shares with residents on a specific platform (YouTube, podcast player, email, etc.)
 Other: Educational strategies not listed here can also work! Talk to your Graduate Assistant or
Resident Director to help guide the implementation of your ideas.

Technology
The Residential Curriculum uses Sakai (the Loyola course management system) to share resources, such
as lesson plans, for each learning outcome. The Curriculum uses LUCentral (OrgSync) for RA
administrative tasks such as Learning Outcome Proposals, Supply Requests, and Unit Evaluations.

Priorities for Future Growth


The Residential Curriculum is a work in progress! The following are top priorities for future growth:

1. Developing a comprehensive student learning assessment plan


2. Designing lesson plans as resources for each learning outcome
3. Improving the logistical experience from the RA/Prostaff perspective
4. Increasing involvement and buy-in from campus partners and faculty
5. Creating a marketing plan to communicate the model to students and parents
6. Integrating student leadership programs and improving integration of LC
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 34

Welcome Week: August 26-September 3 (1 week)

All bulletin boards on the floor are due by August 21.

Themes Unit Learning Outcomes Educational Strategies Due Dates


Residents will learn about their Resident Assistant  Door decorations August 21
and how their RA can support them during the year.  E-mail to residents w/About
Me & floor meeting info
 Other opening tasks
Residents will increase their familiarity with Loyola,  Bulletin board or other
including resources available on campus, how to get visual display
involved on campus, and Loyola’s mission.

Residents will learn community guidelines and meet  LC RAs: Bring residents to August 25
other members of their floor community. LC Kickoff (10 am)

 First Year RAs: Floor August 25


meeting (1 pm)

 Upperclass RAs: Floor By Sept. 3


meeting
Residents will begin to build social connections in  Social program September 3
their residential communities.  Learn all residents’ names
 Encourage residents to run
for Hall/Area Council board

 First Year RAs: Take


residents to Welcome Week
events (divide up among
RAs in building)

 LC RAs: Bring residents to


all LC monthly meetings
during the year
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 35

Pre-Fall Break: September 4-October 8 (5 weeks)


One bulletin board is due by October 1 and can count toward RA choice.

Themes Unit Learning Outcomes Educational Strategies Due Dates


First Year RAs: Residents will learn basic living skills,  RA choice September
such as laundry, room cleanliness, and sustainability 17
in the residence halls.
Upperclass RAs: Residents will explore Chicago,
learning about Chicago’s history and landmarks.
Residents will continue to build social connections  Social program October 1
in their residential communities. (LC RAs: Social should
incorporate LC theme)

Residents will learn how to communicate  Collect roommate


appropriate boundaries with their roommate(s) and agreements from all rooms
document the condition of their room at move-in.  Verify eRCRs (due date TBD)
First Year RAs: Residents will learn about laws,  First Year RAs: Hall-wide
policies, and decision-making relating to alcohol program
and drug use.

Upperclass RAs: Residents will learn about financial  Upperclass RAs: RA choice
planning, including budgeting and navigating
financial aid.
First Year RAs: Residents will reflect on their  Conversation with each
transition into Loyola, including challenges and resident (turn in Residential
goals for the year. Connection Log)

Upperclass RAs: Residents will reflect on what they


hope to learn and accomplish in their second year,
including challenges and goals.
Residents will learn or review academic success  RA choice October 8
strategies including study skills, time management,
balance, and how to find assistance.
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 36

Post-Fall Break: October 11-November 21 (6 weeks)


One bulletin board is due by November 5 and can count toward RA choice.

Themes Unit Learning Outcomes Educational Strategies Due Dates


Residents will learn how to engage in Health &  Floor meeting, followed by TBD
Safety practices within their residential spaces. Health & Safety Checks
 Halloween half team &
hall/area social programs
Residents will continue to build social connections  Social program November 5
in their residential communities. (LC RAs: Social should
incorporate LC theme)
First Year RAs: Residents will learn strategies for  RA choice
resolving conflicts between themselves and others.

Upperclass RAs: Residents will develop career skills,


including how to look for internships, write resumes
and cover letters, and find on-campus resources.
Residents will learn about boundaries and consent  RA choice
within relationships, including resources available
on campus.
Residents will learn about concepts of social justice,  RA choice November
including identity, power, and privilege, and how 19
they relate to Loyola’s mission and values.

Pre-Finals: November 27-December 9 (2 weeks)

Themes Unit Learning Outcomes Educational Strategies Due Dates


Residents will learn how to respect other  Bulletin board and closing December 3
community members during finals (including quiet floor meeting
hours) and how to move out.  Other closing tasks

Residents will learn/review how to be academically  RA choice


successful during finals.

Residents will learn/review stress management  Social program (focused on December 9


strategies. stress management)
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 37

January Jump: January 14-21 (1 week)


All bulletin boards on the floor are due by January 13.

Themes Unit Learning Outcomes Educational Strategies Due Dates


Residents will review how to live with others in a  Door decorations January 13
residential community.  Other opening tasks
 Occupancy checks (due date
TBD)
First Year RAs: Residents will learn skills for holistic  Bulletin board or other
wellness, including physical and emotional. visual display

Upperclass RAs: Residents will learn strategies for


sustainability in the residence halls.
Residents will deepen social connections on the  Social program January 21
floor and meet new residents in the community.  Roommate agreements for
new residents

Pre-Spring Break: January 22-March 4 (6 weeks)

One bulletin board is due by February 18 and can be on any topic!


RAs are expected to assist with RA interviews and UPCATs.

Themes Unit Learning Outcomes Educational Strategies Due Dates


Residents will learn how to navigate the room  Assist residents as needed Mid-
selection process (or off-campus housing February
opportunities, for upperclass students) for the
upcoming school year.
Residents will deepen social connections in their  Social program February 18
residential communities. (LC RAs: Social should
incorporate LC theme)

Residents will reflect on personal and professional  Conversation with each March 4
goals for the end of the school year, summer, and resident (turn in Residential
following year. Connection Log)

Residents will learn how to engage in direct service  RA choice


and advocacy toward social justice.
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 38

Post-Spring Break: March 11-April 20 (6 weeks)


One bulletin board is due by March 25 and can count toward RA choice.

Themes Unit Learning Outcomes Educational Due Dates


Residents will continue to hold their  If Strategies
incidents As needed
peers accountable for their actions in the occur:
community. Informal
conversations
Residents will review how to engage in Health &  Health
, floor e-mails,
& TBD
Safety practices within their residential spaces. floor
Safety Checks
 St.
meetings
Patrick’s
Day half team
Residents will build connections with other  Social
& hall-wide March 25
residents outside their immediate floor. program
social –
co-
programs
program
Residents will learn about faith formation in the  with
RA choice
context of Loyola University and Jesuit values. another RA
 LC RAs: Also,
bring
residents to
Pre-Finals: April 21-27 (1 LC Closing
week)
Ceremony
Themes Unit Learning Outcomes Educational Strategies Due Dates
Residents will review how to respect other  Bulletin board and closing April 22
community members during finals (including quiet floor meeting
hours) and how to move out for the year.  Other closing tasks

Residents will review how to be academically  RA choice


successful during finals.

Residents will review stress management strategies.  Social program (focused on April 27
stress management)
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 39

Appendix B
Focus Group Questions
Demographic Profile Sheet:
- Area, year of RA, year in school, major, other curricular involvement
Hello, and thank you for participating in the Residential Curriculum focus group. My name is
Gabby and this Morgan and we are both master’s students in the Higher Education program here
at Loyola. That being said, we wanted to give you an idea of what to expect. We will ask you all
some introduction questions, and move on from there to some key areas we are seeking your
feedback on. Because we are using this information in our class, we wanted to gain a verbal
confirmation from each participant that it is okay for us to record this conversation.
Opening Prompt:
- Tell us about yourself, and one memorable thing from your time at Loyola.
Introduction:

- How would you rate your experience with the residential curriculum thus far on a scale of

1-10?

- Generally speaking, what aspects of the curriculum have been working or not working

thus far?

Relevancy of the Learning Outcomes:

- So thus far, you’ve worked through three different units, and have had the opportunity to

implement various educational strategies to achieve the learning outcomes. How relevant

do you feel these outcomes have been given your population and the time of the semester

they’ve been implemented?

Quantity of Work within the Curriculum:

- Throughout the residential curriculum, RAs complete several learning outcomes at

various times in the semester. Do you feel the quantity of work is appropriate given your

other duties within your role, and your status as a student?

Administrative Aspects of the Curriculum:


RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 40

- As a part of the curriculum, RAs are asked to submit educational strategy proposals,

supply requests, LUCentral events, and unit evaluations. To what extent do you find these

tools helpful? What suggestions do you have to improve these tools?

Collaboration within the Curriculum:

- Within various learning outcomes, there is space to collaborate with other university

resources to achieve learning strategies. To what extent and in what capacity do you use

university partners within the curriculum? To what extent and in what capacity do you

work with team members within the curriculum?

Available Resources to Achieve Learning Strategies:

- As a part of the residential curriculum, a Sakai site has been created to offer resources for

RAs to enhance their education strategies. How have you used these resources? What

other resources do you use?

The information you gave us today will help us two-fold. It will be shared in our Evaluation

group project for one of our Master’s classes, and shared with the department to improve the

residential curriculum with respect to the RA experience. That being said, given your experience,

what suggestions do you have to create a better residential curriculum?


RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 41

Appendix C
Email Communication Regarding Residential Curriculum Assessment Procedures
Meeting Follow‐Up

Bacha, Gabrielle
Wed 11/1/2017 11:35 AM
To:Siner, Sam <ssiner@luc.edu>;

Cc:Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>;

Hello Sam!

I just wanted to follow‐up from our meeting on Monday regarding me and Morgan’s involvement in helping assess the Res Curriculum.
Like we had discussed, Morgan and I were hoping to utilize RAAC to conduct a focus group regarding RAs implementation of
the curriculum. We were hoping to utilize RAAC because there is a representative from each hall, and a mixture of experience
between the RAs of RAAC. Specifically, we wanted to examine the following information:

 The relevancy of the learning outcomes based upon our students and time of year.
 The quantity of work for each semester.
 Administrative aspects of implementation: deadlines, strategies to assist with admin work, and other suggestions.
 The role of collaboration within the curriculum.
 The helpfulness of unit evaluations.
 The utilization of resources such as Sakai.

We would definitely be open to including other questions as the department sees fit. Because of our class timeline, Morgan and I were
hoping to complete the focus group before Thanksgiving, and conducting the group outside of the designated RAAC time
(since we have class during that time). We would code responses and conduct our analysis as we return from Thanksgiving
break, and present our findings on December 5th. The formal analysis will be complete by December 9th.

With that said, please let us know if there is other information you’d like to receive before going forward. We are going to work on the
specific questions and formal proposal for the evaluation project this weekend, so we should have the questions prepped
shortly.

Please let us know any feedback you have, and some next steps if possible!

Best,

Gabby Bacha
she/her/hers
Graduate Assistant – Mertz Hall
Department of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
Office: 773‐508‐3323 Fax: 773‐508‐3311
www.luc.edu/reslife gbacha@luc.edu
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 42

RE: Meeting Follow‐Up

Siner, Sam
Wed 11/1/2017 2:53 PM

Inbox
To:Bacha, Gabrielle <gbacha@luc.edu>;

Cc:Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>;

Hi Gabby (and Morgan),

This is great. Go ahead and determine when you want the focus group to be, and draft an e‐mail invitation to RAAC to send to
me. I will send out the e‐mail to RAAC on your behalf. Once you have the specific questions/protocol, run it past me
and we’ll move forward.

Thanks,

Sam Siner
Assistant Director for Academic Support and Learning Communities
Department of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
ssiner@luc.edu

From: Bacha, Gabrielle [mailto:gbacha@luc.edu]


Sent: Wednesday, November 01, 2017
11:35 AM To: Siner, Sam <ssiner@luc.edu>
Cc: Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>
Subject: Meeting Follow‐Up

Hello Sam!

I just wanted to follow‐up from our meeting on Monday regarding me and Morgan’s involvement in helping assess the Res
Curriculum. Like we had discussed, Morgan and I were hoping to utilize RAAC to conduct a focus group regarding RAs
implementation of the curriculum. We were hoping to utilize RAAC because there is a representative from each hall,
and a mixture of experience between the RAs of RAAC. Specifically, we wanted to examine the following information:

· The relevancy of the learning outcomes based upon our students and time of year.
· The quantity of work for each semester.
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 43
· Administrative aspects of implementation: deadlines, strategies to assist with admin work, and other
suggestions.
· The role of collaboration within the curriculum.
· The helpfulness of unit evaluations.
· The utilization of resources such as Sakai.

We would definitely be open to including other questions as the department sees fit. Because of our class timeline, Morgan
and I were hoping to complete the focus group before Thanksgiving, and conducting the group outside of the
designated RAAC time (since we have class during that time). We would code responses and conduct our analysis as
we return from Thanksgiving break, and present our findings on December 5th. The formal analysis will be complete
by December 9th.

With that said, please let us know if there is other information you’d like to receive before going forward. We are going to
work on the specific questions and formal proposal for the evaluation project this weekend, so we should have the
questions prepped shortly.

Please let us know any feedback you have, and some next steps if possible! Best,

Gabby Bacha
she/her/hers
Graduate Assistant – Mertz Hall
Department of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
Office: 773‐508‐3323
Fax: 773‐508‐3311
www.luc.edu/reslife
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 44

RAAC Email
Bacha, Gabrielle
Thu 11/2/2017 1:01 PM
To:Siner, Sam<ssiner@luc.edu>;

Cc:Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>;

Hello Sam!

Please see the below text for the email to be sent to RAAC:

Hello RAAC!

We hope you are having a fabulous semester thus far! Our names are Morgan Ruebusch and Gabby Bacha, and we are
Graduate Assistants with Residence Life here at Loyola. We are reaching out to you all in hopes that you would help us
out with a project we are conducting. As a part of our Evaluation class, we are conducting an assessment of the RA
implementation of the new Residential Curriculum. With that said, we are turning to RAAC to conduct a focus group to
gain feedback. This focus group hopes to gain your perspectives on the relevancy of the learning outcomes, quantity
of work within the curriculum, administrative aspects of the curriculum, collaboration, unit evaluations, and available
resources, among other things. The findings from this focus group will be presented in our final project for Evaluation,
and will be used to implement changes for the Residential Curriculum in the future.

With that said, if you are interested in participating in the focus group, please fill out the Doodle below by Monday November
6th, at 5 pm. We will communicate other relevant information after we solidify a date! Additionally, we will have pizza
for those who join us! Please do not hesitate to contact us at mruebusch@luc.edu or gbacha@luc.edu with any
questions you may have. We hope to see you all participate!

https://doodle.com/poll/ywm9777ptdn7ieus

Best,
Morgan and Gabby

Gabby Bacha
she/her/hers
Graduate Assistant – Mertz Hall
Department of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
Office: 773‐508‐3323
Fax: 773‐508‐3311
www.luc.edu/reslife
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 45

RAAC Residential Curriculum Opportunities


Siner, Sam
Thu 11/2/2017 2:38 PM
To:Ockenfels, Analise <aockenfels@luc.edu>; Sanchez, Jonathon <jsanchez18@luc.edu>; Fitzgerald, Patrick <pfitzgerald2@luc.edu>;
Phung, Andrew <aphung@luc.edu>; Manion, Dorian <dmanion@luc.edu>; Goktepe, Ada <agoktepe@luc.edu>; Matern,
Eleanor
<ematern@luc.edu>; Harazim, Nicholas <nharazim@luc.edu>; Panock, Samantha <spanock@luc.edu>; Kobrick, Amanda
<akobrick@luc.edu>; Virani, Sabrina <svirani1@luc.edu>;

Cc:Bacha, Gabrielle <gbacha@luc.edu>; Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>; Tennison, Raymond <rtennison@luc.edu>;

Hello RAAC,

I hope you’re doing well! We are about to start looking at the Residential Curriculum for next year, based on what’s going well
and what could be improved. If you are interested in representing your fellow RAs in this process, please see these
two opportunities:

1. Residential Curriculum Focus Group (one‐time)

This focus group will ask about learning outcomes, quantity and types of educational strategies, collaboration, unit proposals
and evaluations, resource development, and more. The findings from this focus group will be used to implement
changes
for the Residential Curriculum for next year. The focus group will be led by Morgan Ruebusch and Gabby Bacha, Graduate
Assistants for Residence Life.

If you are interested in participating in the focus group (pizza will be provided!), please fill out the Doodle below by Monday
November 6 at 5 pm. Morgan and Gabby will communicate other relevant information after a date is chosen.

https://doodle.com/poll/ywm9777ptdn7ieus

2. Residential Curriculum Workgroup (ongoing)

This group, which also consists of RDs and GAs, will meet approximately weekly from mid‐November until May to decide and
implement changes to the Residential Curriculum for next year. I would like to have 1‐2 RAAC representatives on this
workgroup to represent the RA perspective. If you are interested, send me an e‐mail by Monday, November 6 at 5 pm
with the times from 9 a.m.‐5 p.m. (M‐F) that you would be available this semester. I will make decisions based on
availability.

Thanks!

Sam Siner
Assistant Director for Academic Support and Learning Communities
Department of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
ssiner@luc.edu
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 46

Focus Group
Bacha, Gabrielle
Mon 11/6/2017 3:50 PM
To:Siner, Sam <ssiner@luc.edu>;

Cc:Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>;

Hello Sam!

Can we go ahead and formally schedule that focus group for November, 13th from 7‐8 pm? The room is TBD but I would love
to have it in the Regis Conference Space. Do we reserve this through Arcenia or Spoz? Also, could you please have
interested folks email me or Morgan to express their interest? That would give us an idea about the numbers.
Additionally, we should talk about pizza soon! Please let me know if you have any questions! Thank you!

Best,

Gabby Bacha
she/her/hers
Graduate Assistant – Mertz Hall
Department of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
Office: 773‐508‐3323
Fax: 773‐508‐3311
www.luc.edu/reslife
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 47

Residential Curriculum Feedback Opportunities


Siner, Sam
Mon 11/6/2017 4:05 PM
Hi RAs (blind copied),

We are about to start looking at the Residential Curriculum for next year, based on what’s going well and what could be
improved. Please see the following opportunities for feedback:

Unit Evaluation
You will see a handful of optional general feedback questions (what’s working well, what can be improved, etc.) in the Post‐
Fall Break Unit Evaluation. Please provide specific positive and constructive feedback, offering solutions if possible.

Focus Group
If you are interested in participating in a one‐time focus group about the Residential Curriculum RA experience, please contact
Gabby Bacha at gbacha@luc.edu. The focus group will be November 13, 7‐8 pm.

Thanks,

Sam Siner
Assistant Director for Academic Support and Learning Communities
Department of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
ssiner@luc.edu
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 48

Focus Group Stuff


Bacha, Gabrielle
Thu 11/9/2017 12:55 PM
To:Siner, Sam <ssiner@luc.edu>;

Cc:Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>;

1 attachments ﴾18 KB﴿ Focus

Group Questions.docx;

Hello Sam!

Attached will be the focus group questions we created for Monday. We sent them to our instructor to gain some feedback,
but I wanted to pass them along to you as well! Additionally for Monday, we have only 6 participants for the focus
group. Would we like more? Let me know your thoughts! We also have two vegetarians amongst those folks, so I
wanted to put that on your radar now for purposes of purchasing pizza.

Let me know what questions or comments you may have! Best,

Gabby Bacha
she/her/hers
Graduate Assistant – Mertz Hall
Department of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
Office: 773‐508‐3323
Fax: 773‐508‐3311
www.luc.edu/reslife
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 49

RE: Focus Group Stuff


Siner, Sam
Thu 11/9/2017 2:06 PM

Inbox

To:Bacha, Gabrielle <gbacha@luc.edu>;

Cc:Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>;

This looks good! Under Quantity of Work, I would ask not only about the quantity, but also about the timing. I know that
some RAs feel that some of the work could have different due dates that work better for their academics, etc.

Sam Siner
Assistant Director for Academic Support and Learning Communities
Department of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
ssiner@luc.edu

From: Bacha, Gabrielle [mailto:gbacha@luc.edu]


Sent: Thursday, November 09, 2017 12:55
PM To: Siner, Sam <ssiner@luc.edu>
Cc: Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>
Subject: Focus Group Stuff Hello

Sam!

Attached will be the focus group questions we created for Monday. We sent them to our instructor to gain some feedback,
but I wanted to pass them along to you as well! Additionally for Monday, we have only 6 participants for the focus
group. Would we like more? Let me know your thoughts! We also have two vegetarians amongst those folks, so I
wanted to put that on your radar now for purposes of purchasing pizza.

Let me know what questions or comments you may have! Best,

Gabby Bacha
she/her/hers
Graduate Assistant – Mertz Hall
Department of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
Office: 773‐508‐3323
Fax: 773‐508‐3311
www.luc.edu/reslife
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 50

Focus Group Confirmation


Bacha, Gabrielle
Wed 11/8/2017 1:12 PM
To:Smith, Briannah <bsmith14@luc.edu>; Manion, Dorian <dmanion@luc.edu>; Matern, Eleanor <ematern@luc.edu>; Frasik, Megan
<mfrasik@luc.edu>; Syed, Aliya <asyed12@luc.edu>; Boey, Matthew <mboey@luc.edu>;

Cc:Siner, Sam <ssiner@luc.edu>; Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>;

Hello!

Thank you for solidifying your interest in participating in the Res Curriculum focus group! We appreciate your willingness to
help Morgan and I with our class assignment, as well provide some very important feedback about the curriculum.
With that said, we will meet on Monday November 13th from 7‐8 pm in the Regis Conference Room. We will provide
pizza (yay!) as a thank you for hanging out with us. If you have any dietary needs or allergies, please respond back to
me ASAP so we can accommodate the best we can! Additionally, we are still looking for more participants. If you have
an RA friend that you think would provide awesome feedback, please send them my way. In preparation, please be
thinking about the following points that we will be seeking feedback on:

· relevancy of the learning outcomes


· quantity of work within the curriculum
· administrative aspects of the curriculum
· collaboration in the curriculum
· unit evaluations
· available resources

If you have any questions, feel free to send them my way. Thank you again for your participation! Best,

Gabby Bacha
she/her/hers
Graduate Assistant – Mertz Hall
Department of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
Office: 773‐508‐3322
Fax: 773‐508‐3311
www.luc.edu/reslife
RESIDENTIAL CURRICULUM EVALUATION 51

Focus Group Reminder


Bacha, Gabrielle
Mon 11/13/2017 10:31 AM
To:Boey, Matthew <mboey@luc.edu>; Syed, Aliya <asyed12@luc.edu>; Frasik, Megan <mfrasik@luc.edu>; Matern, Eleanor
<ematern@luc.edu>; Manion, Dorian <dmanion@luc.edu>; Smith, Briannah <bsmith14@luc.edu>;

Cc:Siner, Sam <ssiner@luc.edu>; Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>;

Hello!

Thank you all again for volunteering to assist in the Residential Curriculum focus group. Just a reminder that we are meeting
TONIGHT from 7‐8 pm in the Regis Conference Room. Pizza has been ordered, but please bring your own drink! Let
me know if you have any questions.

Best,

Gabby Bacha
she/her/hers
Graduate Assistant – Mertz Hall
Department of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
Office: 773‐508‐3323
Fax: 773‐508‐3311
www.luc.edu/reslife
Re: Focus Group Follow‐Up
Manion, Dorian
Tue 12/5/2017 4:06 PM
To:Bacha, Gabrielle <gbacha@luc.edu>;

Looks good! Thanks Gabby!! Get

Outlook for iOS

From: Bacha, Gabrielle


Sent: Tuesday, December 5, 2017 4:03:47 PM
To: Boey, Matthew; Syed, Aliya; Matern, Eleanor; Manion, Dorian; Smith, Briannah
Cc: Siner, Sam; Ruebusch, Morgan
Subject: Focus Group Follow‐Up

Hello Focus Group Participants!

I wanted to provide you all with an update from Morgan and myself. Attached to this email you will find the
findings section of our larger residential curriculum evaluation project, which will illuminate several themes
you all talked about within the focus group. In an effort to cross‐check our work, please review this
document and let us know if we have mischaracterized any portion of our conversation. If anything
appears inaccurate to you, please share with us, and we can work to amend our findings. If you would like
for us to amend anything, please
share your concerns and revisions by Friday December 5th, at 5pm. If that does not give you time to look over the
document, please feel free to let us know and we can definitely work something out! Additionally, please be
advised that this is just a section of the overall evaluation. If you need any context or have questions, please
feel free to reach out!

I want to note that becuase this is for a class assignment, we intentionally selected the strongest themes from the
focus group conversation to present in the formal findings. However, all feedback that we gathered will be
forwarded to Sam Siner for him to review. Further, you will notice that your specific names are not included
in the formal findings. This is a way of "protecting" the participants' identity, and is done in standard
research. Lastly, some of your suggestions and feedback will also be discussed in the study under the
implications section which will be in the final draft. I wanted to let you all know this so you do not think
your amazing contributions have gone unnoticed!

If you have any issues or questions, please do not hesitate to let us know. And again, thank you for participating!
Morgan and I greatly appreciate it.

Best,

Gabby Bacha
she/her/hers
Graduate Assistant – Mertz Hall
Department of Residence Life Loyola
University Chicago
Office: 773‐508‐3323
Fax: 773‐508‐3311
Focus Group Information
Bacha, Gabrielle
Tue 12/5/2017 5:07 PM
To:Siner, Sam <ssiner@luc.edu>;

Cc:Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>;

2 attachments ﴾19 KB﴿

Findings.docx; Focus Group Notes.docx;

Hello Sam!

I wanted to send you an email with all of the relevant focus group information thus far. Attached you will find the
initial notes and findings. The audio file is too large to send over email, but I can give you access to our
Google Drive if you'd like the ability to listen! Just let me know. When Morgan and I complete the project,
we will pass along the entire evaluation project to you.

In an effort to limit our bias, can you also review our themes to ensure that we are not egregiously misguided?
Within our evaluation project, we stated that we would have you also look over these findings as a way of
checking our own subjectivity. Please let us know!

Thank you!

Gabby Bacha
she/her/hers
Graduate Assistant – Mertz Hall
Department of Residence Life Loyola
University Chicago
Office: 773‐508‐3323
Fax: 773‐508‐3311
www.luc.edu/reslife
gbacha@luc.edu
RE: Focus Group Information
Siner, Sam
Wed 12/6/2017 9:46 AM
To:Bacha, Gabrielle <gbacha@luc.edu>;
Cc:Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>;

1 attachments ﴾17 KB﴿

RA Feedback Themes for RC.docx;

Hi Gabby and Morgan,

Thanks for the detailed findings. This is extremely helpful. I have reviewed your themes and I can confirm that they are
accurate based on the data.

Just so you see what I’m planning to do with the feedback, I synthesized the RA feedback from the focus group and the Unit
Evaluations, and I’m attaching the aggregated themes.

Sam Siner
Assistant Director for Academic Support and Learning Communities Department
of Residence Life
Loyola University Chicago
ssiner@luc.edu

From: Bacha, Gabrielle [mailto:gbacha@luc.edu]


Sent: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 5:08 PM
To: Siner, Sam <ssiner@luc.edu>
Cc: Ruebusch, Morgan <mruebusch@luc.edu>
Subject: Focus Group Information

Hello Sam!

I wanted to send you an email with all of the relevant focus group information thus far. Attached you will find the
initial notes and findings. The audio file is too large to send over email, but I can give you access to our
Google
Drive if you'd like the ability to listen! Just let me know. When Morgan and I complete the project, we will pass
along the entire evaluation project to you.

In an effort to limit our bias, can you also review our themes to ensure that we are not egregiously misguided?
Within our evaluation project, we stated that we would have you also look over these findings as a way of
checking our own subjectivity. Please let us know!

Thank you!

Gabby Bacha
she/her/hers
Graduate Assistant – Mertz Hall
Department of Residence Life Loyola
University Chicago
Office: 773‐508‐3323
Fax: 773‐508‐3311
www.luc.edu/reslife
gbacha@luc.edu