Research has shown that students who succeed are students that put the time and energy into specific activities that enhance the classroom experience. What sorts of activities? Leadership positions on campus, work-study positions, volunteering in the community - the kinds of activities range across a broad spectrum. In Residence Life, our goal is to enhance the residential experience by connecting our students to the types of activities that meet individual interest and need, and promote student success. Our Engagement Model is the key way our student staff help us achieve this goal.
Student engagement represents the time and effort students devote to activities that are empirically linked to desired outcomes of college and what institutions do to induce students to participate in these activities (Kuh, 2001, 2003, 2009).
At the heart of the Engagement Model is the belief that Residence Life has the unique ability to impact the way students interact with their social, institutional, and academic world. Residence Life staff see students as they form and navigate peer relationships and community development. Staff uphold institutional policy and can be agents of information about institutional policy and procedure. Both professional and student staff play an integral role in creating a living environment conducive to academic achievement, and can provide support outside of traditional hours to support the academic mission of the institution.
The Engagement Model is a highly structured set of expectations for student staff, while flexible enough to work in the variety of types of communities we have on campus. These requirements are thoughtfully and specifically designed around what we know students living on campus are experiencing their first month on campus to their spring semester sophomore year. The requirements range from activities to getting to know residents one-on-one, to providing roommate/housemate/suitemate support around successfully living with others, to putting on activities to engage residents in campus events.
The Engagement Model serves as the foundation for the work that we do in Residence Life to provide opportunities linked directly to departmental, divisional, and institutional mission and learning outcomes. While the model started as a way to embrace best practices in residential programming of the past, it has become a philosophy and practical way of implementing the student learning outcomes developed for the department.
“I have been in Residence Life at the University of Puget Sound for three years and each year I have worked with a new programming model. I can say without a doubt that the Engagement Model is the most effective way to engage students on a personal level. The connections that my residents and I forged during those first one-on-ones created a strong foundation for conversations that occur when I run into residents on campus or when I have to conduct a check-in.”
-- RCC in 2011, after our first year of implementation
About one-on-one meetings with student staff
Most students report that meeting one-on-one with their staff member provides a good opportunity to get to know each other, and for students to articulate their goals for the semester or year. In three years of our engagement model, students have reported positive feedback regarding the one-on-one experience with feedback such as: "My one on one was very pleasant and easy going. We talked in diversions and had a nice conversation and in that conversation I was able to get a lot off my mind and after I personally felt better" and "It was informative and enriching. It made me feel more comfortable about my choice in residence."