Education Outside the Classroom

University Housing and Dining adopts Residence Education Model (REM)

At the University of Iowa, learning and education does not end when a student leaves the classroom. The on-campus residence and dining experiences are designed to enhance and complement experiences that occur in more traditional learning settings. By living on campus at Iowa, students learn to advance their personal awareness to be responsible members of their communities. 

To support this goal, residential staff engage with students individually through the Residence Education Model (REM). The Residence Education Model takes a planned, year-long approach to the residential experience. Similar to what students experience inside the classrooms where an instructor maps out the student experience with learning goals, content, and touch points to check in; REM provides an outline for resident assistants (RAs) and hall coordinators to plan in advance so goals can be supported through a variety of ways. “While one goal is to provide a more consistent set of experiences and outcomes for students across each of the residence halls, there are also opportunities to adapt or tailor efforts due to differing student populations and needs,” said Greg Thompson, director of Residence Education. 

In addition, students can participate in activities designed to promote their success in college throughout the academic year. These efforts focus on three main areas: Learning About Self, Discovering Relationships, and Engaging in Community. 

  • Learning About Self is about developing and reflecting on identity and personal success strategies. 
  • Discovering Relationships is about fostering connections by exploring various perspectives and experiences. 
  • Engaging in Community is about choosing responsible actions to better the community and self. 

Impact On Living Learning Communities 

Living Learning Communities (LLCs) at Iowa have been a prominent effort for many years and an important collaboration between Residence Education within University Housing & Dining and academic partners. For several years, the LLC program was mandatory for all residents. The number of LLCs have been reduced to ensure there is a stronger academic connection for each community and that residents who voluntarily choose an LLC community have a more cohesive experience. LLC members will participate in the residence education model to ensure they are reaching the same basic goals as their peers, but will have an “REM Plus” experience through additional support and outreach. 

Enhancing the Residential Experience 

University Housing & Dining anticipates a number of changes in the residential experience. One of the most noticeable will be a greater emphasis on individual engagement while supporting group connections. Programs will have more clearly defined goals as part of a larger strategy and will incorporate campus partners in more intentional ways. Keeping the larger strategy in mind will require staff to think about the holistic student experience including: judicial conduct, hall association advising, in-hall tutoring, roommate conflict, making healthy choices, and respecting their physical environment.

Hawk Talks are purposeful conversations where each resident has the opportunity to connect one on one with their RA. The conversations help RAs to build relationships with their residents, hear about their experiences, and refer students to campus resources. At the end of the first year, RAs logged over 20,000 one-on-one conversations with residents. Of these conversations: 14,707 focused on academics, 9,933 focused on campus involvement, 6,724 focused on friends and floormates, 3,794 focused on roommates, and 3,625 focused on interest exploration.

In addition, 12,480 of these conversations aligned with academic excellence learning outcomes, 12,124 aligned with personal success learning outcomes, 6,058 aligned with interpersonal relationships learning outcomes, 4,677 aligned with campus involvement learning outcomes, 2,736 aligned with identity development learning outcomes, and 2,128 aligned with intercultural perspective learning outcomes. See below for more description of the learning outcomes. 

Additionally, since the implementation of REM, University Housing & Dining has seen a 35% decrease in findings of responsibility for violations of code of student life, a 37% decrease in alcohol violations in the residence halls, a high number of students choosing to return to live in the residence halls beyond year one, and the highest satisfaction rates in 12 years.

Next Steps

As University Housing staff continues to refine REM, they have narrowed their learning outcomes to ten defined outcomes for the 2019-2020 academic year. These include:

Learning About Self:

  1. Identity Development: Defining and developing your personal and social identities
  2. Academic Excellence: Developing the knowledge, skills and habits of mind to
    progress academically.
  3. Personal Success: Developing the knowledge, skills and habits of mind to have
    personal wellness and success.

Discovering Relationships:

  1. Interpersonal Relationships: Implementing effective relationship building
  2. Conceptual Connections: Applying knowledge, skills and habits of mind students
    gain from their academic experience to their daily lives.
  3. lntercultural Perspectives: developing the knowledge, skills and habits of mind to
    productively engage with cultures and perspective different than their own.

Engaging in Community:

  1. Campus Involvement: Connecting the knowledge, skills and habits of mind gained
    from their campus involvement to further their academic and personal success
  2. Civic Engagement: Contributing to positive action within their chosen communities.

Better defined outcomes, will allow University Housing & Dining staff at all levels to focus their time on helping students to learn outside of the classroom. “What REM looks like at Iowa will be different than other schools, and it is something our staff is tackling piece by piece to refine in the coming years,” said Thompson.

2019 Year In Review

This article is part of the 2019 Year in Review, which highlights some of the Division of Student Life's accomplishments from the previous academic year.

Go to Year in Review