SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 11

FEATURE ARTICLES
Informing First-Year Residential Programs
through Intentional Interactions
Ileana Garcia and Carson Crow, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Introduction
At the University of North Carolina Wilmington, there have been conversations around revamping our
programming model used by RAs in the residence halls. Currently, each RA develops and implements two
programs a month and is expected to interact with their residents individually once a month. We noticed that
the RAs' programs were not generating much interest from the residents, and RAs were struggling with having
meaningful conversations with their residents.
In our conversations about our programming model's future, our community decided to implement a curricularinspired
approach to better structure our residential experience in Pelican Hall. We created a structured set
of questions for our RAs to ask residents in their February monthly interactions and took that data to create
learning goals and outcomes to guide our programming and bulletin boards for the month of March.
Environment
Pelican Hall is a brand-new first-year residence hall that opened in fall 2020. It houses 512 first-year students
in a pod-style living environment supported by a staff of 15 RAs, 10 desk receptionists, a graduate assistant,
and a professional staff member. Pelican Hall is one of five first-year residence halls on campus. In the fall
2020 semester, due to COVID-19, UNCW decided to reduce the occupancy of the residence halls. That decision
impacted the first-year communities the most since they primarily had to turn double-occupancy rooms into
single-occupancy rooms. Many residents either returned home off-campus or moved to another location on
campus but in a different community.
In the spring, we returned to double occupancy, and residents who went home in the fall, returned to the halls.
We noticed that the residents who returned felt disconnected from the already-established community and were
not attending any programs or events in the halls, and we wanted to do a deeper dive into why. Being a brandnew
community, we took the opportunity to develop intentional and structured conversations and programs to
better define the culture and residential experience for Pelican Hall residents.
Designing Structured " 1-2-1s "
RAs are expected to have monthly " 1-2-1 " interactions with each of their residents and document the key
highlights of those conversations. The main goal was to give RAs the opportunity to build rapport with residents
and create additional touchpoints with them. RAs commonly provided feedback that they weren't sure what
to talk to residents about, and we noticed the RAs' responses didn't go into much depth about the residents'
experiences. To address this, we created a set of five questions for RAs to ask in their interactions that focused
on the residents' experiences inside halls and within the campus community. We then uploaded these questions
into a Microsoft form for RAs to input the residents' responses from their " 1-2-1 " conversations.
We developed the following questions for the " 1-2-1 " conversations:
1. How are classes going? Have you met with your advisor?
2. What campus resources have you utilized or are familiar with?
3. Have you attended any programs, either in Pelican or elsewhere on campus recently? What programs
or events?
4. Have you found a community at UNCW? What communities are you a part of?
5. How has your relationship with your roommates/floormates changed since last semester since
returning to campus?
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SEAHO Report - Summer 2021

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Contents
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - 1
SEAHO Report - Summer 2021 - Contents
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