UW-Stout News Story

University Housing honored for improving residence hall life

October 25, 2012

A University of Wisconsin-Stout division has gone the extra mile to improve student life in the residence halls. For that effort it has received an international award.

University Housing was presented the 2012 Assessment Award recently at the annual conference of the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International in Anaheim, Calif.

Amy McGovernAn award reception will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, at UW-Stout’s Memorial Student Center. The reception will be hosted by Administrative and Student Life Services, which oversees University Housing.

ACUHO-I partners with Educational Benchmarking to sponsor the annual award, which includes a $5,000 assessment package and a feature story in the ACUHO-I magazine.

In 2008 University Housing made changes to improve the satisfaction of first-year students living on campus, including moving them to residence halls in the heart of campus. Then it surveyed students, finding they were more satisfied overall, said Amy McGovern, assistant director of University Housing.

The survey, however, found slight drop-offs in satisfaction among students in the areas of personal interactions with others, time management and problem-solving, such as addressing conflict.

To counter the declines University Housing studied the data and found that students would be more satisfied with their living and learning if they interact more with other students.

Playing Monopoly in residence halls“Our students like personal connections, whether studying together in a lounge or having a discussion over dinner in the commons,” said McGovern, noting that in such an environment students gain a deeper connection to the material discussed and to one another.

Several steps were taken and, as a result, student satisfaction has improved in all 14 areas measured between 2008 and 2012. To strengthen personal connections in all residence halls, University Housing decided to:

• Spend additional time training staff on conversational and outreach skills

• Hire students with strong interpersonal skills for live-in hall positions

• Assign resident advisers in first-year halls to visit each room every night for the first two weeks of the semester to get to know students

• Assign resident advisers with returning students to complete monthly check-in conversations with each resident

• Bring in academic resource coordinators for study nights in the halls

The changes were adapted in all 11 UW-Stout residence halls, which house about 3,000 students. On south campus, there are six halls with 1,400 first-year students.

“Establishing these kinds of interpersonal connections contribute to student success when a student needs a study partner or helpful advice for a personal problem. With these deeper conversations, students practice their thinking and speaking skills. That is applied learning and good news for UW-Stout resident learners,” McGovern said.

For more information on the award, go here. For more information on University Housing’s continuing efforts to enhance student satisfaction, go here or contact McGovern, 715-232-2352.

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