Millersville University recently announced that it was awarded an Assessment & Impact Award in Housing and Residence Life. The award, given by Skyfactor Benchworks, a Macmillan Learning company, recognized the University for its ongoing commitment to creating a positive residence life experience for students through use of data-driven programs.
Millersville University was recognized for significant improvements to survey scores related to personal interactions, diverse interactions, and satisfaction with student staff. The increases followed the implementation of a new resident engagement model, modifications to student staff training and a focus on living-learning communities. Representatives from the University will be formally recognized with the award at a webinar hosted by Skyfactor on July 1.
Millersville was chosen from among nearly 300 institutions utilizing the Benchworks assessments, including ones throughout Australia, Canada, and the U.K. The other recipients of the award this year, include the University of Tampa, the University of Central Florida, Emory University – Oxford College, Miles Community College (Montana), the University of Northern Colorado, and the University of Alaska Southeast.
Residence life has historically and continues to play an important role in building community, ensuring students’ success in college and improving graduation rates. Several studies have documented the connection, including research from Skyfactor, which found that the students who reported that their housing experience helped them make connections with other students in their courses were more likely to report that their housing experience contributed to their overall learning.
“University Housing has measurable goals to achieve as part of our university-wide strategic plan,” said Dr. Scott M. Helfrich, Director of University Housing & Conference Services at MU. “We use assessment data to focus our practices on key priorities that contribute to the academic and personal success of our students.”
“Residence life has never been both more challenging and more important than during the past year, as programs faced profound issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, housing programs carried on and continued their work to improve the student experience. Millersville University successfully used data-driven insights to make meaningful improvements to the residential experience and we’re proud to recognize their work,” said Steven Ray, Vice President, Macmillan Learning.
The Assessment and Impact Award for Residence Life was established in 2019 to recognize colleges that demonstrate intentionality in using insights from data to improve their residence life programs. The winners were selected this spring by Macmillan Learning’s Analytics & Research Team, who analyzed multiple years of data from the ACUHO-I/Benchworks Resident Assessment to identify programs with both consistently high scores and significant improvements in survey scores. The team then interviewed staff from these campuses to learn about the efforts and initiatives in place at each program. An external review team of experts in the profession then blind reviewed and scored each finalist on a rubric.
Benchworks assessments are the most widely used programs in higher education housing and have been available for nearly 20 years. The ACUHO-I/Benchworks Residents Assessment is used by nearly 300 institutions each year and is one of more than 50 different assessments from Benchworks on topics important to college success, including housing, orientation, and student affairs and service. The survey includes questions about student satisfaction with facilities, programs, dining, safety, room assignment, and roommates, as well as learning related to personal interactions, diversity, sense of community, academic success, transferable skills, sustainability and healthy habits.