Students increase their odds of getting their on-campus dream home through a University of Dayton program series.
University of Dayton boasts a beautiful 373-acre campus, housing approximately 90 percent of undergrads on campus or in the student neighborhood. In 2015, the Department of Housing and Residence Life implemented a program called Aviate, a nod to Dayton’s aviation history and connection to a student’s journey toward their destination. Aviate provides students with a series of learning goals to master by the time they’re ready to graduate, including authorship, interculturalism, community living and more.
Part of the Aviate program is connected to the housing assignment process and is called PATH, which stands for “Points Accumulated Towards Housing.” By participating in approved events, students accumulate “points” that reward their involvement and give them priority within the housing assignments process.
The University of Dayton libraries enthusiastically participate as an Aviate campus program partner by hosting PATH-eligible events. Student attendance at library events this past year was unprecedented. Here’s what we learned and how we plan to stay “on point.”
PATH or Bust
With the new program, we decided early on that every library event geared toward undergraduates must be designed to be PATH-eligible. The basic rules of PATH stipulate that it must be free and open to all students. The program has nine criteria, including articulating how the event will help students work towards one of housing’s nine learning goals and outcomes. Our events address the following goals:
- Students will demonstrate respect for and appreciation of the cultural perspectives of others.
- Students will articulate how one's personal culture interacts with the cultural identity of others.
- Students will clarify personal values and beliefs.
From September 2015 to March 2016, the libraries hosted 14 PATH-eligible events including nine film screenings, two panel discussions, two lecture events and one book talk. The majority of events were sponsored by a Latino Americans: 500 Years of History programming grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the American Library Association (ALA). The others included a three-part diversity and inclusion film series and our student book club, Porch Reads.
Aviate is a promoter’s dream, since students consult one master calendar to choose events to attend for points. The calendar provides everything students need: registration requirements, space limitations and the scope of each event. We also did our usual digital and print promotion, including the required PATH logo on images.
Our audience sizes were large but not overwhelming. Since students accruing PATH points swiped their IDs at events, we were able to count many attendees. However, the events did have higher attendance than the swipes indicated. Some students who attended were not interested in acquiring points, because they were either graduating or had already secured off-campus housing. We logged swipes from 394 students at our 14 events for an average of 28 students, per event.
Swiping student IDs gives us a wealth of information, as many universities know. Participation may be part of campus-wide conversations regarding the connection of student involvement with retention and student satisfaction. The numbers show some interesting trends for us to keep in mind. Second-year students came to library events more often than other classes, probably because they want to move from the campus apartments or quads to the coveted stand-alone houses in the student neighborhood. We can see that March was the most popular month to attend events, perhaps because the deadline to obtain housing points was March 17. Procrastinators, you are not alone in this world.
The libraries events were just a small part of the overall Aviate program. In all, students earned 50,973 PATH points through campus partner events like ours. One challenge is that PATH points ensure attendance, but not always engagement. From our perspective, it takes a nice balance between larger events that accommodate many people (e.g., lectures, panel discussions) to smaller, more intimate events (e.g., book talks, film screenings, discussions).
A challenge for any programming librarian is designing and promoting events. Another common challenge is connecting the events to where people are in the their lives. Since university-level learning outcomes create the framework for this program, it’s a great opportunity for us to design meaningful co-curricular programming. Common intellectual experiences such as these are known as high-impact learning practices, which studies show benefit students from all backgrounds. With this in mind, our library instruction team will be designing some possible point-eligible information literacy workshops beginning in the fall.
Aviate provides incentives to create quality educational programs and helps our students reach their destination: a house in a great community. Has your library swiped student IDs to track attendance? How does this help your planning and your institution’s retention strategy?