The curricular approach aligns the mission, goals, outcomes, and practices of a student affairs division, unit, or other units that work to educate students beyond the classroom with those of the institution and organizes intentional and developmentally sequenced strategies to facilitate student learning. In this book, the authors explain how to implement a curricular approach for educating students beyond the classroom.


Dr. Kathleen G. Kerr Vice President for Student Affairs SUNY Oswego
Dr. Keith E. Edwards Speaker, Consultant, and Coach
Dr. James F. Tweedy Director of Residence Life & Housing University of Delaware
Dr. Hilary L. Lichterman Director of Housing and Residence Life Seattle University
Dr. Amanda R. Knerr Executive Director, Residential Life and Housing Indiana State University


Susan R. Komives, Ed. D.
“Too many professional books are written by people with great ideas who care deeply but who have not lived-the-work. This book exemplifies the best of the late Lee Knfelkamp’s practice-theory-practice model (PTP). These experienced authors have done this hard work, reflected on their experience to identify principles, created theories and useful models, and pushed that wisdom back into practice on every page. Institutions have a moral imperative to make all students’ experiences educationally purposeful. This book takes that quest to new levels of excellence. Even something obvious becomes revolutionary when implemented in practice built on the integrity of years of wise experience.” Susan R. Komives is professor emerita from the University of Maryland. She is past president of the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education and ACPA: College Student Educators International. She was a member of the team that wrote Learning Reconsidered.
Richard Keeling
Richard P. Keeling, M.D. 
“The message at the heart of this pathbreaking book is clear: We cannot truly understand and respond to students as whole people without supporting their learning holistically across the entirety of the college experience. Learning outside the classroom should be as curricular as is the academic experience—not “co-curricular,” but fully curricular, integrated and aligned with an institution’s academic mission and values. An accidental, situational, or happenstance approach to learning in student affairs (still easy to find) is a wasted opportunity; it fails to deliver on the promise of higher education. Starting with the principle that we must not bifurcate students’ experience (academic v. out-of-classroom), these authors guide us capably and carefully toward a curricular approach that preserves the potential of both students and higher education.” Richard P. Keeling, M.D. Editor, Learning Reconsidered Principal, Keeling & Associates, LLC
Karen Kurotsuchi Inkelas, PhD
“This book will serve as a valuable resource for anyone seeking to provide rigorous, empirical and theory-based student experiences beyond the classroom. With students from increasingly diverse backgrounds—culturally, socially, technologically, academically—attending college in the 21st century, higher education needs to be prepared to facilitate learning in every aspect of its work, and this book provides a strong foundation for student affairs practitioners.” Karen Kurotsuchi Inkelas, PhD Associate Professor, Curry School of Education Principal, Hereford Residential College Research Director, Crafting Success for Underrepresented Scientists and Engineers Research Director of Undergraduate Initiatives, Contemplative Sciences Center University of Virginia
Gavin Henning
Gavin Henning, Ph.D.
“The Curricular Approach to Student Affairs: A Revolutionary Shift for Learning Beyond the Classroom is a ground-breaking text in which the authors deftly describe a comprehensive, student-centered approach for learning outside of the classroom. They detail the rationale behind this approach, use poignant examples to explain how the approach can be implemented, and provide direction to senior student affairs administrators regarding leadership and organizational change. Following the guidance offered in this book will transform how a division of student affairs operates and actualize student learning and development.” Gavin Henning, Ph.D. Past-President, Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education Professor of Higher Education Past President of ACPA – College Student Educators International Program Director, Master of Higher Education and Doctorate of Education Programs New England College
Adrianna Kezar, Ph. D.
“This book offers an exciting synthesis of over a decade’s committed work to improve students’ co-curricular learning in a variety of beyond the classroom environments. The systemic and intentional approach is a leading paradigm shift. The passion and dedication of the team delivering this book and the wisdom offered are guaranteed to improve the student affairs work on any campus.” Adrianna Kezar, Dean’s professor of higher education leadership, Director of the Pullias Center and Director of the Delphi Project on the Changing faculty and Student Success
Greg Blimling
Gregory S. Blimling, Ph.D.
“Drawing on the expertise of faculty and residence life educators, the curriculum-based approach to student learning constructs a comprehensive goal-directed learning experience for students.  This well researched book provides a detailed guide about how to develop and implement this educational approach to advancing student learning in residence halls. Residence life educators committed to engaging students in intentional goal-directed learning experiences must read this book.” Gregory S. Blimling, Professor (retired), College Student Affairs Program, Rutgers University Graduate School of Education; and author of Student Learning in College Residence Halls: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Why. 
Vernon A. Wall
 “The curricular approach to student learning and engagement beyond the classroom is a fundamental need for all campus communities.  I am excited that my professional colleagues now have a definitive resource to develop sequenced, mission driven and scholarship based initiatives that will ultimately enhance the college student experience.” Vernon A. Wall Director:  Business Development, LeaderShape, Inc. President:  ACPA – College Student Educators, International 2020 – 2021

What is a Curricular Approach?

Authors of The Curricular Approach to Student Affairs describe the curricular approach and how it can serve student affairs and ultimately students. Hosted by Heather Shea.

Why Now?

Authors of The Curricular Approach in Student Affairs discuss the relevance of their new book and this approach in navigating student learning amidst a global pandemic and movements for racial justice. Hosted by Heather Shea.

The Curricular Approach to Student Affairs on Student Affairs Now

Co-authors Kathleen Kerr, Keith Edwards, Jim Tweedy, Hilary Lichterman, and Amanda Knerr discuss their new book The Curricular Approach to Student Affairs on Student Affairs Now with host Heather Shea.

Table of Contents

Foreword—Stephen John Quaye Acknowledgments 1) Why a Curricular Approach in Student Affairs? 2) What Is a Curricular Approach in Student Affairs? 3) How to Identify Learning Aims 4) How to Design, Implement, and Assess a Curricular Approach 5) Facilitating Student Learning Beyond the Classroom 6) Leadership for a Curricular Approach References Appendices Index
Steve Herndon on The Curricular Approach to Student Affairs
Dr. Jamie Penven on The Curricular Approach to Student Affairs
Ardell Sanders on The Curricular Approach to Student Affairs

Excerpts from The Curricular Approach to Student Affairs

“A curricular approach is a systemic way to be more purposeful and strategic about how educators who work with students beyond the classroom can best facilitate student learning as an outcome of the student experience.” Chapter 1: Why? (p.2)
“Each of the 10 Essential Elements is necessary to construct a student learning approach that allows educators to contribute to the educational aims of their institution. These elements, taken together and infused with an equity and justice lens as student affairs educators attend to the diversity of students on campus, differentiate a curricular approach from a more superficial change that is unlikely to improve learning and student success.” Chapter 2: What? (p. 37-38)
“Good developmental sequencing fosters integration and reinforcement, while eliminating redundancy.” Chapter 4: How? (p. 60)
“The art of letting go of practices that no longer add significant value to student learning is a hallmark of professionalism and fine stewardship of resources.” Chapter 4: How? (p. 61)
“Without intentional and repeated efforts to be mindful and conscious of these social inequities along the lines of race, gender, class, ability, religion, citizenship status, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and more, educators will not only fail in reducing the impact of oppression and privilege that students experience in the learning environment, but they will actively contribute to it.” Chapter 5: Pedagogy (p. 85)
“Shifting to a curricular approach is a shift from an old way of doing student affairs work to a whole new way of being a student affairs educator. This means new ways of being, not only individually but organizationally. It means systematically structuring and sequencing learning initiatives beyond functional silos to align with how students experience college. To successfully lead a curricular approach, not only do individual leaders need to shift to a new mindset, but entire organizational structures and practices need to shift to being both learner-focused and educationally driven.” Chapter 6: Leadership (p. 97)


We dedicate this book first and foremost to college students. We hope that the curricular approach, which is a substantive and systemic shift that prioritizes student learning and organizes resources accordingly, honors college students and acknowledges how much they inspire our daily work. We also dedicate this book to our colleagues; we have and continue to learn with and from you. We dedicate this book to the current, former, and future faculty and participants of the ACPA Institute on the Curricular Approach (formerly Residential Curriculum Institute) as well as our campus colleagues, both professional and student staff. The curricular approach itself, how we think about it, and how we communicate about it has continued to evolve, thanks to all of you.

Learning Aims Lead to Educational Plans

An inverted pyramid outlining the components of learning aims and educational plans in a curricular approach.

ACPA Institute on the Curricular Approach