Steve Graves <sgraves@MIT.EDU>
What are the primary requirements for the MIT residential system?
(1) The residential system should be a safe haven for students. It should provide a sanctuary from the MIT academic pressures. But it also should be a safe haven within which our students can develop and practice the necessary social and emotional skills to function in the world today.
(2) The residential system should provide customized nurturing, mentoring and support, as needed and as appropriate, in order for our students to get the best possible educational experience at MIT.
(3) The residential system should provide opportunities for our students to learn by doing about leadership, self-governance and teamwork. This includes opportunities to lead as well as to be led, and opportunities to reflect on these experiences so as to learn.
(4) The residential system should provide opportunities for healthy fun, friendship and relaxation.
(5) The residential system should present, in as natural a way as possible, social and societal challenges from which students can learn and develop.
How do we assess how well the system is satisfying these requirements?
For (1) and (2) we would need to specify better what the elements are. But I expect you would eventually need to survey the "customers," namely the students, to measure how well the system is doing on these requirements.
For (3) and (4), one could measure the number of opportunities, the utilization level for each opportunity, and possibly some measure of effectiveness.
For (5) one might first articulate the set of challenges (i. e., the curriculum), and then see how best to assess.
As to the Capstone Question, I see the faculty role as being to help architect the system, and then to monitor and assess how well it is performing. There will be a few faculty (e. g., the house-masters) that will make heavy investments in the execution, but the vast majority will have at best cameo roles. I see the staff's primary function being to serve as facilitators and coaches, as well as counselors; they certainly need to be involved in the design, and subsequent monitoring and assessment stages, but they should not play a 'heavy hand' in the execution. The students should be involved, as partners, in the system design. They should play the major role in the execution, under the guidance of faculty and staff and drawing on these resources.