The ABC’s of ProgRAmming – It’s as Easy as “P.I.E.” Dan Oltersdorf –

Programming is a very important part of the RA position. Programming assists in building community on your floor, educating residents about important issues, and helping them be more socially, academically, and personally successful.

This article focuses on the basics of successful programs. Whether you are a 3rd year RA, or this is your first semester, take a moment to get “back to the basics” so you can be a great programmer this semester.

The three primary components of programming can be remembered by following statement: “It’s as easy as P.I.E.” P.I.E. stands for Preparation, Implementation, and Evaluation.

  1. Preparation I. E.

Preparation is the most important part of programming. Preparation consists of many elements which combine to produce great programs. Some of them are outlined here:

Assessment – In order to put on effective programs, it is important to know what your residents need and want. This can be done through formal and informal evaluation. A formal evaluation can be done using a survey and by asking for verbal feedback. For an example of a written survey, click here. Informal assessment comes through your daily interactions with residents and your knowledge of their needs.

Relationships. Having good relationships with your residents is a key component to programming. If you have a strong connection with those you want to program for, they will want to do things together. You will know more about their needs and interests, as well as when the best time is to have a program.

Planning – While some great “improptu” programs happen at the last minute, the most effective programming requires that you plan a date in advance. This will allow you to get all of the details you need in place, including your location, any materials, guests, etc. Use your supervisor to help you in this process! You can also plan programs based on the time of year. For some great calendar resources with student issues, theme months, etc, visit the calendar page.

Advertising – Effective advertising should come in many forms. It is helpful to come up with a creative title for your program that will help you with advertising.

An example of an effective advertising strategy follows: 2 weeks before the program, post simple flyers all over the hall in order to generate curiosity. With 1 week left, place door hangers on everyone’s door with more details. With 3 days left, put more detailed flyers up. On the day of the program, email everyone on your floor and put up big posters announcing the program. During this entire time, utilize “word of mouth” advertising. “Talk it up” to you residents! If you don’t ask them to come, they might not take the initiative. This is where the relationships are so important.

P. I.mplementation. – Now that you have finished the Preparation process, you are ready for your program!

Here are some keys to remember as you execute a successful program:

  • The day before the program, confirm all details, including speakers, room reservations, or other important components of your program.
  • Show up early: Depending on the program, make sure you are there early enough to set up, meet any guest speakers, or do any other preparation.
  • Enjoy your program! You put a lot of work into it, now enjoy it!
  • Be sure to thank everyone who was involved in making the program a success!

P.I.E.valuation – The Planning is over, and the program has been Implemented, so now all that is left is Evaluation. Evaluating how a program went will not only help you in the future, it will also help others who want to do the same program or a similar program. Evaluation can happen on several levels:

  • Formal resident evaluations – Hand out evaluation sheets to the residents who attended the program.
  • Informal evaluation – Ask participants what they thought of the program. Watch their responses and interactions.
  • Self-evaluation – Fill out an evaluation of how you think the program went. Include your thoughts on the planning, advertising, content, location, etc.

Following these simple suggestions can help make your programming efforts even more fun, rewarding, and beneficial. Watch for more information on this topic at

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