Student Affairs

2019 Virtual Case Study (VCS) Scenario & Judging Criteria


As the Bronson University Office of Residence Life staff settled into the conference room and looked at the snowy field out the window, they couldn’t help but share observations about the latest weather pattern.

“I can’t believe how cold it is outside,” said Sabrina, a third-year Resident Director.

“It took me 20 minutes to warm up my car this morning,” replied Anthony, who has been working in the Office of Residence Life for the past five years.

“At least you have a car, Anthony,” said Mark, a recently hired RD. “I still can’t feel my fingers after waiting for the shuttle bus this morning. It was 20 minutes late.”

“Let’s be honest, we are lucky to have such an easy commute. Living in has some perks,” said Martha, one of three Area Coordinators at the institution.

The door to the conference room opened, and Jonathan Herbst, the Associate Director entered, “Good morning,” he said. “I know it’s hard to believe with the weather outside, but it’s time to start planning for summer RA training. Let’s warm up our imaginations and ideas!” Groans emanated from everyone. “OK, I realize that was lame, but you get where I’m coming from. Winter Break is a great time to start thinking about RA training. Kelly (the Director of Housing and Residence Life) and I were discussing possible changes to the training regimen. Actually, not so much changes as additions.”

“Do you mean more time?” asked Sabrina, who has an upper-class area of campus, typically with many returning RAs who are not always thrilled with change and longer hours. “We already have them in meetings night and day.”

“Not exactly,” Jonathan said. “Let me explain. Right now, we have essential training topics, like Programming, Diversity and Inclusion, Sexual Assault and Harassment, Campus Judicial Procedures, and Administrative Tasks and Paperwork. I think we do a good job and being mindful to work within our time constraints to make it work. But I wonder about what we are missing – and is there an opportunity to cover other subjects. What else could we cover?”

“Such as?” asked Sabrina.

“I was just getting to that,” he said. Kelly and I were brainstorming and came up with things like Managing Conflict, Creating Effective Boundaries, Using Social Media, and even Students on the Autism Spectrum.”

“Those sound like great ideas,” said Mark. “But where would we fit all that?”

“This is where it gets exciting – we take it online. It would be like a virtual course, we want it to be engaging – and portable – like a Netflix series… but with assessments,” replied Jonathan. “We introduce all these modules at once and let them proceed at their own pace.”

“So, it would be asynchronous?” said Mark. Anthony nodded as if he knew what Mark meant, but looked to Jonathan and Sabrina for validation.

“Asynchronous allows for students to learn without some of the traditional confines of in-person delivery methods, like traditional RA training. So, while not a perfect example, this online RA training is definitely moving in a different direction than what we are all used to,” said Sabrina, who was clearly intrigued, “Would there be a time limit?”

“Yeah, there’d be a completion time frame and tracking mechanisms, so we can see how each student does within the format. So, what do you think?” Anthony, who had been uncharacteristically quiet, finally spoke up.

“You know, in one of my doctoral classes we had a very lively discussion on this very topic. More and more training is moving online. We have the resources on the campus to do something like this, so I think it’s a great plan.”

“I don’t know,” stated Martha. “You can’t substitute face-to-face with face-to-computer.”

“I’m not saying that,” responded Jonathan. I think we can have the best of both worlds.

“So, what’d you want us to do?” asked Mark.

“Good question,” said Jonathan. “Kelly asked me to get together a working group—you guys—to come up with a list of 8-10 topics that would enhance training, but not replace the bread and butter subject areas we normally cover. It would also not replace the team building and the seminal events, like “Behind Closed Doors,” but, it could be used to reinforce or scaffold those activities and events.”

“Who is going to teach the classes?” asked Sabrina. “I mean, the way we do on-campus training we always have someone here do the training, maybe bring in one special speaker. Some of the topics that would benefit our students can’t be taught by people here,” she said. “How do we know what you want? How do we know the budget? I don’t want to get my hopes up for something if we can’t pull it off”

“Look, the point of this is to throw a bunch of ideas at the wall and see what sticks. Between me and Kelly, we have a great network of professional colleagues on and off campus, so don’t worry about the budget. Rather, let ME worry about the budget … I just don’t want that to get in the way of your ideas,” Replied Jonathan. “So, here’s what I need. I want you to come up with a PPT presentation that outlines your ideas, a brief outline of the topic, and the reasons why you chose them. You shouldn’t need more than 15-25 slides. You have three weeks to put this together when you will make a presentation as part of the first in-service training program of the spring semester. How does that sound?”

“It’s a broad assignment,” said Mark.

“That’s intentional,” replied Jonathan. “We don’t want to box you in. We want you to think. We need your insight and ideas. You are on the front line and we need to know what you think are priorities. I trust you to think broadly and creatively on this.”



Judges will be utilizing the following criteria:

  • innovation of approach
  • use of literature both within and outside student affairs
  • organization of presentation
  • rationalization for chosen responses
  • inclusivity of differing campus and residential system sizes and types (large/small; private/public; traditional residence hall/apartment, etc.)
  • usefulness of the information presented
  • educational value to Student Affairs



  • Your group should utilize relevant student affairs literature, if appropriate, for the presentation.
  • Utilization of outside sources, URLs, articles, etc. are encouraged, but cannot include input from individuals outside the team.
    Submissions should be well-thought out and organized.
  • IMPORTANT--Submissions must be a self-contained PDF file of a visual presentation (such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote or Google Slides). Please submit only one file per entry. All material to be considered by the judges must be contained in that file. This includes graphics, videos, etc. It is your team’s responsibility to ensure the file works properly.
  • An accompanying 3-5 page written narrative to provide the judges with a more detailed understanding of your submission. Do not add to the “Presenter Notes” area of the slides.