About Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University (NIU) was founded in 1895 and is a public research university in DeKalb, Illinois. The university has seven degree-granting colleges and a student body of approximately 16,000. NIU is a a Division I Athletics institution and is classified as an R2 Doctoral University with high research activity.

Residence Halls


Beds On Campus


Student Staff


The Issue

One of the barriers many departments face when attempting to improve their assessment efforts is the amount of time required to collect and disseminate their data. Furthermore, it is often difficult to turn this data around to staff members on the front-line in a timely manner so they can take action. Both formative and summative data can help a department not only improve their practice but also better understand the experiences of their residents.

Northern Illinois University had a residential curriculum for a number of years and was looking for ways to deepen and enhance their curricular efforts through the use of assessment data. They wanted ways to empower their staff through data to improve their engagement with and services for residents.

“Roompact has helped us motivate both our Student Staff and Professional Staff to understand the impact they are having on students. By being transparent with where we are at, we can make meaningful changes to improve our curriculum with the needs and wants of our current students.”

– Kelly Winters, Northern Illinois University


To encourage staff engagement and use of the Roompact software.

To close the assessment loop giving staff actionable data to improve outreach and services to students.

To advance the goals of NIU’s residential curriculum.

The Solution

Utilizing Roompact’s Insights feature, NIU has access to a number of different reports that allow them to look at their assessment data in different ways. These reports are designed to highlight important data in a way that is easily accessible and requires little-to-no intervention to be useful. There are a number of Insights reports spanning all of Roompact’s features that can be generated. One NIU staff member took the lead on assessment for the department and ran reports through Roompact’s Insights feature. They then took this data and translated it into visual reports and slide decks that allowed other staff members to more easily digest the information.


Insights allows you to take the data collected by Roompact’s software and view it in multiple ways. This powerful feature opens up new avenues for assessment that are limitless. Schools are experimenting with Insights and coming up with new use cases every day.

In order to close the loop for staff members, assessment data was presented to NIU professional and student staff at meetings and during mid-year training. A student staff feedback committee was also utilized. By sharing this data in these venues, NIU was able to achieve multiple goals. It allowed staff members to reflect on past challenges and successes engaging with residents and the relative achievement of departmental learning goals. It gave staff members actionable data and suggestions on what they could do to improve their practice. Finally, it re-enforced why data is collected and why it is important. This, in turn, drove further and more meaningful engagement with Roompact’s software.

The following are examples of slides that were presented at a mid-term staff training. This data was shared and staff were engaged in conversation about what it meant and what goals to set for the future.

(actual data is fictionalized, but the examples are real)

NIU Case Study 1

Insights allowed NIU to show how engaged staff were with individual residents. The results are presented in aggregate, but more detailed individual lists could also be generated to determine if residents were falling through the cracks.

NIU Case Study 2

Further detail could be provided on a per building basis (and even down to the floor level). Individual student data could be reviewed to determine potential retention risks.

NIU Case Study

By comparing data across multiple strategies used in their curriculum, NIU could determine if staff were following through on engagement efforts and the relative success of those efforts in engaging all students.

Example of a reflection worksheet in Forms.

Intentional Conversations

Intentional conversation data is often incredibly difficult to make sense of and easily translate into actionable data. Roompact makes this easy. Data from your conversations can be aggregated to look at trends campus-wide or in specific communities. It can also be viewed on an individual student basis. Find out which residents are engaged and follow up with those that are not.

The Future

As NIU has gathered more feedback, they have been able to use Insights to drive continuous improvement in their efforts. Staff members are more engaged, and, in turn, they are using the Roompact software more allowing them to make even further enhancements. A key component of their success is being transparent and sharing data with all levels of staff including both their challenges and successes.

Looking to the future, there are other data points that could be helpful to provide to staff including: Roommate/Suitemate Agreement completion rates, relative incidences of roommate conflicts, event completion and learning objective achievement, and more. As the sharing of data is more routinized and normalized, it will allow NIU’s department of Housing and Residential Services to enhance its status as a learning-centric organization focused on continuous improvement. There are also opportunities to share this data in real time throughout the term in staff meeting agenda dashboards as well as during traditional in-service sessions and training programs.

Suggestions on how you can apply lessons learned from NIU to your own Roompact usage:

Roompact’s Insights reports allow you to pull important data in numerous ways that you can use to help provide real-time data to your staff. The possibilities are endless and will depend on how you use Roompact’s software and what your departmental goals are. Some of the ways you can use these reports include:

  • Agreements
    • To track progress on Agreement completion rates for buildings so you can follow up with supervisors
    • To create a contest for staff members or residents to boost completion rates of Agreements
    • To set goals and report out on success in achieving desired Agreement completion rates
    • To do year-over-year comparisons to track progress towards goals
  • Events
    • To determine how many events are in specific stages, such as missing assessment or completed, to follow up with staff members.
    • To generate an end-of-term report with frequencies of event types.
  • Forms
    • To track which residents have been interacted with most and least
    • To target residents for outreach related to institutional retention goals
    • To determine who has or has not completed a form to coordinate follow up.
    • To track which residents had an intentional conversation with a staff member (and which ones did not)
    • To determine which residents repeatedly show up in duty reports, or have noise complaints, etc.
  • Notes, Labels, and Room Status Colors
    • To identify trends in most frequently used tags across campus and in specific buildings.
    • To generate a list of students with special characteristics or circumstances you are tracking such as: having an emotional support animal, a FERPA exception, or status as a first generation student, athlete, etc.
    • To create a dashboard chart (for a departmental dashboard or agenda) indicating the current health of your room statuses.
  • Staff Engagement
    • To determine which staff members use Roompact the most and the least
    • As a part of your staff evaluation process
    • As a training tool to determine who may need more development on how and when to use Roompact’s software

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