Student and Enrolment Services
Student Development theorists are interested in the process of development of a person who is participating in post-secondary education. This means that every parent, advisor and instructor of a University of Calgary student should be familiar with what the most recent Student Development theory has to say about how institutions, faculty members, and parents can best challenge and support individual students to promote their psychosocial and cognitive development. While some of this development can be achieved through coursework, out of classroom experiences and living environments can further enhance and extend students' learning and development.
Student Development theories focus on human growth and environmental influences and designs that provide environments to promote students' learning and maturation, both in and outside of class. As both a theory base and a philosophy about the purposes of higher education, Student Development encourages educational interventions that strengthen skills, stimulate self-understanding and increase knowledge.
The development of students requires consideration of equality, cooperation and collaboration among all parties - students, faculty, staff and administration. Individual students can be assisted to build on their own unique developmental processes. The more individualized this development and the activities that support it, the better. The well-rounded development of the whole person is the primary goal of those who promote Student Development.
Student Development theories generally fall into four broad categories, each of which represents different perspectives on the post-secondary student:
Perhaps the most widely known and applied theory of student development is Chickering and Reisser's psychosocial development model (1993). Chickering and Reisser suggest that establishing identity is the key developmental issue that arises for students during the university years. They propose seven vectors along which traditionally aged university students develop:
According to the theory, students' progress through the first four vectors simultaneously during their first and second years and (generally) through the fourth vector during their second and third years (given a standard four-year program). During the third and fourth years, they progress simultaneously through the last two vectors. Students move through these vectors at different rates and may even move back and forth through them, depending on levels of challenge, support and maturity. Although based on traditional-aged students, elements of Chickering's theory can be used with all students.
Psychosocial development is influenced by the following components of the university environment:
Major Experiences Central to Psychosocial Development
William Perry's theory of cognitive development of students (1968) examines nine positions that trace the way in which students typically move from a simplistic, categorical view of the world to a realization of the contingent nature of knowledge, relative values, and the formation and affirmation of one's own commitments. The theory is useful in establishing, implementing and evaluating a curriculum. These "positions" serve as filters through which students see their world through both their academic and personal experiences.
Level 1: Dualism (From this perspective, there are only two approaches, being: right and wrong - and uncertainty indicates an error of some sort)
Level 2: Relativism (All knowledge is uncertain or valid only within a context)
Level 3: Commitment (An individual's identity is defined as commitments are made and lived)
While there is still much to learn about the ways in which students grow and develop during their post-secondary years, these theories are the foundational ones · but you may want to learn more! If so, please review the references below and stay tuned to this site for updates. Enjoy!
Chickering, A.W. and Reisser, L. (1993) Education and Identity (2nd edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Creamer, Don G. (Ed.). (1980) Student Development in Higher Education: Theories, Practices, and Future Directions. Cincinnati: ACPA.
Knefelkamp, Lee, Widick, Carole and Parker, Clyde. (Eds.) (1978). "Applying New Developmental Findings." New Directions for Student Services No. 4., San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Miller, T.K. and Winston, Jr., R.B. (1991). "Human Development and Higher Education." In T.K. Miller, R.B. Winston, Jr. and Associates, Administration and Leadership in Student Affairs: Actualizing Student Development in Higher Education. Muncie, Indiana: Accelerated Development, Inc.
Perry, W.G. (1970). Forms of Intellectual and Ethical Development in the College Years: A Scheme. Troy, Mo.: Hold, Rinehart & Winston.
Rodgers, R. F. (1989). "Student Development." In U. Delworth, G. R. Hanson, and Associates, Student Services: A Handbook for the Profession. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Strange, C. (1991). "Managing College Environments: Theory and Practice." In T.K. Miller, R. B. Winston, Jr. and Associates, Administration and Leadership in Student Affairs: Actualizing Student Development in Higher Education. Muncie, Indiana: Accelerated Development, Inc.
Thompson, Jill M. (1999). "Enhancing Cognitive Development in College Classrooms: A Review." Journal of Instructional Psychology 26 (1).
Upcraft, M. Lee and Gardner, John L. (Eds.) (1989). The Freshman Year Experience. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p. 41-46.
Upcraft, M. Lee and Moore, Leila V. (1990) "Evolving Theoretical Perspectives of Student Development." In Margaret J. Barr, M. Lee Upcraft and Associates. New Futures for Student Affairs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.