Student development theories


Student development theories

Student development theory refers to the body of theories related to how students gain knowledge in post-secondary education environments.

History

The earliest theory — or tradition — that evolved with the first universities in Europe was "in loco parentis". Schools acted on behalf of parents for the good of their students and concentrated on character development which mostly equalled to instilling students with traditional Christian values through strict rules and enforced by rigid discipline. The development of students' character was substantially more important than the development of their intellect.

The first change came in the late nineteenth and early part of the twentieth century, with the increasing growth of universities and development of the social sciences like psychology. Theorists such as B.F. Skinner and Carl Rogers influenced the thinking about students and a new paradigm developed: the student services paradigm as the name indicates stated that students should be provided with services they require in order to better gain knowledge.

In the middle of the twentieth century the student service paradigm started to be replaced by the student development paradigm. This paradigm was influenced by the growing body of psychological and sociological theories, reflecting the idea that students learn both in-class and out-of-class, and are influenced both by their genetics and social environment. Student development theories stress that every student is a different individual with unique needs.

Basic assumptions guiding the student development movement:
# The individual student must be considered as a whole.
# Each student is a unique person and must be treated as such.
# The total environment of the student is educational and must be used to help the student achieve full development.
# The major responsibility for a student's personal and social development rests with the student and his/her personal resources.

Theories

Student development theories generally can be divided into five categories:
# Psychosocial. Psychosocial theories life-long issues that tend to occur in sequence and are correlated with chronological age, concentrating on individuals progress through various 'life stages' by accomplishing certain deeds.
# Cognitive-Structural. Cognitive-structural theories address how student perceives, organizes, and reasons about their experiences.
# Person-Environment. Person-environment theories address interaction between conceptualizations of the college student and the college environment, looking at behavior as a social function of the person and the environment. Those theories are particularly common in career planning.
# Humanistic Existential. Humanistic existential theories concentrate on certain philosophical concepts about human nature: that humans are free, responsible, self-aware, potentially self-actualizing and that education and personal growth is facilitated by self-disclosure, followed by self-acceptance and self-awareness. These theories are used extensively in counseling.
# Student Development Process Models. Student development process models can be divided into abstract theories and recommended practical sets of action steps for the practice of student development. They outline the process steps of how to use theories.

There are dozens of theories falling into these five families. Among the most famous are:
* Arthur W. Chickering's Psychosocial Theory of Student Development
* William Perry's Cognitive Theory of Student Development

References

* Rona F. Flippo, David C. Caverly, "Handbook of College Reading and Study Strategy Research", [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0805830049&id=kdYlvg_tFkYC&pg=PA28&lpg=PA28&dq=%22student+development+theory%22&sig=dUkN8KsWnHwOljZwYLMLKMY9aoM Google Print, p.28ff] Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999, ISBN 0-8058-3004-9
* [http://www.utdallas.edu/dept/ugraddean/theory.html Student Development Theory] , University of Texas, Dallas, last accessed on 30 June 2006.

Further reading

* Astin, A. Student involvement: a developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25(4), 297-308, 1984.
* Creamer, Don G. (Ed.). Student Development in Higher Education: Theories, Practices and Future Directions. Cincinnati: ACPA, 1980.
* Knefelkamp, Lee, Widick, Carole and Parker, Clyde (eds.). Applying New Developmental Findings. New Directions for Student Services No. 4. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1978.
* Miller, T.K. and Winston, Jr., R.B. "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., 1991
* Rodgers, R. F. "Student Development." In U. Delworth, G. R. Hanson, and Associates, Student Services: A Handbook for the Profession. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1989.
* Sanford, N. Self & society: social change and individual development. New York, NY: Atherton Press, 1967.
* Strange, C. "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., 1991.
* Strange, C. C., & Banning, J. H. (2001). Educating by design: Creating campus learning environments that work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
* Upcraft, M. Lee and Gardner, John L. (Eds.). The Freshman Year Experience. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1989. p. 41–46.
* Upcraft, M. Lee and Moore, Leila V. "Evolving Theoretical Perspectives of Student Development." In Margaret J. Barr, M. Lee Upcraft and Associates. New Futures for Student Affairs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990.


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