Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cross and Fhagen-Smith's Model of Black Identity Development Summarized by Margaret (Meg) Larimer

Theory In My Own Words
Cross and Fhagen-Smith explain black identity development as “psychological nigrescence” or “the process of becoming black”.  They state three central concepts that help define black identity:  Personal Identity (PI), Reference Group Orientation (RGO) and Race Salience (salience meaning a state of being).  Cross and Fhagen-Smith recognized three patterns:  Nigrescence Pattern A, where individuals develop their black identity as a result of “formative socialization experiences” usually instilled by parents, family members and their community;  Nigrescence Pattern B develops when an individual has not been able to form a healthy black identity (mentioned in Pattern A) and now must undergo conversion, usually during adulthood; and finally Nigrescence Pattern C which continues black identity development throughout adulthood.  Three identity types will emerge: low race salience, high race salience or internalized racism.
 There are five stages: 1) Pre-Encounter, 2) Encounter, 3) Immersion-Emersion, 4) Internalization and 5) Internalization-Commitment.  An individual reaches Achieved Identity Status when their identity is based on one’s own personal self-concepts and beliefs and not on the beliefs of others.  It is at stage 5 (internalization-commitment) where the individual reaches a point where they can join others in their own community and try to solve struggles within that community as well as protect black history.  Black identity development can continue throughout adulthood.
Uses of Cross and Fhagen-Smith’s Theory in Higher Education
Kijana Crawford and Danielle Smith (2005) performed a study in which they researched the availability in Higher Education of mentors as role models to African American women. Cross and Fhagen-Smith state black identity develops as a result of positive socialization experiences within one’s family and community. Therefore, positive role models are essential for optimal growth.   However, according to Crawford and Smith, role models for African American women are severely lacking in higher education.  Per the study, women in Higher Education who have role models or mentors have increased opportunities to acquire knowledge, collaborate with other professionals, improve job performance and career satisfaction.  This study found that African American women in higher education do not have these role models or mentoring experiences.  It is Crawford and Smith’s belief that the women in the study were not given adequate opportunity to develop or capitalize on their talents.  While these women were well educated, they were not nurtured.  All of the respondents in the study believed they would have had more positive job satisfaction had they had role models and mentors to guide them.
Example Study:
Robinson, J., & Biran, M. (2006).  Discovering self: relationships between African identity and
academic achievement.  Journal of Black Studies, 37 (1), 46-68.

The authors at Miami University used a study of college students and determined a significant correlation between African American identity, specifically their sense of collective identity, and positive academic achievement.  They hypothesized that given the opportunity to develop African American self-consciousness; these students would then have the necessary foundation to achieve academic excellence.  Their study confirmed that women appeared to exert more effort towards academics and were more connected to their communities than African American men.  If students, researchers and scholars were to pair this study to Cross and Fhagen-Smith’s model of black identity development, a foundation could be laid for the justification of making black identity development an important aspect of the college experience.


Crawford, K., & Smith, D. (2005).  The we and the us: mentoring African American Women.
  Journal of Black Studies, 36 (1), 52-67.

Cross, W. E., & Fhagen-Smith, P. (2001). In C. L. Wijeyesinghe, B. W. Jackson III. (Eds.), New
Perspectives on Racial Identity Development (1st ed.; pp. 243-268).  New York, NY: New York University Press.

Evans, N.J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M., Patten, L. D., & Renn, K.A. (2001).  Student
development in college theory, research, and practice.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Robinson, J., & Biran, M. (2006).  Discovering self: relationships between African identity and
academic achievement.  Journal of Black Studies, 37 (1), 46-68.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

College Student Development Theory On The Job - Krystin Deschamps

Krystin Deschamps, Matriculation Advisor, Office of Retention and Student Success, Utah State University, visited the ELP 6620 - College Student Development Theory class in November.  She shared with us her prespective on using these theories within her practice at USU. 
After her presentation, Krystin offered her comments for the blog.  Enjoy and we thank her for her time!

Krystin’s Three Main Job Responsibilities:
1.       Advise students who are departing USU, perhaps for a Leave of Absence, perhaps to transfer
2.       Academically suspend (not as much fun as it might sound), as well as readmit students who left USU in less-than-good academic standing
3.       Advise students who have been referred to me for “early alert,” meaning that a professor believes the student to be struggling academically, especially early in the semester

Advise students who are departing USU, perhaps for a Leave of Absence, perhaps to transfer

·          Common reasons for departure
o   Religious/Humanitarian Service
o   Financial/Employment
o   Family responsibilities
o   Medical
o   Transferring
o   Not ready for school
Using the following theories: 
·         Chickering’s Identity Theory
o   Sometimes, students question who they are—sexual orientation, changes in religious beliefs, disagreeing with parents about what the ‘right’ major is.  It helps for me to understand identity theory so that I can understand the student.  I don’t say, “Aha, you are in the third vector;” students can move around. 
o   Sometimes my peer advisor is the best person to talk a student off his or her ledge, other times not.  Is my peer secure in his identity?
·         Racial and ethnic identity models
o   Helm’s White Identity—it’s good to understand my whiteness as I work with students of color.

Academically suspend as well as readmit students who left USU in less-than-good academic standing
Using the following theories:
·         King and Kitchener’s Reflective Judgment Model
o   Often times, students are in an early stage, either pre-reflective or quasi-reflective.  They react emotionally and reflexively to what they perceive to be negative stimuli.  I use this theory to understand where a student is emotionally, and to help them become reflective about their academic experience.

·         Margaret Schlossberg
o   Transition Theory: Situation, Self, Support, Strategies
§  I find that I use this often with students who are adult learners.  It represents a significant transition for many who return (or begin) college after a long absence.  I like to encourage confidence in the students by building off what they bring with them: experiential knowledge.
o   Marginality and mattering
§  A theory I use the most often.  Many of my students have been marginalized, and as such, they may struggle in confidence, and may feel as though they do not belong in college.  I strive to make them feel as though they matter, because they emphatically do.  I work to connect my students to college in meaningful ways, and with luck, this helps to retain our students.

·         Baxter Magolda’s and Self Authorship
o   Give students confidence.  How we know things, become masters of knowledge. 

·         Gilligan—Different doesn’t mean deficient. 
o   I use this theory with students who may be marginalized.  I also use this theory when students with students who do not appreciate diversity. 

·         MBTI by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katherine C. Briggs
o   I use this theory a lot.  While I have not been trained formally, I have studied MBTI enough to understand the different types, and it helps me to relate to students better.  So, for example, if I perceive that a student is an introvert, I might not encourage her to go to group tutoring.  Instead, I might find individual tutoring.  

 Note:  Krystin is a graduate from the Educational Leadership & Policy Program at the University of Utah.

Fassingers’s Model of Gay and Lesbian Identity Development Summarized by Carol Macnichol

Overview of theory

Fassingers’s model of gay and lesbian identity development identifies two different processes that explain the development and attitudes of gay and lesbian (GL) individuals. The two processes are individual sexual identity development and group membership identity development. Both of these development processes each has four phases: awareness, exploration, deepening/commitment and internalization/synthesis. GL students can be at different phases of their development in both individual sexual identity and group membership identity (Evans et. al., 2010).

In the first phase, students become aware of the different types of sexual feelings and desires. This may lead to confusion and fear. As part of group membership identity, they discover that there are other people who are experiencing the same kind of sexual orientation. In the second phase, students start to explore their feelings of attraction towards an individual or individuals of the same sex. In this phase of group membership identity, students explore their relationships to the GL community. The third phase of deepening/commitment is where students have a stronger knowledge of self and commit to the identity of gay or lesbian. In group identity development, students develop a greater understanding of the values and oppression of the GL community and commit to be involved in such a community. In the last phase, students incorporate their sexual orientation into their overall self identity and accept themselves as part of the GL group. Identifying themselves as part of the GL community gives them feelings of security and acceptance.

Use in Higher Education

As discussed by Walters, Simoni and Valentine, it’s crucial for parents to be supportive with a son or daughter’s decision with anything they are going through. There must be a safe environment on campuses for “coming out” lesbian and gay students and for them to be social. Student affairs professional need to have a welcoming place in the academic advisor and career counselor’s offices, and partner’s comfort if have one for student’s wellbeing when they are dealing with change of their sexual identity. Not everyone does feel secure about their identity when they are “coming out” because there are many phases. Reduced homophobia, financial dependency, negative treatment on campus, fear of discrimination, inappropriate treatment by other students, tutors, and so forth must be prevented as much as possible.

Annotated Bibliography

The authors, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, use the results from the modified form of Racial Identity Attitude Scale (RIAS) to study the correlation between the four psychological stages of preencounter, encounter, immersion-emersion, and internalization and self esteem of lesbian and gay men. They find that lesbian and gay men at preencounter stage have low self-esteem. As these people enter the encounter and immersion-emersion stages, they continue to suffer from low self-esteem, though the results were not significant. The group shows a high level of self-esteem in the internalization phase.


Evans, N.J., Forney, D.S., Guido, F.M., Patton, L.D. & Renn, K.A. (2010). Student
Development in college: Theory research and practice. (2nd ed., pp. 313-315) San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Walters, Katherine L. & Simoni, Jane M. (1993). Lesbian and Gay Male Group Identity
Attitudes and Self-Esteem: Implication for Counseling. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 40(1), 94-99. Retrieved from

Valentine, Gil & Wood, Nicholas & Plummer,Paul. (2009). The experience of lesbian,
gay, bisexual and trans staff and students in higher education (Research Report 2009). Retrieved from Equality Challenge Unit website:

Cass’ Model of Sexual Identity Formation Summarized by Amanda May

Summary of Theory
Cass (1979) introduced this theoretical model for sexual identity formation to help answer “how an individual acquires a homosexual identity” (p. 219). She later tested this model in 1984 and added a seventh stage called the pre-stage, which is categorized by not associating yourself as being gay or lesbian. The original six stages are as follows: identity confusion, identity comparison, identity tolerance, identity acceptance, identity pride, and identity synthesis. Individuals begin this process of identity formation when they perceive a thought, feeling, or behavior may be perceived as gay or lesbian. This process can end at any point, when the individual chooses to no longer develop; known as identity foreclosure. However, if the person proceeds to sixth stage, identity synthesis, their public and private selves will become one. It is in this stage that individuals no longer feel this new sexual identity is the only thing that defines them but there are many different aspects that make them whole.
Cass believed that a person’s perception of his or her environment played a large role in how they would fall within these stages. Movement throughout the stages depends on how a behavior was perceived to affect the person, their definition of self, and how he or she views how others perceived it. Attempting to resolve the dissonance one is experiencing will be a motivating force to push the individual into the next stage. Individuals may experience stages differently than others, depending on their perception of the dissonance and the different pathway chosen.
Application in Higher Education
It is important to understand the different stages of this theory to help students that may be experiencing one of the stages. Since, alienation and distress are common during some of these stages of identity formation, it is important as student affairs professionals to make sure there are resources for students. Promoting gay or lesbian clubs or social events is essential to help alleviate some of the feelings of alienation. Also, it is important to make sure we are listening to students and refer them to appropriate resources when necessary. More research is needed on how this theory relates to students in higher education.
Annotated Bibliography
Halpin, S. A., & Allen, M. W. (2004). Changes in psychosocial well-being during stages of gay identity development. Journal of Homosexuality, 47(2), 109-126.
The authors of this article wanted to examine if there was a relationship between Cass’ Model of Homosexual Identity Formation (1979) and a person’s psychosocial well-being. The participants of this study were 425 men, ages 12-64, who indicated a sexual preference to other men. It was discovered that individuals in the middle stages of gay identity development had the lowest scores, whereas, individuals in the beginning and end stages showed the highest levels of satisfaction and happiness. The authors concluded the middle stages may be more turbulent than Cass had indicated. Further studies are needed to discover helpful strategies to assist individuals throughout these stages.
Cass, V. C. (1979). Homosexual identity formation: A theoretical model. Journal of Homosexuality, 4(3), 219-235.
Cass, V. C. (1984). Homosexual identity formation: Testing a theoretical model. Journal of Homosexuality, 20(2), 143-167.
Cass, V. (1996). Sexual orientation identity formation: A western phenomenon. In Cabaj, R. P., & Stein, T. S. (Eds.), Textbook of homosexuality and mental health (pp. 227-251). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.
Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L. D., & Renn., K. A. (2010). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Bem’s Gender Schema Theory Summarized by Margaret Hsiao

“Indeed, no other dichotomy in human experience appears to have as many entities linked to it as does the distinction between female and male” (Bem, 1983).

Overview of Theory

Bem’s Gender Schema Theory consolidated contemporary theories of sex typing by identifying the values and inherent flaws of psychoanalytic, social learning, and cognitive developmental theories. Bem rejected Freudian beliefs of “anatomy is destiny” and instead proposed that an individual’s gender identification emerged from his or her cognitive development and societal influences. Bem’s publication, The Lenses of Gender, sought to “render those lenses [of stereotypical and socially accepted masculine and feminine traits]visible rather than invisible, to enable us to look at the culture's gender lenses rather than through them” (Bem, 1993, p. 2).

There are three defining features of gender schematics based on Bem’s research:
  1. Gender schemas develop through an individual’s observation of societal classifications of masculinity and femininity, which are evidenced in human anatomy, social roles, and characteristics.
  2. Males and females cognitively process and categorize new information in their environment based on its maleness or femaleness.
  3. Self-authorship is displayed by an individual’s categorization of and conformity to the sets of elements that belong to either definition of masculinity or femininity.
    (Evans, 2010, p. 336)

Bem Sex Role Inventory (1972)

In response to her theory, Bem developed Bem’s Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), which was developed as a means of identifying gender schematic and gender aschematic individuals. Composed of 60 words (which are divided into 20 stereotypically masculine traits, 20 stereotypically feminine traits, or 20 neutral traits), the test asks participants how strongly they identify with a given characteristic. Participants would then be ranked based on the following results:

Unlike other questionnaires, however, the BSRI does not dichotomize masculinity and femininity; a person does not have to be characterized as one or the other in inventory results. In other words, the BSRI ranks masculinity and femininity on a continuum; scores may include evidence of high levels of masculinity and femininity (androgenous) or low levels of both (undifferentiated).

Use in Higher Education

Sandra Bem (1998) stated, “I live my life with little separation between the personal, the professional, and the political. My theory and my practice are thus inextricably intertwined” (p. ix). Likewise, advisors must automatically recognize differences between sex and gender without having to consult theory in their practices. Gender schema theory and the BSRI illuminate cultural influences in student self-perception about gender. Although intertwined with other theories of gender and sexual identity development, Bem underscores the importance of dispelling gender stereotypes in order to prevent self-fulfilling prophecies in student development (e.g., major selection, career goals).

Annotated Bibliography

Vikan, A., Camino, C., & Biaggio, A. (2005). Note on a cross-cultural test of Gilligan’s ethic of care. Journal of Moral Education, 34(1), 107–111.
Vikan and Biaggio conducted a study on Brazilian and Norwegian psychology students to analyze
two student development theories: Gilligan’s ethic of care (and Skoe’s Ethic of Care Interview
[ECI]) and Bem’s Gender Schema Theory (and the Bem Sex Role Inventory [BSRI]). The researchers
found that ECI scores were not noticeably higher in female participants, nor were the students’
correlations higher based on their degree of femininity sex-role scores. From these results,
Gilligan’s ethic of care model corresponded mainly with cultural rather than gender variations;
more specifically, Gilligan’s model focused more on criteria of collectivism and individualism
rather than femininity and masculinity. Their study provides insight to Gilligan’s cultural variance,
though it should also explore the possibility of the BSRI’s cultural influence as well. After all, the
BSRI itself was formed by finding cultural traits of masculinity and femininity.


The official BSRI is available to take at


Bem, S. L. (1983). Gender schema theory and its implications for child development: Raising gender-aschematic children in a gender-schematic society. Signs, 8(4), 598–616.
Bem, S. L. (1993). The lenses of gender: Transforming the debate on sexual inequality. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Bem, S. L. (1995). An unconventional family. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L. D., & Renn, K. A. (2010). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Josselson's Theory of Identity Development in Women Summarized by Krista Loken

Ruthellen Josselson’s Identity Theory explores why some women encounter a crisis, and whether or not they integrate that into their identity. This theory takes James Marcia’s four identity groups and applies them to women. These four groups include foreclosures/gatekeepers, identity achievers/pathmakers, moratoriums/searchers, and identity diffusions/drifters. Women fit into one of these four groups based on experiencing a crisis and commitment of identity.

The foreclosure group includes women who have not encountered crisis; however they have made an identity commitment. These women have high internalization of the values of their parents, and they maintain ideals they had as children. The identity achievers have experienced a crisis, and committed to their identities. They have explored options, and they understand that they have their own authority to make decisions. The moratorium group have experienced crisis, but they have trouble committing to an identity. These women realize that there are many choices, but they tend to be overwhelmed by the options. The identity diffusers have not gone through a crisis, and they have not committed to an identity. They are women who seem to wait for life to happen to them.
Use in Higher Education
Women’s Resource Centers utilized Josselson’s theory by providing an area for women to talk about crisis and offer a safe place to comprehend events. Giving women the ability to talk about their majors, career choices, and personal lives allow for them to reflect on internal issues that could potentially become a part of their identities.

Annotative Bibliography Entry
Miville, M., Darlington, P., Whitlock, B., & Mulligan, T. (2005). Integrating identities: The relationships of racial, gender, and ego identities among White college students. Journal of College Student Development46(2), 157-175.

This study examined how racial identity and gender identity affect ego identity of White students. For women, it was observed that those who were experiencing racial and/or gender identity confusion usually experienced ego identity crisis or confusion as well. Those women who had positively internalized their gender and racial identities usually resolved their ego identity crisis (identity achievement). Racial and gender identities that were accepted because of societal norms lacked identity crisis (foreclosure/drifters). This study included mostly college seniors, which makes it hard to generalize to those going through crisis at different times in their lives.

Josselson R. (1987) Finding herself. Pathways to Identity Development in Women. San Francisco-London: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Josselson, R. (1998). Revising herself: The story of women's identity from college to midlife. USA: Oxford University Press.

Josselson, R. (2000). Relationship and connection in women's identity from college to midlife. In M. E. Miller & A. N. West (Eds.), Spirituality, ethics, and relationships in adulthood: Clinical and theoretical explorations (pp. 113-145). Psychosocial press.

Miville, M., Darlington, P., Whitlock, B., & Mulligan, T. (2005). Integrating identities: The relationships of racial, gender, and ego identities among White college students. Journal of College Student Development46(2), 157-175.

Phinney’s Model of Ethnic Identity Development Summarized by Erika Johnson

Theory Overview
Jean S. Phinney developed a three stage model of ethnic identity development (1992) based on research with minority adolescents combined with other ego identity and ethnic identity models, especially the works of Marcia and Erickson.    Her research involved both junior and high school adolescents who were found to be at one of three levels of ethnic identity development (Phinney, 1992).  The first stage, Unexamined Ethnic Identity, is characterized by a lack of exploration. In this stage, individuals may experience diffusion or foreclosure, a lack of interest in ethnicity or a general acceptance of others opinions.  The second stage of the model, Ethnic Identity Search/ Moratorium, combines the notions of encounter and exploration.  The individual starts to develop their ethnic identity during this stage which is often initiated by a harsh or indirect event. The final stage of the model is Ethnic Identity Achievement.  Individuals at this stage have a clear sense of their ethnic identity and are able to successfully navigate their bicultural identity.  It is important to note that Phinney developed the three stage model based on her research with adolescents and that college students have a different set of challenges and support that may affect the theory’s applicability. 
Use in Higher Education
Higher education can find value in Phinney’s three stage model as it can be used when working with students from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.  Higher education can use the model to create an environment that encourages exploration of and commitment to one’s own ethnic identity. Campuses can sponsor activities that support the ethnic identity search stage by providing cultural opportunities, ethnic studies courses, and open dialogues that lend to a supportive environment.   Since ethnic identity development is an individual process, student affairs professionals can add opportunities for self-reflection when working with students or planning activities.
Annotated Bibliography
Pizzolato, J.E., Chaudhari, P., Murrell, E.D., Podobnik, S., & Schaeffer, Z. (2008). Ethnic identity, epistemological development, and academic achievement in underrepresented students. Journal of College Student Development, 49, 301-318
The authors utilize both a qualitative and quantitative study to analyze the connection between epistemological development, ethnic identity and academic achievement for minority college students.  Utilizing Phinney’s definition of ethnic identity and Baxter-Magolda’s theory of self authorship, the authors interviewed high achieving students from various ethnic backgrounds for the first study.  For the quantitative study, the students completed three surveys including the Self Authorship survey, the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure, and a demographic survey.  The authors found a relationship between academic achievement, epistemological development, and ethnic identity with the combination of the latter two variables explaining college GPA variance almost as well as the combination of SAT scores and high school GPA.  The authors recognized the limitations of their study and made recommendations for further studies to include students from various institution types, academically struggling students and a larger sampling with greater ethnic diversity.
Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F., Patton, L.D., & Renn, K.A. (2010). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice. 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Phinney, J. S. (1993). A three-stage model of ethnic identity development in adolescence. In M. E. Bernal & G. P. Knight (Eds.), Ethnic identity: Formation and transmission among Hispanics and other minorities (pp. 61-79). New York: State University of New York Press.
Pizzolato, J.E., Chaudhari, P., Murrell, E.D., Podobnik, S., & Schaeffer, Z. (2008). Ethnic identity, epistemological development, and academic achievement in underrepresented students. Journal of College Student Development, 49, 301-318
Torres, V., Howard-Hamilton, M.F., Cooper, D.L. (2003). Identity development of diverse populations: Implications for teaching and administration in higher education. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report: Volume 29, Number 6.  San Francisco, CA:  Josey-Bass.