Friday, October 29, 2010
Schlossberg's Theory of Transition Written by Bobbi Davis
Explaining theory in my own words:
Dr. Nancy Schlossberg’s Theory of Transition is a psychosocial model of development that examines life events which affect various aspects of an individual’s life and their societal roles. The person’s perception of the transition is as important to understanding how a person is affected by his/her changing life events as much as the type, context and impact of the transition itself. Types of transitions include anticipated, unanticipated, event, non-event and chronic or “hassles”. Anticipated transitions are those that are seen as occurring predictably in one’s lifetime, whereas unanticipated are just the opposite where the individual did not expect them to occur. Those transitions that a person counted on to happen and did occur are called events. A non-event is defined as a transition a person counted on to occur, but did not happen as hoped. Chronic transitions are changes in one’s roles and routines that occur due to an anticipated, unanticipated, event or non-event transition. Context of transition refers to the relationship the person has with the transition (i.e., personal, interpersonal, or community) and the setting where the transition occurs. Impact would be assessed by understanding how much a person’s daily life has be altered. Schlossberg outlined the transition process with the terms of “moving in”, “moving through” and “moving out”. Methods for coping with transition, whether positive or negative, come from assessing a person’s assets and liabilities in the four areas which Schlossberg termed as the 4 S’s – situation, self, support and strategies.
Example of how used in higher education:
The main use of Schlossberg’s transition theory is with adult learners and their return to higher education. Compared to traditional students, non-tradition students are generally at many different points in their life due to the various types of transitions they have undergone. Programming developed on the 4 S’s can help adult learners to recognize and draw upon their assets in coping with the perception of moving into the challenge of returning to school instead of only seeing what their limitation might be. However, the entire transition process of moving in, moving through and moving on can be used as a guide in student affairs to facilitate all stages of college student development, not just adult learners, in how they interpret their college experiences and use that knowledge to further develop.
Rayle, A. (2007). Revisiting first-year college students’ mattering: Social support, academic stress, and the mattering experience. Journal of College Student Retention, 9(1), 21-37.
Using Schlossberg’s transition theory as a framework, Rayle investigated if any relationships existed between mattering to family and college friends and the degree to which students felt they mattered to the college community and level of academic stress for first-year college students. Rayle administered three assessment measurements to 533 students enrolled in freshman level courses in the College of Education. The researcher found that across the sample, social support from family and college friends significantly impacted mattering to the college community, as well as strongly predicated the level of academic stress students’ experienced.
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.
Schlossberg, N.K. (1984). Counseling adults in transition: Linking Practice with Theory. New York, New York: Springer Publishing Company, Inc.
Schlossberg, N.K. (1989). Overwhelmed: Coping with life’s ups and downs. Lexington, Massachusetts: Lexington Books.