Saturday, October 23, 2010

Student Development Theory In Practice

Over the first four weeks of the term, our class has been able to understand student development theories in practice through agencies and practitioners at the University of Utah as well as colleagues across the U.S.  Here are some highlights.
Tony Gonzales, the Director of the First Scholars Program, shared with us information on his program that is focused on engaging first generation students to facilitate accomplishing their academic goals.  The First Scholars Program provides 20 students with a scholarship that covers tuition, room, and board for their first year as well as continued financial resources beyond their first year if they meet renewal criteria.  In addition, Tony serves as an academic advisor for these students to facilitate their success.  He shared some initial experiences he has had with these students as well as his use of Astin’s I-E-O Model and Theory of Involvement as well as Tinto’s later theories on retention.
Dr. Gwen Fears, Director of Orientation and Leadership, discussed the components of her department that focus on orienting new students, connecting to parents, and facilitating student leadership.  She explained her model of program development, which involves theory, best practice, and listening to the student experience.  These three components result in programming that is holistic in facilitating student development.  For orientation, she has drawn on Kolb’s Learning Theory, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Chickering’s Seven Vectors, Holland’s Theory of Vocation Choice, and Perry’s Theory of Intellectual and Ethical Development. 
As the class discussed Chickering’s Seven Vectors, we reflected on the Professional Development Seminar from Nichols College in Dudley, MA.  This seminar teaches professional skills to college students through a number of courses that are offered to students during the entire college degree.  The Seven Vectors are used to organize the content by year.  For example, Developing Competence, in the First Year course focuses on time management and introduces the personal portfolio.  By the senior year, students are using their portfolios, developing resumes, and engaging in a senior project.  Nichols has identified areas of competency for students based on academic year of their degree progression.
Recently, the class focused on the Theory of Self-Authorship by Marcia Baxter Magolda.  An example from colleagues at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT demonstrated how academic advisors could use this theory to facilitate development of self-authorship by students.  In her presentation at the 2010 National Academic Advising Conference, Gale Larson explained that conversations that encourage a student to reflect on his/her experiences through dialogue with an advisor will build self-authorship.  This technique is important for students as they make decisions on majors, careers, and extra-curricular activities.
Examples of applying theory to practice through guest speakers and materials from higher education colleagues are contributing to a deeper understanding of college student development.  And, here’s a photo of our group that includes Dr. Fears.


  1. I thought Dr. Fears gave a great example of applying MBTI concepts to hiring student orientation leaders. You need a pool of both extraverts and introverts. During training, the two different types are educated about each other's preferences. Therefore, extraverts become more attuned to introverts' need for reflection before conversation. Introverts learn to be more assertive and vocal when discussing with extraverts.

  2. Amester offers the optimal outcome from an interpretation of the MBTI. An understanding and reflection of the opposite preference should result in adjusted behaviors. But how would you deal with an "E" who monopolizes the discussion in class or the "I" who communicates nothing even though participation is incorporated into the grade? Thoughts?

    Keep posting - good stuff.

  3. I just have to say that I love the jokes and small pokes that have begun among our cohort through the sharing of our MBTI results. I'm not sure that I'll ever live it down, but for me that speaks volumes to my ability to be true to myself. By the way is there an award for best looking class? I think we win hands down.

  4. Dr. Ski - I know exactly what you are talking about with monopolozing "E"s and quiet "I"s. I think balancing participation is tricky for these two MBTI preferences. I have a great example from the Introduction to College course for which I was a student advisor. My supervisor at the time noticed a couple of "E" students that were, for lack of a better term, hogging all the question and answer time. Even if the "I" students wanted to contribute these few outspoken students were making it difficult. She decided to change participation requirements to be more specific. She concluded that each class period that included discussion, in order to receive points, each student had to contribute at least 1 comment or had to turn in a reflective paragraph due at the beginning of the next classtime. She also included that students could not contribute more than one item until everyone who wanted to speak had an opportunity. I thought it was a great way to balance the discussion and allow for the introverted students to contribute in a way more suited to their preference.