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.


  1. I'm glad Krystin came and shared her experiences. The purpose of student affair's outcome is student success and student retention. When I worked at U.V.U., I didn't have the toolbox like Krystin had and it would have helped me advise students better. I'm glad I'm learning student theories now.

  2. The idea of theory to practice is one thing, but seeing it in action is another. It was very helpful to hear how Krystin applies the student development theories in her work. I am looking forward to the time when I will be able to utilize the various lenses in my own work with greater confidence and ease that I think comes from a combination of knowledge and experience.

  3. One of the articles I used for my annotated bibliography was applying Nancy Schlossberg's Transition Theory to students on academic probation. Here is the reference and my A.B. if anyone is interested in learning more:

    Tovar, E. & Simon, M. (2006). Academic probation as a dangerous opportunity: Factors influencing diverse college students' success. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 30, 547-564. DOI: 10.1080/10668920500208237

    The authors used Schlossberg's transition theory as a framework to analyze data from the College Student Inventory which they admiinstered to first-time community college students on academic probation or showing academic hardship. Gender and ethnicity categories where compared to data assessing college readiness, motivation, management of coping skills and willingness to accept assistance from the community college in the form of counselors, advisors and programs. Tovar and Simon stated that academic probation is an Z"unexpected" event and students who are in the "moving in" or "moving through" stages of the transition model would be more receptive to institutional academic support than those int he "moving on" state. Suggested implications for student affairs professionals would be to develop programming to create opportunities for students to evaluate their 4 S's (self, strategies, situation and support) in relation to developing the skills sets necessary for academic success.

  4. For me, the thing I most appreciated about Krystin's talk was recognizing that not all students should be enrolled at specific institutions. I feel that we hear so much about retention, but sometimes what is best for a student is not to be enrolled, at all or at least at a specific institution.

  5. I enjoyed Kristin's discussion of office environment and setting up our office spaces with objects that help people feel at ease. Hopefully the things we have in our office are an outward expression of an inward multicultural understanding. Kristin did a great job and it was helpful to see how she applies theory to her career.

  6. Kristin's position, A Matriculation Advisor, is a brillian idea to help with retention. I believe that having an advisor to focus primarily in student's retention is vital to students' successes. Indeed,there are various challenges everyone faces that could hinder getting an education but just having someone to talk to and evaluate the process and figuring out what is best for the student can be very helpful.

    I was also interested in her discussion about working with students who come back to college after a previous dismissal. It must be a very hard position to be in and I didn't get to ask her to elaborate a little more on this but I'm curious about the process. I wonder how does the advisor balances being the authority as well as being the supporter and gaining the student's trust to help the student receive another chance in higher education.

  7. I also enjoyed Kristen's discussion and how she uses the different theories in her work. I work at UVU and see students all the time. Sometimes I wonder why they are the way they are. When I first started my position I had to take many steps back to understand where the students are coming from. Sometimes I would think to is not that hard, if they would just read the instructions then they would understand. Taking this College Student Development class has helped me open my eyes to seeing students and the problems they are faced with. Especially since the new generation coming into to see us think they don't have to do all the steps necessary to get through the semester. I have noticed alot of them place the blame on someone else but themselves.

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