Student development theory is intended to provide those in the college environment a framework to understand the growth and development of college students to be able to provide the best opportunities for challenge and support to promote a student's psychosocial and cognitive development. The interaction of the student and their learning environment is critical to the success of the student growing and progressing through their development.
The Student Development Model connects theories of human growth and development and environmental influences as student's experience them both in and out of classroom. Each and every experience is intended to give the student both challenge, and support to meet those challenges. It is expected that students will move toward greater competence in each area and level of their development. It recognizes that students move through their development at their own pace and encourages one-on-one interaction with faculty, staff and their peers to increase their skills and competence. There is great value added to their education because we use this model to inform our work with students. It also reflects one of the keys of the LMU mission, the education of the whole person.
The Seven Vectors of College Student Development
(Chickering and Reisser, 1993)
1. Developing Competence
This includes competence in all areas of development; intellectual, physical, social and spiritual. This encompasses learning within their specific major, expanded learning beyond their major into the subjects covered in the core curriculum as well as changes in critical thinking, and reflective judgement.
2. Managing Emotions
This includes an awareness of one's feelings, learning how to express them appropriately, and learning to manage new feelings.
3. Developing Autonomy
This is difficult for many parents since it requires a student to separate and individuate from their parents. The goal is for students to move beyond the need for constant need for approval and praise toward an independence in; learning to set and achieve goals, developing a sense of self-directedness, and implementing newly learned skills for problem solving.
4. Establishing Identity
This includes the ability to integrate various facets of their life experience and helps them to answer three key questions of life; Identity (Who am I?), Relationship (What is my relationship to others and to the world we live in?), and Vocation (What are my gifts and talents and how am I called to use them in the world?).
5. Developing Mature Interpersonal Relationships
This requires students to develop a tolerance, acceptance, and appreciation of people different from themselves. It requires students to develop a capacity for mature relationships, empathy and an ability to reciprocate in relationships.
6. Developing Purpose
Since our focus is on development during their college years the main focus is on educational and vocational planning, but we also ask students to consider even bigger questions. What is really important in your life? What will your priorities be? How will you spend your time and resources?
7. Developing Integrity
This last stage asks students to integrate all of the other stages and demonstrate the congruence between their values and their actions.
We hope that you share the same desire to see your students grow and progress through these stages of development throughout their time in college. Having worked in Higher Ed, we as faculty and staff have experienced this as we watch each class of students learn and grow and graduate from LMU. If the student embraces the opportunities to learn and grow, they are a more confidant, competent, compassionate and capable adult as they enter the world.