Historical perspective ( respond to the two peers, follow the guided

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 Guided Response: Review at least two of your classmates’ posts and offer a reflection on their definition and description using one of the foundational theories or historical essays related to the student development movement.  How does your definition compare and contrast with theirs? ( will add my work so you compare and contrast with theirs. Let me know when you ready for it.)


I would define student development as a measurement of how individuals in higher education have been able to adapt to their surroundings using their life experiences, learned information from faculty and peers to successfully navigate more complex situations and be prepared for life after “college”. 

Previously student development was seen as a way to get a student from A to B. This was a path constructed to prepare students into specific occupations.  When Frank Parson began to take into consideration student characteristics and personality traits to better pair them with the “right” job, higher education began to take a more personal roll in student lives (Evans, 2010).  However, it went only as far as preparing students to be successful by training them into specific jobs. 

After WWII, many believed that education should be considerate of other cultures and to encourage students to be a contributing member of society (The American Council on Education, 1937)  This paved the way for educators to move from just looking at a students characteristics but their point of view, their background, culture, interests and goals.

Through the years, student development began to also measure students by their maturity and how the institutions of higher education contribute to their ongoing autonomy and independence. I always believed that once in college, I would gain more independence and learn more about the world around me.  What I didn’t expect was that higher education would help me mature and change my world view. I agree with Heath, Feldman and Newcomb’s findings that peers in higher education provide support where perhaps faculty leave off. Heath had said that as students mature they become allocentric (Evans, 2010).  I understand why so many college students feel the need to be part of changing the world and become advocates for many social and political movements.  When I attended campus in my late teen and early 20’s, the university was filled with students trying to make an impact on the world. This demonstrated a movement away from ego-centrism as well as integration in society.


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.)


In modern times, the concept of student development refers to the means whereby a pupil “grows, develops, or increases his or her development…in an institution of higher education” (Evans, Forney, Guido, Patton, and Renn, 2010). In this case, postsecondary institutions attempt to address students’ multiple needs and individual differences (p. 10). Today’s college environments place an emphasis on student’s cognitive, academic, and personal growth; the idea here is to create students who are not only self-aware and interdependent, but who also become ethical and socially responsible beings.

My definition of student development probably aligns best with Keagan’s 1982 theory regarding student self- awareness and how individuals make sense of the world. In my view, student development occurs when (1) college individuals fully understand and appreciate themselves and others and (2) can use what they learn in a relevant and personally meaningful way.

I was in high school when Keagan’s theory came out; there was no emphasis on “student differences” or “making sense of the world” back then. Actually, it wasn’t until I returned to college in the 1990s that anyone cared about whether I could make sense of anything in life. Now, as an English teacher, I try to get my college students to reflect their own roles in society, to connect what they learn in school to their own lives, and to use their experiences to improve themselves every day. To me, these are the things that matter.


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.). Retrieved from https://vitalsource.com

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