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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: SAHE MOOC: Student Development Theory

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Welcome, my name is Jody Donovan. I serve as the Assistant Vice President for Student

Affairs and the Dean of Students. I also teach Student Development Theory in the Student

Affairs in Higher Education graduate program.

This is an overview of student development theory. Student development theory is really

an area of study that explores why students do the things they do. It helps us understand

students, it helps us predict and anticipate student behavior, it helps us understand what

we can do to help students grow, and learn, and maximize their educational experience

at a college or university.

Student development theory is broken into four different areas. Psychosocial, which

is sort of how students interact with one another, how they come to understand themselves,

that's psychosocial. The cognitive areas are helping us understand how students think and

how they make decisions. Then the third area is the typology theories. That's basically

an understanding of the traits and characteristics of students that then lends us to help them

understand where they might enjoy working, how they interact with others. Their traits

and characteristics. The last is person-environment theory. That's how they interact with the

environment, how the environment shapes students' behaviors.

Some examples: student development theory can help us understand how students come to

figure out their identities: their racial identity, their sexual orientation, their

gender identity. How they figure out who they are. That also helps us understand how students

come to determine how they make meaning of their lives. What's their purpose? What do

they believe in? What's most important to them? Student development theory can help

us understand how students make ethical decisions. When a person is confronted with a moral dilemma,

there are theories that help us understand why a student would choose a decision so as

not to be punished versus maybe a higher order thinking of, what's best universally for all


Then there are some fun parts of student development theory such as person-environment theory,

that helps us understand when a student lives on a residential floor, why their experience

is different if they live at the end of the hall versus near a restroom. There's a lot

more community happening around that restroom. Students who live in the middle of a floor

are going to be much more engaged, and social, and know more people than students who are

living at the end of the floor. If we know all of those things, that helps Student Affairs

professionals design programs and services to better meet students' needs.

That is what student development theory is all about.

The Description of SAHE MOOC: Student Development Theory