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According to Flowers (2002), the first vector concerning "developing competence" can assume three individual forms: (a) intellectual, (b) physical, and - interpersonal. The second vector, "managing emotions," is the stage at which college students first begin to become aware of their emotions and attempt to regulate their emotions to produce maximum behavioral outcomes; the third vector, "moving through autonomy toward interdependence," involves students seeking to become more self-directed, and self-sufficient, thereby, ultimately reaching a moderate level of interdependence with family, friends, and other acquaintances (Flowers, 2002). The emphasis at the fourth vector, "developing mature interpersonal relationships," is on establishing and maintaining healthy interactions with other individuals in a manner that is emotionally beneficial to all of the parties involved; the fifth vector, "establishing identity," is the stage at which freshmen first begin to become aware of and learn to develop their own identity (Flowers, 2002). According to this author, "As a result of this complex position, movement through the first four vectors is necessary" (Flowers, 2002, p. 479). The penultimate vector, "developing purpose," includes features from the preceding vectors, and constitutes of initiating and striving toward occupation-related goals; the final vector, "developing integrity," is the stage at which the focus is on developing an ethical and moral framework that provides a framework for living. According to Flowers (2002), "Therefore, during this stage of development, students determine the values they wish to live by" (p. 479).
The seven vector model described by Chickering provides student development professionals with a model that can be used to help understand how college students are adjusting to the uncertainty related with the transition to adulthood; moreover, the seven vectors described above also provide student development professionals with the ability to more acutely understand their roles by identifying a series of interrelated stages college students are seeking to resolve. In this regard, Flowers (2002) concludes that, "Stated differently, Chickering's theory provides researchers and student affairs practitioners with some very useful descriptors of the emotional and psychological transformation students might potentially undergo in college" (2002, p. 479).
While the above-stated theories and frameworks are useful and timely tools, educational institutions in the United States have had to respond to the diversity of the student profile in a reciprocal and dynamic fashion; as a result, the forms and focuses of educational support programs tend to vary considerably from institution to institution (Crosling & Webb, 2002). Generally speaking, the objectives of such educational support programs, frequently aimed at different student groups, can be summarized as follows:
Strategies to increase the participation and performance of disadvantaged or non-traditional students through tertiary awareness programs;
Strategies for commencing and continuing students such as special admission, bridging and support programs and units;
Strategies to analyze and address where cultures of disadvantage differ from the culture and traditions of higher education; and,
The overarching aim has been to make teaching materials and processes more relevant to the needs of disadvantaged students (Crosling & Webb, 2002).
According to these authors, some of the approaches typically used for this purpose in the United States can take the form of pre-course acquaintance and bridging programs to more individualized and supplemental instruction for coursework where a significant number of students are experiencing problems (Crosling & Webb, 2002). Such initiatives generally emphasize learning assistance, study strategies and developmental education; however, more basic skills such as reading, writing and mathematics skill development are offered as well (Crosling & Webb, 2002). In this regard, Crosling and Webb (2002) report that, "There are writing across the curriculum programs and, for English as a second language students, programs that respond to the different needs of second language resident students and international students. Individualized services such as online computer programs increasingly have potential as cost effective ways of assisting students" (p. 3). Clearly, there are some valuable resources available to universities and students that can be used to good effect, but there is always the danger of a student "falling through an institutional crack," and these issues are discussed further below.
Transference of Responsibility.
In their book, Supporting Student Learning: Case Studies, Experience & Practice from Higher Education, Crosling and Webb (2002 report that, "In accepting many more students, and students with considerable diversity and preparedness for higher education study, comes the question of how they can be supported to succeed" (p. 1). In fact, college student support can assume a number of forms and can be delivered in a wide range of settings today to help administer to the needs of young college students. It is important in this increasingly diverse environment, though, to ensure that educators do not "drop the ball" when it comes to providing for the transference of responsibility for such support as the need arises.
According to Feldman (2005), "As higher education professionals we must, perhaps now more than ever, construct communities that embrace diversity; promote multiculturalism in our classrooms and in our offices; and develop programs, policies, strategies, and interventions that enhance diversity" (p. 67). Likewise, Tanaka (2002) emphasizes that, "Under an intercultural framework, the interactions between student, college, student major, family and close friends, and society are all considered important" (p. 264). Unfortunately, though, Benjamin (1996) reports that any effort at implementation of such programs and strategies will inevitably confront the enormous complexity of universities as ecological systems. "While advocates of cultural diversity are certainly aware of this complexity and have been influenced by it," he reports, "none have advanced a systematic model of the university useful in shaping diversity policy" (p. 127).
The research showed that college freshmen are frequently fragile creatures that can be susceptible to a wide range of obstacles and challenges that can adversely affect their ability to accomplish their academic objectives. The good news for student development professionals, though, is that there are a number of valuable tools that can be used to help understand and appreciate the magnitude of these issues on the attainment of freshmen educational goals. The research also showed that while these tools have been shown to be effective in the past, today's college setting has become increasingly multicultural and diverse, and student development professionals must take into account these issues as well. Indeed, because every student is unique, there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution to the provision of effective and timely student development services, but the methods and tools described above represent a good starting point to help these professionals assist these students in achieving their academic goals and completing their college experience to fruition.
Benjamin, M. (1996). Diversity, educational equity, and the transformation of higher education: Group profiles as a guide to policy and programming. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
Chiang, L., Hunter, C.D., & Yeh, C.J. (2004). Coping attitudes, sources and practices among Black and Latino college students. Adolescence, 39(156), 793.
Chickering, A.W. (1969). Education and identity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Crosling, G., & Webb, G. (2002). Supporting student learning: Case studies, experience & practice from higher education. London: Kogan Page.
Deberard, M.S., Julka, D.L., & Spielmans, G.I. (2004). Predictors of academic achievement and retention among college freshmen: A longitudinal study. College Student Journal, 38(1), 66.
Deneui, D.L. (2003). An investigation of first-year college student's psychological sense of community on campus. College Student Journal, 37(2), 224.
Denzine, G.M., & Kowalski, D.J. (2002). Confirmatory factor analysis of the assessment for living and learning scale: A cross-validation investigation. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 35(1), 14.
Erikson, E. (1950). Childhood and society. New York: Norton.
Evans, N.J., Forney, D.S., & Guido-Dibrito, F. (1998). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Feldman, R.S. (2005). Improving the first year of college: Research and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Flowers, L.A. (2002). Developing purpose in…[continue]
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