Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education


Student Development

Michael Le

Upper Iowa University

HEA 504 Student Affairs Practice in Higher Education

Dr. Diegel

September 10, 2017


            Student development is best explained by the theory of student involvement.  Student involvement is the amount of psychological and physical energy that is devoted by a student to his/her own academic experience (cite_. For instance, a student who is highly involved spends much time in college or campus, devotes a lot of energy to studying, interacts frequently with friends and faculty members, and participates actively in student organizations, events and activities. On the other hand, a less involved or uninvolved student spends little time in college, neglect studies, does not participate in extracurricular activities, and infrequently interacts with friends or faculty members (Patton et al. 2016). Student involvement puts more emphasis on the behavioral aspects of the student. Therefore, student development critically looks at what the student as an individual does and how the student behaves rather than what the student feel s or thinks (Weiner, 2009). Every stage of student development requires student involvement which is explained by the student involvement theory’s basic postulates. The purpose of this paper….

            According to the postulates, involvement requires students to invest their physical and psychological energy in various objects. The objects may be specific like preparation for a biology examination or the objects may be generalized like student experience in college. Regardless of the objects, every student will show different degree of involvement in every object at different times (Kuh, 2001). Student development is greater where a student actively involve him/herself in educational programs. Therefore, the amount of student personal and learning development associated with any educational program is directly proportional to the quantity and quality of involvement of the student in that program. Additionally, student development is greater where there are affective educational policies or practices that increase student involvement in any event or activities (Patton et al. 2016).

Literature Review

            Student development requires inputs like effective educational policies and programs to facilitate individual student growth. It also requires outputs which includes achievement measures like scores on standardized tests. However, for student development to become effective, a mediating mechanism is required in order to explain how the educational policies and programs will translate into student achievement and enhance student development (Weiner, 2009). Three implicit pedagogical theories try to explain how student development can be enhanced and how the inputs can result into greater student achievements.

The subject-matter theory

            According to this theory, student development primarily depends on exposing the student to the right subject matter. Therefore, a student should be exposed to worthwhile courses by a liberal education. The courses should be evaluated in terms of the content reflected. The teaching performance should also be evaluated based on the professor’s syllabi (Kuh, 2001). Through this theory, which puts a lot of emphasis on course content, students are believed to work in the library, learn by attending lectures and to do their reading assignment. This approach highly favors motivated students, good listeners and students who tend to be avid readers. Therefore student development for such students will be high since they will actively participate in the subject matter of the particular course. However, not all students have similar interest in the subject matter of a particular course. Therefore, such students will not be well served through this theory (Weiner, 2009). Moreover, under prepared students will not be able to understand the subject matter of the course. This hinders such students’ development, and more so where the faculties are resistant to make any changes to expand educational opportunities for such students.

The resource theory

            Through this theory, student development is enhanced by the availability of learning resources including physical facilities like libraries, human resources like well trained teachers and support personnel, and fiscal resources like extramural research funds and financial aid. This theory maintains that student development is enhanced if adequate resources are brought together in one place. Mostly, student-faculty has been a major resources measure using this theory (Patton et al. 2016). Therefore, student development is enhanced in a faculty with adequate well-trained professors or tutors unlike in a faculty with few professors.

            By increasing the proportion of high-quality professors, the educational environment is strengthened and this, to a greater extent, improves student learning and development. On the other hand, student development is also enhanced by the presence of high-achieving students in campus or faculty. This is because high achieving students devote most of their physical and psychological energy in studying, participating in extracurricular activities, and participating in other organizational events and activities in campus (Kuh, 2001). However, this theory only improves student development where the resources are effectively used and the administration constantly finds out whether the resources are being put into use (Erwin, 2011).

The individualized theory

            According to this theory, student development is best achieved by identifying the curricular methods and instructional methods that best meet the demands of the individual student. This theory does not generalize all students to be favored by the resources put in place or the subject matter, but it puts emphasis on borrowing what is best suitable for each student from other pedagogical approaches (Kuh, 2001).

            Therefore, it utilizes a mixture of individualized theories and the subject-matter. This theory enhances student development by providing each student with an option to take certain number of elective courses in addition to the required courses. Moreover, by using the individualized theory, students learning and development is improved (Weiner, 2009). This is because students are taken beyond curriculum and they are provided with advise and counseling which improves their development. Additionally, they are given a chance to study independently. By providing counseling, guidance, selective placement, and student support services, the individualized theory offers the best student development.

            Additionally, this theory improves student development by offering individualized instructional techniques.  Through these techniques, common learning objectives are set for students. However, each students is allowed time to reach this objectives. This makes each student to be provided with individualized attention best on his/her learning abilities. By doing this, student development is enhanced and performance increased (Heath, 2008).[BD2] 


Based on the theory of student involvement, student development cannot be achieved by simply exposing individual student to a particular set of courses. This is because each student has different needs at different times. While content theory puts students in a passive role as the information recipients, student involvement on the other hand requires active participation of the student in the learning process in order to improve each students learning and development (Kuh, 2001). Therefore, student development is about focusing more on what the student does and how he/she behaves. Through the theory of student involvement, student development is not about focusing more on course content, the resources available, and teaching techniques but it is rather about identifying the individual needs of each student based on their motivation (Patton et al. 2016). By educators identifying the individual needs of a student, and providing educational programs that best suites the student, student development will be improved and this will make the student to actively participate in curriculum activities, attend his/her studies, and participate in other events or organizational activities in campus. How is this issue related to effective student affairs practice?


Astin, A. W. (2000). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of college student personnel, 25(4), 297-308.

Erwin, T. D. (2011). Assessing Student Learning and Development: A Guide to the Principles, Goals, and Methods of Determining College Outcomes.

Heath, D. H. (2008). Growing Up In College. Liberal Education and Maturity.

Kuh, G. (2001). Involving Colleges: Successful Approaches to Fostering Student Learning and Development outside the Classroom.. Jossey-Bass Publishers, 350 Sansome Street, San Francisco, CA 94104.

Patton, L. D., Renn, K. A., Guido, F. M., Quaye, S. J., & Forney, D. S. (2016). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice. John Wiley & Sons.

Weiner, B. (2009). A theory of motivation for some classroom experiences. Journal of educational psychology, 71(1), 3.

 [BD1]Hello Michael, I look forward to reading your Wk2 CIA. Dr. Diegel

 [BD2]This content is not needed. The assignment should be between 500-800 words and include an analysis of how this issue affects student affairs practice. Please refer to the assignment criteria.