#CSAM18 Day 31: Wrap Up of 31 Days of Theory

This was quite the project, and I underestimated the amount of time and energy it would take. I had to re-read or re-skim a bunch of theories and articles, spent time Googling authors, found additional resources when the Green Book/Bible of our profession fell short of what I needed. I spent time away from doing what I normally do to re-learn and write and Tweet.

I was amazed at how some of the theories I re-researched are so applicable to some of the things I’m encountering at my new job. I should just bring all of these articles with me, and say “we’re doing this wrong” and read and analyze what these authors have already said and done. I could bring Kuh, and Astin, and Tinto along with me everywhere. But they’d be discounted by others, they wouldn’t be enough, because of the hubris we’re taught within our professional cultures.

I’m kind of sad that I’m wrapping this up, but proud that I made it through the month. I wish I could have written and branched out some more. For example, …

#CSAM18 Day 28: Retention, Persistence, and You: Partners in College Student Success*

This is a long one, folks. The tl;dr is that retention and graduation are byproducts of success, and that our work should be driven by theory to implement programs and services that we know improve student success. If you’re in for a longer read than that sentence, read on, dear reader.


We bandy the terms retention and persistence around all the time, and often use them as the driving force behind the initiatives we create and implement. And, quite frankly, we should, at least to some extent.

But here’s the thing.

First, terminology. Students persist, colleges retain. The act of persisting is done by the one actually moving through a situation, while colleges work to retain students at a given institution. They are not the same term, and should not be used interchangeably.

Second, focus. Retention and persistence (and, ultimately, graduation) are byproducts of student success. Kuh and Pascarella (and Astin, and Levine, and Padilla, among others) touch on this in their writings. …

#CSAM18 Day 30: Theoretical Borderlands

By working between two theoretical frameworks, queer theory and constructivism, Abes explored power structure and research within student affairs. She studied ten lesbian college students longitudinally over four years using a constructivist theoretical approach, meaning in-depth interviews. However, one of the themes to come out of the research was that the students needed to grapple with heterosexism, and a constructivist approach would not have allowed Abes to explore that type of power structure. Abes then incorporated queer theory to explain the struggle with heteronormativity, and re-examined the interviews using a queer theory lens. Neither theory provided a complete framework to understand the experiences of the students, but by using both, educators can better understand those experiences.

Title of theory: Theoretical Borderlands

Year theory was published: 2009

Students originally studied: 10 lesbian students and two major theoretical approaches to research

Background of the aut…

#CSAM18 Day 29: The Four S’s of Transition

There are Four S's of transition: Situation, the 5 W's of the transition. Self, personal/demographic characteristics and psychological resources of the person going through the transition. Social support, which is pretty self explanatory. Strategies, how a person responds to the transition. There are also three parts of a transition: moving in, moving through, and moving out.

Title of theory: Transition Theory

Year theory was published: 1981

Students originally studied: Dr. Schlossberg has done a lot of research on adults, adults through transitioning, and counseling

Background of the author: Dr. Nancy Schlossberg is a Professor Emerita, Department of Counseling and Personnel Services, College of Education at the University of Maryland. She's a recognized expert on adult transitions among other topics. She has many articles that focus on adult transitions, including focusing on retirement.

How theory can be used now: We can use this as one way to understand how we, along with …

#CSAM18 Day 27: Faculty & Student Contact

Based off a lot of other literature and research of students, Pascarella found that there are a variety of influences that affect informal student-faculty contact. One of the first ones is that informal contact happens when faculty and students are similar - the hold similar interests and/or values, for example. Another factor is how faculty members believe education happens. If a faculty member believes learning is an "interactive process between teachers and learners". A third factor is the culture of the institution; if an institution has strict power structures and peer groups students will abide by those groups. This means that if a more prestigious institution develops a student culture that does not interact with faculty outside of the classroom, then students will likely follow and perpetuate that culture. Institutional size is yet another factor.

Title of theory: Student-faculty informal contact and college outcomes

Year theory was published: 1980

Students originally …

#CSAM18 Day 26: Kuh & Learning Outside the Classroom

Kuh did a study to learn about 3 things:

Did students learn from experiences outside of the classroom?
In what ways have they changed since starting college?
Do the outcomes considered by students to be important differ by type of institution attended and student background characteristics?

Kuh found that what happens outside of the classroom does contribute to student learning. They also found that students describe the changes that happen in college mostly in terms of what they learned from or skills gained within the classroom, but students also test the theses outside of the classroom. A third finding was that all students went through similar learning and development, regardless of background - with one exception: gender. Their final finding was that development and changes differed based on the type of institution and mission of the institution.

Title of theory: In Their Own Words: What students learn outside the classroom

Year theory was published: 1993

Students originally studie…

#CSAM18 Day 25: We’re doing this wrong

I like Tinto’s theory because it basically describes what we should all be doing for all of our students - building community, helping students integrate into that community, and then helping them achieve their academic goals.

Basically, boiled down to one sentence: Tinto thinks that students leave higher ed for reasons beyond economic ones. His model is below. Tinto talks about community, clear goal setting, clear pathways to achieve goals, and integration into the campus community. Bascially, if we treat the act of dropping out as only an economic one, we're cheating and not holding ourselves accountable for making every other effort to make sure the student can complete their academic goals.


Title of theory: Why students leave (ok, this isn't the actual title, but he's published a lot on this, so find a few articles you like), but his model is called Tinto's Interactionalist The…