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The Dynamic Student Development Meta-Theory

A New Model for Student Success


Edited By Mark A. Frederick, Pietro A. Sasso and José Miguel Maldonado

The Dynamic Student Development Metatheodel (DSDM) is a meta-theory based on empirically based inferences drawn from a national survey entitled the University Learning Outcomes Assessment (UniLOA). The UniLOA’s current dataset consists of over 500,000 college student participants and has supported impressive findings that allow for the reconceptualization of long-held cultural artifacts and assumptions regarding the way students grow, learn, and develop (GLD) and how decision makers within postsecondary education have selected to engage the domains of student development measured by the UniLOA. This book champions a model of student success. The DSDM was developed from common factors identified in multiple theories and models within the areas of human and student development as well as empirically based theories and models of education. By first defining complementary elements within the theories and models then establishing accurate operational definitions, the planning and engagement of appropriate services, supports, interventions, and programs (SSIPs) and the active assessment of their outcomes can lead to a more effective response to current challenges faced by higher educators. As a metamodel, the DSDM reconceptualizes student success within higher education that is disruptive to the current accepted paradigm of student learning and engagement. This book is intended for faculty and staff interested in critical debate about issues in higher education and for deliberation by graduate students in college administration programs.

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Chapter Three: Results from the UniLOA: Outcomes Informing the DSDM (Mark A. Frederick / Michael J. Baker / Steven C. Flowers / Will Barratt / Pietro A. Sasso)


chapter 3

Results from the UniLOA

Outcomes Informing the DSDM

Mark A. Frederick, Michael J. Baker, Steven C. Flowers, Will Barratt, & Pietro A. Sasso


Higher educators seem to use the term student success as though it is a clearly defined operational definition and on that basis, decisions are made every day across the country that affect the lives of faculty and staff, students, key stakeholders, and those outside the academy. In reality, student success is a broad and sweeping construct that can mean qualitatively different things to different people. Educational decision makers need to develop a concrete and manageable definition of what student success is at their individual institution’s level. An institution’s definition of student success essentially establishes a set of targets at which the organization can intentionally aim services, supports, interventions, and programs (SSIPs) that best provide for their students’ needs.

There is no standard set of operational definitions for student success that will apply to every institution. Each institution must create and manage its own unique set of operational definitions, and through them, the creation of its own personality; the very thing that can impact marketing and public relations in the never-ending quest to recruit new students. The renowned marketing guru Seth Godin (2010) once observed that he could look at marketing materials from any higher education institution, cross out the name, and replace it with any other institution and it would “fit.” The...

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