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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 Five: A Relationship-Centered Approach to Working with Adult and Nontraditional Students (April Herring / Jacqueline S. Hodes)


chapter 5

A Relationship-Centered Approach to Working with Adult and Nontraditional Students

April Herring & Jacqueline S. Hodes


Adult and nontraditional students are a growing part of the higher education landscape have not been included in the traditional theories of student development. Research on student development has focused more on the traditionally aged student. In this chapter, a review of the literature about this population will look at who they are, what challenges they bring to college and what challenges colleges face in trying to serve them.

The growth and development of adult and nontraditional students is best seen in the Dynamic Student Development Methatheodel (DSDM) in its focus on the role of relationships, specifically the significant other. The adult and nontraditional students focus on academics creates a need for intentionally targeting this population in Services, supports, programs and interventions (SSIPs) and focusing the staff, administration and faculty on fully understanding the unique needs of this population.

Adult and Nontraditional Students in Higher Education

At its inception, higher education in the United States was designed for young wealthy white men to ready them for life as citizens or clergy. Since K–12 education did not develop until over 200 years later, those attending college were often←85 | 86→ much younger than what has become known as today’s “traditional” students. The “traditional” ages for college participation solidified when K–12 education became part of the national...

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