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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 Nine: Next Generation First Generation: Applying DSDM to Foster Student GLD (Gloria Aquino Sosa / Tracy Pascua Dea)


chapter 9

Next Generation First Generation

Applying DSDM to Foster Student GLD

Gloria Aquino Sosa & Tracy Pascua Dea


Finding and implementing student development frameworks to holistically support first generation students and increase their retention, performance, and graduation rates is becoming a crucial challenge as this population continues to increase in numbers and decrease in most measures of college success (Saenz, Hurtado, Barrera, Wolf, & Yeung, 2007). Much of the research addressing first generation students underscores the dire circumstances facing this population as they navigate higher education, often with little to no support in advance of arriving at college. Whether students select baccalaureate or community colleges, performance, time to degree, and degree attainment suffers (Choy, 2001; Engle & Tinto, 2008; Nuñez & Cuccaro-Alamin, 1998; Pascarella, Pierson, Wolniak, & Terenzini, 2004; Terenzini, Springer, Yaeger, Pascarella, & Nora, 1996; Warburton, Bugarin, & Nuñez, 2001).

Applying the DSDM to this population can provide a conceptual framework to understand and support first generation students as they traverse the minefields often associated with commencing college. First generation students can benefit from the outcomes desired by the DSDM: developing agency, affinity for the institution, and focused intentionality. It is vital for students to nurture these affective qualities while moving from dependency (on the family system, school system, other prescribed systems) through independence (to acclimate to the college environment through self-direction, meaning making, self-assessment, and engagement) and finally to interdependence. Interdependence can...

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