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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 Twenty: Meeting Students Where They Are: Student Success at a Large Flagship University (Stephanie Veltman Santarosa / Amy Aldous Bergerson)


chapter 20

Meeting Students Where They Are

Student Success at a Large Flagship University

Stephanie Veltman Santarosa & Amy Aldous Bergerson


The Student Success and Empowerment Initiative (SSEI) was established in 2013 with the intent to increase the success of University of Utah students. The key feature of the Initiative is the Student Success Advocates (SSAs), a team of eight professional staff who work with individual students, using a holistic approach, to help them define what success in college means for them, and to connect them with the resources, programs, and people who can assist them in achieving their academic goals. From its inception the SSEI emphasized the need for students to define success in college in their own terms, even while the initiative worked to support University retention and completion goals.

Program assessment data indicate that student success at the University of Utah is enhanced by the work of SSAs in three ways. First, students learn important success skills, including study and test taking strategies, stress management approaches, and goal setting and attainment skills. Second, SSAs connect students to important campus resources, from programs that enhance their learning experience such as learning communities and undergraduate research opportunities to programs that support their success such as the counseling center, the Personal Money Management Center, and tutoring. Finally, data indicate that students feel cared for and like they belong at the University (Strayhorn, 2012) when working with SSAs....

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