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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-Two: Toward an Afrocentric Expansion of the Dynamic Student Development Metatheodel for Black American Students (Andrew T. Arroyo / Marybeth Gasman)


chapter 22

Toward an Afrocentric Expansion of the Dynamic Student Development Metatheodel for Black American Students

Andrew T. Arroyo & Marybeth Gasman

No static developmental model can be expected to meet the needs of all students.

(Frederick, Sasso, & Barratt, 2015, p. 10)

Theoretical models provide foundational guidance in the research and practice of higher education (Creswell, 2013; Repko, 2012). Choosing the right model is critical for achieving outcomes that respect and enhance the human dignity and agency of students (Arroyo, Kidd, Burns, Cruz, & Lawrence-Lamb, 2015; Ladson-Billings, 1995). Anzaldúa (1990) wrote insightfully, “If we have been gagged and disempowered by theories, we can also be loosened and empowered by theories” (p. xxvi). Therefore, the stakes for theory building in this new century are high. The challenge for theory is to account for diverse perspectives and populations so optimal student development is achieved for all.

Although meeting this challenge might mean developing new models, it could also mean revising or expanding an existing model. A well-known example of theory revision is Guiffrida’s (2006) work to amend Tinto’s (1993) theory of student departure. The goal was to refashion Tinto’s (1993) near-paradigmatic model to better reflect the cultural norms of American minority students. Of note, given Tinto’s (1975, 1993) popularity across higher education, several studies (e.g., Berger & Braxton, 1998; Palmer, Davis, & Maramba, 2011) have sought to test and revise Tinto’s work with the goal of ensuring its...

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