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EAD966: Students in Postsecondary Education
Higher, Adult, & Lifelong Education

Dr. Kristen Renn
428 Erickson Hall
Tuesdays 3-5:50 pm
200 Wells Hall
Office Hours:Wednesday, 1-4 pm (sign up on my door)


This course is designed to provide advanced graduate students with a general understanding of theories and research related to student development in higher education. By reading and analyzing original writings in the field of student development theory, students will have the opportunity to study the philosophical bases of the field as well as to understand the complementarities - and differences - among and between traditional and emerging theories. Course readings incorporate research on the experiences of students of diverse backgrounds, providing information and theory relating to specific identity-based groups of college students. The course also requires a research project on one segment of the college student population.


Baxter Magolda, M. B. (2001). Making their own way: Narratives for transforming higher education to promote self-development. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Chickering, A.W., & Reisser, L. (1993). Education and identity (2nd ed). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Gergen, K. J. (1991). The saturated self: Dilemmas of identity in contemporary life. New York: Basic Books.

Kegan, R. (1994). In over our heads: The mental demands of modern life. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Coursepack, available at the first class for you to copy, readings indicated with an asterisk in syllabus. Note also that many readings are available in full-text online and the syllabus indicates that you are expected to locate and print your own copy. Readings taken from the optional texts are not included in the coursepack; if you elect not to purchase these books, you should make arrangements to have copies of the necessary readings.


Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

King, P.M., & Kitchener, K.S. (1994). Developing reflective judgment: Understanding and promoting intellectual growth and critical thinking in adolescents and adults. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Pascarella, E.T, & Terenzini, P.T. (1991). How college affects students: Findings and insights from twenty years of research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). 2001. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. [known generally as "the APA manual," this is a new edition and includes citation of electronic sources]


If you do not already have ready access to the Chronicle of Higher Education, you may want to consider getting your own subscription. If you already subscribe but do not receive the daily electronic news updates, you may want to activate this service now (it is free to Chronicle subscribers; go to the website to get instructions on how to get the daily news service).

The Chronicle maintains an excellent website that is free whether or not you subscribe to their newspaper. Some of its links are restricted to Chronicle subscribers, but most are not.


www.apastyle.org/index.html (APA style manual home page)
http://www.acenet.edu (American Council on Education)
www.naspa.org (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators)
www. acpa.nche.org (Association of College Personnel Administrators)
www. chronicle.com (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
www.aahe.org (American Association for Higher Education)
www.ashe.missouri.edu (Association for the Study of Higher Education)
www.aera.net/divisions/j (Division J: Postsecondary Education of the American Educational Research Association)
www.Studentaffairs.com (a private site with excellent links, including instructions to sign up for listservs related to student affairs)
www.Higher-Ed.org (a private higher ed resource site; links to many useful and interesting higher ed sites)


  • Readings and topical assignments

You should come to class ready to discuss all readings. Although it is not required, some students find it helpful to prepare questions or comments on each reading.
Periodically I will assign an exercise or other preparation to be done prior to the next class session. These assignments will form the basis of class discussion and group work. Because readings and topical assignments are critical to active class participation, your grade in this area will be reflected in your participation grade.

  • Active participation in class discussions (20%)

Active participation requires attendance, preparation (through readings and topical assignments), and willingness to contribute to discussions in a variety of group configurations (pairs, small groups, entire class, etc.). Absence from any session will result in a deduction in your grade in this area, at a rate of 1 percentage point for any session missed in whole or in part.

  • Research project and poster presentation (60% and 10%, respectively)

A full research project is required in this course. The final project will look much like a published journal article, including a comprehensive review of the literature, identification of a theoretical framework, and a collection of student perspectives. Topics will be agreed upon by students and instructor. The project is due in stages as outlined below.

A workable research question and short rationale for that choice (not to exceed one page) is due on January 22

  • A draft review of literature with a focus on research conducted in the last 5 years is due February 19. The literature should be as closely aligned with your research question as possible and should almost exclusively include research-based literature. The draft turned in at this time will likely be fairly rough in terms of style and narrative, but should include all literature used in the final paper

  • A conceptual framework using one or more of the theoretical perspectives from course discussion and readings must be used in the study. The theoretical framework guides the questions asked of student participants and directs the data analysis. A short description of the framework, the rationale for the choice of the theoretical perspectives, and a list of questions to be asked of students is due March 12. If you anticipate interviewing students prior to this date, you may submit this stage of the project and get my feedback earlier than March 12

  • The final stage is the organization of a 20-30 page paper that includes the integration of the previous stages in the style of a published research article (introduction, literature review, conceptual framework, method, data/findings, discussion, conclusions). You should include the perspectives of 2-3 students chosen for their unique characteristics and/or experiences as related to the research question. The interviews should be about an hour in length. Data from these interviews and analysis of the data is presented in the final sections of the paper. The papers are due on April 23. Papers will be presented to the class and invited guests in the form of a poster presentation to be held on Tuesday, April 30

  • Three short essays reflecting on your goals for yourself and the course (2-3 pages each). (10%)
    -Essay I: Self and course objectives: Due in class 1/15 .
    -Essay II: Midsemester self and course evaluation: Due in class 2/26.
    -Essay III: End of semester self and course evaluation: Due in class 4/30.
    Note: These essays are ungraded (i.e. treated on a credit/no credit basis).
    In class, you will receive more explicit instructions for completing course assignments. Please ask if you have questions regarding how you will be evaluated in this course

All papers should be double-spaced in 12-point font (times or palatino) with margins of 1-1.25 inches. They should always fall within the page range listed in the syllabus.

All citations and reference lists should conform to the style manual of the American Psychological Association (5th edition).

Note on absences, late assignments, and re-writes:

Class attendance is required and is included in the class participation grade. Nevertheless, students may occasionally need to absent themselves from class meetings for reasons of illness, family, or work. In fairness to students who attend and participate in every class session, an absence for any reason will result in a reduction in the absent student's class participation grade. This reduction is on the order of 1 point (of total for all assignments) per class missed. For example, if you miss one session but are otherwise present on time and actively contributing, you would receive 19 of the 20 possible points for participation (out of the 100 total points for the course). For the purposes of this policy, being late to class or leaving early for any reason constitutes an absence and will result in a 1 point reduction in accumulated points toward your final grade.

Whenever it is possible, advance notice of absences is appreciated. An email message or phone call to someone who will be in class (instructor or student) is generally adequate to keep us from worrying about you. If you were unable to contact someone prior to the missed class, please contact me as soon as possible afterwards to learn of any assignments, announcements, etc.

Absence from class to observe a religious holiday, to serve jury duty, or to participate in required military service are exceptions to the above policy. If you anticipate being absent for any of these reasons, please make arrangements with me in advance and there will be no deduction in your grade.

All assignments are expected during the session noted on the syllabus. Unless prior arrangements have been made with me, late submissions will not be accepted and will result in a grade of 0 for that assignment. Grades for late submissions that are accepted may be reduced.

Evaluation of assignments:

Assignments earning an "A" grade will be of excellent quality, reflecting critical thinking, creativity, and mastery of course material. They will be well organized and clear. They will be free of errors in syntax, grammar, and APA format. An "A-" grade might result from minor deductions in any of these areas.

Assignments earning a "B" grade will be of good quality, reflecting a solid grasp of the course material and clear, well-organized writing style. They might contain some errors in syntax, grammar, or APA format, but will not be seriously flawed. A "B-" grade might result from more significant reductions in these areas.

Assignments earning a "C" grade will be of acceptable quality, reflecting familiarity with course material. They might contain weaknesses in organization and errors in syntax, grammar, or APA format. A "C-" grade might result from more severe weaknesses.

Assignments earning below a "C-" are unacceptable and will receive no credit.

Course grades:

The grading system at MSU is on a four-point scale, with course grades reported in half points (4.0, 3.5, 3.0, 2.5, etc.). Any grade below a 3.0 is a sign of serious problems for continued graduate work and merits discussion with me and/or your academic advisor. For the purposes of assigning a final grade, the following table applies:

94-100 points = 4.0
88-93 points = 3.5
81-87 points = 3.0
74-80 points = 2.5
73 or fewer points = 0 (no credit for course)

A note for students with disabilities:

If you require any accommodation or services, please inform me or contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (www.msu.edu/unit/rcpd), 120 Bessey, 353-9642.

Additional MSU resources:

- The Graduate School (www.msu.edu/user/gradschl.), 118 Linton, 355-0301
- Learning Resources Center (www.msu.edu/unit/lrc), 209J Bessey, 355-2363
- Ombuds' Office (www.msu.edu/unit/ombud), 129 North Kedzie, 353-8830
- Writing Center (http://writing.msu.edu), 300 Bessey, 432-3610


January 8

Introduction and course overview

- What is student development theory and how is it created?

- Overview of student development theory

January 15

The Saturated Self

Readings for today:

Gergen, The saturated self
- read preface, introduction, ch 1-9
- prepare to lead discussion on assigned chapters

Assignment due: Essay I, self and course goals

January 22

In Over Our Heads, part one

Readings for today:

Kegan, In over our heads, through chapter 5 (1-197)

Assignment due: research question and rationale

January 29 Still In Over Our Heads…

Readings for today:

Kegan, In over our heads, chapter 6 to end (198-355)

February 5 Ecology theory, developmental environments, and postsecondary education

Readings for today:

Bronfenbrenner, ch 1 & 2 (3-42)
*note: if you choose this theory for your project, you may also want to read ch 3-5 and 9-11

Strange, C. (1994, November). Student development: The evolution and status of an essential idea. Journal of College Student Development, 35, 399-412. [retrieve online]

Renn, K.A., & Arnold, K.C. (forthcoming). Reconceptualizing research on college student peer culture. Journal of Higher Education. note: 2/5 continues on next page
(February 5, continued)

Exercise: Come to class with a Bronfenbrenner-style map of your life as an undergraduate. You can use the shape of the figure from the Renn & Arnold article as a model or you can design your own shema.

February 12  

How College Affects Students: Outcomes & Processes

Readings for today:

Pascarella, E.T., & Terenzini, P.T. (1991). How college makes a difference: A summary. In E.T. Pascarella & P. T. Terenzini, How college affects students: Findings and insights from twenty years of research (pp. 556-635). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. [note: detailed analyses of the topics covered in this chapter are available in the earlier chapters of the book; if you are intrigued by a finding, you may want to spend time in the earlier chapters]

*Astin, A. W. (1984). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25, 297-308.

ACPA. "The Student Learning Imperative" [if you are unfamiliar with this document, retrieve online at http://www.acpa.nche.edu/sli/sli.htm; if you have already encountered it in your professional or educational life, you do not need to read it again]

Kuh, G.D. (1996). Guiding principles for creating seamless learning environments for undergraduates. Journal of College Student Development, 37 (2), 135-148. [retrieve online]

*Tinto, V. (1993). A theory of individual departure from institutions of higher education. In V. Tinto, Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (pp. 84-137).

February 19  

Erikson and Identity; Chickering's Seven Vectors (part 1)

Readings for today:

*Erikson, E.H. (1968). The life cycle: Epigenesis of identity. In E. H. Erikson, Identity: Youth and crisis (pp. 91-141).
Chickering & Reisser, chapter 1 (1-41)

Assignment due: Draft review of literature
(note: reading for next week is chunky…consider reading ahead!)

February 26

Chickering's Seven Vectors

Readings for today:

Chickering and Reisser, chapter 2-8 (43-264) Read them all, be prepared to lead discussion on your assigned vectors.

Reisser, L. (1995). Revisiting the seven vectors. Journal of College Student Development, 36 (6), 505-511. [retrieve online] Be prepared to use this article for an exercise in class.

Assignment due: Mid-semester self/course evaluation essay

March 12 Racial and Ethnic Identities

Readings for today:

*Cross, W.E., Jr. (1995).The psychology of Nigrescence: Revising the Cross model. In J.G. Ponterotto, J.M. Casas, L.A. Suzuki, & C.M. Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of multicultural counseling (pp. 93-122). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

*Helms, J.E. (1995). An update of Helms's White and People of Color racial identity models. In J. G. Ponterotto, J.M. Casas, L.A. Suzuki and C.M. Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of multicultural counseling (pp. 181-198). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

*Tatum, B.D. (1995). The development of white identity. In B.D. Tatum, "Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?" And other conversations about race (pp. 93-113). New York: Basic Books.

Renn, K.A. (2000). Patterns of situational identity among biracial and multiracial college students. Review of Higher Education, 23 (4), 399-420. [retrieve online at http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/review_of_higher_education/toc/ rhe23.4.html]

Rhoads, R.A., & Ortiz, A.M. (2000). Deconstructing whiteness as part of a multicultural educational framework: From theory to practice. Journal of College Student Development, 41 (1), 81-93. [retrieve online]

Assignment due: Conceptual framework and interview questions

March 19

Gender and Sexual Orientation Identities
Readings for today:
***Gender reading TBA***

**Eliason, M.J. (1995). Accounts of sexual identity formation in heterosexual students. Sex Roles, 32 (11-12), 821-834. [not in packet or easily retrieved online - will be forthcoming from me]

*Cass, V.C. (1979). Homosexual identity formation: A theoretical model. Journal of Homosexuality, 4, (3), 219-235.

*D'Augelli, A.R. (1994). Identity development and sexual orientation: Toward a model of lesbian, gay, and bisexual development. In E.J. Trickett, R.J. Watts, & D. Birman (Eds.), Human diversity: Perspectives on people in context (pp. 312-333. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

*Dilley, P. (no date). More than either/or: Implications for theory and practice from the collegiate lives of non-heterosexual men. Submitted for review.

*Renn, K. A. (2000). Including all voices in the classroom: Teaching lesbian, gay, and bisexual students. College Teaching, 48, (4), 129-135.

*Wilson, A. (1996). How we find ourselves: Identity development and Two-Spirit people. Harvard Educational Review, 66 (2), 303-317.

March 26 Spiritual, Ability, Class, Age, & Multidimensional Identities

Readings for today:

Jones, S.R., & McEwen, M.K. (2000). A conceptual model of multiple dimensions of identity. Journal of College Student Development, 41 (4), 405-413. [retrieve online]

*Love, P.G. (1998). Cultural barriers facing lesbian, gay, and bisexual students at a Catholic college. Journal of Higher Education, 69 (3), 298-323.

*hooks, b. (2000, November 17). Learning in the shadow of race and class. The Chronicle of Higher Education, B14.

*Overall, C. (1995). Class matters: Symbolic boundaries and cultural exclusion. In C.L. Barney Dews & C. L. Law (Eds.), This fine place so far from home: Voices of academics from the working class (pp. 209-220). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

**Cohen, Rosetta Marantz. (1998). Class consciousness and its consequences: The impact of an elite education on mature, working-class women. American Educational Research Journal, 35 (3), 353-375. [not in packet or easily retrieved online - will be forthcoming from me]

**Gerschick, T.J. (2000). Toward a theory of disability and gender. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 25 (4), 1263-1268. [not in packet or easily retrieved online - will be forthcoming from me]

April 2  No class: AERA

In addition to working on your research project, this would be a fine time to check out upcoming reading assignments and make sure you budget your time adequately.

April 9  

Intellectual Development and Reflective Judgment

Readings for today:

King & Kitchener, chapters 1-3 and 7-9 (pp. 1-74 and 189-258) [ch 3 is the "meat" of the theory - be prepared to discuss the stages in depth]

*Perry, W.G. (1981). Cognitive and ethical growth: The making of meaning. In A. W. Chickering & Associates (Eds.), The modern American college (pp. 76-116). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

April 16 Moral Development

Readings for today:

*Kohlberg, L. (1975). The cognitive-development approach to moral education. Phi Delta Kappan, 56, 670-677

*Gilligan, C. (1979). Woman's place in man's life cycle. Harvard Educational Review, 49(4), 431-446

*Gilligan, C. (1977). In a different voice: Women's conceptions of self and of morality. Harvard Educational Review, 47(4), 481-571.

April 23 Narratives for Self-Authorship

Readings for today:

Baxter Magolda, Making their own way, entire book

Assignment due: Research paper

April 30 Research Project Poster Session

No readings for today!

Assignment due: Final self and course evaluation

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