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“Building on Erikson’s discussion of identity and intimacy (1959/1980), Chickering saw the establishment of identity as the core developmental issue with which student grapple during their college years” (Evans, Forney, Guido, Patton, & Renn, 2010, p. 65).

arthur chickering background
Arthur Chickering - Background
  • Chickering developed theory @ Goddard College
    • Evaluated curriculum/student development
  • Theory first outlined in Education and Identity
    • Based on research (1959-1965)
    • Achievement/personality tests, diaries, interviews
    • Later incorporated studies on various small colleges
  • Target: Faculty
    • Relevance to Student Affairs profession: accident
  • Original Education and Identity published in 1969
    • Used, researched extensively
    • Focus on white, middle-class, straight men
  • Revised in 1993 w/ Linda Reisser
    • Incorporated new research/findings by others
    • Summarized other theorists’ related work
    • More inclusive of gender/race/sexuality
chickering s theory
Chickering’s Theory
  • Seven Vectors of Development
    • Direction & magnitude
    • “Wibbly-wobbly” (not linear)
    • Build on one another
  • Key Influences (7)
    • Educational environments have strong influence
  • Admonitions (3)
    • Keys to creating positive, powerful educational environments
seven vectors of development
Seven Vectors of Development

Developing Competence

Managing Emotions

Moving Through Autonomy Toward Interdependence

Developing Mature Interpersonal Relationships

Establishing Identity

Developing Purpose

Developing Integrity

1 developing competence
1. Developing Competence

Three elements:

  • Intellectual Competence
    • Acquiring/refining knowledge, skills, culture, reasoning
  • Physical and Manual Skills
    • Athletics, wellness, recreation, artistic/manual activities
  • Interpersonal Competence
    • Communication, leadership, being a teamplayer
  • Held together by overall sense of confidence in your ability to persevere and succeed in life
developing competence pitchfork metaphor
Developing Competence: Pitchfork Metaphor
  • Intellectual Competence
  • Physical & Manual Skills
  • Interpersonal Competence
  • Confidence in one’s own

perseverance and success

2 managing emotions
2. Managing Emotions
  • Recognize, accept, express, & control emotions appropriately/responsibly
  • Original focus: “caveman instincts”
    • Aggression, sexual desire
  • More recent focus: wide range of emotions
    • Negative: Anxiety, depression, shame, guilt
    • Positive: Optimism, empathy, inspiration
managing emotions
Managing Emotions

What Not to Do…

3 moving through autonomy toward interdependence
3. Moving Through Autonomy Toward Interdependence

Three elements:

  • Emotional Independence
    • Continual praise/approval/affection not needed
  • Instrumental Independence
    • Self-directed, problem-solver, mobile
  • Interdependence
    • Recognize & accept interconnectedness w/ others
  • Renamed for revised edition
autonomy interdependence quotes
Autonomy/Interdependence Quotes


“The essence of independence has been to think and act according to standards from within, not without.” ~ Aleister Crowley

“No man is an island.” ~ John Donne

4 developing mature interpersonal relationships
4. Developing Mature Interpersonal Relationships
  • Interpersonal/intercultural tolerance
    • Appreciation of differences & similarities
  • Ability to maintain long-lasting, deep relationships
    • Both romantic & platonic

Overarching Theme:

  • Accepting people for who they are
5 establishing identity
5. Establishing Identity
  • Comfort w/ body, appearance, gender, sexual orientation, roles, etc.
  • Secure sense of self, self-acceptance, & self-esteem
    • Even when faced w/ others’ feedback/criticism
  • Revised Theory:
    • Acknowledges differences in identity development based on gender, race, and/or sexuality
6 developing purpose
6. Developing Purpose
  • Developing goals, sticking with meaningful interests/activities, & forming solid interpersonal commitments
  • “Intentionally making and staying with decisions, even in the face of opposition” (Blahblah, 2011).
  • Life calling
7 developing integrity
7. Developing Integrity

Three Sequential/Overlapping Stages:

  • Humanizing Values
    • Move away from rigid morality system
    • Interest of others balanced w/ own interests
  • Personalizing Values
    • Own core values affirmed
    • Others’ acknowledged/respected
  • Developing Congruence
    • Your values = Your actions
seven key environmental influences
Seven Key (Environmental) Influences

Institutional Objectives

Institutional Size

Student-Faculty Relationships



Friendships and Student Communities

Student Development Programs and Services

activity application of key influences
Activity: Application of Key Influences

With each key influence, consider how well Missouri State (or your alma mater) does in utilizing these environmental factors to advance student development.

After each slide, I’ll ask for a few examples, opinions, or comments.

1 institutional objectives
1. Institutional Objectives
  • Clear, specific
  • Used as guide by personnel when developing programs & services
  • Leads to greater consistency
  • Highlights values of institution
    • Students can agree/challenge said values
2 institutional size
2. Institutional Size
  • Significant immersion in/satisfaction with campus life important for student development
  • If # of people > range of opportunities…
    • Development potential hindered for all
    • Students feel redundant, unnecessary
3 student faculty relationships
3. Student-Faculty Relationships
  • Extensive/varied interactions
  • See faculty as real people (GASP!)

Positive Components:

  • Accessible, authentic
  • Knowledge of students
  • Use of good communication skills
4 curriculum
4. Curriculum
  • Relevant to students’ history
  • Offer diverse perspectives
    • Challenge assumptions & pre-existing info
    • Opportunities to integrate into current knowledge
5 teaching
5. Teaching

“For development to occur, teaching should involve active learning, student-faculty interaction, timely feedback, high expectations, and respect for individual learning differences” (Evans et al., 2010, p. 70).

6 friendships student communities
6. Friendships & Student Communities
  • Meaningful friendships & diverse organizations w/ shared interest develop all 7 vectors
  • Res Hall floors, student orgs, classes, etc.
  • Best: Interaction, collaboration, diversity, inclusive, knowledge base
7 student development programs services
7. Student Development Programs & Services
  • Collaboration of faculty & StA Professionals
  • Staff redefine themselves as educators & “Student Affairs Professionals”
  • Educate the whole student
three admonitions
Three Admonitions

Integration of Work and Learning

Recognition and Respect for Individual Differences

Acknowledgement of the Cyclical Nature of Learning and Development

three admonitions1
Three Admonitions
  • Integration of Work & Learning
    • Many students also work/volunteer
    • Collaboration between business, community, & IHE
  • Recognition & Respect for Individual Differences
    • Tension will increase w/ diversity unless addressed
    • Educators must adjust w/ their students’ backgrounds
  • Cyclical Nature of Learning & Development
    • New experiences/challenges => discomfort
    • That’s okay. Learning is occurring!



Specific Student Populations

Related Factors

  • Difficult to assess psychosocial development
    • Complex
    • Ongoing
    • Must be taken in context w/ culture
  • Two tools developed:
    • Student Developmental Task & Lifestyle Assessment
    • Iowa Student Development Inventories
  • Studies range from partial to full support
  • Difficult to determine if theory is invalid or assessment tools are bad
  • Further research is needed
specific student populations women
Specific Student Populations: Women
  • Men/Women Differ in Development
  • Developing Mature Interpersonal Relationships
    • Precedes autonomy
    • Achieve autonomy through these relationships
    • More developed @ start of college than men @ end
racial ethnic groups
Racial/Ethnic Groups
  • Chickering’s theory considered weak in examining development of students of color
  • Racial/ethnic identity can delay other vectors
  • Assimilation to a dominant culture
  • Different cultural values
  • Isolation/loneliness on white campuses
  • Confidence, secure ethnic identity, and realistic self-valuing vital to African American student success on white campuses.
lgbt students
LGBT Students
  • Little research on validity of theory to LGBT students
  • Sexual identity development can hinder other vectors for LGBT students
  • Disadvantaged for early vectors, adversely affect later vectors
  • Give up majority identity to develop new minority identity
  • Coming out a uniquely LGBT experience
related factors
Related Factors
  • Involvement on campus helps development
    • Some exceptions in research: athletics, Greek life
  • Life experiences can affect psychosocial development
  • Psychosocial development correlated with…
    • Career Development
    • Moral Development


Individual Interactions

Environmental Interventions

  • Develop programs to meet seven vectors
  • Evaluate/explain impact of programming
  • Help students w/ developmental deficiencies
    • Students drawn to programs that focus on already-developed vectors
    • Special effort to match program/right students
individual interactions environmental interventions
Individual Interactions/Environmental Interventions
  • Knowing students’ likely concerns can help prepare StA Professionals on what to know/suggest
  • Introduce environmental catalysts for development
    • Residential Learning Contract
    • Learning Center (faculty/StA collaboration)
  • Applauded for integrating secondary research and critiques into revised theory
  • Practical, easy to understand/use
  • More research on validity needed
  • Vector definitions general/hard to measure
  • More research on relation to diverse groups
    • May be impossible to develop all-inclusive theory

Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L. D., & Renn, K. A. (2010). Student development in college: theory, research and practice. (2nd ed.).San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Lounsbury, J. W., Saudargas, R. A., Gibson, L. W. , & Leong, F. T. (2005). An investigation of broad and narrow personality traits in relation to general and domain-specific life satisfaction of college students. Research in Higher Education, 46(6), 707-729. doi: 10.1007/s11162-004-4140-6

Riggs, R. O. (1994). Education and identity (2nd Ed.). Educational Studies, 25(4), 295. http://