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Theories of Human Development That Enhance an Understanding of the College Transition Process


by Douglas A. Guiffrida — 2009

Background/Context: Although theories of human development often play a central role in K–12 pedagogical practices, evidence suggests that developmental theories have not been used extensively to understand the college transition process or to develop programs to support students during these transitions.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of the Study: The author reviews theories of identity development, racial identity development, and intrinsic motivation to (a) understand how diverse developmental characteristics, stages/tasks, and cultural processes affect the college transition process and (b) identify strategies for preparing diverse students for, and supporting them during, their transitions to college.

Research Design: Salient theories of human development, particularly from the fields of social and cross-cultural psychology, were identified and critically reviewed.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The results indicate that in addition to providing students with adequate academic preparation and funding, college faculty and staff must also understand and support college student identity development (including ethnic identity development) and seek to foster intrinsic motivation among students.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 111 Number 10, 2009, p. 2419-2443
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15714, Date Accessed: 9/25/2017 1:00:30 PM

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About the Author
  • Douglas Guiffrida
    University of Rochester
    E-mail Author
    DOUGLAS GUIFFRIDA is an associate professor in the departments of Counseling and Human Development, and Higher Education at the University of Rochester, Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development. His research focuses on understanding the experiences of college students of color and constructivist approaches to teaching and supervising counseling students. His recent publications include “Development and Validation of the Need for Relatedness at College Questionnaire (NRC-Q)” (Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 2008) and “Toward a Cultural Advancement of Tinto’s Theory” (The Review of Higher Education, 2006).
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