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Chickerings and Eriksons Theories of Student Development Higher Education Understanding student development is a very important part of student affairs Theories of student development can assist student development officials in understanding students One type of theory that is particularly helpful to student affairs officials is psychosocial theories Psychosocial theories of college student development address such issues as how people define themselves how they define their relationships with others and how they decide what they want to do with their lives Student development theory is important because it can aid in describing predicting explaining and controlling changes in student behavior Evans Forney Guido-DiBrito 1998 This paper will compare Chickerings theory of student development and Eriksons theory of student development According to Chickering Psychosocial theories view development as a series of developmental tasks or stages including qualitative changes in thinking feeling behaving valuing and relation to others and to oneself Chickering Reisser 1993 p 2 Chickering proposed seven vectors of development Students move through each vector however the vectors are not strictly sequential Vectors build on one another but one can go back and reexamine issues in each vector The vectors are more like a spiral staircase than a sequence of steps A person can be in two different vectors at once Eriksons theory combines both internal psychological factors and external social factors to consider development Erikson proposed eights stages of development Like Chickering Eriksons stages build upon one another and each stage focuses on a challenge or crisis that must be resolved in order to move effectively to the next stage of development The resolution of each crisis depends on the interaction of the individuals characteristics and the support provided by the social environment Resolution of a crisis does not mean that a person rejects one alternative completely but rather that he or she finds a balance between
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