Student Development Theory in Higher Education: A Social Psychological Approach, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Student Development Theory in Higher Education

A Social Psychological Approach, 1st Edition

By Terrell L. Strayhorn


170 pages

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pub: 2015-12-10
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Moving beyond the theories traditionally used to describe college student development, this engaging book introduces social psychological theories that address the most relevant issues in higher education today. Covering theories of ecological systems, sense of belonging, prejudice and discrimination, positive psychology, social capital, personality theory, mentoring, and hope theory, this book promotes the understanding and application of social psychological theories to various higher education contexts. Examples from diverse student populations encourage learners’ application to situations in their own contexts. Comprehensive enough to be used as a main text but accessible enough to be used alongside another, this important textbook bridges research, theory, and practice to help practicing and aspiring higher education and student affairs professionals effectively work with college students.

Special Features Include:

• Reflective exercises that combine theory and practice and help students apply their knowledge solving problems.

• Case studies and scenarios for further connections to the reader’s university and college settings.

• Guiding questions that encourage students to think beyond the current literature and practice.

• List of further readings and references for readers to explore topics in more depth.


"Strayhorn's talent for communicating ideas and structuring learning experiences is evident in this scholarly treasure. Like a master teacher, he creatively weaves together analyses, personal stories, case studies, and an assortment of exercises to present fresh frameworks and foundational ideas that bolster our understanding of college student development. This is a wonderful teaching tool for students, faculty, and practitioners who are interested in thoughtful, theory-based research and practice."

--Peter C. Mather, Associate Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs, Ohio University

"This reader-friendly text serves as a valuable complement to the standard readings used in courses on the college student experience as it provides in-depth coverage of topics not typically covered in these readings. Instructors and students will find useful the reflective exercises, case studies, guiding questions, research tips, and list of further readings that accompany each chapter."

--John M. Braxton, Professor of Education of Higher Education Leadership and Policy, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University

Table of Contents


Part I: Background of Theory

1. Introducing…A Social Psychological Approach

2. What’s Theory Anyway?

Part II: Applications of Theory to Practice

3. Ecological Systems Theory: An Ethnographic "Glimpse"

4. Sense of Belonging in College: A Fresh Perspective

5. Group Contact Theory: Prejudice & Discrimination

6. Grit and Hardiness: A Social Psychological View of Positivity

7. Personality Theory: Three Little Pigs & Big-Five Traits

8. Mentoring: Mutual Benefits, Separate Roles

9. Hope Theory: Evidence of Things Not Seen…

10. Social Influence: How Others Shape Us and Our Aspirations

11. Epilogue

About the Author

Terrell L. Strayhorn is Professor of Higher Education and Director of the Center for Higher Education Enterprise (CHEE) at The Ohio State University, USA.

About the Series

Core Concepts in Higher Education

Core Concepts in Higher Education is a textbook series for the education of new professionals, covering the core areas of study in the field of higher education and student affairs. This timely and dependable series provides the necessary tools to ensure practice is informed by theory and research. The books in this series invite students to think critically about the field to discover what has been left out and what needs to be learned, and also provides frameworks and constructs for addressing challenges facing higher education. The Core Concepts in Higher Education series moves thought, action, and scholarship forward by valuing, reconstructing, and building on the foundations of the field. Through a rich combination of research, theory, and practice, this series aims to move the field into a new generation of scholarship to better prepare students for authentic leadership of our colleges, universities, and academic communities.

Learn more…

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