The Scando Review
The Scando Review
Importance of student development and course climate in student learning

Importance of student development and course climate in student learning

Part 2

Chickering model of student development

Renowned educational researcher Arthur W. Chickering developed the Chickering model of student development in 1969. In this model, Chickering provides insights into all the developmental changes students experience through their college years. He groups the developmental changes into seven dimensions, which he calls vectors. According to Chickering, these vectors build on each other cumulatively. Let us take a look at the seven vectors.

Developing competence

This vector involves intellectual, physical and interpersonal competence. Intellectual competence includes everything from studying study skills to developing critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Physical competence involves athletic activities. It also includes the realisation in students that now they are responsible for their health and well-being. Interpersonal competence includes communication, group and leadership skills. These three competencies together give students a sense of confidence that will reflect in their development.

Managing emotions

This dimension involves understanding one’s own emotions and expressing them appropriately. Students will go through several emotions, including happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety, excitement, frustration and so on. They should understand and manage each emotion well.

Developing autonomy

This vector involves achieving personal autonomy. It is a process that happens through the development of emotional independence and instrumental independence. According to Chickering, emotional independence refers to freeing oneself from the need for parental approval, and instrumental independence refers to one’s ability to deal with challenges on one’s own terms. Research conducted on millennials by William Strauss and Neil Howe suggests that current students struggle more with this dimension.

Establishing identity

This is the most crucial dimension in Chickering’s theory. It builds on the preceding dimensions and serves as the foundation for the ones that follow. According to Chickering, it culminates in the sense of self. It involves comfort with one’s own body and appearance, gender and sexual orientation, and racial and ethnic heritage. Students with a well-developed sense of self would be able to handle ideas and beliefs that conflict with their own.

Freeing interpersonal relationship

This dimension involves having mature interpersonal relationships. An awareness of differences among each individual and a tolerance for those differences is necessary for mature relationships. The development of intimacy in a romantic relationship is also a part of this vector.

Developing purpose

After establishing identity, this is the most important dimension. It raises the question: “What am I going to do?” This dimension involves nurturing specific interests and committing to a profession or a lifestyle. Throughout life, we will meet with opposition from others. A purpose is important to motivate you to face these oppositions and thrive in hardships.

Developing integrity

This dimension refers to the tension between self-interest and social responsibility. It culminates with adopting a set of values that guide and direct behaviour.

All seven vectors involve several social, emotional, and intellectual processes. The way students approach these processes shapes how they develop throughout the course. It will also influence their level of engagement, motivation, and persistence.

Chickering’s model looks at development broadly, and it is true that we cannot control all these dimensions in a classroom. In the next part, we can discuss intellectual development.

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