Tools of the Trade: Student Development Theory

By Stephanie Wintling

Our prompt for this Monday is “how do you use student development theory in your everyday work (or do you)?”

This prompt appears as a no brainer answer, a common interview question, and a topic drilled in to us in graduate programs for student affairs. However, I genuinely struggle with answering this question. I am currently in my first entry-level job in student affairs and more and more I come to the realization student development is helpful but is only one tool in my toolbox.

As an individual with a B.A. in Psychology, student development theory was a truly fun class for me because of the familiar territory from my undergraduate material.  Our challenge everyday in the class was how we would apply theory to practice to produce learning outcomes.  As most individuals I am not as intentional as I should be with student development theory but there is one clear way I use theory.  The way I do utilize theory in my day-to-day work is when I reach a brick wall with a student and I have trouble initially understanding how I can challenge or support the student.  When I reach this wall I start asking where I think this student may be in their mental development, identity development, ethnic development, religious/spiritual development, etc. Sometimes a stage in Perry will match with the student, other times it is identifying what vector in Chickering this student may be struggling with, and lately I have had to apply Wijeyesinghe’s factor model of multiracial identity because my interactions with ethnically diverse students has increased at Texas State. When I begin to put the student’s experience through the lens of theory, the next steps for working with the student become clearer and intentional.

So yes, my answer is yes I do use student development theory in my everyday work. However the more I process the question the more I realize how much I utilize the skills from the counseling course in my graduate program over any others. In addition, I constantly reference things learned from my environments class when I think about the environment I would like to create in my hall. In keeping with my tool analogy I would place my  knowledge of environment theories as the hammer which keeps my students in place, counseling skills are my screwdriver because when used accordingly makes everything fit, and student development theory is my leveler because it lets me know when things are unbalanced and helps to keep things in balance for my students.

What our other tools do you use everyday in student affairs?

Tools of the Trade: Student Development Theory

Blog Prompt Monday

Welcome to the fourth edition of  “Blog Prompt Monday”! Here’s today’s prompt:

How do you use student development theory in your everyday work (or do you)?

We hope you’ll join in blogging about these prompts with us. I will be posting my response here later today. If you write a response on your blog, please include it in the comments below and tag it on Twitter with the #sawomenblog hashtag – we look forward to reading your posts!

Blog Prompt Monday

Where are You in Your Priorities

By Daria-Yvonne Graham

After having children I began looking at things in life in the context of  meeting their needs and providing for them. For instance, if there was something I wanted to purchase I would compare the cost and importance to our expenditures for them. For example, I wouldn’t purchase a $50 pair of shoes because that was the equivalent of two cans of formula. In the same vein, I was further motivated to hunt for and become an avid user of coupons adopting a rule to never pay full price… or as much as I could help it. However, I realized for the past two years I’ve been guilty of what many women are, not just in higher education: not taking care of myself.

As I can now admit my negligence, I have decided to embark on a path to a better me. In order to not be overwhelmed and eventually stall, I have identified a checklist of specifics. The familiar exercise regiment and change of eating habits are accompanied with a list of items to update in my wardrobe and keeping up with my personal health.

Although technology is not the focus of this post, my iPod (for working out) and my iPad (streamlining, maintaining lists and budgets) will definitely be helpful in what is a life change. Do you struggle with keeping yourself on your list of priorities? What software do you find helpful in time and life management?

Where are You in Your Priorities

Appreciation, Praise, and Recognition: Tech Style

By Jennifer Keegin

Toy Story 3

“Now Woody, he’s been my pal for as long as I can remember. He’s brave, like a cowboy should be. And kind, and smart. But the thing that makes Woody special, is he’ll never give up on you… ever. He’ll be there for you, no matter what.”

This part of “Toy Story 3” never ceases to to get me every time I watch this film. (I have to watch it a lot, my two year old daughter is addicted to it). You know how much Woody loves Andy. You’ve seen all that he’s done to be a leader for the other toys, how he’s been a role model with what it means to have an owner etc. Knowing all that, to have Andy who has ignore all the toys for so many years take the time to say something special about each one of them and say, “They mean a lot to me” and then to acknowledge that Woody would never give up on him – it pulls on your heart strings. You feel it because receiving praise or recognition from your boss, your students, or family members – those moments can be few and far between.  It happens. Students will on occasion let you know that something you’ve said or done has had an affect on them in some meaningful way. Those are the best days EVER.

A quick one I remember is that I spent some time in my Leadership Class talking about how to be an LGBTQ Ally. A student took the time to find my office later and tell me how much it meant to them. Yes! *High Five to myself*

But I also believe that we should all “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” You can’t expect students to give you that kind of recognition if it’s not the culture of the organization. Praise and recognition go a long way and I think now in the beginning of this semester its time to start thinking about how you can implement a plan to show your students, co-workers, family members how much you appreciate them.

I have put together some resources on-line to be used for just that purpose. We are some tech-y folks obviously and it’s even easier to do when it’s instant, online and available on our smartphones.

Let’s start with ePraise. From

ePraise ecards are an easy, fun way to incorporate daily recognition into your workplace. The ecards are available in many of our popular recognition themes so you can easily coordinate with other gifts. To top it off, ePraise ecards are always free, so send and enjoy!

Many different cards to choose from and they have Thank You type cards, but blank and Birthday cards too.


Our Original app allows you to send brief but beautiful messages to your friends!
Choose from a selection of gorgeous, everyday designs, customize your message and email or text to all your favourite people!

Now, browsing through other websites I have compiled a list of other ways in which to reward/recognize your employees specifically:

1. Offer to pay for them to attend a professional development webinar that maybe they would not have attended due to money constraints.

2. Nominate them for campus awards AND association awards.

3. I loved Cindy Kane’s (@cindykane) tweet:

My newer and more immediate way of showing thanks… writing LinkedIn recommendations. Don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before 🙂

4. Group Facebook messages. Praise sent out to the whole group praising one person or a team.

This is a list of ways (via tech) you can offer up some love to those that excel around you. Know of another resource that should be on this list? Tell us about it in the comments!

Good luck and I APPRECIATE you reading this post.

Appreciation, Praise, and Recognition: Tech Style

Linkage Love

By Kristen Abell

Warning: This post is gonna be all over the place. If you can handle the random, proceed with caution.

I couldn’t decide on any single theme or thread that connects these links, so I’m just going to throw them all out there – maybe you’ll see something I didn’t. Hope you enjoy!

For a couple of history/random fact lessons about social networking and e-mail, check out the history of social media infographic at Mashable, as well as these ten facts about e-mail. It’s always interesting to take a bird’s-eye view of the whole progression for me.

This post on how the total number of Twitter users fell in 2010 just reminds us that a small number of people can create large amounts of content – it sometimes feels like there’s more of us on here because we’re producing so much more.

These are not necessarily new links, but because I saw several posts/comments about coming up with blog ideas and blogging in general over the past couple of weeks, I thought I’d include them. Chris Brogan (despite his over-marketing through his blog), has some decent ideas for blog posts, as well as some suggestions for helpful blog tools. Meanwhile, over at Prof Hacker, they share their thoughts on how to create a group blog (FYI, Prof, that would have been helpful several months ago :-). I also liked some of these suggestions for getting over writer’s block (sorry, another Mashable link – but dang, they’re hot this week!). And of course, we’re always happy to help with our Blog Prompt Mondays.

Prof Hacker also had a great post about using technology in the classroom, including why it’s important, what are some of the barriers, and then also how we can surmount those barriers. Meanwhile, Gizmodo makes some pretty decent points about why we’re not quite ready for iPads in the classroom yet.

So there you have it folks – another week of Linkage Love. What have you been checking out on the internets this week?

Linkage Love

Do you have a favorite place?

By Colleen Riggle

Here at SA Women Talk Tech, several of us are making strides to blog more in the new year and thanks to #reverb10 and WordPress Post a day/week Challenge we’ve been keeping up!

One of the prompts our group came up with was “Do you have  favorite place/space? Where is it? And why?” to engage our audience and inspire YOU to blog/write more often too.

For me in all my geeky-ness it’s at home on my laptop! Granted I spend a lot of time in front of the computer during the week at work and often don’t even want to SEE a computer when I get home, but I find myself powering it up and surfing on some topic or installing a new plug-in on my site.  I’m not alone, because my husband and two kids all love technology too, we actually had to buy a router that would handle the number of devices connecting to it!  One might think that a family who is so into technology might not be connected, but we are able to find the balance and spend time together not on devices.  Admit-tingly, I have been known to check my iphone at dinner when I hear a text message come in 🙂

What I most look forward to during the week is Friday nights, because it usually entails, my laptop, snuggie and puppy dog by my side working playing on the laptop.   I think partly, in addition to running it’s a chance to escape for a bit and connect with family, friends or learn something new after a long week at work.

How about  you? Do you have a favorite place/space? Where is it? And why?

Do you have a favorite place?

Blog Prompt Monday

Welcome to the third edition of  “Blog Prompt Monday”! Here’s today’s prompt:

Do you have a favorite place/space? Where is it? And why?

We hope you’ll join in blogging about these prompts with us. I will be posting my response here later today. If you write a response on your blog, please include it in the comments below and tag it on Twitter with the #sawomenblog hashtag – we look forward to reading your posts!

Blog Prompt Monday

Writing Practitioner Articles for Publication

By Melissa Johnson

I recently found out that an article I had written with two of my students on our Swamp Survival Blog had been accepted to the Honors in Practice journal. This was my second technology article accepted in the past few months – one on the use of wikis in my FYE course was just published in ACPA’s Developments back in December. Although I have been working on research articles throughout my doctoral program, I often use my work experiences to develop practitioner-based articles for publication. And recently, a lot of those work experience relate to technology!

There are so many opportunities to write for publication, too. I wish more colleagues would submit some of their great work to the various journals and other publications in our field. I often hear from colleagues who say they don’t have time to write. I think part of that time issue has more to do with the mystique of writing for publication. You don’t have to conduct a full-blown research study in order to get published! Most of our student affairs journals have a section for practitioner-based articles, and these types of articles are a great way to get started in publishing.

Examples of calls for practitioner-based articles in student affairs journals:

Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice (NASPA): Innovations in Practice Features. Describe high-quality illustrations of effective, creative, and collaborative practices, programs, or policies. These illustrations are to be grounded in theory, research, and/or pedagogy as well as convey relevance beyond the institution(s) of the author(s). Connections to and implications for student learning outcomes, campus missions, strategic plans, and government/governing board mandates or initiatives are especially helpful.

Journal of College Student Development (ACPA): On the Campus section. Describe new practices, programs, and techniques. Practices reviewed should be related to theory and research.

Journal of College Orientation and Transition (NODA): Campus Notes section. Briefs on campus programs, “how-to” articles, successful innovations and pragmatic issues relevant to the orientation, transition, and retention of students are encouraged. They should not exceed 1,500 words.

Oracle (AFA): Welcomes articles, letters, reviews, and other documents that help educators in colleges and universities make decisions or gain insight into ways to promote more effectively the education of college students. Research based, practical, and theoretical manuscripts are all encouraged.

Career Development Quarterly (NCDA): Effective Techniques section. Describe theoretically based techniques that advance career development for people of all ages. Qualitative or quantitative data providing evidence of the techniques’ effectiveness will be included in these articles. Should not exceed 3,000 words, or 12 pages.

Most of my practitioner-based articles have evolved from conference presentations. Your presentations had to go through some vetting to get accepted, so there must be interest in your topic from colleagues in the field already. Use your presentation outline to shape the bulk of your paper.

  • Introduction
  • Lit review – this can include how your particular topic fits in within the greater landscape of the field
  • Method – this can include the background of the program, project, population, etc., as well as any assessment procedures you used. Most journals are going to want to see some evidence of assessment.
  • Results – self-explanatory.
  • Implications for practice – I’ve found that this section can evolve from the discussion with participants during your presentation.
  • Conclusion

When I first started thinking about publishing, I kept a notebook of author guidelines from relevant journals and newsletters. More recently, I have been tagging journal websites on Delicious to keep track of them. I tag all of these websites as “journal,” and I’ve thought about using the notes area on Delicious to brainstorm potential article topics relevant to that journal. Keeping author guidelines organized in this way helps me as I prepare to write.

If submitting to a journal still sounds intimidating, consider writing for the variety of newsletters and magazines available through our associations as a start. I have written for two of the ACPA commission newsletters, as well as E-Source for College Transitions through the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

What holds you back from writing for publication? How could you finesse a conference presentation into a potential article? Where might you submit it? Want to brainstorm ideas? Let me know!

Writing Practitioner Articles for Publication

Guest Post: Using Online Environments in Residential Life

Note: This is a guest post from Stacy L. Oliver, Assistant Director of Housing and Residential Life at Indiana University South Bend. You can follow Stacy on Twitter or read her blog at

The inspiration to use an online learning environment with my Resident Assistant staff was initially drawn from their inability to tell me when they were running low on duty reports in their binder. Growing frustrated with finding duty reports scrawled on notebook paper, scraps of construction paper and once on a paper plate, I wanted to create an online resource center for them. I asked them how they felt about a Google Group. They hesitated at the idea of having to check another website for a shared calendar or resources.

Through our university IT department, I requested an OnCourse class. OnCourse is Indiana University’s homegrown system that compares with BlackBoard. IT agreed and within days, my staff was set up.  Because they already use OnCourse with their classes, it was an easy transition and, frankly, I had a steeper learning curve than they did.

While my initial intent was only to upload forms into the resources area so they could access them anytime, our use has grown over the three semesters since implementation. In addition to forms they can print when they run low (ahem, duty reports), they also have access to all of their electronic forms they are responsible for completing and submitting via the dropbox. Having instant access to the blank incident reports, program planning forms and weekly reports has saved them from having to remember where they saved it on their computer. For me, it keeps me better organized because each RAs submissions go into their individual dropbox. From there, I can review them, save them if applicable and delete them.

With consistent feedback from the staff, our use has expanded beyond what I anticipated. We currently use the chat room for weekly professional development discussions. Every Thursday morning I post a link to an article or video for their review. They then discuss in the chat room and we debrief in staff meetings. The online discussion has fostered great conversation and exchange of ideas. It’s also allowed me to continue their training in some areas without taking time from away from staff meetings to handle more pressing issues. We use the shared calendar to reflect duty schedules, bulletin board responsibilities and our events. I can keep them informed of room reservations in our common areas; they can see what’s coming up before choosing a night for their next big event.

Looking to the future, I plan to use the Wiki area of the site to create crowd-sourced tips from the current staff members for future staff members on programming and community building. I’d also like to better utilize the forums area to foster public conversation.

Nothing will replace the weekly staff meetings and individual supervision meetings I hold, but the online environment has supplemented and enhanced our work well.

Are you using an online environment in a non-traditional way with your students? How do you use it and what tips do you have for others?

Guest Post: Using Online Environments in Residential Life

Meet the Blogger: Melissa

By Melissa Johnson

Hard at work at the age of 1

So I’m a little late to the game, but many thanks to Kristen and Brenda for letting me join in the tech blogging fun. I’ve been at the University of Florida for a decade now, starting with New Student Programs, and for the past six years with the University Honors Program. Although I’m no longer technically working in student affairs, you could say that I run my own little student affairs division within Honors. Academic advising, career development, student organization advising, leadership, program planning, first year experience, housing, you name it – I’m somehow involved with it in this position. My passion, however, remains with first year experience courses, an area of interest since I was an undergraduate peer leader for UNS 101 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro back in 1998. I’m very proud of our professional development program for first-year honors students.

Although we did not get a computer at home until I was a senior in high school, I had spent a lot of time on computers starting in elementary school where I was a champion at blasting alien spaceships by solving math problems. And when I was in the 3rd grade (we’re talking mid-1980’s here), my mom sent me off to computer camp at East Carolina University. I’m pretty sure my bio in the camp newsletter we created included something about singing and dancing to the Monkees. Clearly, I was a very cool kid in elementary school.

Fast forward to now, and I’m usually the go-to person in the office for technology initiatives. I manage our office social media accounts and incorporate technology as appropriate with other daily tasks and teaching. I’m pursuing my PhD in educational technology at UF, with a specific interest in instructional design and pedagogical uses of technology. I have been blogging off and on since about 2005, and I’ve been incorporating blogs into my teaching for just as long. Our latest classroom adventure in blogging is the Swamp Survival Blog where my sophomore professional development students blog about first-year student success.

I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on technology and student affairs! You can find me on Twitter.

Meet the Blogger: Melissa