Fraternity: Theory and Student Development

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For years theory has been used to describe, explain, predict, and control student development. Fraternity/sorority professionals, both on campuses and at inter/national organizations, often understand that student development theory should help guide their practice. But once the busy school year starts, many professionals do not have the chance to refresh on the fundamental theories that frame fraternity/sorority work, and they often forget to apply the theories.

This handbook briefly explains just some of the theories that professionals, volunteers, and inter/national organization staff can use in their daily practices. Each theory includes a brief overview and a diagram that explains the model. At the end of each explanation there is an example of how professionals can apply theory to practice. These examples should not only help the readers get a better understanding of the theories but also allow them to see how they can integrate theory to their daily jobs. The examples range from case study practices to questions to consider when using the theory in practice. As previously stated, this handbook only provides a brief explanation or model for each theory; for a deeper explanation, please read the accompanying Issues in Focus resource guide. The reader will also be directed to other items such as the original texts for each theory as well as recommended books for the different theories and topics. To help students fully develop practitioners must understand how to integrate student development theory into their programs and daily practices. This handbook should help fraternity/sorority life advisors, inter/national organization staff, and volunteers gain understanding in finding ways to apply these fundamental theories (Evans, Forney, & Guido, et al., 2010).

INTRODUCTION4
CHICKERING & REISSER’S THEORY OF IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT
Chickering, and later with the help and input of Reisser, created a Theory of Identity Development based on seven vectors of student development. The seven vectors are different from many other theories of development because they are not meant to be sequential stages, but instead show direction and magnitude of identity development. Movement through the vectors does not necessarily happen in sequential order, and people can regress back to previous stages depending on new developments and changes in life. Development and movement through the vectors is self-perceived, meaning that students must recognize which stage they are in and practitioners cannot assess development. Understanding the developmental vectors that students are working through can help professionals when designing programs and facilitating one-to-one conversations.

FOUNDATIONAL THEORIES5
THE SEVEN VECTORS
Developing Competence
College students develop intellectual competence, physical and manual skills, and interpersonal competence. This vector extends beyond simple competence in these areas and includes understanding how personal goals and values align with those of a group. Managing Emotions

Students learn to recognize and appropriately react to their emotions in different contexts. The goal of this vector is not to suppress emotions, but to understand that emotions are healthy ways to express oneself in the appropriate environment.

Moving through Autonomy Toward Interdependence
Students become free of the opinions and validation of others and learn to become comfortable with who they are and the personal goals they want to achieve. The biggest developmental change in this vector is no longer relying on the opinions of others. Developing Mature Interpersonal Relationships

Healthy and mature interpersonal relationships include those that are based on mutual respect. This vector explains student development in terms of developing acceptance of diversity and healthy intimate relationships.

Establishing Identity
Identity includes comfort with body and appearance, comfort with...
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