Development change in college students: A study based on Chickering's model of student development

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education


John A. Centra


Chickering, Arthur W., Student Affairs, Development change, College students, Student development

Subject Categories

Higher Education and Teaching | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


Arthur Chickering published his model of student development in 1969 which described student development along seven "vectors," and linked elements of the college environment with student development. Since the initial publication of this model, student affairs professionals have embraced it, and used it to guide the practice of their profession. Many studies have been reported in the higher education literature on college impact, and to a lesser extent on the development of college students, but studies that establish a relationship between elements of the college environment and student development are rarely found, and longitudinal studies are rarer still.

This study was conducted on traditional-aged college students at a small, private, religiously-affiliated liberal arts institution, using data collected from the group in their freshman and then senior years. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine whether relationships between college environmental factors and students' psychosocial development did in fact exist as Chickering hypothesized.

Findings are consistent with other reports in the literature (see Astin, 1996; Kuh, 1995) regarding the relationship of the college experience with the development of purpose and sense of competence; the study failed to find evidence supporting the hypothesis that the development of mature interpersonal relationships is significantly influenced by the college environment or experience. The study also found no gender differences on the measures of development.

Of the environmental/experiential variables that were studied, student-faculty interaction, peer interaction, the college environment, and extracurricular activities were found to be significant. These findings may be useful to student affairs professionals and others in the higher education community in their efforts to foster student development.

Findings included declines in scores on either the development of purpose or the development of mature interpersonal relationships for a significant number of participants, and would indicate a need for more research into this phenomenon.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.