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Running head: THEORY PAPER ONE 1

Theory Paper One

Julius Palaroan

Seattle University

SDAD 5400: Student Development Theory, Research & Practice

Dr. Erica Yamamura

February 6, 2018
THEORY PAPER ONE 2

Analysis

Pope’s multicultural competency (2004) is a three part model consisting of: multicultural

awareness, multicultural knowledge, and multicultural skills. Multicultural awareness enables

one to recognize their personal biases and views, and how that might alter their perception of

others who culturally differ from them. Multicultural knowledge helps individuals gain a better

understanding of other cultures and identities and how they intersect. Lastly, multicultural skills

bring the prior two together to help one effectively communicate and interact with others through

their newfound awareness and knowledge.

Phinney’s model of ethnic development (1990, 1993, 1995) is a three stage model which

explains the formation of one’s ethnic identity. Stage one, unexamined ethnic identity, is where

the individual does not explore nor commit to an ethnicity. Stage two, ethnic identity search, an

individual starts to seek out more information on their background and starts to realize the

importance of an ethnic identity. Lastly, stage three, ethnic achievement, the individual accepts

their ethnicity. Phinney’s model provides us insight on the correlation between ethnic identity

development and a student’s success.

Astin’s theory of involvement (1984) refers to the physical and psychological investment

a student puts towards their academic experience. This theory reframes the lens of student affairs

practitioners when creating programming for students. The theory focuses on the “how” aspect

of student development. Rather than asking what can we provide for the students, we should be

asking what are the students already doing? Doing so will help practitioners in creating programs

and events that will entice students to participate and to remain involved in campus which would

result in higher academic success and retention of its students.


THEORY PAPER ONE 3

Synthesis

Community and curiosity are key points that can be tied across the three theories. A

student’s academic success and retention in college is positively correlated to the degree in

which the student is active within their campus according to Astin’s theory of involvement

(1984). One way a student is able to do this is by establishing their community. Community can

be established through academic clubs, Greek life, or most importantly for marginalized

students, culturally based affinity groups. This is where Phinney’s model of ethnic development

(1990, 1993, 1995) and Pope’s multicultural competency (2004) come into the picture. Through

cultural based affinity groups, students not only gain the emotional support from peers who have

experienced and are experiencing similar challenges, but they are able to further understand their

ethnic background as described in the second stage of his model, ethnic identity search. Through

exploration, students can work together to make sense of their culture which as a result increases

their multicultural awareness. The community within these culturally based groups will help

students develop an understanding of who they are and where they are positioned in society.

Community is essential for a student’s holistic well-being, and understanding how we, as student

affairs practitioners, can foster these communities will provide our students with supportive

spaces for growth and development.

For student affairs practitioners to create and foster communities, constant curiosity must

persist within us. The college experience is a perfect time frame and environment for stage two

and three of Phinney’s model. The new environment will challenge some aspect of the student’s

ethnic identity. Students will deny, alter, and accept some form of their ethnic identity during this

experience. Therefore, it is the role of practitioners to help foster an inclusive college

environment so students can comfortably develop who they are. This goes back to the
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fundamental question of Astin’s theory of involvement, what are students doing? Being able to

understand the “how of student development,” practitioners can continually alter their

programming needed for student growth. This curiosity needs to be the driving force to provide

effective and meaningful programming. Practitioners need to continuously update their

multicultural knowledge and awareness so everyone’s voice is heard. This will show students the

genuine care administration has in creating a welcoming and inclusive campus environment.

Although there is a common thread that relates these theories together, there are also

areas of improvement that need to be addressed because they impair the foundation of the other

theories. Astin’s theory of involvement fails to consider race and culture, which completely

undermines the previous two theories. There is a gap of multicultural awareness within Astin’s

theory. What happens if the student does not have the physical and psychological energy to

remain involve due to the fact they are struggling to come to terms with the racial and ethnic

implications of their identity within a new environment? The stages of ethnic development can

be taxing, and Astin’s theory needs to address the capacity students have to participate.

Phinney’s linear model of ethnic development contradicts the fluid nature of Astin’s

theory of involvement and fails to take into account intersectionality in Pope’s multicultural

competency. Student involvement occurs in a continuum of varying degrees, and their college

experience will continue to shape a student’s self-perception and skillsets. Most importantly,

without fluidity in Pope’s multicultural competence, intersectionality is completely ignored. The

foundation of multicultural competence would significantly weaken, and marginalized identities

will continue to be invisible. Therefore stage 3 of Phinney’s model, ethnic identity achievement,

should not consider one’s ethnic development as totally achieved. One will always remain in the

second stage. An individual’s identity development may plateau within the second stage, but
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racism is continuous. Racism will continue to significantly shape an individual’s viewpoints and

interactions with others. His linear model of ethnic development fails to consider the continuous

racial experiences an individual will face throughout their lifetime. Both Astin’s theory of

involvement and Phinney’s model of ethnic development need to place the student’s background

and experiences at the center of the conversation.

Reflection

Phinney’s second stage of ethnic development is one that I am experiencing settling into

the city of Seattle and understanding its culture. The diverse bubble I have been living in as a

Bay Area native had burst my first week here. I was reminded of who I was racially by the

constant microaggressions. Therefore, I had to readjust my actions to navigate my new

environment.

As a conduct administrator, I read incident reports that often portray students in not the

best of lights, and upon physically seeing them as they enter the room for their hearings, I cannot

help but think about certain stereotypes and feelings I have towards the racial composition of

what I perceive them to be. Some of these feelings are positive, but I am also aware of the

negative feelings I hold. One way I combat these internalized stereotypes is by learning more

about the student before we talk about their reported incident. I like to know where they come

from, what they are studying, hobbies, and future aspirations. This often reduces my cultural and

racial biases, and I attempt to view them solely through the image they have painted for

themselves. This helps me place who they are and their experiences at the center of my thinking

when discussing the situation and attributing possible sanctions for their case. Therefore, they are

no longer seen as the student caught drinking within Campion, but the first year, first-generation

student trying to establish their support system.


THEORY PAPER ONE 6

Pope’s multicultural competence has helped me realize my biases and has encouraged me

to learn about students of various backgrounds and identities so I can consciously and effectively

have a constructive conversation around their actions. There are a handful of hearings which

students have expressed their desire to find their community, whether it is their recreational or

cultural community, in order to feel engaged and supported. This particularly happens with the

students of color I interact with. Having a discourse around the racial and cultural challenges of

navigating a predominately white community is something I can relate to and have shared with

them. This relates back to Phinney’s second stage of ethnic development. Sharing my undergrad

experiences, I was able to connect with my students on a more personal level and provide them

with certain techniques and examples they can use to successfully navigate their environment

and interact with their peers.

Astin’s theory of involvement is applicable to student development professionals and can

be a simple start in creating a more diverse and welcoming college environment. By attending

and participating in programming by other departments, it will show students the importance of

community and the collective concerns we have as an administration regarding social and

political issues. As a graduate assistant in conduct, my position is often seen as intimidating. In

fact, my department is trying to shift the image of conduct to be more supportive. If I am present

during OMA’s Moral Mondays or the Outreach Centers’ First-Gen Fridays and I am willing to

share who I am and my experiences, students will not only change their perception of my

department but they will see the importance of social justice I have in my professional role and

my personal life. Therefore, investing my time and energy to support student programming and

sharing my multicultural knowledge will help students better understand who I am, and might

even help students better understand some of the experiences they are currently going through.
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Reference:

Astin, A. (1984). Student Involvement: A Developmental Theory for Higher Education. Journal

of College Student Development, 5(40), 518-529.

Patton, Lori D, Patton, Lori D., Renn, Kristen A., Guido-DiBrito, Florence, & Quaye, Stephen

John. (2016). Student development in college : Theory, research, and practice (Third

ed.). San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.

Pope, R.L., Reynolds, A.L., & Mueller, J.A. (2004). Multicultural competence in student affairs.

San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.