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6 Ways to Make Higher Education More Developmental

When applied to education, the word “developmental” carries profoundly negative undertones. It’s a synonym for remediation, and implies that a particular student is unprepared, deficit-riven, and at-risk.

But shouldn’t all education be developmental? Shouldn’t every educators’ goal be to promote students’ growth across every dimension, cognitive, to be sure, but also emotional, social, and ethical?

In his classic 1969 study of college students’ psycho-social maturation, Education and Identity, Arthur W. Chickering, who died last year, identified seven vectors of development:  developing competence, purpose, integrity, and mature interpersonal relationships, forging an adult identity, managing emotions, and moving from autonomy toward interdependence.

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