Welcome to Rethinking Student Development Theory. This website was created by students in the Higher Education program at Florida State University.  Under the leadership of Dr. Brad Cox, students engage in meaningful and thought-provoking classroom discussions about theories used to examine the college student experience.  We hope that this site will allow you to explore current theories, rethink how they are used, and facilitate growth of others.


Perry’s Theory of Intellectual and Ethical Development

The purpose of Perry’s Theory of Intellectual and Ethical Development is to examine how students make meaning of the teaching and learning process. More specifically, this model is used for understanding how college students come to know, the theories and beliefs they hold about knowing, and the manner in which they are a part of and an influence on the cognitive processes of thinking and reasoning.

Baxter Magolda’s Theory of Self-Authorship

Baxter Magolda defines self-authorship as “the internal capacity to define one’s beliefs, identity, and social relations” and answers the three following questions. How do I know?  Who Am I?  How do I want to construct relationships with others?

Cross and Fhagen-Smith’s Model of Black Identity Development

Dr. William Cross (1971) adopted the idea of nigrescence, the process of becoming black, as the foundation for the later sector model develops with Fhagen-Smith. The model looks at the progression of identification of individuals as they move towards a healthy black identity.

# of Identity Development Theories Listed

# of Integrative Development Theories Listed

# of Psychosocial & Cognitive-Structural Development Theories Listed

Social Identity Development Theories

Social identity theories emerged to highlight the concepts for understanding how ones' self in society and higher education systems can impact student development.  More specifically, these theories are used to examine student identity development from a racial,...

Each year, under the direction of Dr. Brad Cox, students in the higher education program at Florida State University in engage in research around student development theories in higher education!