Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Donna Talbot

Second Advisor

Dr. Karen Blaisure

Third Advisor

Dr. Margie Geasler


On a continual basis student affairs professionals apply Chickering’s (1969) theory of psychosocial student development theory to their work with college students (Evans, Forney, & Guido-DiBrito, 1998; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). In order to best serve their students it is, therefore, critical that the theory be accurate and representative. While Chickering’s theory has received much acclaim, it has also been criticized throughout the years, particularly in the area of female student development (Straub, 1987; Straub & Rodgers, 1986; Taub, 1995; Taub & McEwen,1991). The purpose of the present study is to supplement existing theory by moving away from conceptual assertions based mainly on quantitative data gathered in the 1960s prior to vast social change within and beyond college campuses.

The research question examines the following: (a) a definition of self to include (but is not limited to) feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and values, relating to self as autonomous and in connection with others; and (b) the impact of college upon one’s sense of self. Qualitative grounded theory methods and techniques are utilized, allowing for themes of female psychosocial student development to emerge. Women of varied races and cultures use their own words to describe themselves and the impact college has had upon the development of self. Applying their insights to inform Chickering’s theory will allow student affairs practitioners to more accurately meet the needs of their female students.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access