EDUC 708: Advanced Student

Development Theory Syllabus

University of Southern California

Rossier School of Education

Fall 2015 | Hawaii Cohort

Dr. Jaimie Hoffman

Class Meetings

Friday, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. & Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

September 11 & 12

October 9 & 10

November 6 & 7

December 4 & 5

Blackboard site:

Course Description & Goals

This course is designed to build upon materials covered in an introductory student development or learning theory course, with the specific purpose of enhancing your understanding of processes of student learning, growth, and development during the college and adult years. Special focus will be directed toward 1) more recent theories, including holistic models of development; 2) greater attention to issues of diversity in development; 3) social context of learning; and 4) the extent to which these models are used to guide empirical research and inform practice.

Students who participate fully in the course should:

  1. Gain an explicit understanding of theories and models that describe the learning processes and development of adult students and the conditions and mechanisms that facilitate such learning and development;
  2. Develop an in depth understanding of a select theory, model, or related group of theories or models that describe the learning process or development of adult students and the conditions and mechanisms that facilitate such development;
  3. Analyze and critique theory, make connections across models, and apply theory to diverse constituencies appropriately;
  4. Utilize theory to inform policy and practice;
  5. Explain theory to diverse audiences and use it effectively to justify your work;
  6. Effectively demonstrate the skills of analysis, synthesis, and oral and written communication

Course Texts

American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Evans, N., Forney, D., Guido-DiBrito, F. (2010). Student Development in College: Theory, Research, and Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Wilson, M. E., & Wolf Wendel, L. (Eds.). (2005). ASHE reader on college student development theory. Boston, MA: Pearson Custom Publishing.

Additional articles are assigned by unit; these are on Blackboard.

You will need the Galvan text below for “Navigating the Dissertation.” Its chapters on literature reviews are also helpful in this course:

Galvan, J. (2012). Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the behavioral sciences. Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing.

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Participate: It is important in this course that you participate actively. This is a seminar in the truest sense of the word. What we accomplish this semester depends on the contributions that each of us makes to our enterprise. Your attendance for the full class period is expected. The weekend delivery of this course means that course meetings are dense. The participation of each of you is critical to the success of the course – you have contributions to make that will impact your peers, just as their contributions will impact you. Missing one weekend means missing 25% of the course and is not permitted. Sure, you could get notes from a colleague, but it’s difficult to recreate/capture the interaction if you aren’t in the room.

If you cannot attend all 4 weekends, you need to speak with your academic advisor about alternative arrangements, which may mean taking the course in Los Angeles, or waiting until next year to take the course. If you find it absolutely necessary to be absent from a single class session because of illness or an emergency, you are expected to notify the professor prior to the start of class and you are responsible to master all information discussed during your absence.
Do not ask the instructor to repeat important information – identify a classmate who will help you.

Critically Read:

EDUC 708 is a graduate class and designed for a seminar format, which depends upon active student engagement and group discussions. As such, preparation for each class, thorough completion of each unit’s readings as well as thoughtful reflection on the topics, are critical to your own learning as well the learning environment of the class. Each student is expected to complete the readings in advance of the class for which they are assigned. Further, class time may not always be directed toward discussion of every reading assigned, but instead, to the illumination of themes, constructs, critical analysis of the content, and application to student affairs contexts. (adapted from Jam Garvey’s syllabus, University of Alabama)

Effectively execute assignments: no errors; on time: Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the dates indicated below. APA style formatting is required, which includes a complete reference of all works cited. Technical or formatting errors will negatively impact grades.

You’ll receive extensive feedback on each written assignment with the expectation that you will incorporate that feedback into subsequent drafts. Page limits are hard and fast – do not go over a given page limit.

Peer edit: You are strongly encouraged to work with a classmate to critique and proofread one another's assignments. Each of you is likely to submit better papers and projects as a result of that process. Excessive typographical and grammatical errors detract from your work and will be reflected in your grade.

What expectations do you have of your instructor for the course?

Enter them above by double clicking on the cork board.


Clarity of expression in class discussions and in written work is highly valued, as are assignments turned in on time. Assignments turned in after the due date will be penalized by one letter grade. Assignments will not be accepted if more than one week late.
Presentations cannot be made up.

Click here to access grading rubrics

Graded Assignment Breakdown

  • Class participation | 10 points | Ongoing
  • Class presentation | 20 points | Various due dates
  • Case study | 30 points | Due November 1
  • Rough draft | 10 points | Due November 14
  • Final paper and class discussion | 30 points | Due December 5

Grading Scale

A= 94-100

A- = 92-93

B+ = 90-91

B = 86-89

B- = 84-85

C+ = 82-83

C = 78-81

C- = 76-77

D = 68-75

F = 0-67

Simply meeting the instructors’ expectations constitutes “B” work; going above and beyond is “A” work; and failing to meet the minimum expectations will result in a grade of “C” or lower.

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IN – incomplete (work not completed because of documented illness or some other emergency occurring after 80% of the course has been completed. Arrangements for the IN and its removal should be initiated by the student and agreed to by the instructor prior to the final exam.

Conditions for Removing a Grade of Incomplete: If an incomplete is assigned as the student’s grade, the instructor will fill out the Incomplete (IN) Completion form which will specify to the student and to the department the work remaining to be done, the procedures for its completion, the grade in the course to date, and the weight to be assigned to work remaining to be done when computing the final grade. A student may remove the IN by completing only the work not finished as a result of illness or emergency. Previously graded work may not be repeated for credit. It is not possible to remove an IN by re-registering for the course, even within the designated time.

Time limit for removal of an incomplete: One calendar year is allowed to remove an IN. Individual academic units may have more stringent policies regarding these time limits. If the IN is not removed within the designated time limit, the course is considered “lapsed” and the grade is changed to an IX and it will be calculated into the grade point average as 0 points. Courses offered on a Credit/No Credit basis or taken on a Pass/No Pass basis for which a mark of Incomplete is assigned will be lapsed with a mark of NC or NP and will not be calculated into the grade point average.

Late Work

Late assignments will be accepted only with the professor’s advance permission and under limited circumstances.

Each professor will determine what constitutes sufficient advance permission and acceptable circumstances

  1. Sufficient advance notice may range from 36 hours to 2 hours to the due date and time of the assignment.
  2. Acceptable circumstances do NOT include personal holidays, celebrations, and/or vacations OR scheduling conflicts/over-commitments including work and child-care.

Late papers submitted with advanced permission will not be docked points for lateness. If advance permission has not been granted, late papers will not receive full credit.

In the event that a candidate submits a paper after the paper deadline without advanced permission, the following penalties will apply:

  • A 10% reduction in the points earned per day late will be applied for up to 3 days after the due date.
  • After 3 days late, a yellow flag will be sent to the candidate’s Academic Advisor.
  • After the third late day, the paper will earn no more than 50% of the credit possible for the assignment unless an agreement has been reached between the candidate and the professor.

General Information

Students with Disabilities

Students from all academic backgrounds are welcome. Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-7766.


Support Systems

A number of USC’s schools provide support for students who need help with scholarly writing. Check with your advisor or program staff to find out more. Students whose primary language is not English should check with the American Language Institute, which sponsors courses and workshops specifically for international graduate students. The Office of Disability Services and Programs provides certification for students with disabilities and helps arrange the relevant accommodations. If an officially declared emergency makes travel to campus infeasible,
USC Emergency Information will provide safety and other updates, including ways in which instruction will be continued by means of blackboard, teleconferencing, and other technology.

Supporting All Learners

I am committed to providing a learning experience that is meaningful for all types of learners with varying strengths and challenges. Throughout this course, you will find activities specifically designed to engage visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners and you may indeed find some activities more engaging based on your strengths while others may be more challenging. I encourage you to see challenges as opportunities but also ask that you communicate with me as soon as possible if there is something I can do to make your learning experience more engaging and accessible.

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Academic Integrity

USC seeks to maintain an optimal learning environment. General principles of academic honesty include the concept of respect for the intellectual property of others, the expectation that individual work will be submitted unless otherwise allowed by an instructor, and the obligations both to protect one’s own academic work from misuse by others as well as to avoid using another’s work as one’s own. All students are expected to understand and abide by these principles.

Scampus, the Student Guidebook, contains the Student Conduct Code in Section 11.00, while the recommended sanctions are located in Appendix A. Students will be referred to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards for further review, should there be any suspicion of academic dishonesty. The Review process can be found

Academic Conduct

Plagiarism – presenting someone else’s ideas as your own, either verbatim or recast in your own words – is a serious academic offense with serious consequences. Please familiarize yourself with the discussion of plagiarism in SCampus in Section 11, Behavior Violating University Standards. Other forms of academic dishonesty are equally unacceptable. See additional information in SCampus and university policies on scientific misconduct.

Discrimination, sexual assault, and harassment are not tolerated by the university. You are encouraged to report any incidents to the Office of Equity and Diversity or to the Department of Public Safety. This is important for the safety of the whole USC community. Another member of the university community – such as a friend, classmate, advisor, or faculty member – can help initiate the report, or can initiate the report on behalf of another person. The Center for Women and Men confidential support, and the sexual assault resource center webpage describes reporting options and other resources.

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This course is digitally inflected; this means that technology will be used to augment the learning experience and enhance students’ digital literacy. Students should be prepared to learn how to use digital tools and be open to the technology-related learning experience. Blackboard is the primary learning management system for this course, and all students are required to utilize it. The course may use additional technologies, including Adobe Connect Pro, Voice Thread, Padlet, and GoogleDrive. Details about these technologies will be covered in class.

Students will find it useful to bring laptop computers to class to work on class-related activities. You are adults with busy lives (me too!) so I understand there may be a pressing need to respond to a quick text or email. Please keep this to a minimum and make appropriate decisions with how you direct your attention in class; silence phones and use break time or step out of the classroom to accept urgent calls or texts.

Writing Style

All assignments must be typed and should conform to the style and reference notation format outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition

(2001). The APA manual is a required text for this course, and an essential tool for survival in graduate school. Please study it carefully and refer to it often. If you are unsure about certain APA formatting and citation rules, refer to the manual. Even if you think you are sure, still double-check the manual. Points will be deducted from your papers if they are formatted incorrectly. See the reference lists in this syllabus for models of appropriate APA style.

Please double-space all assignments. Use Times New Roman, 12-point font with one-inch margins on all sides of the paper. Please do not use alternative fonts or sizes or alter the margins.
Save your paper as a WORD doc with a title that includes your name and assignment title. See Assignment Submission Instructions below for how to submit papers.


In addition to the reading, which is meant to add to your knowledge of theories, there are two types of assignments for this course, those that allow you to demonstrate your conceptual knowledge and those that allow you to demonstrate your acquisition of the skills expected from this course.

Conceptual Knowledge Assignments

Class Participation (10 points):

Effective participation in and contribution to class requires that you do all assigned readings prior
to our meetings. Readings offer us a common language with which to explore our thinking. The reading materials themselves do not determine or create our thinking; that is your job as a learner. Good thinking comes from a critical eye willing to look beyond what is claimed to pursue a number of very important questions. Do I understand what is being explained? Do these ideas fit my experience of the world? What evidence exists to support or refute these ideas? Do they change how I think about the world? What are the implications of these ideas? How do they encourage me to act? What are the issues that emerge from these concepts and ideas? What questions remain for me?

Class Presentation (20 points):

During Unit 3, you will have the opportunity to work with a partner, and select a theorist for which you will develop a 15-20 minute presentation (not longer). Identify a topic to which you would like to apply the theory. The goal of the presentation is to share with the class your research on the topic and theorist to help us understand the topic, itself, and how our policies or practices relating to the topic could be improved if we used the framework of this particular theorist to address this topic. This assignment allows you to demonstrate your knowledge of the theory, your ability to apply it to a problem of practice, and your ability to apply what you are learning about adult learning to your presentation. Presentations will be delivered during weekends 2, 3 and 4.

Skill-Based Assignments

Case Study (30 points):

I’ll provide a selection of work place situations. You select one. The task in this assignment is to treat me as though I am the principal, VP of Student Affairs, or boss (depending on the scenario) and prepare a briefing for me that helps me better understand why this particular incident is happening, and what you think we should do about it. Use any of the theories you think would be helpful in preparing your briefing for me (hint: be judicious in your choices – don’t bombard the reader with many unrelated theories). The briefing should be 5-7 pages long (NOTE PAGE LIMIT PLEASE) and contain (1) your analysis of the problem based on a theoretical framework from the course and (2) your recommendations for next steps (based on the same framework).

Final Paper and Discussion - Applying Theory to Real Life Report (Rough draft - 10 points; Final paper and class discussion - 30 points):

This assignment is intended to provide you with the experience of interviewing students or coworkers about their growth, learning, and development and the impact of college on those processes. You have two options with this assignment

Option 1: Through this assignment, you will demonstrate skills in interviewing, data analyses, and theory construction.

  1. Develop a list of questions for the purpose of interviewing three (or more if you wish) students/ coworkers. You may also want to consider other characteristics (members of subgroup such as a self-identified member of a racial/ ethnic group, GLBT, first generation, etc.) as you select your respondents. Your selection of questions should be based on the learning/ developmental theories and concepts in class and, if appropriate, on specific literature related to the sub-population in question.
  2. Interview each individual at least twice about their experiences. Either tape record the interview (secure permission first) or keep very detailed notes on their comments. Verbatim comments will be especially useful for your written report. Think about these comments in terms of your readings. Consider ways in which some of the theories we discuss this semester fit or do not fit with the person’s experiences.

Option 2: If you have already collected substantial interview data from the Inquiry course, you may consult with us about re-analyzing those data using a student development theory lens. Not all data will work well for this assignment, so if you are considering this option, please consult with us early.

  1. Begin by restating the purpose of the original Inquiry, remind us about who your sample was and briefly how you collected your data.
  2. Explain what question you are asking now, using a student development theory and why that question is important.
  3. Re-analyze your data by applying the theory to it: what else do you learn about your participants?
  4. Finally, what does this reanalysis contribute to your original question (from Inquiry), if anything?

For both papers, please follow these guidelines:

  1. Length should be 10-12 pages (NOTE PAGE LIMIT PLEASE), double spaced, APA format.
  2. Within the paper, discuss ways in which the respondents interviewed reflect and/or differ from some of the theories of adult learning/ student development discussed in this class that you pre-select for your project. Your paper should combine description (i.e. telling the stories of people you interviewed), analysis (using the profession’s knowledge base to interpret and give meaning to the respondents’ educational experiences), and construction (i.e. developing insights and perspectives that capture the developmental stories of the respondents you interviewed).
  3. As you write your paper, be sure that the stories of the respondent you interview are told in a clear and careful manner. Major themes should be supported with illustrative examples – direct quotes should be used to give the reader a sense of the subject’s voice. Sufficient interview data should be supplied so that the reader will be able to understand the subsequent analysis and construction.
  4. Your analysis should flow naturally from the description and new data should not be introduced in the analysis stage. Comparable, as well as contradictory themes from the respondents’ stories should be noted. Multiple analytic lenses (developmental, educational/learning, college impact) should be utilized to make meaning of the respondents’ collegiate experiences.
  5. Theories should be explained in a clear, complex, and accurate manner and should be appropriately applied to the themes that emerge from the interview. New informal theories should be developed to explain aspects of the collegiate experiences of the respondents you interviewed that are not captured by the existing knowledge base. Rather than forcing respondents’ stories to fit what we already know, how do their unique stories force us to reconsider the existing knowledge base? Be sure to develop a reasonable and complete informal theory and to critique existing theories. Submit the questions you asked students as an appendix.
  6. Submit a complete rough draft of your paper by November 16. I will provide feedback by December 1.
  7. Prepare a handout and/or presentation for your classmates on your paper, and prepare to discuss it in class. Due December 5.

Assignment Submission Instructions

In order to submit your assignments for this class, you’ll need to upload them or create them in GoogleDrive. If you’ve never done this before, don’t worry! It’s relatively straightforward and it’ll be the same process each time you submit an assignment in my class. All USC students are provided with a Google account; you can access this by logging into with your account information.

The first step is to create your document – you can do this either directly in Google Drive (as directed below) or in Microsoft Word. Here are step-by-step instructions for uploading documents to GoogleDrive and sharing them: All assignments should be submitted on the Assignment Dropbox form:

As a point of good practice, please include your last name as part of the file name for the documents that you submit and always submit in .doc or .docx format.

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