Why Student Development?

The growing body of scholarly research devoted to the relationship between student development and student success clearly demonstrates that the co-curricular is an essential partner with the academic experience.

Vincent Tinto asserts, “students are more likely to persist and graduate in settings that involve them as valued members of the institution. The frequency and quality of contact with faculty, staff, and other students in an important independent predictor of student persistence. This is true for large and small, rural and urban, public and private, and 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities.”1

A 1996 report from The American College Personnel Association pushes this argument further, articulating that “institutions want to demonstrate that they are paying attention to instruction that transcends the classroom experience education that encompasses the whole collegiate experience and thus articulate institutional learning competencies for all students." To this point, “[t]he concepts of 'learning,' 'personal development,' and 'student development' are inextricably intertwined and inseparable."2 To make this connection function at the highest level, student affairs departments, such as student development, must articulate student learning outcomes to be a part of this institutional conversation.

Saddleback College Student Development Philosophy

The Student Development Office is committed to the philosophy that students who participate in the life of a college excel academically, personally and professionally. Students who participate in co-curricular activities, building relationships with faculty, staff, and peers are most likely to stay in school and persist to graduation. The Student Development Office therefore supports the leadership and personal development of our students through opportunities such as the Associated Student Government (ASG) and campus clubs.

It is our mission to attend to the whole person in supporting student development and lifelong success.  The eminent Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner(link is external), in his research concerning the cognitive abilities associated with leadership, asserts that if we are to thrive personally and professionally we must develop five mental capacities: a disciplined mind; a synthesizing mind; a creating mind; a respectful mind; and an ethical mind. The Student Development program, along with Saddleback College’s top rated academic offerings, athletic programs, and other co-curricular experiences, all serve to offer every student the opportunity to cultivate these cognitive characteristics of excellent leadership.

The Student Development Office’s programmatic foundation is built upon three cornerstones within which we categorize all of our learning lab experiences (lessons, experiences, training opportunities, reflections, etc.):

  • Self-Awareness, Personal Development, and Life Skills
  • Leadership and Communication
  • Social Justice and Responsibility

Student Development Advisement Philosophy

Student Development staff advise the Associated Student Government (ASG) and provide significant support to all campus student clubs and organizations. Utilizing our articulated student learning outcomes (below), we work with students individually and in group settings to realize their full potential as emerging leaders. To achieve this ultimate goal of supporting student success we’ve articulated a multi-step co-curricular advisement process:

PART I (Fall):

  • Orient, educate, and train:
    • Presentation of Student Learning Outcomes
    • Expectation setting
    • Initial leadership training (retreats)
    • Introduction to personal development
    • Development of personal rapport, mutually learning about personal goals
  • Significant support for initial endeavors:
    • Guided program and event development/management
  • Potential for success and failure, challenges and opportunities (usually all):
    • Planned events, programs, and initiatives in execution will fall on the spectrum of “requiring significant improvement” to “requiring minimal improvement”
  • Process success and failure, challenges and opportunities:
    • Planned events, programs, and initiatives will be assessed and discussed.
    • Devise revised plans for future endeavors
  • Guided reflection and assessments

PART II (Spring):

  • Minimal guidance (with thorough support) for secondary endeavors
  • Potential for success and failure, challenges and opportunities (usually all):
    • Planned events, programs, and initiatives in execution will fall on the spectrum of “requiring significant improvement” to “requiring minimal improvement”
  • Process success and failure, challenges and opportunities:
    • Planned events, programs, and initiatives will be assessed and discussed.
    • Devise revised plans for future endeavors
  • Guided reflection and assessments, some cumulative

1. Tinto, V. "Classrooms as Communities: Exploring the Educational Character of Student Persistence" Journal of Higher Education. 68, 6 (November/December 1997): 599-623. Taking Retention Seriously

2. The American College Personnel Association, "The Student Learning Imperative: Implications for Student Affairs. www.acpa.nche.edu/sli/sli.htm.