CSSA Technology Workshops

Greetings CSSA’ers

The following technology workshops will be available for CSSA students during the spring term (2005)*:

(All workshops will be held on Thursdays in the Milne Computing Center, Room 130, from 4:00pm – 5:20pm.


April 7th: Adobe PhotoShop Basics

April 14th: Adobe PhotoShop — Print and Web Design

April 21st: Web Design I — Intro to Dreamweaver

April 28th: Web Design II — Advanced Dreamweaver

May 5th: Web Design III — Cascading Style Sheets, Accessibility, Usability, Web Statistics

May 12th: PowerPoint, Word, Outlook, and Adobe Acrobat — A grab bag of useful tips, tricks, and stuff they don’t put in books!

May 19th: Google — Advanced Search Techniques, Images, Translate Tool, Desktop Tool, Gmail, Maps, Local, Picasa, and whatever else Google invents by May 19th!

May 26th: Computer Hardware — Flash Drives, MP3 Players, Digital Cameras, How to burn a cd, etc.

If you have any questions/comments/requests, feel free to e-mail me at: eric.stoller at oregonstate.edu

* Technology workshops are for CSSA Graduate Students only. The Workshops cannot be taken for credit.

Online Development Theory

Online Development Theory


The purpose of this paper is to outline and showcase a theory of online development. The theory was constructed using a variety of student development theories. Psychosocial and Cognitive Development theories form the basis for a stage based model which incorporates challenge and support in an online context. Student affairs applications are given which utilize the model as way to understand a student’s experience as well as to increase the viability of online programs and services. Further study will be required to validate the theory and its subsequent model. Qualitative analysis and the development of stages will allow continual discussion, reflection, and synthesis.

I believe that student development theories exist to provide student affairs professionals with frameworks for the creation of programs and services. The majority of the theories which have been written for student development are written in a brick and mortar context. This is most likely due to a pre-Internet origination. The irony that is inherent in this lack of an online theory of student development is the realization that most student development theories can be modified to work in an online context. For example, a student’s interaction environment can be altered from on campus in the classroom to online on the campus web site. Another example can be altering of the traditional authority figure i.e. a professor to an information portal acting in place of a real, authoritative figure.

In this paper I will attempt to incorporate theories from Chickering, Astin, Sanford, and Perry to create an online developmental theory which is stage based but is inclusive to all students regardless of age, socioeconomic status, and physical/cognitive ability. I will refer to online users as students or as universal users (UU) but both will contain the same interchangeable meaning. The UUs will be ranked in terms of their level of web sophistication and their position on an online involvement model. The online environment is defined as information portals, interactive web sites which include utilitarian and educational functions, blogs, online communities, and web based classes.

Student Development Theories

Chickering’s Theory of Identity Development and its seven vectors of development provide a psychosocial framework for the online identity of a UU (Evans, Forney, and Guide-DiBrito, 1998). The seven vectors are: developing competence, managing emotions, moving through autonomy toward interdependence, developing mature interpersonal relationships, establishing identity, developing purpose, and developing integrity (Evans et al.). Published in 1969, Chickering’s vectors were written for a brick and mortar reality. However, the vectors are extremely fluidic and I will attempt to map each vector to the traits of the developing UU.

Developing Competence

Although Chickering’s vectors are not stage based, it is important to note that developing competence is a primary vector for the UU. According to Chickering and Reisser (1993), competence is divided into three distinct areas: “intellectual competence, physical and manual skills, and interpersonal competence” (as cited in Evans et al., 1998, p. 38). A UU needs to develop competency within an online context in order to have an identity. Intellectual competency can range from basic knowledge of computers and internet services to enhanced browsing skills which include searching and multi-tasking. Physical and manual skills are core skills for the online student. In a classroom or campus-based environment these skills would include being able to navigate the physical world regardless of physical ability. At times, this can be very difficult for students due to a disability. Fortunately, the online environment, if appropriately constructed, provides ample navigation aids and cues for all users. The third area of competency is interpersonal competency. Interpersonal skills are extremely important for a UU. According to Evans et al., interpersonal skills are useful for “communication, leadership, and working effectively with others” (p. 38). Online communities like thefacebook, friendster, and xanga necessitate the need for interpersonal competency by providing a communal atmosphere where students can fail or flourish with their peers.

Managing Emotions

Online emotional management can be defined as the internal emotions of the UU and the way that they express those emotions in an online context. Students can become highly emotional when faced with a web site that is not user-friendly or when someone “flames” them in an online community.

Moving Through Autonomy Toward Interdependence

Autonomy and Interdependence are extremely important for UUs. According to Evans et al., students develop “self-direction, problem-solving ability, and mobility” within this vector (1998, p. 39). At first it would seem that autonomy would be of higher importance than interdependence but the balance of being self-reliant and connected to the community factor into a fully formed online identity is crucial for the online student.

Developing Mature Interpersonal Relationships

The key to this vector is the appreciation of differences. The only commonality which defines all UUs is that they are online.

Establishing Identity

As stated by Evans et al. (1998), establishing identity is constructed on the previous vectors. In the online environment, individuals can have multiple identities i.e. a quiet, infrequent poster in an online class versus an aggressive persona in an online community. This is similar to the possibilities which exist within a brick and mortar context but it is considerably easier to create multiple online identities.

Developing Purpose and Developing Integrity

The final vectors are fairly similar. According to Evans et al. (1998), purpose involves intentionality, choice, and decision. Integrity focuses purpose by overlaying it with a sense of values. Although not meant to be linear, these vectors are difficult to parlay into an online context. A UU would have to be extremely developed to reach these final vectors.


The five postulates of Alexander Astin’s Theory of Student Involvement provide a basis for any theory which involves involvement. According to Astin, “student involvement refers to the amount of physical and psychological energy that the student devotes to the academic experience” (1984, p. 297). Online experiences are a fundamental component to the overall academic success of college students.


In 1967, Nevitt Sanford “characterized learning as a process of challenge and response” (as cited in Terenzini, 1999, p. 34). Sanford (1967) posited that the developing individual “grows” and learns when a challenging situation is presented (p. 44). Several authors have modified Sanford’s concept from the framework of challenge/response to a more balanced model of challenge and support. According to Chickering, “Environments that provide a combination of challenge and support tailored to students’ level of development are recommended to assist students in adapting appropriately to the challenges they encounter” (as cited in Zhao and Kuh, 2004, p. 117). It is highly controversial to suggest that websites can be seen as both challenging and supporting but it does seem that if appropriately constructed, students would benefit.


It would seem reasonable to state that most UUs are dualistic. According to Wilson, dualists as defined by Perry, believe that there is always one right answer and one wrong answer for a situation. Most UUs are going to have difficulty when confronted with troubleshooting an online problem. I use Perry’s Theory of Intellectual and Ethical Development to showcase a flaw amongst most UUs (Evans et al., 1998). Most UUs will never move past dualism. Those few UUs who do move into multiplicity or relativism will be constantly utilized for their abilities.

Online Development Theory

There is something very ironic in trying to develop a theory which relates to the virtual world. The theorists from whom I draw extensive “material” from were able to conduct research on physical environments that have existed for over 200 years. The web is still in its infancy. My theory is based on a model which uses Astin as the core of a three dimensional, circular helix which is housed in a sleeve-like framework consisting of Chickering’s vectors and Perry’s Cognitive Positions (Figure 1). Circling this structure is a multi-directional challenge and support construct which incorporates challenge as its initial starting place (Evan’s et al., 1998; Wilson, 1996; Sanford, 1967). It is my belief that student or UU online development occurs within the helix and that development is linear going from top to bottom. However, there are multiple angles and paths to the top of the helix.

Figure 1:online development model

Online development is seen as students move up the helix while developing their cognitive abilities and establishing their proficiency with Chickering’s vectors. The unique aspects of online development theory are represented by the meshing of multiple theories into a model which utilizes challenge and support. While students are developing their identity and their cognitive abilities in an upward progression, challenge and support is taking place in a circular rotation while the UU rises to the top. The key tenets of the challenge and support structure are the creation of either a state of web disequilibrium or understanding. Disequilibrium is defined as anything which causes a student to become frustrated and out of touch with their online environment. Understanding is defined as alternative to disequilibrium with UUs having the ability to float between these two states. Support is given to students who are encountering disequilibrium and/or understanding in an effort to foster online engagement. In the near future, stages will be created which will identify positions for developmental research followed by a qualitative study designed to shed some light on the validity of the model.


Online development theory can be used in most student affairs disciplines. Since all students are part of the online environment, they all fall somewhere within the helix.

Application Examples:

  • Admissions counselors can direct students to blogs and online communities to foster the initial engagement with a university. Students would be challenged with new opportunities for growth via new opinions and ideas.
  • Career services counselors can measure a student’s online development to determine whether or not a student requires specific job skills.
  • Academic success center staffers could offer a weekly online challenge which would provide unique support information for student. The challenge would come in the form of an e-mail asking students to engage with an online service.
  • Disability services staffers can qualitatively measure accessibility issues for students with disabilities to ensure that challenge is matched with equal amounts of support.
  • First Year Success Courses instructors can utilize the model to gain understanding about their students and their online behaviors.
  • Educational technology personnel can utilize web statistics to measure student access including: amount of time spent per page, discussion activity levels, and popular pages/sites.

The application possibilities for online development and the helix model are numerous. I hope to continue my reflection and synthesis of the concepts that I have outlined. Technology is constantly changing and thus the online development theory will have to adapt accordingly.



Astin, A. (1984). Student involvement: a developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25(4), 297-308.

Evans, N., Forney, D., & Guide-DiBrito, F. (1998). Student development in college: theory, research, and practice . San Francisco : Jossey-Bass.

Sanford, N. (1967). Self & society: social change and individual development. New York, NY: Atherton Press.

Terenzini, P. T. (1999). Research and practice in undergraduate education: And never the twain shall meet?. Journal of Higher Education, 38, 33-48.

Wilson, B. A. (1996). A descriptive study: The intellectual development of business administration students. The Delta Pi Epsilon Journal, 38, 209-221.

Zhao, C.-M., Kuh, G.D. (2004). Adding value: learning communities and student engagement. Research in Higher Education. 45(2), 115-138.

OSU EM Web Standards

OSU Enrollment Management Web Standards Responsibilities of Web Publishers

Content validity

As a web publisher at Oregon State University , you are responsible for the
content of your pages. You must ensure that your content is up to date and
is grammatically correct. Macromedia Dreamweaver has a built in spell checker
located in the “Text” menu (Shift + F7).

Content Maintenance

Pages must be accurate and up-to-date. Establish an updating system and identify
specific individuals to help maintain content validity.

OSU expects sites to be accessible to users with visual, hearing, mobility,
and cognitive disabilities. The guiding principle is that all OSU sites must
meet or exceed Section 508 (Priority 1) standards for accessibility.


Interface Consistency

Web Pages should “look and feel” like the OSU web page template.

Page Components

OSU Banner
Use the same OSU banner for all pages.

Search (or Virtual Advisor)

OSU Includes
OSU primary “includes” location: www/httpd-docs/u_central

For example:
<!--#include virtual="/u_central/banners/banner_or5a.php"--> =
orange banner

Cascading Style Sheet (CSS)
The default OSU style sheet will be used on every page.
Link to the central OSU style sheet
<link rel="stylesheet" href="http://oregonstate.edu/cws_templates/css/default.css" type="text/css"/>

Contextual Titles
Titles are used by search engines to identify pages when users search. Additionally,
if two or more pages have the same title, they cannot be differentiated
by users or the "Favorites" capability of a browser. Page titles
also aid users who are using screen readers.

Urchin (site statistics)
All new pages should contain the Urchin webstats script.
(See Eric for more information)

Site Directory Structure

Unlinked/Landing pages
Place all non-public\landing\temporary test pages in the root directory.
The only html files in the root should be current pages or pages which fall
into the aforementioned category.

Directory rules
No capital letters

Use lowercase for all file names.
Try to limit the use of #’s and _’s.

Use clear naming conventions: printapplications.html instead of papps.html

Technical Notes


Turn on “accessibility” in Dream weaver MX 2004.
A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via "alt", "longdesc",
or in element content). http://tap.oregonstate.edu/webForm/a.htm

ALT tags is short for alternative tags.  ALT tags appear when you place
your mouse over an image.  They also appear when an image does not load
or is not allowed to load.  This provides a hint to a user reading from
a text only browser or one on a slow connection.  Screen readers also
use the ALT tags when reading to the visually impaired.  ALT tags are
very easy to add to your pages.

Do not use frames. Frames are not universally accessible.
The content of frames may not be searchable by search engines.

Descriptive links
Instead of denoting a link with the words "Click here" or similar
phrase, be descriptive when providing links; for example: "more information
about online applications." Consider allowing such links to stand on their
own line or provide an ordered or unordered list of links in HTML.

Meta Tags
Meta tagshelp search engines find and index your web pages.
Meta tags provide:

1. A brief description of the content

2. The edit date and name of the author or authoring department 3. Keyword
search terms for indexing.


Meta tags
For beta/test pages please include the following code in the <head> of
the document:

A robot will not index this document, nor analyze it for links.

Validate code in Bobby, W3C, etc. http://bobby.watchfire.com/bobby/html/en/index.jsp


Archive old pages on the EM Network Drive or on your department/personal hard
drive. Each department will have space allocated for archival of old pages.

Do not leave old web pages on the web server. Old pages are still “live” and
can be found via search engines and old links/bookmarks.


OSU training sessions

OSU Publications

Web sites


Krug, Steve. Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. Indianapolis : New Riders, 2000.

Veen, J. (2001). The art & science of web design. Indianapolis, IN : New Riders.

Theory to practice

Theory to practice: Real to virtual, the new environment.


The introduction of the World Wide Web introduced a new environment to college
and university campuses. The Student Affairs Web Specialist (SAWS) at Oregon
State University (OSU) is a new graduate assistantship position which strives
to ensure that students have a quality experience with online services at OSU.
One of the challenges facing the SAWS is the incorporation of student development
theory into practice. The main theories presented are from Maslow, Sanford,
Schlossberg, Chickering, and Astin. The attempt is made to showcase examples
of web site initiatives which use student development theory directly or indirectly.

Role of student development

The OSU Student Affairs Web Specialist (SAWS) graduate assistantship is a new graduate
student position. Part of OSU Enrollment Management, it was created to increase
the overall quality of the OSU Student Affairs web presence. Additionally,
the SAWS position is in charge of implementing increased web functionality,
usability, and accessibility. There is little interpersonal contact with students
but recent web statistics show that virtual contact is taking place on a daily
basis. However, the SAWS position sees students as virtual visitors who provide
statistical percentages and technical informatics instead of one-on-one personal
interactions. The perceived benefit of increased web services is that students
will have improved access to information. Web services assessment is incredibly
challenging as the results of information access are difficult to track. How
do you create a model for growth and learning based on web services statistics?

According to Evans, “Student development theory provides the basis for the practice
of student development” (Evans et al, 1998, p. 5). The difficulty therein
then, is the relationship of student development theories with new technologies.
How can theories which predate the web be used to access virtual interaction? It
would seem that the main developmental component to the SAWS position is information
access. The primary objective of the SAWS position is seemingly to increase
student online satisfaction. However, this objective does not seem to be based
on any assessment data.

Student development theory translated into practice

As stated earlier, the position of the SAWS does not easily adopt student
development theory. Even the Person-Environment theories exist in the real,
brick and mortar student affairs world. The difficulty then resides in the
flexibility of the selected theories in relation to how they make the leap
from real to virtual. Thematically, the theories are in order from basic needs
to the more concrete concept of involvement.


The basic needs which Maslow speaks of in his theory of human motivation can be loosely
translated from the real to the virtual (1954). The first level in Maslow’s
hierarchy are the physiological needs. These needs typically focus on the needs
of the body. The virtual body has needs which cannot be overlooked. A fast
internet connection or the proper hardware can be as impactful to the web user
as a water would be to a marathon runner.

Safety needs are the next set of needs and are typically characterized by the need
to feel safe and to be stable. A web site and its pages can be orderly or chaotic.
A user may drift away from a web site due to a lack of consistent navigation,
poor accessibility, or because of an anxious experience. An additional issue
arises with the need for universal design. Wording, style, and navigation can
affect the user experiences of your audience. Designing for nontraditional
students can be quite challenging and it may be necessary to test a web site
with a wide range of users.

The next level focuses on the need for belonging and love. Love may be a difficult concept
to relate to the web and the SAWS position but the need for belonging can be
thought of in terms of the intended relationship between a user and a web site.
For example, perspective international students are seeking a new learning
community when they search for a college or university. A web site can make
them feel welcome. The writing style, cultural appropriateness, and truly universal
design can all contribute to a heightened sense of belonging.

After the need for belonging has been addressed, Maslow focuses on the esteem needs
(1954). Maslow states that individuals have a need for “mastery and competence” (1954,
p. 45). Web sites are complicated. It can take months to create and design
a fully functional web site. It only takes a minute for a user to feel incompetent
when they are using a web site.

The final need according to Maslow is the need for self-actualization (1954). It is improbable
that this need will be nourished by a web site. It is more agreeable to say
that the earlier needs will all be assisted through quality web sites and services
which in turn could enable a conscious or unconscious move towards self-actualization.

By being intentional and aware of users’ needs the SAWS can create web sites which
facilitate information exchange and contribute to a stimulating learning environment.


It could be said that the web is an environment which affects student success. Sanford ’s
writings regarding challenge and support, supports the concept that one’s
environment can be both challenging and supportive (as cited in Evans et al,
1998, p. 5). Web sites can challenge users with inconsistent navigation, inaccessible
pages, and outdated content. The ideal web site would support users in all
facets of their experience. It is unclear if challenge can be a positive element
to a web site. Usability is defined as “the effectiveness, efficiency,
and satisfaction with which users can achieve tasks in a particular environment
of a product. High usability means a system is: easy to learn and remember;
efficient, visually pleasing and fun to use; and quick to recover from errors” (Dictionary.com).
It would seem that challenge would nullify support thus making Sanford ’s
theory difficult to translate to the web. An example which could support Sanford
might be the interaction of a blind student with a web site. The initial challenge
is the fact that the information is on the web. The student has to be able
to get online, use a screen reader, and accomplish the task of information
retrieval. Support could be in the form of accessible, screen reader “readable” text
or the inclusion of an alternative means to access the information.


It can be assumed that a lack of online services can lead to marginalization. Schlossberg
states that, student persistence can be enhanced through movement from a sense
of marginality to mattering (1989). Perhaps the web can be used to make students
feel that they matter in the same way that a good experience with a real person
can. Schlossberg ponders whether or not a community can be formed on campus “that
allows all students to find a place of involvement and importance” (1989,
p. 6). Perhaps a community can be created on the web which would allow for
everyone to be involved? The SAWS is currently working on the beginnings of
a university web portal. By default, all students would use this portal. This
could provide numerous virtual rituals which would “provide a sense of
mattering” (Schlossberg, 1989, p. 6).


According to Astin, “student involvement refers to the amount of physical and psychological
energy that the student devotes to the academic experience” (1984, p.
297). Fortunately for the SAWS, students can be involved with the web at any
time and on any day if they possess the necessary skills and equipment. One
of the primary challenges for the SAWS is getting student affairs personnel
to realize the idea that the web is always “on.” Students can invest
massive amounts of time in a web site. Involvement on the web is less controlled
and does not follow the same patterns of traditional office engagement. Student
affairs personnel have a tradition of tracking office visits and tailoring
services based on visits and feedback. Astin writes gives the example of a
university building a new library and then failing to assess its usage (1984).
This occurs frequently with web sites. The SAWS has implemented a web statistics
program which should lead to web site changes based on user traffic. Online
surveys can also be utilized to assess student engagement.

Theory to practice in action

The previous sections give some relevance to the application of student development theory
in relation to the SAWS. To further illustrate this application, I will give
two examples of theory and its practical use.


The SAWS has been given the task of researching the implementation of a university web
portal. Web portals are becoming increasingly popular as a primary means of
providing online support to students. In essence, a web portal creates a new
campus environment. According to Evans et al, “Chickering argued that
educational environments exert powerful influences on student development” (1998,
p. 40). A web portal can minimize the enormity of a campus environment and
provide opportunities for all students to access consistent services. Esteem
needs can be strengthened through the intentional creation of a user friendly
and accessible portal. The portal would provide students an online space where
they could access student records, e-mail, registration tools, Blackboard,
library records, and a multitude of customizable user oriented functions. The
portal would also provide a common place for all students to share a daily
announcement or bulletin. Campus wide rituals could be taking place in a new
virtual space. The goal would be that the new web portal would be a component
in a university wide retention program. Unfortunately, student development
theory is currently not in the conversations which have taken place regarding
the web portal. Perhaps it is there in the actions rather than the words which
have been said?


The SAWS was put in charge of the development of a new web site for perspective international
students. To better understand the perspectives of a perspective international
student, university marketing conducted a focus group, with first year international
students, which generated several themes. The main themes were: sense of community,
design consistency, images of campus, resident/non-resident student interaction,
and clarity of content. As I mentioned before, Maslow believed that all people
have the need to be safe or have a lack of chaos and to belong (1954). The
focus group students were expressing their needs and it is unknown if they
are aware of Maslow’s work. The need to belong was clearly expressed
and the safety needs could be related to the images of campus or the request
for design consistency. Images of campus that are visually appealing that showcase
student interactions could create a heightened sense that the university community
is welcoming and safe. A web site design that offers consistent and clear navigation
would lessen anxiety for the student user. Utilizing Sanford ’s challenge
and support theory, the challenge for the perspective international student
is the distance traveled, the cost of attendance, and the differences in culture.
The SAWS has the responsibility of ensuring a supportive web site which offers
the first experience with the university.

Challenges and opportunities with theory to practice

As stated previously, “computer affairs” make the transformation of theory
into practice a challenging task. It is very challenging to think about using
student development theories in the day-to-day operations of a workplace. It
has been my experience thus far that most of the theoretical texts provide
little if any practical usage examples. When the web was created, a new campus
environment was created. I do not think that there has been sufficient work
in web theory application or development because of the newness of the environment.
It will take highly technical knowledge combined with student affairs experience
to create new web centered student development theories. The current theoretical
texts are narrowly focused on the typical undergraduate experience. How can
theory to practice on the web truly be achieved?


Astin, A. (1984). Student involvement: a developmental theory for higher

Journal of College Student Personnel , 25(4), 297-308.

Dictionary.com, (n.d.). retrieved Nov. 18, 2004, from http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=usability.

Evans, N., Forney, D., & Guide-DiBrito, F. (1998). Student development
in college:
theory, research, and practice . 1st ed. San Francisco
: Jossey-Bass.

Maslow, A. H. (1954) A theory of human motivation. In Motivation and personality
(pp. 35-58). New York . Harper and Row.

Schlossberg, N. K. (1989). Marginality and mattering: key issues in building
community. New Directions for Student Services , 48, 5-15.


Student Affairs Web Specialist Overview:

The Student Affairs Web Specialist will assist OSU Student Affairs departments
in developing a web presence and services that facilitate access for all students,
including students with disabilities. The purpose of the position will
be to increase student awareness of Student affairs programs and increase students’
self-service opportunities via the web. While this position will serve
all Student Affairs departments, it will be housed in the Student Orientation
and Retention (SOAR) office, providing a professional home and affiliation


1. Meet with Student Affairs departments todetermine web needs,
in order of priority as determined by the Student Affairs Technology Committee.

2. Build appropriate web presence and services for departments, in accordance
with University design standards.

3. Advise Student Affairs departments on web design and service delivery.

4. Maintain close contact with University Publications to ensure alignment
with OSU guidelines for Web design.

Evaluation of Duties and Supervision:

The Student Affairs Web Specialist will be supervised by Bob Bontrager, Assistant
Provost for Enrollment Management and Jim Day, Enrollment Management Information
Technology Manager. In addition, a significant direction will be provided
by the Student Affairs Technology Committee.

Terms of Appointment:

This position is a 12-month, .49 FTE appointment. Admission to the College
Student Services Administration (CSSA) graduate program at Oregon State University
is required. Renewal of the assistantship for a second year is contingent
upon satisfactory performance and favorable evaluation