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.

Chronic Stress Intervention Strategies

Chronic Stress Intervention Strategies

  • Universities and colleges deploy a number of intervention strategies to
    help prevent and aid in the reduction of chronic stress within the student
    populations which they serve.

Primary interventions:

  • The most important primary intervention for universities/colleges is the
    counseling services department. This type of intervention is also known as
    a tertiary preventive intervention.
  • Training plays a vital role in the intervention process. It introduces
    counseling personnel to both students and staff. The referral process begins
    with appropriately trained student support staff.

Secondary Interventions:

  • Secondary preventative interventions include: Counseling workshops (Stress
    Management, Time Management, and Relationship Skills.), Health education
    workshops (Emotional wellness, physical wellness, etc.), Academic success
    workshops, De-Stress Activities during Final exam time periods.
  • Utilize student-lead peer organizations. Students can present relevant
    information to their peers.
  • Post up-to-date information on the web. Include anonymous screenings for
    common issues, alcohol-education sites, listings of peer organizations and
    other mental health groups and counselors, and any other campus health/wellness

Emergency/Non-emergency Interventions:

  • Emergency Situation (imminent threat of harm):
  • Call 911 or University Police
  • Stay with the student
  • Notify the Dean of Students and Counseling Services
  • Emergency Situation (Recent threat or harm):
    • Contact Counseling Services immediately and follow-up with the Dean of
  • Non Emergency
    • Contact Counseling Services for guidance and referral strategies and
      follow-up with the Dean of Students if you observe the following behaviors:
      Erratic behavior, excess sleep or not enough sleep, evidence of an eating
      disorder, depression, drug use including alcohol.


    • It is important to determine what resources are available to you when you
      refer a student. Most counseling services departments offer free, confidential
      counseling appointments with licensed staffers.

    How to refer

    • Build rapport with a student. Utilize attending skills and listen to what
      they have to say. Give the student your complete attention.
    • Determine the seriousness of the issue.
    • Refer the student —
    • See if the student will choose to self-refer
    • Re-summarize the issue
    • Raise the issue of seeking outside help
    • Assess the reaction to the suggestion
    • See if the student chooses an appropriate response
    • If student is unaware of resources, indicate appropriate support options
    • Focus on the positive aspects of seeking help
    • Talk about relevant procedures and allow student to contact support using
      your phone
    • Share relevant information with counseling personnel after securing permission
      from the student
    • Follow-up with the student to see if they kept their appointment
    • Finally, respect the student. In a non-emergency situation, it is the
      student’s choice to receive support


    • Counseling Services
    • Student Health Services
    • Career Services
    • Dean of Students
    • Academic Success Center


    A guide for smu faculty and staff: identifying and referring the distressed student. (n.d.). Retrieved Feb. 22, 2005, from Stress and College Students – Counseling and Testing – SMU Web site:

    Gottlieb, B. (Ed.). (1997). Coping with chronic stress. New York: Plenum Press.

    Kadison, R. (2004). The mental-health crisis: what colleges must do. Retrieved Feb. 22, 2005 , from The Chronicle Web site:

    The Problem of Privilege

    The Problem of Privilege

    1: White Privilege #1 – I can speak of my own experiences regarding diversity and be seen as unique or vulnerable when I am in a room full of white people.

    White Privilege #2 — I am never asked if I am from the United States or if I just moved here. It is assumed that I am a citizen because of my skin color.

    2: In privilege # 6, McIntosh writes about the lies that are spread via our educational system. One way that I believe that I can give up the privilege of ethnocentric education is to read history books that accurately portray the history of marginalized groups. I can also pass on these books to friends and family members as potential sources of re-education. Howard Zinn and Ronald Takaki are excellent sources of accurately written historical texts. I think I am working towards giving up privilege #6 and in some ways, beginning to share or extend new information to other white folks.

    I am currently choosing to not align myself with the first privilege that McIntosh writes about. This privilege is the privilege of “arranging to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.” I am working on developing networks of friends who are of color, LGBT, and any other members of oppressed groups. I’m doing this to be a better person and to do what I can to lead by example. I think white folks need to see and hear white men talk about diversity.

    I currently identify as an anti-racist, a feminist, and an ally. These identities are causing me to give up the 21st privilege. This privilege is one that I am struggling with giving up because I am unsure what it will mean to my psyche. The idea of coming home after “meetings of organizations I belong to, and feeling isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared,” is not a pleasant thing. This feeling of isolation has already started to happen on a limited scale. It is a new experience for me in my efforts to subvert the dominant paradigm. I feel like the system wants me back and that my punishment is going to be isolation. Fortunately, I have an excellent support system of folks whose views align with my own.

    3: I believe that it is accurate to call something a privilege that is imposed upon a person by our social structure, that they do not want and can’t get rid of. McIntosh makes it very clear in her article that it is important to distinguish unearned privileges which are part of unearned advantages. It is important to discuss privileges that are unearned; because within that discussion comes the reality that institutionalized oppression creates unearned advantages for some, while simultaneously disadvantaging someone else. Unearned privilege comes from institutional power.

    4: The second we truly realize that we are privileged means that we also realize that our privileges come at the expense of someone else and that these privileges do damage to those who are privileged. Systems of oppression like racism, sexism, and heterosexism could not exist if heterosexual white men gave up their privileges and to do that, they would have to give up their power. If temporarily able-bodied folks realize that they benefit from the institutionalized oppression of persons who are disabled then all TABs would be forced to create new institutions that create systems where buildings would be accessible and technology would be usable for all people regardless of visual or motor impairments.

    Tim Wise

    I went to a talk by Tim Wise last night. He’s a white, ant-racist, social justice activist. It was the first time I ever heard a white guy talk about ending racism. I read Janet Helms model of White Identity and became very frustrated/confused. Tim Wise provided the (mostly white) audience with some great insight about what it means to be white and how white people can use their unearned privileges to end racism. I am reading White Like Me by Tim Wise and it is full of useful language and ideas for action.

    I talked with some friends of color and they had a less than positive reaction to Tim Wise. I empathize with their anger. Why should a white guy have to tell other white people that they have to end racism when people of color have been saying the same thing for a long time. I think Tim Wise is valuable as a social justice educator. He got my attention. Isn’t that valuable? How many white folks were affected by Wise’s talk? I think we all have to work towards the elimination of all oppressions and if someone from an oppressor group gets the attention of other oppressors than so be it. IMHO

    I am an INFP

    According to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, I am an INFP:

    MBTI INFP description

    INFP’s are:

    • Sensitive, concerned, and caring
    • Loyal to people or a cause
    • Guided by an inner core of values in decision making
    • Focused on contributing to their own and others’ inner development and growth
    • Committed to a strong personal belief system
    • Likely to enjoy reading, discussing, and reflecting on possibilities for positive change
    • Usually seen by others as sensitive, introspective, and complex
    MBTI INFP description

    My full report (Adobe PDF)

    Student Health Services

    Excerpts from my History of Higher Education major paper, Student Life: A Brief Glimpse of the Past, Present, and Future of College & University Student Health Services

    V. Conclusions, implications for further study, remaining questions
    Student health services continue to impact students’ lives. The concepts of hygiene and physical education which were transplanted from Europe are still prevalent in college health. Student health services are responsible for students’ health and well-being, while recreation departments have adopted physical education programs.

    Fortunately, the epidemics of the past are no longer present in the college landscape of today. Alcohol and other drugs and sexual education are highly publicized issues affecting colleges today. Fortunately, student health service practitioners are prepared to combat these issues with tactics including: social norms marketing and educational workshops.

    A relatively un-researched aspect of student life which could affect the student health service is the onset of distance education. How do “e-learners” access student health services? What happens when a question and answer does not solve a problem? How will these students get student health services which compare to their traditional on-campus counterparts? The answers to these questions will undoubtedly have an impact on the “look and feel” of the student health service.

    In 1937, it was stated at the National Conference on College Hygiene that constantly changing information, a lack of interest from students, and resistance to change provided health educators with a challenging teaching assignment. This statement still rings true today. Student health services continue to adapt to new information and are constantly challenged to provide a myriad of services to the colleges and universities that they serve.

    Professional development exercise

    This is from my Programs and Functions in College Student Services class. I made up a fictitious position and wrote up some thoughts as to why I would be perfect for the job. UPDATE: It’s interesting to see how my thinking has developed in my career path. This was an extremely tech-heavy position. I am now looking forward to working in a Dean of Students unit preferrably in a student conduct/judicial/ombuds position.

    Step 1: Imagine what your ideal work life would be like in the first two years after graduate school.

    Job description

    Director for Web Resources and Services.
    Reporting to the Vice President for Student Affairs, the Director will provide
    strategic leadership for all internal and external Student Affairs oriented
    web initiatives.


    Master’s degree in College Student Services Administration.


    Develop a collaborative planning process that leads to a Student Affairs
    Web strategy which will include an assessment component.

    Implement web initiatives that support the division’s enrollment, administrative
    and marketing objectives, and promote the university’s strengths, mission
    and messages;

    Participate in creating strategic direction for interactive marketing and
    communication objectives.
    Oversee a university web portal and the development of a Student Affairs Intranet.
    Translate client needs into account and project-specific action plans.
    Guide a collaborative priority setting process for web development.
    Allocate resources and manage web personnel, equipment and the budget of an
    office for web resources and services.
    Provide direction to project management and design personnel.
    Participate in the university’s web planning and advisory group.

    Type of institution

    4 Year, State University

    Skills required for the job

    Minimum three years web consulting or web management experience and higher
    education experience. Demonstrated experience in strategic project planning
    and implementation in a creative team environment; demonstrated experience
    in consulting with design and technical professionals to plan web site development;
    understand and effectively communicate with clients about business operations
    and information technologies and how the Internet can influence these functions;
    excellent written and verbal communication skills; demonstrated success working
    collaboratively with clients and content providers to create and maintain web
    sites; ability to work independently as well as collaboratively; and ability
    to process information quickly and frame issues and solutions. Knowledge of
    web site usability and accessibility testing.

    Step 2: Assess your skills and knowledge base (in comparison to the
    job description).

    • Web design, management, and standards – I am an experienced web
      designer and have been in charge of several web site projects. As the webmaster
      for the UIC Wellness Center , I was responsible for the design, usability,
      and upkeep of over 150 web pages. I am proficient with several web and graphic
      design software packages, including: Dreamweaver MX 2004, PhotoShop 7.0,
      TopStyle 3, and Adobe Illustrator CS. My current position as the OSU student
      affairs web specialist allows me to interact with multiple departments and
      stakeholders. I am currently in the process of creating a web standards document
      which will provide departmental web editors with web creation, design, and
      maintenance protocols.
    • Planning in a team environment – At the University of Northern Iowa
      and at the University of Illinois at Chicago , I was able to be a part of
      several committees and planning bodies. At UIC, I participated in orientation
      planning committees, student-funding committees which included the creation
      of a new student fee structure, and have been a part of a university-wide
      web site “look and feel” initiative. I co-coordinated several
      events and programs in which several university departments participated.
      Currently I am working with OSU Admissions and the Publications Office to
      implement a new web site for Prospective International St udents.
    • Collaboration – I believe that throughout my career I have collaborated
      with as many people and departments as I possibly could. Collaborative efforts
      strengthen the efforts of an ind ividual and can lead to cost savings.
    • Accessibility and usability – I believe that all web sites should
      be user-friendly ( usa ble) and accessible. Every web site that I have created
      has been tested for compliance with section 508 guidelines and has been looked
      at by core users before public release. It is thrilling to navigate the web
      with a screen reader. Used for users who are visually impaired, screen readers
      can provide useful insight regarding web site design and usa bility.
    • Assessment – All student affairs programs need to have an assessment
      component. Web sites are not exempt from this statement. Web statistics can
      yield information which is extremely valuable to enrollment management professionals,
      administrators, and public affairs departments. I have instituted assessment
      programs, in some degree, for every university web site that I have been
      responsible for. Assessment data of this sort has provided me with user demographics,
      browser resolutions, unique visitors, and “popular pages” data.

    Important goals you will need to pursue to gain the preparation the
    job requires.

    • Knowledge of university web portals – OSU currently does not have
      a web portal. I am presently conducting research into the efficacy of various
      portal applications. A web portal project can last for years and I hope that
      I can play a role in the actual development and implementation of a portal
      at OSU. In researching web portals, I have tried to keep in mind some of
      the student development theories which might be relevant in a web portal
      discussion. Sanford ’s Challenge & Support Theory, Astin’s
      Involvement Theory, and the Theory of Marginality & Mattering by Schlossberg
      can all be taken from the “brick and mortar” student affairs
      office to the World Wide Web. For more information, please read, “Theory
      to practice: Real to virtual, the new environment” by E. Stoller.
    • Develop a collaborative planning process that leads to a Student Affairs
      Web strategy which will include an assessment component I
      plan on working with key technology stakeholders in Enrollment Management,
      University Housing and Dining Services, Central Web Services, Publication
      Services, and University Marketing to create an OSU web standards document
      and plan which will hopefully include an assessment component. It will be
      challenging to get everyone on the same “page”, but it will lead
      to a better web site for OSU students.
    • Implement web initiatives that support the university’s enrollment – Before
      I started my assistantship I had no idea about the functions of enrollment
      management departments. I really want to immerse myself in this area. The
      Admissions web site is in need of several changes. It currently is not very
      user-friendly and it is barely accessible. A new web services manager for
      Enrollment Management will provide me with a mentor and a “techie” peer.
    • Provide direction to project management and design personnel – The
      decentralized nature of the OSU web makes it difficult for users to have
      a consistent experience. In my role as the student affairs web specialist
      (yes, that is my title!) I hope to bring a standardized approach to the entire
      web development process and build up a sense of community within key personnel.
      A semi-work related project that I am interested in pursuing is a re-design
      of the OSU Public Safety web site. It does not look like an OSU web site
      and it is not user-friendly. I hope that protocols and standards will help
      alleviate web sites which are not up to par.
    • Participate in the university’s web planning and advisory group – I
      was recently asked to join two separate committees. The first committee’s
      goal is to create accessibility guidelines for technology at OSU. The second
      committee is an ad hoc technology think tank with the goal of being innovative
      with OSU web services. I honestly have no idea if these groups will help
      my development but they sound exciting!

    Step 3: Personal philosophy statement about yourself, your beliefs
    about students and your values as a student affairs professional.

    My personal philosophy is based around the concept that I can make the world
    a better place by making web sites better. Web sites are integral to the success
    of a university. Student affairs departments are integral to the success of
    students. It would seem then that student affairs departments would need to
    have good web sites in order to support both the university or college in which
    they reside, and the student whom the serve.

    I believe that a web site can have a tremendous impact on the life of a student.
    A highly usable and accessible web site can make a students learning experiences
    more efficient and can lead to a positive view of the university. The first
    experience that most students have with a university is online. Their first
    impression is crucial in their decision about which school they will attend.

    It is a fallacy that today’s students are all technologically competent.
    Students maybe quite adept at entertaining themselves with Playstations and
    instant messaging, but how does this relate to their ability to navigate a
    university’s web site?

    A university web site can provide students with a multitude of resources
    and services. The Director of Web Resources and Services positions compliments
    my personal philosophy about the web and its ever-changing role in the lives
    of students. I have consistently incorporated elements of assessment and student
    development theory in my web work. I also keep accessibility and usability
    at the core of any web project. It is my hope that all students will use our
    web site, that we will assess that use, and that we will provide a continually
    evolving “virtual” environment.

    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="" 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).

    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.


    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” (
    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., (n.d.). retrieved Nov. 18, 2004, from

    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

    Student Health Professionals: Selected Competencies

    Student Health Service Professionals: Selected Competencies

    The Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in Higher Education provides a framework and guidance for 28 functional areas in student affairs (Miller et al, 2003). Each functional area has a list of competencies which guide student affairs professionals in all aspects of student life. One area of student life is the college health program. Typically this program has included both clinical and preventative health services. According to Komives, Woodard, and Associates, “The primary purpose of student health services is to provide immediate medical assistance to students who are ill or injured; student health services also encourage individual good health and provide leadership in promoting the concept of a healthy campus” (2003, p. 349). The importance of health to college students has been cited in several publications (as cited in Benjamin and Robinson, 1998).

    For the sake of brevity, I will focus this paper around three student health professional competencies: budgeting, assessment/evaluation, and teaching/learning. The clinical aspects of college health are too broad for a paper of this nature. In order to conserve space, health education and health educators will be the primary focus. A historical context will be provided to showcase similarities of yesterday’s professional with the modern practitioner.

    Dr. Edward Hitchcock, director of physical education at Amerherst College, is credited as being the first person to establish a formal college health program (The American College Health Association: A Brief History, 2001). In 1861, Hitchcock “created a health and physical education program that attempted to fill what he saw as the college’s role in combating the failing health of nineteenth century students” (Sloane and Sloane, 1986, p. 271). According to Sloane and Sloane, Hitchcock was the creator of health education and the role of the health educator (1986). Hitchcock’s programs focused on educating students “of the need for a nutritious diet and against the dangers of drinking and smoking” and “offered information on reproductive health…” (Sloane and Sloane, 1986, p. 271) Hitchcock offered a new, holistic approach which focused on a student’s well being (Christmas and Dorman, 1996). 40 years after Hitchcock’s initiation of college health, the University of California developed the first “comprehensive student health program (as it might be defined today), providing both medical care and infirmary care…” (Turner and Hurley, 2002, p. 4).

    In 1932, William Hughes wrote a guide for student health professionals, entitled, “The Administration of Health and Physical Education for Men in Colleges and Universities.” Hughes developed a model for a student health service and included information on the financial aspects of student health (1932). According to Hughes, student health services should be funded by general university funds and from student fees (1932). The budgetary needs of a student health program were simple in that the funding primarily provided for staff salaries and supply costs. However, early administrators had to be fiscally responsible with their budgets. According to Weaver and Frederick, if student fees monies were not able to cover the costs of student health programming, it was “usually advisable for the college to make suitable appropriations from general college funds to maintain the health service program” (1947, p. 38). Insurance provided some students with health care but historically, “well recognized values are associated with health serviced practice and teaching which are impossible to duplicate through the usual insurance programs” (Weaver and Frederick, 1947, p. 38).

    Assessment and Evaluation
    Assessment and evaluation have been part of health education since the inception of the field. According to Stewart and Tipple, “A student-centered…program of health education for every student is a vital part…” of the college level experience (1954, p. 106). It is further stated that health education “assists materially in the development of the potential capacities of each student” (Stewart and Tipple, 1954, p. 106). These statements require validation and thus assessment and evaluation. Stewart and Tipple speak of using scientific methods of evaluation to justify health education programming (1954). One of the main goals for assessing student health programs is to see if student knowledge of health has increased. There were a variety of ways which student health professionals could assess student success including: “questionnaires, health interest inventories, student health autobiographies, and summaries of student health records” (Stewart and Tipple, 1954, p. 110). In 1937, assessment evolved from a process which considered the “adequacy of personnel, facilities, equipment and administrative provisions…” to a process which gave “primary consideration to the effects of health teaching and health service programs in terms of their adequacy in meeting the needs of the student body” (National Conference on College Hygiene, 1937, p. 45).

    Teaching and Learning
    In the early 1900’s, student health education programs were focused on student learning (National Conference on College Hygiene, 1937). Health education sought to develop the mind and body of the student and this form of education was considered as “one of the most difficult teaching assignments in the college curriculum” (National Conference on College Hygiene, 1937, p. 36). Constantly changing information, a lack of interest from students, and resistance to change provided health educators with a challenging teaching assignment (National Conference on College Hygiene, 1937).

    Present Day
    College health programs have evolved considerably since 1861. Accreditation plays an important part in this area. Health educators are increasingly becoming Certified Health Education Specialists (CHES). 80% of all colleges and universities in the United States have “some organized arrangement for advancing [student] health” (Miller et al, 2003, p. 83). The principal associations for college health are the American College Health Association and the American Public Health Association. Budgeting, assessment/evaluation, and teaching/learning continue to be areas in which college health practitioners need to have proficiency.

    The economic climate in which college health programs exist is one that is filled with uncertainty and opportunity. Funding sources are no longer limited to university general funds and student fee revenues. Grant funded programs can now supplement or increase overall service offerings (Turner and Hurley, 2002). College health programs can have multi-million dollar budgets especially when health education services are incorporated into “multi-specialty clinics” which offer services to “students, faculty, staff, spouses, dependents, and in some cases, the general public” (Turner and Hurley, 2002, p. 43).

    Assessment and Evaluation
    Assessment and evaluation are extremely important to a practitioner in a college health program. Turner and Hurley state that the evaluation of student health services should include the following questions: “How many students are utilizing the services? Are students satisfied with the services received? Are the program objectives being accomplished? Are the objectives being accomplished in the most cost-efficient manner?” (2002, p. 65). According to Hayden, college health programs should “plan on assessment”, “carry out evaluation of plans”, “interpret results of program evaluation”, and “infer implications from findings for future program planning” (2000, p. 7).

    Teaching and Learning
    College health educators are by default, teachers. They teach a specialized topic which can have a major impact on student success (Damush, Hays, and DiMatteo, 1997). According to Miller et al, a college health program “must provide evidence of its impact on the achievement of student learning and development outcomes” (2003, p. 86). Furthermore, a college health program and its practitioners “must be based on theories and knowledge of learning and human development” (Miller et al, 2003, p. 87). According to the International Association of Student Affairs and Services Professionals (IASAS), college health programs should provide “information on health issues specifically involving the college age student, e.g., sexually transmitted diseases, stress, diet, depression” (2001, p.41).

    Future directions
    In 1998 the college health education Competency Update Project (CUP) was started by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. The project will have an impact on the “professional preparation, certification, and professional development” of college health practitioners (NCHEC – About NCHEC – CUP, 2002). The competencies for the college health program practitioner are constantly evolving and changing with the needs and requirements of the students that they serve.


    American College Health Association, (2001). The american college health association: a brief history. retrieved Nov. 21, 2004, from ACHA: History Web site:

    Benjamin, M., & Robinson, J. (1998). Service quality, encounter satisfaction, and the delivery of student health services. Journal of College Student Development, 39(5), 427-437.

    Christmas, W. A., & Dorman, J. M. (1996). The “storey” of college health hygiene. Journal of American College Health, 45(1), 27-35.

    Damush, T. M., Hays, R. D., & DiMatteo M. R. (1997). Stressful life events and health-related quality of life in college students. Journal of College Student Development, 38(2), 181-190.

    Hayden, J. (2000). The health education specialist: a study guide for professional competence. 4th ed. Allentown, PA: NCHEC.

    Hughes, W. (1932). The administration of health and physical education for men in colleges and universities. New York City, NY: Bureau of Publications: Teachers College, Columbia University.

    International Association of Student Affairs and Services Professionals. (2001). The role of student affairs and services in higher education: a practical manual for developing, implementing, and assessing student affairs programmes and services. R. Ludeman (Ed.).

    Komives, S., Woodard, Jr., D., & associates. (2003). Student services: a handbook for the profession. 4th ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Miller, T. (Ed.). (2003). The book of professional standards for higher education. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education.

    National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, (2002). Nchec – about nchec — cup. retrieved Nov. 21, 2004, from

    National Conference on College Hygiene. (1937). Health in colleges. Proceedings of the second national conference on college hygiene. New York, NY: National Tuberculosis Association.

    Sloane, D. C., & Sloane, B. C. (1986). Changing opportunities: an overview of the history of college health education. Journal of American College Health, 34, 271-273.

    Stewart, E., & Tipple, D. (1954). How student health can be influenced through health education. Proceedings from the fourth national conference on health in colleges (pp. 106-116). American College Health Association.

    Turner, H., & Hurley, J. (2002). The history and practice of college health. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky.

    Weaver, M., & Marty F. (1947). Objectives, finances, housing, and equipment, staff, services, and records. A health program for colleges (pp. 27-39). National Tuberculosis Association.