The Role of Social Integration in Students' Psychosocial Development
Lien, Leigh A.
The increasing demands of modern society and the modern workforce has resulted in added importance being placed on graduating students' psychosocial development. One well-established comprehensive theory, Chickering's theory of psychosocial development (1969, 1993), defines seven "vectors" of development in a student's personal growth. He has also emphasized the importance of freshman year in establishing patterns for subsequent personal growth. Consequently for educators to strive for "optimal" development for the students, it is especially important for them to examine factors during freshman year which may encourage students' psychosocial development. This study examines the role of social integration in students' psychosocial development. Using a longitudinal research design and gathering data collected from a private southern research university at four different time points during the students' freshman and senior years, this study analyzes the effect of social integration as it relates to Chickering's theory of psychosocial development. The study focused on three of the seven vectors: Developing Autonomy, Clarifying Purpose, and Mature Interpersonal Relationships. Multiple regression analysis is used to measure the effects of social integration on the students' psychosocial development. The results of the study indicated that social integration has a significant influence on Clarifying Purpose and Academic Autonomy, but no influence on Mature Interpersonal Relationships. It also showed that Greek affiliation has a significant influence on Clarifying Purpose and Academic Autonomy as well. The results of the research are discussed with respect to the parameters of Chickering's theory. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future research are also discussed.