Book Reviews

Book by Nancy J. Evans, Deanna S. Forney, Florence M. Guido, Lori D. Patton, & Kristen A. Renn
Review by Joshua L. Brittingham
College of Education & Human Services Advising Center
Northern Kentucky University

Student Development in College: Theory, Research and Practice is a comprehensive overview of the current state college student development theory.  This book highlights many of the established theories that were included in the first edition (Evans, Forney & Guido-DiBrito, 1998) – ideas and literature in the areas of cognitive, psychosocial, learning style and other integrative approaches that will be familiar to advisors who already have a background in the topic.  This edition also brings updates that highlight much of the prominent new literature from the past ten to fifteen years including several chapters in the area of social identity development.

As this book relates to academic advising, the breadth of the topic and the way in which this book covers it provide both its greatest weakness and greatest strength.  On the one hand, the authors have been careful to reflect on practical applications at the end of each chapter in the book.  While some of the examples and case studies presented speak directly to common advising scenarios, other examples deal with situations that many advisors may not encounter directly in their work.  On the other hand, the approachable style through with each theory is presented invites readers to think of their own ways that an idea or approach can be integrated into their own practices.  This allows the reader to connect the information to familiar situations, even in chapters where advising is not addressed specifically.  The authors acknowledge that applying theory to practice is rarely a straightforward matter (p. 349) and provide suggestions for how the reader might approach combining multiple theories in a way that might better connect them to practical situations.  In a book that often does not directly address academic advising those combined approaches are one way in which an advisor might choose to apply the theories that are presented.

The audience for this book includes a wide group of people across higher education, advisors and non-advisors alike.  It is useful as an introduction to college student development for those new to the topic, such as new professionals and graduate students.  However, it is also especially beneficial to currently practicing academic advisors who seek a way to refresh or update their knowledge on the topic.  While the book is a comprehensive treatment of the subject, it provides enough depth to encourage further reading of the source literature and further inquiry into each theoretical area.  Even for those who own or have read the first edition, it is a timely update that is worthy of a place on your bookshelf.

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

Student development in college: Theory, research and practice (2nd edition). (2009). Book by Nancy J. Evans, Deanna S. Forney, Florence M. Guido, Lori D. Patton, & Kristen A. Renn. Review by Joshua L. Brittingham. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 480 pp. $60.00, (hardback), ISBN # 978-0-7879-7809-9

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