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  • Linking Theory to Practice: Case Studies for Working with College Students (4th ed.) ed. by Frances K. Stage
  • Christa J. Porter
Linking Theory to Practice: Case Studies for Working with College Students (4th ed.)
Frances K. Stage & Steven M. Hubbard (Editors)
New York, NY: Routledge, 2018, 243 pages, $47.95 (softcover)

Socialization into student affairs, although different for each individual, should include theoretical knowledge and practical application of competencies of the profession (American College Personnel Association & National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, 2015). For most graduate students, professional preparation programs remain a primary path into the field and typically include some form of experiential learning. In 1993, Stage and Hubbard created the first edition of Linking Theory to Practice: Case Studies for Working with College Students to help graduate students and administrators apply theoretical concepts to their work with students. Now in the fourth edition of the text, the authors argue for broader exposure to the practical work of [End Page 383] student affairs administration. Similar to its previous editions, the authors have continued to use case studies written by those in the profession to advance experiential learning for graduate students and administrators alike.

Chapters 1 through 3 provide a general overview (i.e., role of theory in a practical world; theory and practice in student affairs; and case analysis in action), while chapters 4 through 9 are case studies organized by topical areas (i.e., organization and administration, admissions, advising and counseling, academic issues, identity, and campus life).

Chapter 1 begins with a hypothetical example of how a researcher and administrator would develop theory based on their understanding of students' experiences. Stage asserts the researcher would identify a more abstract perspective and ignore the details, while the administrator would pinpoint specific elements related to the student's individual self. This assumption is unnecessary; there is much to gain while conducting research with and alongside our students. Both administrators and researchers must maintain a student-centered focus and the author's example can cause division. Although previous researchers and theorists have focused on particular identities, more recent college student development scholarship is representative of holistic experiences and the systems within which they exist (Patton, Renn, Guido, & Quaye, 2016).

Additionally, in chapter 1, Stage eloquently highlights the following four benefits of case study analysis: (a) it challenges conventional habits of administrative thought and action, (b) it promotes consideration of multiple perspectives, (c) it promotes consideration of unique campus environments, and (d) it manipulates problems with realistic legal, institutional, and political constraints (p. 5). Stage uses Argyris's (1976) conceptual understanding of professional behavior as theory to illustrate the challenge that graduate students and administrators have while trying to solve a case. Thus, Stage emphasizes: "Case study analysis is an ideal way to begin to challenge and modify theories in action or in the absence of theories of action, to cultivate positive ones" (p. 5). Chapter 1 sheds light on the personal foundations and experiences that graduate students and administrators carry with them into their professional positions. This information becomes even more valuable when discussing effective and sustainable socialization processes and supervision of graduate students in student affairs.

Chapter 2 offers a substantial summary of four subsections of formalized theory—cognitive development, psychosocial, social identity development, and typology—and theories of college environment, outcomes, organization and administration. The summary is beneficial because it serves as an introduction for graduate students and administrators whose formal training into the profession did not include college student development theory; however, the proceeding conversation on critically analyzing theory is limited. Hubbard promises: "This chapter also provides a summary of critical analysis that will give the reader new insights on how to better apply theory and ask important questions for our profession and our use of theory" (p. 13). Hubbard offered two points. First, he stressed the need to reflect on issues of diversity and multiculturalism of today's student population and campus climate (Pope, Reynolds, & Mueller, 2004; Torres, Howard-Hamilton, & Cooper, 2003). Second, practitioners must strive to understand the influence of administrators and faculty on student success, development, and the overall college experience as an important theoretical concept (Bensimon, 2007). The depth of criticality of...


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