Abstract

Applying theory to practice in student affairs is dominated by the assumption that formal theory is directly applied to practice. Among the problems with this assumption is that many practitioners believe they must choose between their lived experiences and formal theory, and that graduate students are taught that their experience “does not count.” What is missing in the discourse on theory-to-practice is the recognition of the role of informal theory that serves as the bridge between formal theory and practice. This article describes the conceptual connections among formal theory, informal theory, and practice, and presents strategies for improving the use of informal theory.

Applying theory to practice in student affairs is dominated by the assumption that formal theory is directly applied to practice. Among the problems with this assumption is that many practitioners believe they must choose between their lived experiences and formal theory, and that graduate students are taught that their experience “does not count.” What is missing in the discourse on theory-to-practice is the recognition of the role of informal theory that serves as the bridge between formal theory and practice. This article describes the conceptual connections among formal theory, informal theory, and practice, and presents strategies for improving the use of informal theory.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-3382
Print ISSN
0897-5264
Pages
pp. 177-191
Launched on MUSE
2012-03-22
Open Access
No
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