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A) Based on Marcia’ (1966) and Josselson’s (1971) Psychosocial Perspective, Develop and Present a Set of Questions (an Interview Schedule) as an Instrument to Be Administered to Two Female and Two Male Traditional- Age (

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INSTITUTION: University of the West Indies

PROGRAMME: Master of Arts in Higher Education - Student Personnel Administration
COURSE TITLE: Introduction to University and College Students' Development Theory EDEA6311 / ED63K
MODULE: Course Work
ASSIGNMENT: A) Based on Marcia’ (1966) and Josselson’s (1971) Psychosocial Perspective, develop and present a set of questions (an interview schedule) as an instrument to be administered to two female and two male traditional- age (18-21) college/university students. The instrument should seek data on the students’:
· Religious choice
· Career choice
· Attitude towards sex before marriage
· The students' opinion on their ideal intimate partner.
B). State any identified differences between the responses of the male students and the female students. Analyze the differences (if any) in the responses, based on posits of the two theorists, and any other authors.
©. Based on the findings from the interview, identify the psychosocial development state of each of the four students sampled. Justify your classification with literature.
(D) Based on your findings, identify any differences between your findings and the theories that could be a result of a difference in culture.
FACILITATOR: Dr. Thelora Reynolds
DATE: November 29, 2009
SUBMITTED BY: Marlene Grant
Question A Based on Marcia’s (1966) and Josselson’s (1971) Psychosocial Perspective, develop and present a set of questions (an interview schedule) as an instrument to be administered to two female and two male traditional- age (18-21) college/university students.

All student development theories attempt to explain and provide knowledge on the student experience and what promotes or inhibits their education and development. A knowledge and understanding of student development theory therefore provides practitioners with a foundation upon which to understand the maturation and development of the students with which they work. This foundation will guide the practitioners as they challenge and support individual students in their developmental process. Development is defined by Miller and Prince (1976, cited in Gatten), as “the application of human development concepts in postsecondary settings so that everyone involved can master increasingly complex developmental tasks, achieve self-direction, and become interdependent. One perspective from which student development is examined is the psychosocial theories. These psychosocial theories address developmental issues or tasks and events that occur throughout the life of the individual. Two theorists who examine these tasks, thereby serving as a guide to student identity and personnel practices are James Marcia (1966), and Ruthellen Josselson (1971).
Refining and extending Erik Erikson’s work, Marcia (1966) came up with four Identity Statuses of psychological identity development. The main idea behind his work is that one’s sense of identity is determined largely by the choices and commitments made regarding certain personal and social traits. He posited that the adolescent stage is marked by the degree to which one has explored and committed to an identity in a variety of life domains from vocation, religion, relational choices, gender roles, and other social issues. Erikson defined identity as “a primarily unconscious process that unites personality and links the individual and the social

world.” (Josselson, 1987, cited in Collins, 2001).

Marcia (1966), after claiming that this identity resolution is determined by two factors, Crisis or Exploration and Commitment, set about identifying the types of resolution. Crisis refers to a period of decision-making, where alternatives are explored, options tried, and new ways of being imagined, and commitment means making choices and settling on a self-definition (Collins, 2001). These definitions provide a clear understanding of what exactly the theories try to explain as well as offer a structure to the interviewed students’ priorities and experiences. The resolutions are as follows: Identity diffusion, Foreclosure, Moratorium and Identity Achievement. Identity diffusion is described as a state where an individual may or may not have experienced crisis, a commitment has not been made and the individual is not willing nor is attempting to make a commitment. These individuals might be characterized as “taking life one day at a time.” Foreclosure is where an individual has not experienced a crisis, but has made a commitment based on the ideals of others and is sometimes seen as borrowing the identity of a parent; Moratorium is where an individual is facing crisis and struggling to make decisions, he tries on several identities before making a final choice; and Identity Achievement is where an individual has experienced a crisis, made commitment and has reached a desired state. (Marcia, 1966, cited in Komives, et al, 2003). Marcia examines his theory with the use of structured and semi-structured interviews of eighty- six male college students.
While Marcia provided insight into identity development using men, the work of Ruthellen Josselson has added greatly to our understanding of women’s identity development. She, in an effort to “view identity in women in women’s own terms”, (Josselson, 1987, cited in Kellogg, 2003), and basing her work on Marcia’s model, conducted a research among sixty randomly selected women in their senior year in college. After ten years, Josselson conducted a follow-up study which formed the basis for Josselson’s four pathways to identity, Foreclosures: Purveyors of the Heritage; Identity Achievements: Pavers of the Way; Moratoriums: Daughters of Crisis and Identity Diffusions: Lost and Sometimes Found.
According to Josselson, the foreclosure women made commitments to identity without undergoing a period of crisis. They continued the values and beliefs of their childhoods without questioning or testing them. Identity Achievement women had separated themselves from their childhood and formed separate, distinct identities. These women experience a sense of guilt for betraying their parents, yet they learned to live with it, and moved on.
The Moratorium phase is one of testing and searching for new identities. As college students, these women were “aware of choice and often paralyzed by their awareness”

(Josselson, 1987). Identity Diffusion, a group that was further subdivided into four different

patterns, is a stage of no crisis and no commitment. These women are adrift and lost, but for

different reasons. In order to develop a better understanding of students’ needs and wants it is crucial that scientific instruments and methods be used to provide a wide perspective of individual students. An interview schedule, as used by both Marcia and Josselson can similarly be used today to collect meaningful students’ data which will later be evaluated and synthesized.
The following interview schedule was prepared and administered to four Caribbean college students, two males and two females, ages eighteen to twenty-one years old. It seeks data on students’ religious choice, career choice, attitude towards sex and marriage as well as their level of commitment to family. Prior to conducting the interview, a copy of the following letter was sent to each prospective participant.

Letter to Participant

Dear ___________________,

I am currently studying the topic of Psychosocial Development in College Students, from different perspectives. It is my intention to use two of these perspectives to differentiate the identity statuses of some adolescents and young adults, through an interview. There are four identity statuses from which they will be selected, according to James Marcia’s (1966) and Josselson’s (1971) theories. My objective is to further develop an appreciation of the complex, dynamic, and personal aspects of human development.
I am requesting your permission to be a part of that brief study. The interview will include questions about career choice, family relationship, religious choice, attitude towards sex before marriage, ideal intimate partner and other general experiences. The interview will be conducted in partial fulfillment of a course work. I can assure you that individual information will remain anonymous while the responses will only be used for assigning each individual to the proper identity level.

The interview will take approximately 25 - 30 minutes to complete. Your fullest co-operation will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Marlene Grant

INTERVIEW SCHEDULE FOR PARTICIPANTS STUDENT NUMBER ___________ (Students are numbered 01 -04)
SEX: Female Male
AGE: 18 – 21; 22 – 25; 25 – 29 RACE/ETHNIC GROUP _____________________
1. What is your career choice?
2. Did you at any time since leaving high school entertain hopes of making other vocational choices?
3. Were you given the opportunity to explore any of these other options?
4. If the answer to question 3 is YES, what are the course/s you actually started pursuing and for how long did you pursue it/them?
5. Why did you change your courses/programme of study?
6. Who made your final vocation choice? Self Parents Other
7. If answer to question 6 is someone other than self, to what extent did you resent their input? No resentment Little resentment Much resentment 8. Do you think you made the right decision? Certain Uncertain 9. Is there a possibility that you may change your present career choice? Why? Why not?
10. Do you share a common career choice with any family member? If YES, Who? FAMILY
11. On a scale of 1 – 3, with 3 being very good, how would you rate your relationship with your family?
12. Do you think the parenting styles and strategies of your parents influence your behavior as an adolescent? How?
13. Do you consider any parent to be overprotective? If yes, state which?
14. What do you think about your parents’ parenting strategies?
15. Do you have a special bonding with any parent? If so, who?

MARRIAGE/PARTNERS 16. What attracts you to the opposite sex? 17. What qualities do you look for in an ideal partner?
18. Do you believe in marriage?
19. What do you think about getting involved in an intimate relationship?
20. What do you expect from this type of relationship? Select response/responses.
____ Marriage _____ Children _____ Pleasure ______ All the above
21. What is your view of sex before marriage?
22. Do you believe an individual should be free to explore any sexual orientation he may have, bisexual, lesbian, gay or otherwise? Why?

23. Do your parents approve/ disapprove of your view/ views expressed in answer to Questions 21 and 22?
23. How do you feel about going against their views on any matter, religious, political, sexual or otherwise?
24. Are you a religious person?
25. Are your parents religious?
26. Is your religious affiliation a reflection of your parents’ beliefs/convictions?
27. Do you ever question your parents’ religious beliefs or try to find out the basis for such beliefs? Why or, Why not?
28. Do you feel comfortable and at ease with you spiritual life?
29. What kind of impact, if any, does your sexual identity have on your religious or spiritual life? (Describe the impact).

SOCIAL PRACTICES 30. What do you think about the use of drugs by young college/university students? 31. Do you drink alcoholic beverages? If yes, how do you rate your drinking habit? very moderate moderate heavy 32. What campus and/or community activities are you involved in besides your special area of study?

33. Would you like to describe any significant challenges or crises you have faced throughout your tenure at this institution?

Question B
State any identified differences between the responses of the male students and the female students. Analyze the differences (if any) in the responses, based on posits of the two theorists, and any other authors. Some common themes arose when analyzing the students’ responses that are reflective of both Marcia’s and Josselson’s theories of identity development; however the brief analysis also revealed differences between men and women in almost all areas. Not only were there differences in some responses but there were also differences in their attitudes to some of the questions as they were posed.
The two women were aglow as they spoke about their career choices. Neither of the women had made other vocational choices prior to their current field of study and both were satisfied with the choices made. They were not afraid to speak freely about their view of relationship with family and the need to have an intimate partner, neither were they reluctant to state what they expected of the relationship. They tended to be very concerned with the quality and care that they were willing to take to any relationship and their desire to have these reciprocated. It became quite obvious that they were both committed to their families, their intimate partners and their field of study. In fact, Student 04, (students are assigned numbers) a female, in response to questions sixteen and seventeen (16 and 17), was quite vocal about what the role of the male partner in a relationship should be. She nearly took us off on a whole new tangent. As she spoke she seemed to get more emotional and very passionate about the subject. I had to tell her that out of respect for her and the length of time I had requested of her for the interview I did not want to go overtime, so I had to move to the next question. I had started to get the impression that this was one of her crisis areas so when asked about any significant challenges or crises that have occurred throughout her tenure at this institution it came as no surprise. This crisis she said, no longer existed and that she was a stronger person for having had such an experience in her young life.
Their willingness to speak freely about career and relationships is in keeping with what Josselson expects of women. According to Josselson, for women there is not a clear separation between relating and work, since both are dependent on interpersonal relationships. Women do not leave the relational part of themselves behind when they go to work. Instead the identities of the women were a complex blend of “anchors and webs” that were continually modified, though the central core remained (Josselson, 1987). Josselson continues to say, “Women derive their sense of competence (and, therefore, identity) from within an interpersonal web” (Josselson, 1996, cited in Collins, 2003).
The importance of relational connections differed for one of the male students (Student 01), who was not committed to family ideals, religion, relationships or career. He gave a little laugh when asked about his parents’ parenting styles and said, “They did what they had to do, it is now my time to do what I have to do”. I tried to probe by asking what it was that he had to do and he simply said, “Live my own life”. When asked about marriage he said that ‘marriage has its place’. I again tried to probe by asking if he would get married and he answered, “I know that you would go there, well, the answer is no and don’t ask me why”. According to Gilligan, (1980, cited in Collins), for men, individual achievement rather than attachment sets the standard for identity and success. Student 01 defies Gilligan’s statement above with regards to individual achievement as he had the same nonchalant attitude, accompanied by occasional smirks, when he was asked about his career choice. He was not certain if he would continue in the present path and had previously given thought to other career choices. He is presently studying for a Bachelors of Education Degree at the Primary level. I did not think it was possible to find someone who so closely identifies with Marcia’s identity diffusion status. On the topic of marriage and relationships, the second male student (Student 02), was more open and willing to talk about his family, his ideal partner and his religion. He admitted that he had chosen his parents’ religion but informed me that the choice was not entirely because of his parents. I hastened to ask what other reasons he had and he said that he personally believed what he was taught in church and by his parents, so he thought his parents had made the right choice. He believes in marriage but also thinks sex outside of marriage was permissible as long as one was not promiscuous. This is a view that his parents are aware of but says that they are satisfied that he believes in marriage and does not ‘run around’, to use his own words. One of his greatest desires is to complete his studies and find a job to assist with needs of younger siblings. This is something his parents’ desires of him and smilingly, he said that was not a problem for him, when he was asked how he felt about their desire. His exact words were, “I have no problem with that. Why should I, they help me, so it’s my turn to help them”.
The reasons for the differences in findings seem to relate to Levinson’s summary, (Levinson, Darrow, Klein, Levinson, and McKee, 1978, cited in Collins) that women’s identity is seen as tied to the relational aspects—love, affiliation and family. This is in contrast to the male model which is typically associated with—work, agency, and career. (Levinson et al ).
Literature continues to suggest that men’s identity is egocentric and women’s identity is interdependent (Bardwick, 1980 cited in Collins); men are concerned with separation in defining the self and women are concerned with attachment to the human community (Gilligan, 1980 cited in Collins; and Pringle, 2003); individuation is more important for men and relationships are more important for women (Giele, 1982, cited in Collins).
Connection to others is the primary theme of women’s identity. Components of identity for women include family roles, career paths, and interpersonal relationships (Evans, 1985 citied in Collins). The connection and commitment to a partner becomes an integral part of the self-identity as a woman says, “I am a wife,” or “I am a lover,” or “I am a partner.” The self, then, becomes entwined with the partner’s identity by this connection. This could explain one of the reasons for the women to be so excited and open when talking about their partners and marriage.
Literature also states that women experience connection through spirituality. The importance of religion is evidenced by Josselson’s sample in which more than one-half of her interviewees place part of their identity in spirituality. The two women in this brief study said that religion was also very important to them. Only one of the men (fifty percent of sample), care about religion.

Question C.
Based on the findings from the interview, identify the psychosocial state of each of the four students sampled. Justify your classification with literature.

Four students were interviewed for this application of psychosocial theories. Two of the interviewees are full-time students at The University of the West Indies and two are full-time students at the International University of the Caribbean (Western Campuses). Data collection was through interviews. Questions and discussions revolved around their current goals and priorities and the part their parents played in that selection, religious choices, and their commitment to family and partners. Using the students’ responses, connections were made between their experiences and how it relates to psychosocial theories. In order to retain confidentiality, names were not used but each individual was assigned a number as follows:

Student Number | Gender | 01 | Male | 02 | Male | 03 | Female | 04 | Female |

Figure 1: Students’ assigned number and gender

The numbers assigned to the males are 01 and 02 and the females are assigned 03 and 04.

The following table is an illustration of the development state of each of the four students sampled. It includes brief headings relating to some of the more defining questions included in the interview.

Key ✓ Represents yes or agreement with option | | ✕ Represents No or does not agree with option | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | Figure 2: A brief illustration of students’ responses in comparison to each other and highlighting the assigned statuses. | |

Student 01 was categorized in the Identity Diffusion status as according to Marcia’s (1966) theory, those persons have experienced neither crisis nor commitment; they have not actively engaged in exploration, nor are they concerned about that. These individuals might be characterized as “taking life one day at a time.” Student 01 changed several vocation choices over a two year period but this could not be considered actively exploring his options as he confessed that he changed simply because he did not think those choices were for him. Also the possibility of another change seems to exist for him since he mentioned that he has not yet ‘dabbled’ in politics. He is not bothered by his negative attitude towards career or relationships. Some persons suggest that the status of diffusion is rare among college students, because being a student puts one in the unavoidable position of exploring at least a few options, since in any program, one is exposed to several different fields and ideas, but student 01 appears to be simply moving through course, not consciously exploring.
Student 02 and 03 are identified in the foreclosure category. Josselson (1987) described this state as the state where the individuals make commitments to identity without undergoing a period of crisis. They continued the values and beliefs of their childhoods without questioning or testing them. They seemed to somehow have gone through college “with blinders on”, and avoided exploration and peer influence. The families of foreclosure men and women are central in their lives, and provided them with the sense of safety and security they sought. Foreclosures lived their lives based on tradition and conviction. Both of these students are committed to their families, parents’ religion and a particular career path. They are carrying on family traditions and leading the lives that are expected of them.
Marcia’s and Josselson’s statuses of identity achievement are manifested in Student 04, especially when it comes to career objectives, making commitment after having experienced a major crisis and as it relates to choosing her own religion. Student 04, in keeping with Josselson’s theory has progressed through the crisis period where individuals question who they are and have made a commitment about who they will be. This student was very confident at the interview and gave the impression that this was a natural part of her identity.
Women who identify with Identity Achievement break away from their childhood and form their own distinct identities (Evans et al., 1998 cited in Kellogg). It must however be borne in mind that theories can rarely be applied in whole trunks (Weith, 1985, cited in Komives), so these students will not necessarily have all the characteristics outlined by the theorists.
Question D
Based on your findings, identify any differences between your findings and the theories that could be a result of a difference in culture.
During identity construction in youth, historical and cultural norms define appropriate work, marital, and social roles for men and women (Giele, 1993, cited in Collins). After an analysis of Josselson’s findings regarding women in college and the women in this brief study, it can be concluded that there is no significant differences in the findings based on culture, possibly because much of the lifestyles of North America have been adopted by the Caribbean. According to Giele (1993), career importance for women has increased in 1979 compared to a 1969 sample. It is stated that this balance shifted in the 1991 cohort, with that group committed to a dual-role lifestyle, raising the importance of both career and family. Giele’s (1993) research also found that “the most common, and apparently, the most rewarding role pattern for educated women in the late twentieth century is a multiple-role pattern, which combines traditional wife-mother duties and paid employment”. The women in Josselson’s study came of age at the dawn of the modern women’s movement. (Josselson, 1996, cited in Collins). Today, women in the Caribbean are of the same ideals as those women were in North America a few decades ago, and that supposedly, was one of the reasons for students 03 and 04’s ability to speak so frankly about relationships and career goals.
Josselson’s sample of women was almost all white. They were all traditional-age students who completed college degrees. Thus, some years ago this might not have represented the experiences of many women of color, or other women who did not share this background. The sample used for this brief study is very small in comparison and should not be considered a representative of all Caribbean women but these women are still dedicated to their ideals. The size of the sample might also be the reason for not finding any student in the moratorium stage.
The findings of the theorists include, between male and female, the influence of parents in students’ decision making for religion, career and relational choices but the students in this sample claim not to be overly influenced by parents. This might be as a result of the Caribbean culture where parents will give advice but few dictate terms of actions to their children. Neither did any of the students interviewed follow their parents’ footsteps in career choices (Josselson, 1987). Not many parents are themselves professionals and had never had the experience of a higher education.
Patriarchy has been universal but it is not surprising that seventy-five percent (75%) of this sample claims to have a special attachment to mothers. Within our culture, mothers are usually more actively present than fathers so I would not attach any great importance to that bond, so as to use it to determine identity statuses. Josselson found students who adapted their parents’ standards about sexual morality but within a culture where sexual permissiveness has become the norm it is possible to find even foreclosure students deviating, as did Student 02.
The findings point to the fact that we need to place these men and women, from the theories studied and from this brief research, within the context of the time. We also need to understand both the internal and external influences on their development and recognize that the world has become a global village where even culture has been borrowed.
Josselson's (1987, 1996) and Marcia’s (1966) investigations allow student affairs professionals to hear the voices of both women and men in the context of identity development. The findings in these studies demonstrate the need for student affairs practitioners to become familiar with the ways that gender affects development. It has also become quite clear that one’s developmental process has direct influence from a person’s characteristics, background and environment. Knowledge of these theories and personal data collected from students will help to build an effective student affairs and services operation that puts the student at the centre of all efforts by supporting students in their academic endeavors and enhancing their personal, social, cultural, and cognitive development.


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Collins, D., (2001). Identity Development- Erikson’s Conceptualization of Identity. Retrieved November 19, 2009 from 194845/unrestricted/chap2.pdf
Gatten, J. N., (2004). Student psychosocial and cognitive development: theory to practice in academic libraries. Ref. Services, 32, (2) 157-163. Retrieved November 20, 2009 from;jsessionid=0212C5A76705A788CB8C52D18178819F?contentType=Article&hdAction=lnkhtml&contentId=861777
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Sanford, N. (1967). Where colleges fail: A study of the student as a person. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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