Current definitions of college student success focus primarily on persistence, retention, cumulative grade point average, and ultimate graduation. While satisfying public curiosity, such simple definitions fall short of informing practicing educators as to students’ holistic growth, learning, and development needs. Nor do they provide information institutional decision makers can use for better addressing students’ critical need for a perceived sense of affiliation and belonging to the collegiate community or in developing effective self-identity as a college student and the resulting higher-level of performance over the academic lifespan.

The Dynamic Student Development Metatheodal (DSDM)’s theoretical framework was developed from identifying and operationalizing common factors of multiple psychological and educational theories and models within the areas of human development, student development, and learning. When effectively managed in college settings, the DSDM can be expected to not only improve retention, persistence, and ultimate graduation, but to bolster the student experience in ways that will lead to the acquisition of higher skills levels  of personal and professional knowledge and self-management.

The Center for Learning Outcomes Assessment’s professional staff is available to assist in engaging the DSDM at your institution.  To discuss launching the DSDM on your campus, please contact

To access a comprehensive overview of the DSDM, click below