Holistic approaches to university student development have recently gained traction in higher education research and practice, inciting the need for researchers, policy-makers and educators to understand the processes through which undergraduate students develop their identities within their institutional context. This work analyzed the narratives of upper-year undergraduate students in one postsecondary institution to determine factors that contributed to their holistic identity development. Findings revealed thematic personal and institutional factors, both in classroom environments and the broader university setting, that influenced students’ cognitive, social and internal development. Participants’ discussions of influential professors elicited opportunities for how educators might work to facilitate holistic identity development within the classroom context specifically. This study signifies the prominent need for higher education institutions to take an integrative approach to undergraduate students’ identity development. Further research might determine variances in experiences and factors that contribute to holistic development, across institutional contexts and student demographics.
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Thesis advisor: MacKinnon, Allan
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