Using Student Development Theory to Inform Intergroup Dialogue Research, Theory, and Practice

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Research indicates that students’ developmental capacity must be accounted for if postsecondary institutions’ various diversity programs, pedagogies, and related efforts are to be successful. One such effort that has increased in prevalence in recent years, intergroup dialogue (IGD), is a pedagogy that brings together diverse groups of students to engage in sustained, facilitated dialogues on topics related to diversity and social justice. Decades of IGD research have informed the development of the critical-dialogic theoretical framework of IGD, which describes how this particular approach to dialogue engages students in communicative, cognitive, and emotional processes that promote intergroup understanding, intergroup relationships, and intergroup collaboration and action. Using the theory of selfauthorship and theories of epistemological development as analytical lenses, this article examines the extent to which the critical-dialogic theoretical framework of IGD, along with the research that informed its development, account for factors associated with students’ interpersonal, intrapersonal, and epistemological development. This analysis and conceptual integration of the IGD, self-authorship, and epistemological development literatures reveal that IGD research and theory development have focused primarily on matters of interpersonal relationships and intrapersonal identity, with less attention given to students’ epistemological assumptions of knowledge, knowing, and related meaning-making.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-206
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Diversity in Higher Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Diversity
  • Epistemological development
  • Holistic student development
  • Intergroup dialogues
  • Social justice education


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