Theories of development typically explain developmental progress as a linear process with individuals moving through stages of development and becoming more independent and autonomous with each stage. While there are several theories of development, all of them suggest that there are gender differences in the way individuals develop. Perspectives on women’s development have become more prevalent with the growing awareness related to gender equity issues in education and the workplace. These theories of development suggest that women have a need to feel connected and that they tend to define themselves in terms of their relationships with others. With women over the age of 25 increasingly represented as students in institutions of higher education, the importance of examining these perspectives and understanding the instructional implications associated with them is becoming all the more important. This paper contains reviews of contemporary and emerging theories of human development as they relate to women. In addition, the author analyzed responses of two women, one a traditional student, and the other non-traditional with regard to their college experiences. There are two general instructional recommendations. The first is that educators working with adult learners should always focus on individual growth. The second is they should incorporate educational practices that support student development.



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