The Power to Transform Higher Education Through Excellence in Academic Advising

The foundation of NACADA EAA rests upon the Conditions of Excellence in Academic Advising, created jointly by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising (NACADA) and the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education (Gardner Institute), which establishes the aspirational standards for colleges and universities to evaluate and improve academic advising. These standards acknowledge the central role of advising in promoting student learning, success, and completion. They recognize the complex nature of higher education and compel institutions to examine academic advising through multiple lenses.

The NACADA EAA Process seeks to advance student success, persistence, retention, and degree completion through a comprehensive, standards-based assessment process to promote excellence in academic advising. These standards, or “Nine Conditions of Excellence in Academic Advising,” acknowledge the role of academic advising in promoting student learning, success, and completion within the complex context of higher education and organizational change.

Roles and Responsibilities (Institutions and NACADA)

As part of this process, institutions will strive to:

  1. Foster an enhanced institution-wide commitment to academic advising as integral to the institution’s teaching and learning mission;
  2. Build an institution-wide academic advising delivery system as determined from close examination of each of the Nine Conditions of Excellence that is responsive to and equitable for ALL students;
  3. Increase student success, retention, and persistence through evidence-based decision making, assessment, and evaluation;
  4. Support the development and implementation of a set of prioritized institutional recommendations for change;
  5. Engage in and promote a culture of continuous improvement as measured by intentional linkages between your institution’s NACADA EAA efforts and:
    • institutional reaffirmation of accreditation quality improvement projects;
    • institutional strategic planning processes;
    • other related strategic student learning and success efforts at the
  6. Work with NACADA, or on your own, to reflect on and shape the body of scholarship on academic advising and learning and success as measured by publications, presentations, and other germane scholarly output; and
  7. Provide feedback to NACADA to enable continuous improvement of the Excellence in Academic Advising self-study process.

CONDITIONS OF EXCELLENCE

Commitment

Institutions recognize that academic advising is integral to the students’ educational experience and the institution’s teaching and learning mission. This commitment begins with an institutional academic advising mission statement that is informed by the values and beliefs of the institution and dedicated to an inclusive and equitable student-learning centered approach. Both widely understood and articulated in institutional documents, this statement informs practice as well as the administration, organization, delivery, and assessment of academic advising.

Learning

Excellent advising programs have curricula, pedagogies, and student learning outcomes for academic advising explicitly articulated throughout a student’s educational experience. These outcomes are aligned with the institution’s academic mission, and goals and are systematically assessed and refined based upon documented assessment results. Institutions ensure that academic advisors are knowledgeable about the institution’s expected learning outcomes, curriculum, pedagogy, and the student learning process. This commitment to learning is widely understood and articulated in institutional documents, informs practice as well as the administration, organization, delivery, and assessment of academic advising. Most importantly, institutions ensure equity in the academic advising experience for all students.

Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity

Excellent academic advising demonstrates a commitment to the values and culture of inclusivity and social justice beyond merely equality of opportunity. Excellence calls for individual and institutional conversations that promote understanding, respect, and honor diverse perspectives, ideas, and identities. Academic advising policies and practices reflect a commitment to equity, inclusion, and diversity and, in turn, a commitment to universal design principles for learning.

Advisor Selection and Development

Institutions employ effective and equitable selection, professional development, and appropriate recognition and reward practices for all advisors and advising administrators. Institutions and/or units establish clear expectations and requirements for all advisors as well as systems for formative and summative feedback to advisors to. provide consistency for students and support program sustainability. Ongoing professional development programs reflect the institutional commitment to learning. Professional development also ensures that all academic advisors are current in advising skills and knowledge and that advisors, through their advising practice, reflect the core values and competencies for excellent academic advising.

Improvement and the Scholarship of Advising

Institutions are committed to systematic assessment and evaluation to sustain continuous improvement and equitable achievement of learning outcomes. Institutions recognize the complexity of the educational process and embrace its theoretical underpinnings. As a result, institutions develop evidence-based plans for continuous assessment of both advisors and advising programs. Members of the academic advising community are expected to be both critical consumers of, and contributors to, the scholarly literature, including the effects that advising can have on students and the role of advising in higher education.

Collaboration and Communication

Effective academic advising requires coordination and inclusive collaborative partnerships among stakeholders across campus. These partnerships foster ongoing communication, promote artifact and resource sharing, and support creative solutions for the success of all students. A collaboratively developed strategic communication plan involves frequent and intentional exchanges of information and ideas, is routinely reviewed and updated, and advances a shared aspirational vision for academic advising as integral to teaching and learning.

Organization

Excellent advising programs are intentionally structured across the institution to meet the institutional academic mission, goals, and intended learning outcomes. The organization of academic advising must have leadership, appropriate resources, and a systematic approach to continuous assessment and improvement. The organizational structure supports equity in the academic advising experience as well as the roles of all academic advisors, regardless of title.

Student Purpose and Pathways

Effective academic advising provides learning spaces for all students to engage in critical thinking and to define their own purpose, goals, and curricular pathways through exploration to achieve learning outcomes. Students’ plans must be coherent, enrich their programs of study, and equitably support their educational goals, career, and life aspirations. Partners and key stakeholders collaboratively and closely examine all student transitions and develop policies and practices to overcome barriers and optimize learning and success.

Technology Enabled Advising

Excellent academic advising incorporates appropriate and accessible technology to complement, support, and enhance advising practice to facilitate learning success for all students. This requires institutions to include academic advisors in the selection, delivery, and assessment of advising technologies. Institutions must provide on-going training in the use and potential applicability of dynamic tools as a means to strengthen advising management, practice, student learning, and culture.

Excellence in Academic Advising is demonstrated by evidence of student and program success through:

  • Academic advising mission and goal statements that align advising with the institution's mission and strategic goals for teaching and learning;
  • A comprehensive, collaboratively developed academic advising delivery system that is responsive to student needs and designed for their benefit
  • Personal and professional ethics manifested throughout the academic advising process
  • Evidence-based decision making and assessment that guide improvement of initiatives, including
    the use of technology in academic advising

EAA Difference

There are scores of vendors that offer technology and other solutions for academic advising. These solutions, while often good, may do little to change the actual processes, practices, and culture associated with academic advising at a college or university—at least in any intentional way.  The Excellence in Academic Advising initiative addresses these gaps by engaging institutions in a holistic and systemic review of academic advising from a teaching and learning perspective, with support and guidance from experts in the field and experts in educational and organizational change. The evidence-based decisions and action plans that emerge from this focused and intentional review not only make this initiative different from others, but also more sustainable for institutions committed to supporting student success in college.