NACADA Student Research Abstracts of Past Winners

2022 Student Research Award - Doctoral Degree Level

Katie Marie Lackey, Director of Advising - Human Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 

Dissertation: An Examination of Academic Advisors’ Mentoring Experiences and the Impact on Job Satisfaction

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between mentoring relationships and job satisfaction in academic advisors. More specifically, the study focused on the academic advisor as the mentee in the relationship and to see if there was a correlation between that relationship and job satisfaction. Participants were academic advisors in Alabama, who were employed by two- and four-year public institutions. An online survey was sent to all participants to ask about their experience with mentoring as well as their job satisfaction. Correlation tests, t-tests and chi square were all utilized to analyze the relationship between mentoring and job satisfaction as well as the difference in between those who were mentored and those who were not mentored. A correlation was found between mentoring relationships and job satisfaction. Another finding was those who were mentored also mentor others in the field of academic advising. This study also looked at subsections of job satisfaction for academic advisors. This study contributes to the literature about job satisfaction and the relationship to participating in a mentoring relationship for academic advisors. This study also provides additional information about job satisfaction and the subsections of job satisfaction in academic advisors in Alabama.


2022 Student Research Award - Master's Degree Level

Katherine Santana Brickey, Academic Advisor - College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Utah Valley University, Orem, UT 

Research Proposal: Coaching Through Literature: Another Tool for Academic Advisors

Katherine Santana Brickey, the academic advisor for the English department at Utah Valley University (UVU), combines her interests in literary studies and academic advising into a unique research proposal investigating the ways literature has been used in professional coaching programs and can, in turn, be used in academic advisor-student relationships to foster student development and success. Like coaching, academic advising teaches students essential skills in critical thinking, decision-making, and goal setting. Katherine examined Christine A. Eastman’s work with graduate students, which focused on coaching using selected short stories. Eastman explored the effects short stories can have on students’ voice, memory, reflection, and introspection during coaching situations. Katherine plans to build on Eastman’s research to explore how integrating literature into the advising process can have a positive impact on advising-student relationships and lead to better student outcomes. She intends to implement a study at UVU with a group of advisors and students to participate in “coaching through literature”. After a one-month period, a survey will be distributed to participants to gather qualitative and quantitative data on the effectiveness of the approach.

2021 Student Research Award - Doctoral Degree Level

Sophie Spratley, Academic Advisor, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL


The purpose of this study was to describe the essence of the lived experiences surrounding leadership development opportunities for academic advisors of color at predominantly white, land-grant institutions. Using phenomenological methodology, data were collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews with five participants. The research study was considered through a critical race perspective that acknowledged the racialized experiences and structure of academic advising within the predominantly white institution. Findings reflected that the lived leadership development experiences of academic advisors of color interacted with advisors’ racialized experiences; representation of academic advisors of color in positions of advising leadership; and the language of diversity, equity, and inclusion forwarded by the institution. A lack of tangible returns on claims of diversity, equity, and inclusion extended to hiring practices within academic advising units where there was a lack of representation of academic advisors of color within leadership positions. This study also explored competencies needed for leadership within academic advising. The language surrounding leadership development for academic advisors at the institution affected types of opportunities and 10 access to leadership development opportunities for academic advisors of color. The study provided implications, recommendations, and future research recommendations for institutions of higher education to better support academic advisors of color. 

2021 Student Research Award - Doctoral Degree Level

Jim Disrude, Director of Student Success, McHenry County College, Crystal Lake, IL

Dissertation: Examining the Implementation of Appreciative Advising and its Relationship to  Community College Students’ Intent to Persist  

More than half of the students who start this yea r at a community college will not return to the same institution the following year. This persistent problem negatively impacts students, institutions, and society at greater success in retaining students place large. However, institutions that experience academic advising initiatives at the core of their retention efforts. The Appreciative Advising Model (AAM) may be uniquely suited to promoting student persistence because the AAM engages a student in long planning, showing how their current and futurterm e academic efforts can be aligned to achieve their goals. Employing the AAM, advisors use open a students ’ dreams, and then co-- ended questions to uncover construct, with the student, a set of systematic goals uniquely tailored to help the student reach the ir dreams. As part of this study, the AAM was implemented as an innovation at a community college advising center. Guided by a framework that includes theories of social constructivism, positive psychology, and appreciative inquiry, this qualitative action research study employed semistructured interviews and focus groups with students and advisors to explore their perceptions and experiences related to the AAM as a potential tool to enhance community college retention. The goal of this study was to chroni model for a community college — the AAM — cle the implementation of a new advising s tudy the perceptions and experiences related to the new model, and to assess the model persisting at their community college. This work ’ s influence on a student ’ s likelihood of will increase our understanding of the AAM in a community college setting and results may have implications for community colleges, advising centers, and retention efforts. 

2014 Student Research Award - Master's Degree Level

John Gipson, Academic Advisor and Student Program Specialist, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Research Topic: 'A Comprehensive Investigation of High-Achieving African American College Students: A Mixed Methods Research Study'

The purpose of this study is to increase the knowledge base regarding the experiences of high-achieving African American students (HAAASs). The study is currently being conducted at 11 institutions (three research, four masters-level, and four community colleges) across the United States. A portion of this research was conducted as a pilot study at one master's large predominantly White institution in the Midwestern United States to fulfill the requirements of a master’s thesis. Findings from the pilot study and preliminary results of the nationwide study suggest that advisors may wish to use different advising strategies based upon distance to one's home community and suggest utilizing holistic advising approaches (e.g. Appreciative Advising) to gain insight into the unique experiences of African American students and increase their sense of belonging on campus. Results of the nationwide study offer many suggestions for academic advising in regards to hours studying, involvement within student organizations, employment, distance to one’s home community, reasons African American students consider leaving an institution and reasons why African American students who have seriously considered leaving remain enrolled at an institution. Suggestions for future research are also explored.

Marilee Teasley, Academic Advisor, Missouri State University, Springfield, MO

Research Topic: 'When Music Goes Up In Flames: The Impact of Advising on the Perceived Burnout of Music Majors'

Academic advisors are prepared to engage with a diverse population of students each semester, each bringing their own unique personality and experiences to the advising relationship. Unfortunately, many advisors, particularly those dealing with music majors, find themselves meeting with students who display extreme cynicism and exhaustion toward their chosen major, known as burnout. In order to help advisors better understand this student population, over 300 music majors across the country were surveyed in order to investigate the relationships between perceived academic advisor support, basic psychological needs, and burnout. Perceived advisor support was found to be positively correlated with burnout, such that as advisor dissatisfaction grows, burnout also grows. Additionally, numerous predictive relationships were found between advising factors and burnout with basic psychological needs acting as mediators, suggesting that advisors should consider the psychological needs of their students within the advising relationship. Implications for academic advisors are discussed.

2013 Student Research Award - Doctoral Degree Level

Lisa Mataczynski, Director, Recruitment and Academic Programs, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Research Topic: ‘Advising and Acculturation Variables as Predictors of Satisfaction, Sense of Belonging, and Persistence among International Undergraduates’

Guided by the work of Hurtado and Carter (1997) as an alternative to Tinto’s theory of student departure (1993), the purpose of this quantitative study was to explore the relationship between institutional and cultural factors on satisfaction with academic advising, sense of belonging to campus and retention among international college students in the United States. Participants included 301 undergraduate international students, who completed an online survey that examined advising relationship, advisor-advisee activities, country of citizenship, acculturation, advising satisfaction, sense of belonging, and intent to persist. Measurement tools utilized included the Academic Advising Inventory (Winston & Sandor, 1984), Stephenson Multigroup Acculturation Scale (Stephenson, 2000), and Sense of Belonging to Campus questionnaire (Hurtado & Carter, 1997; Hurtado & Ponjuan, 2005). Findings indicated that advising relationship and acculturation were significant predictors of international students’ satisfaction with academic advising, and acculturation and advising satisfaction were important influences on sense of belonging. Additionally, advisor-advisee activities, advising satisfaction, and sense of belonging were important variables in predicting retention. The results of this study provide direction for higher education administrators and researchers in their efforts to gain a better understanding of factors that lead to the U.S. undergraduate international student success. Finding ways to help international students succeed will not only benefit the international student population, but has the potential of benefiting domestic students and U.S. society as a whole. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Helen Mulhern Halasz, PhD Student Services Coordinator, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Research Topic: ‘Major Adjustment: Students’ Transition Experiences Leaving Selective Undergraduate Degree Programs’

Pressure to pursue and stay in business, nursing, or other selective programs may complicate students’ decisions to change majors. This multi-campus, qualitative study investigated how 26 undergraduate students described resources utilized during their transition of switching academic programs. Participants also identified the most valuable resources and factors influencing their persistence decisions. Research about students in selective majors has been absent for 20 years, and previous research has not given voice to experiences of students transitioning between majors. The 4 S System (Goodman, Schlossberg, and Anderson, 2006) framed how students coped using factors of situation, self, support, and strategies. Participants at two state flagship universities included second, third, and fourth-year undergraduates. The findings provide valuable insight into students’ transition experiences. Students relied primarily on external support systems-most often parents. Support from others was the most valuable coping resource. Situation heavily influenced persistence decisions, specifically satisfaction as a student at the university. Obstacles, including the major change process and an impersonal selective major, contributed to perceived lack of institutional support. The findings indicate advising administrators should develop interventions to foster family partnerships, provide online information sources, increase personal attention during major-change advising, and streamline processes to facilitate college completion for major-changing students.

2012 Student Research Award
None Awarded for 2012

2011 Student Research Award - Doctoral Degree Level

Shannon Burton, Assistant Ombudsperson, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI Research

Research Project- Building the Bridge: A Phenomenological Examination of Academic Advising's Role in Campus Internationalization

This dissertation is a foundational study in the understanding of campus internationalization by professional academic advisors at a large research institution with an institutional plan for internationalization. If advising is an instructional process by which the learning outcomes of internationalization are mediated, this study will indicate how professional advisors help their students and the institution achieve this learning outcome, what skills need to be developed, and where integral pieces of training could be implemented.  It will indicate how professional academic advisors could potentially impact learning outcomes.  It provides higher education administrators a point of connection for how these plans are being implemented and understood by a segment of professionals on campus, as well as a perspective of advising as teaching and learning. Finally, it provides advisors with means to make campus internationalization a meaningful experience for colleagues and students.

The research question explored in this study is: How do professional advisors see their role in internationalization on a campus with a stated international agenda?  The research utilizes a phenomenology to examine professional advisors’ understanding of their role in campus internationalization as a component of the curriculum by revealing their lived experiences.  I will explore how professional advisors perceive the parameters of the curriculum of internationalization.  As advisors are engaged in the educational process, their description of what internationalization means, what actions they carry out, and how they interpret its curriculum to undergraduate students will be the center of analysis.

2010 Student Research Award - Doctoral Degree Level

Jamie Reynolds, Academic Advisor, College of Nursing, University of Cincinnati-Clermont College, Batavia, OH

Research Project -'A Case Study Analysis of Reinstated Students’ Experiences in the Learning to Establish Academic Priorities (LEAP) Reinstatement Intervention Program'

Limited qualitative research has been conducted addressing the needs and experiences of academically reinstated students. The purpose of this naturalistic case study is to identify factors influencing the decision to apply for reinstatement and to examine how participation in an academic intervention program assists academically reinstated students to succeed. Six reinstated students participating in an academic intervention program will participate in this study. A social constructivist perspective will be assumed, relying on the participants’ perspectives to cultivate meanings of their experiences. This research will offer a better understanding of the needs and experiences of reinstated students, providing evidence of resources, interventions, and programs that might be helpful for future reinstated students. The findings of this study could enhance attrition and retention of this student population.

2009 Student Research Award —Doctoral Degree Level

Julie Traxler, Assistant Dean and Director of First Year Advising, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ

Research Project -'Major Choosing Among South Asian American Women: Toward a New Theory of Advising'

With increasing student diversity, traditional theories that rely on stage-based identity models undermine the mission of advising. Advising models that are less hierarchical, more cyclical, and more contextual of students’ lives are crucial. This study constructed one such model of major choice.

Research Question
What is the process by which South Asian American women choose their college major?

  • What factors influence students’ thinking about major choice?
  • What key figures influence choice?
  • What strategies do students employ to make appropriate choice?

This study employed individual and focus group interviews and document collection, and utilized a sample of fifteen novice and ten advanced participants. Data was analyzed using grounded theory processes to yield categories and analytical coding to identify a core phenomenon of assessment of fit.

This study yielded a process model that identified elements that affected choice: social context (identity and family/community influences), suitability (individual characteristics) and access (external influences). Activities within the institution yielded information that was filtered through the elements to determine fit.

Significance of Study
This research suggested strategies and formats for advising South Asian students and implications for advising with diverse students, including new models and training for multicultural advising competencies.

2008 Student Research Award —Doctoral Degree Level

Irene Rios , Executive Director of Academic Affairs, Springfield College, Springfield, MA

Research Project -'Perceptions of Practice: An Examination of the Extent to which Faculty Advisers Perceive Delivery of their Undergraduate Advising as Developmental or Prescriptive'

The purpose of this qualitative, action research case study was to examine the extent to which selected faculty advisers, at a college that delivers undergraduate advising through a faculty-only advising model (Habley, 1983), perceived that they practice and deliver prescriptive or developmental advising, as defined by Crookston (1972).
Sources of data were interviews with faculty advisers, and observations of advising sessions with upper-division and lower-division students. The conceptual framework was drawn from Crookston’s (1972) and O’Banion’s (1972) definitions of developmental and prescriptive advising.

The findings emphasized that prescriptive and developmental advising exists, and both must be delivered in complementary ways to benefit students. Students need to know what courses are needed to graduate; and simultaneously, they need an advocate on whom they can rely for guidance and someone who cares about their academic goals.

Recommendations addressed how campus leaders can plan resources and infrastructure to effectively provide both prescriptive and developmental advising, delivered collaboratively by faculty and administration, with the goal of providing students the best possible engagement with faculty of the college.

A collaborative advising model was offered as a new organizational advising structure through which a small to mid-size institution can effectively deliver both prescriptive and developmental advising.

2007 Student Research Award —Doctoral Degree Level

Patricia Hill , Director of Academic Advising Transition, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX

Research Project -'First-Year Students' Adjustment To A University: The Role of E-Mentoring'

Students entering institutions of higher education are often apprehensive because adjusting to college culture can be difficult. First-year students, especially underrepresented populations, face many difficulties that can seriously delay or halt their collegiate careers (Justiz & Rendon, 1989; Hernandez & Lopez, 2004). Research on adjustment to college has typically emphasized three broad categories: 1) academic, 2) social, and 3) personal-emotional (Cohorn & Giuliano, 1999).

While the promise of opportunity and social mobility continues to attract students to higher education, institutions lose as much as 25% of students during the freshman year (Carey, 2004). Researchers have identified many predictors of student retention; however, there have been fewer efforts to empirically document the impact of specific intervention strategies for addressing student adjustment to the collegiate environment (Braxton, Hirschy, & McClendon, 2004).

Early contact by university support services might be expected to show a positive effect on first-year students’ adjustment issues (Woosley, 2003). However, university programs requiring extensive contact with students can place a strain on faculty and staff because of their full-time academic and administrative workloads. Electronically mediated communication via e-mail (E-mentoring) contacts may provide an avenue for establishing and maintaining the critical contact required for first-year students.

This study is focused on exploring the benefits of a university based E-mentoring program designed to assist first-year students’ psychosocial adjustments, personal developments, and academic successes in higher education. An experimental design with pretest/post-test control group was implemented with 112 students in the mentor (treatment) group and 106 students in the control group. Instruments used to measure the academic, social, and personal-emotional adjustment were Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI), College Student Expectations Questionnaire (CSXQ), College Student Experiences Questionnaire (CSEQ), and Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) respectively.

The data from the instruments was subjected to a 2 (group: mentor vs. control) X 2 (Admission Status: Regular vs. Alternative) X 2 (pretest and posttest) mixed factor analysis of variance (MANOVA) with repeated measures on the pretest and posttest. Initial scores were compared to scores collected after completing the 10 e-mentoring sessions. Specific focus comparisons were made between mentor (treatment) and control group and regular and alternative admission status across two pretest posttest data collection phases. In addition non-parametric analysis on measures of dropout was used to explore the extent to which participation in the e-mentoring component influenced rates of continuous enrollment at the university. The results of this study provide empirical data on the effectiveness of an e-mentoring program on first-year students’ academic, social, and personal-emotional adjustment at a public university. Recommendations were made regarding future research and studies.

2005 Student Research Award — Doctoral Degree Level

Kathleen Shea Smith , Coordinator of Special Programs, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL

Research Project - 'Preceptions of Academic Advising and Freshman Student Retention: An Application of Tinto's Model'

The purpose of this study was to examine student perceptions of academic advising and determine the relationship between academic advising and student retention. The first focus assessed students' views on various aspects of academic advising. Comparisons were made based on students' primary advising delivery system: faculty, professional, or peer advisor. Directed by Tinto's theory of student departure, the second focus examined the predictive quality of factors previously associated with student retention. Academic advising variables were isolated and added to the model, and their contribution to enrollment behavior examined. A final analysis correlated the academic advising and integration constructs to determine an empirical relationship.

The FSU Satisfaction Inventory was the data source for this study and two separate data sets were utilized. The first sample consisted of 3943 undergraduates attending Florida State University , and the second represented a 2064 freshman subset.

Quantitative findings revealed areas where students were most and least satisfied with academic advising. Significant differences were observed among the three advisor types. No significant differences were observed between returning and departing students in regard to academic advising or the other constructs of Tinto's model. Results revealed three significant and positive correlations between the academic advising and academic integration scales.

2005 Student Research Award — Master's Degree Level

Marla Kendrick , Academic Advisor, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, Fayetteville, AR

Research Project -'Strategies for Student Transition to College: A Proactive Approach'

The phenomenon of student attrition is an increasingly challenging problem confronting higher education. There exists virtually no consensus on root causes or intervention strategies. This paper evaluates the need for additional programs to promote retention by enhancing students' academic competence, self confidence and the importance of a nurturing institutional environment.

2004 Student Research Award -  Doctoral Degree Level

Jane Elizabeth Pizzolato , Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Research Project - Complex Partnerships: Self-Authorship and Provocative Academic Advising Practices

and integrate these abilities (e.g., effective communication, clarified values, realistic self-appraisal, career choices) into their knowing and decision-making process. Although Baxter Magolda (2001) suggested implementation of her Learning Partnerships Model (LPM) should give rise to self-authored ways of knowing in students, at present there are no empirical studies on the effect of the LPM on advising outcomes. Through investigation of 142 student narratives about advising and their selection of an academic major, this study examines how implementation of LPM practices in academic advising can promote increasingly more effective student outcomes. Specific attention will be paid to: (a) how often students' academic major decisions provoke self-authorship? (b) the ways academic advisors provoke or support self-authorship around the academic major decisions, and (c) how such advising practices were related to the LPM principles. Implications for practice will be discussed in detail. CAS Standards,emphasizes the guiding function student development theory plays in academic advising. Recently, Baxter Magolda (2001) introduced empirical evidence for self-authorship, an additional epistemological orientation to traditional college student development theories. Here self-authorship is defined as a relatively enduring way of understanding and orienting oneself toward provocative/disequilibrium situations that (a) recognizes the contextual nature of knowledge, and (b) balances this understanding with the development of one's own internally defined goals and sense of self (Pizzolato, 2003; see also: Baxter Magolda, 2001; Kegan, 1994). Given the nature of self-authorship, facilitation of self-authorship via academic advising may help students meet the individual desired outcomes outlined in the CAS Standards.