Amy Lance, California State University, Chico
Academic advising researchers, administrators, and student service professionals alike make the case that advising is teaching. A 2004 draft of the NACADA Concept of Advising noted that "academic advising is a multidimensional and intentional process, grounded in teaching and learning, with its own purpose, content, and specified outcomes" (Preamble). The professions of advising and teaching both have a responsibility for educating students to gain expertise and substance through classroom and life experiences. Koring, Killian, Owen and Todd (2004) saw that "Advising and teaching are similar because both advisors and teachers instruct in the areas of skills and content. Advising teaches skills like decision-making and critical thinking, as well as content like curriculum and academic regulations" (¶ 2). Academic advisors and teachers strive to equip students with the tools necessary to be successful in their college endeavors.
If advising is teaching, what do advisors teach? The NACADA Core Values (2005) indicate that "Advisors introduce and assist students with the transitions to the academic world" (¶ 3). Academic advisors help students understand academic expectations and empower students with the skills necessary to meet academic and professional goals. Advisors teach students about institutional degree programs, policies and procedures, and resources to ensure a smooth and successful transition to collegiate life. Advisors serve as information agents who connect students with opportunities and student services including study abroad opportunities, internships, and career choices. Additionally, advisors teach students how to problem solve and recognize the impact of the choices they make on their personal and professional aspirations.
In addition to academic advising, many college campuses have implemented 'University Life' or 'First Year Seminar' courses designed to equip first year students with the tools necessary for a successful transition to university life. According to the results of a survey conducted by the National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition (2006), the objectives of a First Year (FY) seminar are to develop academic skills, provide an orientation to campus resources and services, and self-exploration/personal development (¶ 4). Instructors of these courses should teach study skills, critical thinking, campus resources, academic planning/advising, and time management (¶ 5). This is precisely what academic advisors teach every day in one-on-one or small group advising sessions.
There is a natural cohesiveness of FY courses and academic advising. Tinto (1999) claims academic advising is so important to the persistence of first year students that "academic advising should be an integral part of the first-year experience, not an adjunct to it. Advising should be woven into the fabric of the freshman year in ways that promote student development" (p. 9). What better way to integrate academic advising into the first-year experience than through the classroom? When we examine the course objectives and the roles and responsibilities of an advisor, we clearly say that academic advisors are a perfect match for instructors of first year courses. The purposes of FY courses and advising are to support student adjustment and transition to college life. The FY class can serve as a larger venue where academic advisors can teach students about academics, opportunities, and resources; how to develop an understanding of academic inquiry; taking responsibility for and making good choices about relationships and social networks; successfully dealing with problem solving, attitudes, and beliefs, while developing a sense of purpose; and becoming a civically engaged individual. The National Resource Center (2006) survey findings show that University Life Courses should teach students how to navigate their new university (policies, procedures, resources) and assist students with academic planning, registration process, career exploration, and making good decisions. Academic advisors are the information agents most knowledgeable and capable to connect students to institutional values, structure, resources, and student services. Arguably, academic advisors should be more widely recognized and hired as teachers for FY courses.
Some colleges and universities currently utilize academic advisors and student service professionals as teachers in first year courses. Tinto (2002) reflects on this when he discusses that academic and student affairs professionals are beginning to become the likely candidates to teach in learning communities for specific populations. This is "because the staff of student affairs is typically the only persons on campus who possess the skills and knowledge needed to teach some of the linked courses" (Tinto, 2002, ¶ 15). Currently, only 31.9% of schools that have University Life courses are being taught by academic advisors (http://www.sc.edu/fye/research/surveyfindings/surveys/survey06.html).
Academic advisors are ideal instructors for FY courses because they are often the most familiar with institutional policies and procedures and the resources available to new students. Teaching FY courses is an invaluable and rewarding opportunity for academic advisors and can expand their professional careers. Teaching FY classes builds stronger relationships across campus; teaching supports student success, the institution's mission, the interests of student persistence and retention, and intellectual growth and development. I encourage advisors to actively pursue the role of instructor for FY classes on their campuses.
Director of Undergraduate Business Advising
College of Business
California State University, Chico
Koring, H., Killian, E., Owen, J. L., & Todd, C. (July 28, 2004). Advising and Teaching: Synergistic Praxis for Student and Faculty Development.The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal. Retrieved February 27, 2009, from Pennsylvania State University Web site: http://www.psu.edu/dus/mentor/040728hk.htm
National Academic Advising Association. (2004). Draft of the NACADA concept of academic advising. Retrieved April 7, 2009, from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/Research_Related/definitions.htm
National Academic Advising Association. (2005). Statement of Core Values. Retrieved February 24, 2009, from NACADA Web site: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Core-Values-Exposition.htm
National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition. (2006). 2006 Summary of National Survey on First Year Seminars. Retrieved April 6, 2009, from Web site: http://www.sc.edu/fye/research/surveyfindings/surveys/survey06.html
Tinto, Vincent. (1999). Taking retention seriously: Rethinking the first year of college.NACADA Journal, 19 (2): 5-9.
Tinto, V. (2002, April 15). Taking Student Retention Seriously: Rethinking the First Year of College. Address presented at American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Minneapolis, Minnesota. http://suedweb.syr.edu/Faculty/Vtinto/Files/AACRAOSpeech.pdf
Cite this article using APA style as: Lance, A. (2009, June). Advising is teaching: Advisors take it to the classroom. Academic Advising Today, 32(2). Retrieved from [insert url here]