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Voices of the Global Community


Lynn Higa and Michael Kirk-Kuwaye, Assessment of Advising Interest Group Co-Chairs

Say “assessment” to most people and they think it’s like taking cough syrup—you don’t particularly like the taste, but you know it’s good for you. As the Assessment of Advising Interest Group (AAIG) co-chairs, we’d like to change this somewhat negative view of assessment. (Those of you already on the assessment bandwagon can stop reading now.)

We do not consider ourselves experts in the assessment field nor do we have a fully developed assessment program, but we aspire to create a place to “talk story” (as we say in Hawaii) about assessment with colleagues across the country. In creating this place, specifically this Interest Group, we have talked with the experts and top-rated program administrators as well as with advisors who are doing expert work with their programs. We are convinced that all advising stakeholders should be included in any assessment conversation. Here is some of what we’ve learned on this great (and still ongoing) assessment journey:

Tapping Everyone’s Expertise 

As advisors we engage in hallway hypothesizing—“Seems like all the people who like engineering dislike these types of classes.” “Are students really being changed by this program?” Advisors raise issues of what needs to be, but perhaps currently is not, being assessed.

Advisors collect information all the time. In our daily conversations with students we ask purposeful questions and observe their behavior. We write advising notes, complete student information forms, and tabulate reports on student counts. The list is endless. We don’t advocate the collection of data for data’s sake. Instead just be aware of the wealth of information flowing through our offices each day. One assessment sage said that while formal instruments and procedures are good, they often confirm what we know by experience.

Assessment Needs You! 

“It’s not my job, let the administration or the institutional research do it.” Sound familiar? Yet advisors must be involved in the design stage of most advising assessments — where the questions are determined. Advisors have a broad view of the student’s educational experience, working on both sides of the curriculum-student development divide. We see first hand the learning and development that results from advising. We are also sensitive to the rhythms of the academic semester that can affect the quality and quantity of data collected.

If we are not involved, others will write the questions for us. We need to ensure that what is being measured is important and appropriate for our particular office or program.

How Can You Start? 

Get an overview of assessment: take a class, go to a conference, read monographs. Or better yet, meet with your colleagues at the Assessment of Advising Interest Group (AAIG) meeting at the Salt Lake City National Conference this September. Join us as we continue our discussion of assessment practices and instruments that work. We’ll have small group discussions covering assessment of advisors, students, and programs/colleges. Bring an instrument, reference/study, and practice to share (10 copies). Learn about the new AAIG website that includes assessment site links, instruments, and practices.

We’ll also see if the assessment metaphor can be changed to something more pleasant – perhaps like sipping a fine wine, sharp and clean at first, with an earthy complexity at the end.

Lynne Higaand
Michael Kirk-Kuwaye

University of Hawaii at Manoa

Cite this article using APA style as: Higa, L. & Kirk-Kuwaye, M. (2002, September). Assessment of advising: A call for wider participation. Academic Advising Today, 25(3). [insert url here]


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