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Voices of the Global Community

04

From the President: A Call for Advising Connectors, Mavens, and Salespeople

Karen Archambault, NACADA President

Karen Archambault.jpgThe 2018–19 Board of Directors and Council ended the 2018 Annual Conference in Phoenix with a rich and valuable discussion about relationships—our relationships to each other, to the association, and to the membership. After the conference had ended, some members went to twitter to talk about what they gained from attendance: more than a few spoke of relationships. In my last “Fridays with NACADA” writing, I called on all of you to nominate and vote; one of the implicit questions in that, though, is “what if I don’t want to run for a position?” The answer to that is in how we relate to each other, and here, I’d like to specifically answer that question with a call on all of us to strengthen our relationships with advising and within the association.

In his best-selling book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2006) argued that truly transformative ideas make their way around the globe as a result of people who are uniquely adept at connecting the right people to the right information. Connectors, he said, bring people together. Mavens, on the other hand, have the right knowledge at the right time to pass along, and Salespeople are particularly skilled at convincing those who are uninformed.

One of the greatest strengths of the greatest advisors I have seen is in their ability to serve these roles. As connectors, they connect students with colleagues through relationships they form across their campuses and across the globe; they don’t just send a student away with a referral, but they make a soft handoff to a person they know will serve the student well. As mavens, they are highly knowledgeable about their content, be it academic, campus, or community; the best advisors are the experts on campus and the information they share is prized because it is accurate and comprehensive and because their opinions are well-informed and convincing. As salespeople, the best advisors convince those across their campuses that advising is core to student success and that advising well done is not only valuable but essential to the success of their campuses.

Karen & Erin.jpgAs professionals, we serve similar roles for NACADA. We find connections between those we meet, finding the right person to support or inform a colleague. We have content experts who, regardless of the specifics of the subject matter, serve as go-to people because we all feel confident that they know their stuff. And we have salespeople who share the message of the association, convincing those around them that there is value in what NACADA brings to the profession.

Without a doubt, there are those within NACADA who have served all of these roles for me—they are my teachers and my mentors and providers of knowledge, community, and drive when my own is lacking. But for newer members to the association (or to those who are considering membership) those in these roles may be harder to identify; this is even more true for those who do not immediately feel a sense of belonging within the association, whether that is for reasons of personal identity, experience, or both. In the coming months, there will be a myriad of ways to connect to colleagues—through listservs, facebook groups, and at regional and local/state conferences amongst others. I encourage you to use these opportunities to bring people together as connectors, especially those whose voices represent the diversity so needed by the organization.

The greatest strength of this association is not in its knowledge, its professional development, or its advocacy for student success, but in its membership. How well that strength is utilized depends on us all.

Karen Archambault, President, 2018-2019
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Vice President, Enrollment Management & Student Success
Rowan College at Burlington County
karchambault@rcbc.edu


 

From the Research Center: An Overview of the Four Peer-Reviewed Journals in Academic Advising

Janet Schulenberg, Pennsylvania State University
Wendy G. Troxel, Kansas State University

Wendy Troxel.jpgJanet Schulenberg.jpgNACADA’s investment in promoting the scholarship of academic advising is becoming increasingly visible. Building on the foundational work of the NACADA Research Committee, the new NACADA Center for Research at Kansas State University is now in place, and the range of initiatives to support advisors in engaging with scholarship is growing. Concurrently, the number of publication outlets directly related to the impact, context, and theoretical underpinnings of academic advising has doubled.

As the field of advising continues to strengthen, it needs its practitioners and advocates to engage vigorously with scholarship related to academic advising—not just reading it, but creating it. Academic advisors have a unique and valuable perspective on students, higher education, and the field of advising, and their voices need to be included in the scholarly publications on advising.

Publication is a critical part of the research process. It establishes primacy of ideas, allows others to attribute those ideas, helps maintain standards of quality, and disseminates knowledge (Ware & Mabe, 2015, p. 16). Journal articles are a hallmark of scholarly communication (Ware & Mabe, 2015). They are more durable than a conference presentation, and more nimble than a book.

There are over 36,000 scholarly journals in the world; many address higher education in general, and of course, all academic disciplines support multiple journals related to their lenses. For context, archaeology has over 30 journals, and higher education over 80 (Tight, 2017; Ware & Mabe, 2015). A recent content analysis of fifteen (15) years of peer-reviewed articles directly related to academic advising has revealed 698 articles spanning 140 different academic journals (Troxel, et al., 2018). The foundation of the literature, however, comes from the four journals that are devoted to academic advising. Since two are brand new, it is useful to discuss the similarities and differences among them so scholars can consider the most appropriate outlet for their work.

Academic advising’s four journals all share things in common:

  • Available to the public (as opposed to more private scholarly exchanges on listservs or through conference sessions)
  • Peer reviewed (either single-blind or double-blind)
  • Require works to be grounded in method and theory
  • Require high-quality writing

But each outlet has some nuances, and each plays a slightly different role for the field. Knowing this can help us better contextualize what we’ll find as we read, and will help us better target a journal as we write.

  • NACADA Journal. Print and online, published twice a year. Double-blind review. Flagship journal for the field in that it was the first (published since 1981). Historically it relied on social science-based designs, but no longer the case, with a growing number of articles from a humanities perspective. Website: http://nacadajournal.org

Editors Susan Campbell and Sharon Aiken-Wisniewski report that, “As an editorial team, we encourage the submission of scholarly work focused on original research (IRB approved, theoretical frameworks, clear methodology and philosophical perspectives) that generalize to multiple contexts. Our goal is to publish scholarship to advance the field of academic advising and contribute to an ever-expanding literature base that informs our understanding of the student learning experience.”

  • NACADA Review: Academic Advising Praxis and Perspectives. Online, published as articles are ready. Double-blind review. Founded in 2018, with first issue upcoming. Aims at connecting the theory and practice of academic advising and related, relevant fields (such as teaching and learning, student development, pedagogy, developmental psychology) in a mutually reinforcing way. Website: https://newprairiepress.org/nacadareview/

Ruth Darling and Oscar van den Wijngaard, editors of the NACADA Review, encourage authors and readers to explore and share ways in which theory and scholarly work in the field of advising, and many adjacent fields, help shape the practice of advising—in our daily work, in policy, in assessment. “Conceptualize what you do, and share your insights with your fellow advisors and administrators.”

  • The Mentor: Innovative Scholarship on Academic Advising. Online, articles published as they are available, collated into annual editions. Double-blind review. Established in 1999, rebranded in 2018. Aims to publish scholarship that challenges and disrupts the status quo from any theoretical or disciplinary perspective. The least “traditional” of the journals. Website: https://journals.psu.edu/mentor

Editor Junhow Wei encourages authors to take intellectual risks when submitting to The Mentor. “Don’t be afraid to be imaginative. We will consider pieces that may seem experimental or strange. We are willing to work with authors to help them develop a high quality piece.”

  • Journal of Academic Advising. Open source and online with an annual publication, established in 2017 at Indiana University Bloomington. The JAA uses a single-blind review process and collaborates with their advisory board extensively. They especially value multidisciplinary approaches in advising and encourage collaboration in research. Website: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/jaa

Editors Mathew Bumbalough and Adrienne Felicity Sewell hope that advisors become reflexive in their advising and conceptualize what it means to be an advisor in the 21st century, using all the tools at their disposal to dive deep into humanistic inquiry, partnerships with advising faculty and staff, and interdisciplinary theories.

Publishing an article takes concerted and repeated effort. It requires a willingness to put yourself out there for potential rejection. In all fields, including ours, the vast majority of manuscripts require revision before publication (Showell, n.d.). Peer review can feel intimidating, but it’s a process that is there to help each author contribute high quality work to the field. “The revision process can represent a golden opportunity to enhance your work based upon input from the reviewers” (Showell. n.d., para. 3). View them as “critical friends” who want your work to be read by others and to enter the conversation of the field within the body of literature. You’ll do the same for another budding author someday!

Perhaps unlike other fields, the editors from all four advising journals expressed an openness to working with authors as they develop manuscripts. This is especially helpful for advisors who aren’t required to “publish or perish” and whose graduate programs did not actively prepare them to engage in this type of scholarship.

Most colleges and universities have writing centers and other professional development activities that are open to staff and faculty, as well as students. NACADA’s new Virtual Writing Groups, launched in this past year, offer a structure for critical friends to support each other at the idea generation, idea development, and drafting and revising stages. And the NACADA Research Committee sponsors the “Common Reading” at every annual conference, to encourage discussion and debate about important issues related to academic advising. Here are some suggestions for preparing to enter the conversation about the complexities and context of academic advising any peer-reviewed venue:

  • Read carefully the “author guidelines” and follow them completely.
  • Look deeply into the articles published over the last couple years (or the ones published in the new journals) for format, voice, and style to be able to situate your work within the venue. But don’t be afraid to engage the authors with innovative ideas!
  • Once you submit your manuscript, be prepared for the revision process; the comments and feedback are meant to help you make your work even more clear and effective.
  • Giving a presentation on your area of interest? Record it! Then type it up—that’s your first draft of a manuscript.
  • Get into a writing group, either on your campus or in one facilitated by NACADA and the new program.

Advisors can improve their writing skills through intentional professional development both individually and collaboratively. It first requires commitment to incorporating this effort into an already busy life. If this isn’t the season, don’t fret! To demonstrate commitment to the profession, however, we challenge all advising personnel to take the time to read, absorb, and even critique the scholarly, relevant work of our colleagues through these venues. Every article has implications for our important work in academic advising.

Janet Schulenberg
Academic Advisor
Pennsylvania State University
jks142@psu.edu

Wendy G. Troxel
Director
NACADA Center for Research
Kansas State University
wgtroxel@ksu.edu

References

Havergal, C. (2017). Too many higher education journals – here are the best ones. The World University Rankings. Retrieved from: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/too-many-higher-education-journals-here-are-best-ones

Showell, Chris, n.d. The final hurdle: Persuasive responses to peer review. American Journal Experts. Retrieved from: https://www.aje.com/en/arc/final-hurdle-persuasive-responses-peer-review/

Tight, M. (2017). Higher education journals: Their characteristics and contribution. Higher Education Research & Development, 37(3), pp. 607-619.

Troxel, W. G., Grey, D., Rubin, L., McIntosh, E., Hoagland, I., Campbell, S. (2018). A content analysis of 15 years of academic advising research. Paper presented at the 2018 NACADA International Conference, Dublin, Ireland.

Ware, M. and Mabe, M. (2015). The STM Report: An overview of scientific and scholarly journal publishing. Copyright, Fair Use, Scholarly Communication, etc.. 9.  Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/scholcom/9

 


Compassions Fatigue and Self-Care for Academic Advisors

Mehvash Ali, American University of Sharjah
Shantalea Johns, Wayne State University

Shantalea Johns.jpgMehvash Ali.jpgStudents depend on academic advisors for compassionate care and empathy during critical points in their academic and personal lives. Students may visit advisors to check their progress towards a degree or look for quality advising support when faced with unmanaged stress, untreated mental health conditions, imposter syndrome, or advice on juggling school schedules with other family or work-related responsibilities (Habley, 1994). Regardless of the reason for the visit, students rightly expect empathy, genuine care, and compassion from their academic advisors. As with all forms of intervention, advising during a crisis situation seeks to promote positive growth and minimize the chances of a prolonged disruption in a student’s college education. However, over time, academic advisors may begin to experience emotional, physical, and spiritual exhaustion from constantly witnessing and absorbing the difficulties of students. These symptoms can cause compassion fatigue.

Figley (1995) explains that compassion fatigue develops as a self-protective measure that reduces our capacity or interest in bearing the suffering of others. Identifying compassion fatigue and developing self-care strategies within advising training and development can help advisors pay attention to their emotional state and allow time for reflection and healing. Stamm (2012) developed a measure of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction that is available for free to the public through www.proqol.org. This 30 item assessment can be useful for advisors to measure the positive and negative aspects of their professional lives and to identify any emerging symptoms of compassion fatigue.

Some symptoms of compassion fatigue include being in a state of tension, decreased satisfaction, high anxiety, pervasive negative attitudes, and isolation or withdrawal (Showalter, 2010). Figley (2002), associated compassion fatigue with being overwhelmed, irritable, and impatient. Compassion fatigue has also been associated with physical symptoms such as sleep disturbances, appetite changes, and hypervigilance (Figley, 2002). Portnoy (2011) reported that long-term results of compassion fatigue can cause low productivity, absenteeism, and apathy.

Given the level of stress and fatigue faced by academic advisors, it is essential to consider some self-care strategies that can mitigate their effects. The relational component of the NACADA Academic Advising Core Competencies Model (as explained by Farr & Cunningham, 2017) stresses the role of self-assessment and development as part of effective advising practices. Therefore, it is crucial for advisors to periodically reflect on their personal wellbeing as it will directly impact the quality of care they provide to their students. Impairment in an advisor’s health and functioning can diminish their efficacy as an academic advisor. According to Harr, Brice, Riley, and Moore (2014), performance at work and personal relationships can be affected if compassion fatigue is not checked. Proper professional self-care can be seen as an essential responsibility that advisors have towards their students.

The field of psychology has significant research in the area of self-care practices that can help mental health professionals prevent compassion fatigue. Academic advisors can effectively utilize this body of literature and the strategies typically employed by a mental health professional. Richards, Campenni, and Muse-Burke (2010) noted that the frequency of engagement in self-care activities and the value assigned to self-care was associated with overall well-being. Self-care can be as uncomplicated as eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and seeking peer support. It can also involve creative endeavors that facilitate self-expression such as journaling, gardening, cooking, painting, etc. Bradley, Whisenhunt, Adamson, and Kress (2013) discussed some creative techniques to promote self-care for counselors. Religious or spiritual activities can all be part of an advisor’s self-care routine. A variety of strategies to nurture self-care have been noted by Weiss (2004) in her book Therapist’s Guide to Self-Care. Research in this area has led to the identification of two critical components of self-care that have the most impact in preventing compassion fatigue: mindfulness and self-compassion.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a state of conscious awareness of self (emotions, thoughts, and behaviors), the environment, and how the two interact. In their book Mindfulness for Therapists, Zarbock, Lynch, Ammann, and Ringer (2014) identified the five elements of mindfulness as

  1. concentrating (being fully present and aware of what one is doing rather than operating on auto-pilot);
  2. observing (noticing inner experience of thoughts and feelings as well as what one is smelling, seeing, etc.);
  3. describing (naming in simple words and phrases what is being observed);
  4. non-reacting (inhibiting impulse to automatically react to internal and external stimuli and choosing to simply follow); and
  5. non-judging (resisting urges to ascribe value labels to experiences).

Their book suggests several activities for therapists that can be used to increase mindfulness. These activities can be beneficial for academic advisors as well.

Richards et al. (2010) found that mindfulness, as a function of one’s cognitions, emotions, behaviors, and the environment, is a significant mediator between self-care and well-being. By keenly observing how your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors interact with the environment, you can begin to gain an understanding of the ebb and flow of your experiences without under- or over-identifying with anyone’s experience in particular. Additionally, Christopher et al. (2011) found that providing mindfulness training to counselors and psychotherapists resulted in long-lasting improvements in physical, emotional, cognitive, and interpersonal well-being. They also reported that therapists who went through this training more frequently incorporated mindfulness into their case conceptualizations and therapeutic interventions with clients. Christopher and Maris (2010) found that student counselors undergoing mindfulness training were better able to handle silences in therapy, have lower internal stress, and were better able to tolerate difficult emotions from their clients.

Self-Compassion

Expanding on the concept of mindfulness, Neff (2011) stated that mindfulness along with feelings of shared humanity and kindness towards oneself lead to self-compassion. She defined self-compassion as being gentle and sympathetic towards one-self as opposed to being harsh and critical. She stressed the value of accepting (neither ignoring nor ruminating) one’s own imperfections with kindness as part of a shared human condition. Research summarized by Neff (2011) suggested that “self-compassion provides greater emotional resilience and stability than self-esteem” since self-esteem involves a critical evaluation of one-self while self-compassion provides individuals with a “foundation of positive self-regard” (p. 9). Newsome, Waldo, and Gruszka (2012) stated that by “changing the way people relate to their experiences and increasing their self-compassion, they can change the way they perceive their circumstances, thereby lessening the impact of those circumstances on their wellbeing and reducing stress” (p. 299). Patsiopoulos and Buchanan (2011) found that counselors who practice self-compassion not only report improved well-being and a deepened connection to humanity, but professionally they report improvements in efficacy, healthier boundaries, realistic expectations of self, and better self-correction if needed.

With the precipitating events of college life and the consequences of prolonged exposure to high levels of stress experienced by students, it is not surprising that advisors themselves can experience compassion fatigue. Given the risks associated with compassion fatigue and the impact it can have on personal and professional effectiveness, self-care can be seen as a professional responsibility of advisors. Conscious awareness of one’s own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and the ways in which those interact with the environment can lead to long-lasting positive effects on well-being. Similarly, cultivating kindness towards oneself leads to resilience and healthier boundaries. By creating proactive programming that contains components of mindfulness and self-compassion into advising training and development activities, advisors can rejuvenate and broaden their understanding of the need for self-care.  

Mehvash Ali
Director, Academic Support Center
American University of Sharjah
mehvash@aus.edu

Shantalea Johns
Academic Services Officer III 
Adjunct Professor
Wayne State University
shantalea@wayne.edu

References

Bradley, N., Whisenhunt, J., Adamson, N., & Kress, V. E. (2013). Creative approaches for promoting counselor self-care. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health, 8(4), 456–469.

Christopher, J. C., Chrisman, J. A., Trotter-Mathison, M. J., Schure, M. B., Dahlen, P., & Christopher, S. B. (2011). Perceptions of the long-term influence of mindfulness training on counselors and psychotherapists: A qualitative inquiry. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 51(3), 318–349.

Christopher, J. C., & Maris, J. A. (2010). Integrating mindfulness as self-care into counselling and psychotherapy training. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 10(2), 114–125.

Farr, T., & Cunningham, L. (Eds.). (2017). Academic advising core competencies guide. Manhattan, KS: NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.

Figley, C. R. (1995). Compassion fatigue as secondary traumatic stress disorder: An overview. In C. R. Figley (Ed.), Compassion fatigue: Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the traumatized (pp. 1–20). New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge

Figley, C. (Ed.). (2002). Treating compassion fatigue. New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.

Habley, W. R. (1994). Key concepts in academic advising. In Summer Institute on Academic Advising Session Guide (p. 10).  Manhattan, KS: NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising.

Harr, C. R., Brice, T. S, Riley, K., & Moore, B. (2014). Impact of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction on social work students. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 5(2), 233–251

Neff, K. (2011). Self-compassion, self-esteem, and well-being. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5(1), 1-12.

Newsome, S., Waldo, M., & Gruszka, C. (2012). Mindfulness group work: Preventing stress and increasing self-compassion among helping professionals in training. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 37(4), 297–311.

Patsiopoulos, A. T., & Buchanan, M. J. (2011). The practice of self-compassion in counseling: A narrative inquiry. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 42(4), 301–307.

Portnoy, D. (2011). Burnout and compassion fatigue: Watch for the signs. Health Progress, 92(4), 47.

Richards, K. C., Campenni, C. E., & Muse-Burke, J. L. (2010). Self-care and well-being in mental health professionals: The mediating effects of self-awareness and mindfulness. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 32(3), 247–264

Showalter, S. E. (2010). Compassion fatigue: What is it? Why does it matter? Recognizing the symptoms, acknowledging the impact, developing the tools to prevent compassion fatigue, and strengthen the professional already suffering from the effects. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 27(4), 239–242. doi:10.1177/1049909109354096

Stamm, B. H. (2012). Professional quality of life: Compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue version 5. Retrieved from www.proqol.org.

Weiss, L. (2004). Therapist’s guide to self-care. New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge.

Zarbock, G., Lynch, S., Ammann, A., & Ringer, S. (2014). Mindfulness for therapists: Understanding mindfulness for professional effectiveness and personal well-being. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.  



Proactive Approaches for Academic Advisors Supporting Students with Autism

Matthew Nathaniel Bumbalough, PDR Advising Community Chair
Shantalea Johns, PDR Advising Community Member
Amy Sosanko, PDR Advising Community Member

Matthew Bumbalough.jpgAutism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that can cause difficulties in thinking, feeling, language, and the ability to relate to others (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The effects of autism and the type of symptoms are different in each person (Centers for Disease Control, 2014). A diagnosis of ASD includes several conditions that were once diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, a pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

Shantalea Johns.jpgSince the mid-1990s, there has been a rise in the prevalence of students diagnosed with ASD. The current prevalence rate is 1 in 59 with an estimate of 49,000 students with autism who have graduated from high school and are now in college (Buescher, Cidav, Knapp, & Mandell, 2014; Centers for Disease Control, 2014). While the rise in appropriate diagnostics is a promising trend in recognition of ASD, research has shown that students with autism have lower graduation rates and lower rates of post-graduation employment as compared to students without disclosed disabilities (Barnhill, 2016; Gobbo & Shmulsky, 2014; Newman et al., 2011; Vanbergeijk, Klin, & Volkmar, 2008). According to Roux et al. (2015), 20% of college students with autism have not graduated or were not on track to graduate from college five years after high school. The lower rate of college completion for students with ASD indicates a need for earlier transition planning and support services geared towards their college and career success.

Amy Sosanko.jpgInterventions that offer continued support with social and educational skills may prove critical to improving success in college for students with autism. Equally, the informational component of the NACADA Academic Advising Core Competencies stresses that academic advisors remain knowledgeable of the needs of emerging student populations (NACADA, 2017). As such, academic advisors can support college students with autism by becoming knowledgeable of evidence-based interventions that encourage persistence, retention, and graduation among this population. As the academic community for probation, dismissal, and reinstatement issues at NACADA, we outline several promising proactive interventions below and suggest how advisors and campuses may support students with ASD if they encounter academic hardships.

Intervention 1: Developing Social Skills

A recent study by Elias and White (2018) explored the main concerns of students diagnosed with ASD and found that developing social skills and living independently were the main apprehensions for a student in post-secondary education. While certainly not the only concern of students with ASD, advisors can take several steps to help mitigate these concerns through intentional and specific outreach. Ashbaugh, Koegel, and Koegel (2017) suggest several ways to engage students with ASD, finding that creating a menu of social activities geared specifically to the student and clinical intervention for training in social skills lead the students to participate more in those activities and improved the student’s communication with others. Most universities have websites dedicated to the activities on campus, and as a way of being intentional with students with ASD, part of the advising session can be used to explore the interests of the student and create a list of three or so activities taking place on campus. An advisor can give contact information of a specific administrator in the disabilities office or counseling service office to refer the student to as well. By being more intentional in outreach and having specific social organizations in line with the student's interests and desires, the advisor can ensure that the student is able to alleviate fears of finding a peer group.

Intervention 2: Moving away from Deficit Language

Another intervention advisors can make in their interactions with students with ASD is to strive to move away from the current deficit model of an ASD diagnosis. Cox et al. (2017) found that students with ASD themselves many times use language that is self-deprecating about their diagnosis, drawing from current societal norms that differentiate the students as abnormal (p. 81). There is an attempt by many of these students to pass as normal to fit in with peer groups. However, organizations are striving to challenge this model and promote an identity of ASD not as a disorder, but rather a condition (p. 82). While most of the literature and models surrounding autism are using a deficit model, advisors can be intentional with student who self-disclose their diagnosis in ensuring they move way from language that sees autism as an abnormality, and instead embraces it as part of their identity. Advisors can also encourage students to advocate for institutional intervention which will promote greater inclusion and student success both inside and outside of the classroom.

Intervention 3: Learning-Centered Theory

Because goal setting might have particular value to students diagnosed with ASD, advisors could adopt a Learning-Centered theory approach to their sessions, one that shifts the focus of instruction to the student and seeks to mitigate passive involvement. On a small scale, advisors can help students to relate to the tasks at hand in individual appointments. Open-ended questions such as “What three tasks should we accomplish in the next thirty minutes?” can help to direct the student’s expectations and give the student a sense of accomplishment. Task and time-oriented questions can also reinforce new goals for future meetings. In a recent study conducted by the University of Michigan, 52 students diagnosed with ASD described the importance of goal setting to achieve academic success. One participant stated, “I liked setting goals even if I didn’t think of it all of the time. I would at least go out of here thinking this is what I need to do this week” (Hillier et al., 2018).

An advisor might additionally use the Learning-Centered advising model to support an individual with ASD who is struggling academically. By helping a student define the connections in current class content and the course objectives, or between goals in general education requirements and future job responsibilities, the advisor hopes to inspire the student to find a clear, linear direction in their efforts. According to a recent study on academic approaches, as a diverse and capable student population, students with experience with ASD may excel in building relationships with advisors through the Learning-Centered theory, as it encourages both an individually-tailored approach as well as one marked by high expectations (Hughey & Pettay, 2013).

Intervention 4: Peer Support Group

Gaining new skills is an inherent demand of being a college student. For instance, adapting to changes in routine, roommates, a sporadic class schedule, greater independence, and self-advocacy are examples of social activities that are part of college life for an incoming student (Van Hees, Moyson, & Roeyers, 2015). College students with ASD may experience loneliness or frustration as they try to adjust to their new role, responsibilities, or routine on campus. To address this need, advisors can help students with ASD by creating a peer-led support group for them. Hillier et al. (2018) found that by designing a peer support group for students with ASD, participants in the group showed higher self-esteem, reduced loneliness, and lower anxiety by the end of the program. Peer-led support groups allow students with ASD a chance to voice their opinions and discuss problem-solving strategies. Peer-led groups can also guide further intervention efforts to improve retention and success for students with ASD. 

Intervention 5: Thinking Communicatively about ASD

Despite our best proactive efforts, advisors may still find that their students with ASD struggle academically. A final way to intervene is to ensure that the communication the student is receiving is the best for them. At the UI REACH Program developed by the University of Iowa, training for peer tutors who work with students with ASD includes “active listening techniques, serving as a scribe, [and] organizational strategies” (Hendrickson, Carson, Wood-Groves, Mendenhall, & Scheidecker, 2013). In addition to strategic tutoring support, UI REACH advisors “facilitate systematic student-family communication, and support students and families as they adjust to the increased independence of their son or daughter”; after all, students with ASD are much like any other undergraduate student, often academically affected by loneness and homesickness (Hendrickson, Carson, Mendenhall, & Scheidecker, 2013). Students with ASD may be more likely to use on-campus resources and services to support their needs, since access to community health service providers can be hindered by transportation concerns or lack of self-advocacy skills (Kaffenberger & O’Rorke-Trigiani, 2013, p. 177). Direct referrals and communication from advisors is crucial, and an increase in meetings with advisors may provide the support needed to help students meet the academic challenges of their institutions.

Conclusion

Retention and graduation are within reach for students with ASD. Advisors can support the concerns of their students with both proactive and reactive methods, and continue to learn new methods to help these often innovative and bright learners. As Kaffenberger and O’Rorke-Trigiani suggest (2013, p. 324), given the number of students who are now requiring mental health services, advisors must “identify resources and build alliances in their community” to ensure that receiving a degree is an attainable goal for students with ASD.

Matthew Nathaniel Bumbalough
Indiana University
Academic Advisor, University Division
mnbumbal@indiana.edu

Shantalea Johns
Wayne State University School of Social Work
Academic Services Officer III 
shantalea@wayne.edu

Amy Sosanko
Academic Advisor
Community College of Allegheny County
asosanko@ccac.edu

References and Further Reading

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Ashbaugh, K., Koegel, R. L., & Koegel, L. K. (2017). Increasing social integration for college students with autism spectrum disorder. Behavioral Development Bulletin22(1), 183.

Barnhill, G. P. (2016). Supporting students with Asperger syndrome on college campuses: Current practices. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 31(1), 3–15.

Buescher, A. V., Cidav, Z., Knapp, M., & Mandell, D. S. (2014). Costs of autism spectrum disorders in the United Kingdom and the United States. JAMA Pediatrics, 168(8), 721–728.

Cox, B. E., Thompson, K., Anderson, A., Mintz, A., Locks, T., Morgan, L., . . . & Wolz, A. (2017). College experiences for students with autism spectrum disorder: Personal identity, public disclosure, and institutional support. Journal of College Student Development58(1), 71–87.

Hughey, J., & Pettay, R. (2013). Motivational interviewing: Helping advisors initiate change in student behaviors. In J. Drake, P. Jordan, M. Miller (Eds.), Academic advising approaches: Strategies that teach students to make the most of college (pp. 67–82). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Elias, R., & White, S. W. (2018). Autism goes to college: Understanding the needs of a student population on the rise. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders48(3), 732–746.

Gobbo, K., & Shmulsky, S. (2014). Faculty experience with college students with autism spectrum disorders: A qualitative study of challenges and solutions. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 29(1), 13–22.

Hendrickson, J., Carson, R., Wood-Groves, S., Mendenhall, J., & Scheidecker, B. (2013). UI REACH: A postsecondary program serving students with autism and intellectual disabilities. Education and Treatment of Children, 36(4),169–194.

Hillier, A., Goldstein, J., Murphy, D., Trietsch, R., Keeves, J., Mendes, E., & Queenan, A. (2018). Supporting university students with autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 22(1), 20–28.

Kaffenberger, C. & O’Rorke-Trigiani, J. (2013). Addressing student mental health needs by providing direct and indirect services and building alliances in the community. Professional School Counseling, 16(5), 323–332.

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA academic advising core competencies model. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreCompetencies.aspx

Newman, L., Wagner, M., Knokey, A.-M., Marder, C., Nagle, K., Shaver, D., & Wei, X. (2011). The post-high school outcomes of young adults with disabilities up to 8 years after high school: A report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). Washington, DC: National Center for Special Education Research. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED524044.pdf

Roux, A. M., Shattuck, P. T., Rast, J. E., Rava, J. A., & Anderson, K. A. (2015). National autism indicators report: Transition into young adulthood. Philadelphia, PA: A.J. Drexel Autism Institute. Retrieved from http://drexel.edu/autismoutcomes/publications-and-reports/publications/National-Autism-Indicators-Report-Transition-to-Adulthood/#sthash.hsxlU214.dpbs

Vanbergeijk, E., Klin, A., & Volkmar, F. (2008). Supporting more able students on the autism spectrum: College and beyond. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38(7), 1359–70.

Van Hees, V., Moyson, T., & Roeyers, H. (2015). Higher education experiences of students with autism spectrum disorder: Challenges, benefits, and support needs. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(6), 1673–1688.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). CDC estimates 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/p0327-autism-spectrum-disorder.html


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Using Experiences of the Past to Create a Brighter Advising Future

Aaron L. Pryor, University of Southern Indiana

Aaron Pryor.jpgAs numerous advisors do, I too can be counted amongst those who entered into the world of academic advising with only a cursory understanding of the profession as a whole. Yes, I understood that discussing classes was a part of the equation. Yes, I knew of degree plans. Yes, I understood that hordes of lost students would be seeking advice about their pathways through college. However, I did not know about the deep and rich culture of advisors. I was not aware that there was an international organization that promoted and ensured professional standards. I also could not have fathomed that a lot of advising interactions would mimic the numerous client dealings I had while actively providing services as a social worker in my pre-advising life.

I was born into, raised up within, and nurtured by the profession of social work. I embraced my teachings as a personal scripture and felt that I embodied the ethos of those that came before me. Social work was all I knew, and all I was, when I decided to reconnect with higher education in pursuit of additional opportunities for personal self-growth. My humble foray into advising began when I accepted the position of Academic Counselor in a TRIO Student Support Services program—a position I would later come to find out was the perfect marriage of higher education and social justice.

When I first began advising, I had only a vague understanding of the advising profession. Concepts such as prescriptive versus developmental advising and appreciative advising were foreign to me. Stepping out of the world of social work, I felt as lost as some of the students who would soon be knocking on my door. I had an initial mentality that aligned with many of our students in that I suffered from imposter syndrome when I first began. Nursing graduate Mandy Day-Calder poignantly defined imposter syndrome as, “the powerful and sometimes debilitating emotions that can arise when, despite outward success, you feel like a fake inside” (2017, p. 35). My confidence as a professional fell away, and I thought I had made a mistake. I had to find a way to catch up, and to catch up quickly.

Settling into my new reality, and feeling I had no other options, I resorted to pulling from the main pool of knowledge I had acquired up to this point—social work. Little did I know at the time, but my profession had given me an amazing framework and many tools in which I could build my own advising style. Factually, I still hold the values outlined in the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics (2018) as my most essential advising values—the right to self-determination, upholding professional competency, imparting informed consent, providing service, valuing the dignity and worth of a person, and representing integrity. Perhaps the belief that I hold the strongest is that of “starting where someone is . . . not where you want him or her to be.” After all, this core credence is what provided my own foundation. I allowed myself the initial feelings of uncertainty when I entered into advising, but I quickly pardoned myself the misbelief that I was in the wrong place or that I did not have anything to offer—I just had to find a way to take what I already knew and bring that into a new space.

Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language that goes to his heart” (as cited in Laka, 2014). Mandela understood the powerful social concept of meeting someone where they are—that believing the differing cultural and life experiences of individuals strengthens the whole. As the advising profession is a melting pot of diversity, this concept becomes highly relevant. The advising melting pot is comprised of the many cultures and languages of its members—many of which are pre-advising languages. Through intense introspection, I was able to discover how my two worlds could coalesce.

In an effort to empower fellow advisors, this article and the associated worksheet provides points of consideration as one seeks opportunities to utilize those embedded values, ethics, maxims, and guiding principles that existed prior to entering the world of advising. Each section explores how an element of one’s pre-advising world can correlate to the advising profession in hopes to inspire a personal quest of self-reflection and affirmation as a professional advisor.

Using Elements of Pre-Advising Studies to Influence Approaches to Advising

Social Work: Empowerment Approach. Social work approaches have an uncanny alignment with those used by the advising profession. Consider the overlapping principles of appreciative advising and the empowerment approach to generalist social work for just one example:

Appreciative Advising//Empowerment Approach

  • Disarm//Dialogue & Form Partnerships
  • Discover//Identify Strengths & Assess Resources
  • Dream//Define Directions
  • Design//Frame Solutions & Construct an Achievable Plan
  • Deliver//Implement Action Plan
  • Don’t Settle//Recognize Success, Integrate Gains, & Expand Opportunities  (Miley, O’Melia, & DuBois, 2007; “What is Appreciative Advising,” n.d.)

However, just because there is a more natural alignment between helping professions and advising, that does not mean that individuals from other various backgrounds cannot use their past to influence and temper approaches to advising.

Consider more of the following:

Math and Chemistry: Balancing Equations.  Maintain balance and equitability in the sharing of information. It is the lack of equal sharing that gave birth to programs like TRIO. Certain sects of society have always had more access to information that promotes success. Generations of non-equitable sharing have created larger and larger divides. Advisors should actively seek to balance the scales.

English, Journalism, and Criminal Justice: The Seven Circumstances. The seven circumstances are more commonly referred to as the interrogatives: who, what, when where, why, in what manner, and by what means (Seven Circumstances, n.d.). Students are multi-dimensional. Remember that there is always more to the picture than what you see on the surface.

Art: Elements of Art (Line, Shape, Form, Space, Color, and Texture). Space: the area between and around objects (J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011). Be cognizant of how space influences tones and moods. Is the advising chair elevated above the student? Is there an ominous-looking desk separating the interaction? Is the office hyper-professional to the point of intimidation?

Ethics, Ethics, and More Ethics. Pre-advising backgrounds do not only affect day-to-day interactions, but also provide opportunities to define or refine present ethical frameworks. As there is no prescribed code of ethics to guide advisors, one has the opportunity to evaluate their own prior ethical trainings, and that of other professions, to help create guiding ethics.  

Consider the following and notice overlapping ideologies:

Nursing: American Nurses Association Code of Ethics (Highlights)

  • Respect for human dignity
  • Right to self-determination
  • Primacy of the patient’s interests
  • Promote a culture of safety
  • Integrate social justice  (American Nurses Association, 2015)

Occupational Therapy: Code of Ethics (Highlights)

  • Beneficence
  • Nonmaleficence
  • Autonomy
  • Justice
  • Veracity
  • Fidelity  (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2015)

IRB Research: The Belmont Report

  • Respect for persons (autonomy)
  • Beneficence (do no harm and maximize benefits)
  • Justice (fairness in distribution)  (Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1979)

NACADA’s Core Values and Core Competencies

Looking to the past externally from advising does not mean that an advisor is going against the grain of the profession and acting as a rogue agent. On the contrary. Often times, the epiphanies that arise from this exercise of introspection fall directly in line with NACADA’s own Core Values and Core Competencies. The gender studies professional may epitomize NACADA’s value of inclusivity, the communications studies professional may excel in NACADA’s relational competencies of building rapport and communicating in inclusive and respectful ways, and the respiratory therapist professional may exemplify NACADA’s value of caring (NACADA, 2017a, 2017b).

Just as advisors are tasked with identifying and spotlighting the strengths of students, so too should they reflect that effort inward. It is easy to be caught in the minutiae of acquiring overrides, re-working degree plans (for the third time), or explaining the reasoning behind the existence of core classes. However, the professional advisor has an obligation to himself or herself to strive, always, for greatness—never settling for good enough. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do just that is to start with what is known. Recognize it. Foster it. Implement it. The resultant growth will be as much of a boon to the advisor as the advisee. For when one finds a way to listen to the language of their heart, they can truly reach their full potential.

Aaron L. Pryor, MSW, LSW
Academic Counselor
Student Support Services, University Division
Adjunct Instructor
Social Work Department & University Division
University of Southern Indiana
alpryor@usi.edu

References

American Nurses Association. (2015). Code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements. Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association.

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2015). Occupational therapy code of ethics (2015) [Supplement 3]. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 69, 6913410030p1–6913410030p8. doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.696S03

Day-Calder, M. (2017). Student life - imposter syndrome. Nursing Standard, 31(43), 35. http://dx.doi.org/10.7748/ns.31.43.35.s40

Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. (1979). The Belmont report. Retrieved from  https://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/sites/default/files/the-belmont-report-508c_FINAL.pdf

J. Paul Getty Museum. (2011). Understanding formal analysis: Elements of art. Retrieved from https://www.getty.edu/education/teachers/building_lessons/elements_art.pdf

Laka, I. (2014). Mandela was right: The foreign language effect. Retrieved from https://mappingignorance.org/2014/02/03/mandela-was-right-the-foreign-language-effect/

Miley, K. K., O’Melia, M., & DuBois, B. (2007). Generalist social work practice: An empowering approach (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017a). NACADA academic advising core competencies model. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreCompetencies.aspx

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017b). NACADA core values of academic advising. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreValues.aspx

National Association of Social Workers. (2018). Code of ethics: of the National Association of Social Workers. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English

National Education Association. (2006).  Code of ethics. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/home/30442.htm

Seven Circumstances. (n.d.) What does “seven circumstances” mean? [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://sevencircumstances.com/what-does-seven-circumstances-mean/

What is Appreciative Advising? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.appreciativeadvising.net/


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Peer Advising: Building a Professinal Undergraduate Advising Practicum

Kimberly D.R. DuVall, Ashley Rininger, Alec T. Sliman, James Madison University

Ashley Rininger.jpgKimberly DuVall,jpgPeer advising programs are becoming more common as an effective method for advising students on academic concepts such as university policies, class scheduling, graduate school, and career options (Koring, 2005; Latino & Unite, 2012; Nelson & Fonzi, 1995; Winston, Miller, Ender, & Grites, 1984). There is a myriad of models for peer advising program structure, though common practices include advisor/advisee partnerships within a major (Latino & Unite, 2012). Literature suggests that with adequate training, students can be valuable supplements to faculty academic advising (Koring, 2005; Latino & Unite, 2012).

Alec Sliman,jpgPsychology Peer Advising (PPA) began at James Madison University in 1991 in response to the growing integrity of peer advising programs in practice and in the literature (Halgin & Halgin, 1982; Koring, 2005; Lunneborg, 1989; Nelson & Fonzi, 1995; Winston et al, 1984). Since its founding, the peer advising program has transitioned from a student organization to a paraprofessional practicum experience. Currently, the psychology peer advisors serve as a resource for approximately 970 psychology students and advise through platforms such as office visits, transfer advising, peer advising symposia, and open houses.

The PPA practicum is a two-year, course-based sequence; students enroll in a two-credit class each semester. In addition, advisors are expected to host two office hours per week. The cohort typically consists of about 15 seniors and 15 juniors.

Recruitment and Selection

PPA recruits sophomore psychology majors each spring. Applications include general demographic information, written essay questions, anticipated responsibilities/involvements for the upcoming two years, a resume/curriculum vitae, an unofficial transcript, two references (at least one being an academic reference), and a recent photograph. The faculty director uses photographs to obtain feedback about each student from departmental faculty.

Written applications are reviewed by the Support Team, comprised of the director, the coordinator, and the training liaison/transition specialist (see support positions). The Support Team blindly reviews applications using a standardized rating system and invites qualifying applicants to group interviews. The Support Team then reviews all materials and makes final decisions.

Structure

The Psychology Peer Advising office is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Advisors also have a communal email account available to students with questions outside of office hours. During office hours, peer advisors advise on topics related to university and departmental policies, class scheduling, graduate school, and careers. Under the current structure, Psychology Peer Advising is comprised of a four-semester sequence as follows.

Fall of Junior Year.  Incoming junior advisors enroll in a bi-weekly training course taught by the senior training liaison and the director. The class structure is similar to a traditional lecture-style course, including a short oral presentation on a topic of advisors’ choosing. During class, junior advisors learn about relevant academic advising topics. Outside of class, juniors hold two weekly office hours beginning in their first semester. Juniors and seniors are paired during office hours, and juniors receive mentoring on topics such as frequently asked questions and university resources. In addition, seniors review case studies with juniors to further learning and help prepare juniors for difficult advising sessions.

During fall office hours, advisors use a “scaffolding” approach (Vygotsky, 1987); seniors initially lead advising sessions and explain practices to juniors. Gradually, seniors begin encouraging juniors to take responsibility (while maintaining scaffolding), allowing juniors to fully transition by the end of the semester.

Spring of Junior Year.  Juniors begin the spring semester fully trained on academic advising, and juniors and seniors share a combined bi-weekly class. Additionally, juniors become responsible for completing products and services (see Products and Services). The scaffolding principle is still applied as seniors assist juniors in developing products and services. Mentorship continues during the spring semester as juniors acclimate to additional responsibilities and the unique class format (remaining three semesters run similarly to a business meeting rather than a traditional class). Juniors offered support positions also begin shadowing seniors to maximize competence and confidence. In the spring, any combination of juniors and seniors may staff the office.

Fall of Senior Year.  As previously discussed, senior advisors are responsible for mentoring incoming juniors during the fall semester. During bi-weekly classes, seniors discuss practicum progress, mentoring, and case studies focused on advising situations. In addition, seniors complete an oral presentation on an advising-related topic. Seniors are also responsible for completing products and services.

Spring of Senior Year.  The spring semester of the practicum is identical for seniors and juniors with the exception of mentoring responsibilities. Though juniors are fully trained on advising topics, seniors continue to mentor on product and service completion. In addition, seniors give an oral presentation focused on what PPA calls their “words of wisdom” for fellow advisors. Seniors may present on any topic they choose while sharing experiences/life lessons.

Products and Services

Per graded curriculum, advisors complete products and services during the final three semesters in the practicum. Second semester juniors and all seniors are required to complete one product, one service, and one additional product or service per semester. Products (i.e., posters, brochures, handouts, videos, etc.) serve as advising tools for both faculty and student advisors and may be completed by an individual or a team. When completed as a team, a team lead ensures the efficient completion of products while focusing on team management. Typically, specific team lead responsibilities include timeline development, delegating tasks, and ensuring equal member contribution. For all products, the director assigns mid-semester and final deadlines to ensure timely completion. Services include any formalized departmental service that aids the faculty and/or the student populations (e.g., speaking at PPA sponsored symposia, holding extra office hours, assisting in transfer advising events, etc.).

Support Positions

The PPA practicum includes the opportunity for senior advisors to become involved in support positions. Peer advising offers ten positions: coordinator, training liaison/transition specialist, assessment team (two students), technology specialists (two students), symposia coordinator, quality assurance specialist, transfer advising, and social coordinator.

The support team works closely with the director to effectively manage the practicum. Support team meets weekly to develop upcoming class agendas and discuss internal practicum matters. In addition, support team provides support for practicum members when individual or programmatic concerns arise. Students serving on support team receive additional independent study credit (three credit hours per semester) and have access to professional development opportunities (i.e., conference presentations).  The support team consists of the director, the coordinator and the training liaison/transition specialist.

  • The coordinator is responsible for the administrative, logistical aspects of PPA, such as facilitating the senior/combined class, developing semester office hour schedules, maintaining accurate attendance and grade information, and corresponding with pertinent faculty for various events.
  • The training liaison/transition specialist is responsible for training incoming juniors on topics related to academic advising, facilitating a smooth transition for juniors, and overseeing position transitions between juniors and seniors
  • The assessment team is responsible for collecting and evaluating data obtained through various channels (i.e., Qualtrics surveys, satisfaction reports, office sign-in logs) and implementing necessary changes based on feedback. Students serving on the assessment team receive additional independent study credit (three credit hours per semester) and have access to professional development opportunities.
  • Technology specialists are responsible for updating and maintaining the PPA website and social media accounts. The role was created for two advisors based on the time commitment required to create and organize each platform. Currently, the role largely focuses on maintenance, therefore, technology specialist is transitioning into a single-student role. Similar to support team and assessment team, technology specialist(s) have access to professional development opportunities.
  • The symposia coordinator is responsible for planning, advertising, and facilitating multiple symposia throughout the academic year. Symposia topics include “Getting Involved in the Major,” “Taking the GRE,” and “Taking a Year On.” In addition to planning events, the symposia coordinator is also responsible for recruiting fellow advisors as volunteers to present on specified sub-topics.
  • The quality assurance specialist is responsible for reviewing and editing all products, fliers, and other advertisement materials to ensure accuracy and professionalism.
  • The social coordinator is responsible for strengthening relations among peer advisors by organizing monthly events outside of class.
  • The transfer advising coordinator is responsible for organizing and facilitating transfer advising sessions for incoming psychology transfer students. The transfer advising coordinator works closely alongside the director and assists in recruiting PPA volunteers for each session.                   

Assessment

Via the assessment team, the PPA practicum collects data on advisee experiences and the usefulness of services. Advisees visiting the PPA office sign in to provide contact information and their reason for visiting the office. Following office visits, the assessment team sends advisees anonymous Qualtrics surveys to assess advising experiences.

The practicum also assesses incoming advisors and graduating seniors to measure improvements in advising knowledge. The assessment includes objective multiple-choice questions (focused on practicum goals and academic advising content) and subjective case study responses. The internal assessment is relatively new; therefore, data on advisor improvements is not yet available for analysis.

Kimberly D.R. DuVall
Director, Psychology Peer Advising Practicum
Faculty, Department of Psychology
James Madison University
duvallkd@jmu.edu

Ashley Rininger
Psychology Peer Advising Training Liaison
James Madison University
riningam@dukes.jmu.edu

Alec T. Sliman
Psychology Peer Advising Coordinator
James Madison University
slimanat@dukes.jmu.edu

References

Halgin, R. P., & Halgin, L. F. (1982). An advising system for a large psychology department. In M. E. Ware & R. J. Millard (Eds.), Handbook on student development: Advising, career development, and field placement (pp. 8–10). Hillside, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Koring, H. (2005, June). Peer advising: A win-win initiative. Academic Advising Today, 28(2), 1–3. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today.aspx

Latino, J. A., & Unite, C. M. (2012). Providing academic support through peer education. New Directions for Higher Education, 2012(157), 31–43.

Lunneborg, P. W. (1989). Assessing psychology majors’ career advising needs. In P. J. Wood (Ed.), Is psychology for them? A guide to undergraduate advising (pp. 57–60). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Nelson, E. S., & Fonzi, G. L. (1995). An effective peer advising program in a large psychology department. NACADA Journal, 15(2), 41–43. Retrieved from http://nacadajournal.org/

Vygotsky, L. (1987). Zone of proximal development. Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes, 5291, 157.

Winston R. B., Jr, Miller, T. K., Ender, S. C., & Grites, T. J. (1984). Developmental academic advising: Addressing students’ educational, career, and personal needs. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.


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Five Lessons for Creating a Coaching Methodology

Liz Freedman, Maria Makeever, and Katie Weller, Peer Advising & Mentoring Advising Community Members

Editor’s Note: Readers interested in more information on this topic may want to check out the upcoming NACADA Web Event, Incorporating Coaching Conversations into Academic Advising Practice.

Freedman, Makeever & Weller.jpgThe Bepko Learning Center is an academic resource center on the Indiana University-Purdue University (IUPUI) campus, which is a large, urban university located in the Midwest. The Bepko Learning Center houses a one-on-one peer-coaching program in which academically successful students are paired with their peers in order to aid them in achieving academic success. Coaches mentor other students on how to be successful in college—whether that means learning study techniques, creating weekly schedules, or setting long-term goals.

Exemplary coaches are sometimes offered the position of a student coordinator; coordinators complete large-scale projects, organize workshops, mentor the coaches, and are in charge of training new coaches. In spring semester of 2017, a new set of coordinators began receiving complaints about some of the training materials given to coaches. In the past, coaches were instructed to use a coaching model known as the Hudson Coaching Methodology when working with students (Hudson Institute of Coaching, 2017). The Hudson model was originally targeted for professional coaches who are hired to coach business clients. It outlined the process of setting goals and addressing problems while coaching, but the coaches felt that the model was difficult to understand within the context of a peer-to-peer academic coaching program.

During the summer of 2017, the team of coordinators began working tirelessly to change the coaching model to better adapt to the program. Overall, helpful lessons were learned throughout the process of creating a unique coaching methodology and implementing it into training.

Lesson 1: Do Your Research

The first step in the process was to research, research, research. The coordinators began by examining how similar programs at other universities were training their mentors. Pretty quickly, they discovered a methodology used by Nova Southeastern University that was roughly similar to the Hudson coaching model, yet academically focused (Nova Southeastern University, 2017). The methodology utilized the acronym S.U.C.C.E.S.S. to outline each step of the coaching process. It also incorporated a strengths-based approach, clarifying key points of the coaching process in which mentors or coaches should use a student’s strengths as a solution to overcome the student’s potential obstacles.

From there, the coordinating team spent quite a bit of time tweaking the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. model so that each step fit the program precisely. They created a detailed packet of information called the Path to S.U.C.C.E.S.S. to give the coaches at the two-day training before the semester began. The packet included:

  • each step of the methodology;
  • what activities or conversation should occur at that step;
  • when in the coaching process it should occur;
  • examples of questions the coaches could ask themselves or their students;
  • how to incorporate the strengths-based approach; and
  • which resources are available at IUPUI that may help throughout the process.

Below is an image of the Path to S.U.C.C.E.S.S.:

Path to SUCCESS graphic.jpg

Lesson 2: Try New Things

The next challenging part about creating a new coaching methodology came when planning for training began. The coaches are required to attend two-hour training meetings every Friday throughout the semester. The first semester after the Path to S.U.C.C.E.S.S. was implemented, the meetings were used to present the model to the coaches via a series of PowerPoints. After one semester of this, the coordinators felt that a more hands-on approach might help coaches to connect with the methodology.

During the training meetings the following semester, the coaches had discussion circles and guided conversations about how they had implemented or planned on implementing the Path to S.U.C.C.E.S.S. into their coaching meetings. Over the course of the next two semesters, the coaches responded positively to the new methodology via an open-ended survey. They liked it better than the Hudson model and felt that the packet was a useful resource in generally guiding them through the process of coaching a fellow student.

However, this training process is still not perfected. Even after this most recent semester, the coaches still make suggestions on how to make this process more hands-on and useful to them. The coordinators consistently try to find improved ways to help the coaches in all arenas, as well as to implement this new model specifically.

Lesson 3: Leave it Open

As was just indicated, many of the coaches used the packet as a general guide—and that was okay. The packet was not meant to be a step-by-step instruction sheet on how to coach or mentor a student. The packet was meant to give the coach suggestions and provide resources by outlining a rough timeline of the semester-long coaching process. Ultimately, it is always up to the coach to determine what works best with each of their students. They may need to change the pace of the coaching process or take detours along the way. The path when mentoring a student should be a trail that is subject to change, not a paved and permanent road.

Lesson 4: Make it Accessible

With the Path to S.U.C.C.E.S.S. packet, the aim was to provide as many resources to the coaches as possible. The goal was to provide them with the structure of a coaching and goal-setting process, but also provide everything from resources (e.g. how to refer to the Math Assistance Center or to Counseling and Psychological Services) to reflective questions for the coaches to ask themselves (e.g. “Have I let the student try to find solutions to their problem before I offer my own advice?”).

The training that was offered alongside the Path to S.U.C.C.E.S.S. included more of these resources, helping the coaches to respect the diverse student body and their many different needs.

Lesson 5: Listen to Feedback

The introduction of this new coaching methodology has been highly successful. The program could only have reached this level of success and happiness because the feedback from the coaches was taken seriously. In the spring, two student coordinators and the Assistant Director of Academic Enrichment had the opportunity to present the process of the creation of the Path to S.U.C.C.E.S.S. at the Regional V NACADA conference in Columbus. The presentation was given after about one year of the methodology being implemented into the academic success coaching program. After the presentation, the team received questions about whether or not the new methodology had been proven to help students get off probation. Anecdotally, that seems to be the case, but the formal assessment process is still in progress.

What the team realized later is that the creation of this model was not necessarily about the students being coached, but rather it was about the coaches. Obviously, the main goal of the staff, coaches, and student coordinators is helping the students. However, the team strongly feels that by improving the happiness and comfort of the coaches, it will in turn improve the coaching program as a whole and therefore help the students. The coaches are now more comfortable going into their coaching meetings because they have a helpful structure to rely on as they coach their students throughout the semester.

It certainly seems to be working. This fall, the center is welcoming back more fourth-semester returning coaches than in the past three semesters combined. The coaches feel happy and excited to return to their jobs. Overall, retention has been better. The number of returning coaches has outnumbered the number of new coaches in the past two semesters.

But the work does not stop here. Feedback is still collected every semester on how to make this better.  In fact, it is encouraged. At the end of every semester the coaches are asked to complete a “Stop. Start. Continue.” survey. The survey asks what our program should stop doing, start doing, and continue doing. This summer the team is planning new techniques for changing and improving the Path to S.U.C.C.E.S.S. training in the fall.

Conclusion

Whether you work in a peer coaching program similar to the program at the Bepko Learning Center or an academic advising program, it is important to find or create a framework to follow. A coaching or advising process can be challenging to navigate, and following a guide that offers structure, resources, and opportunities for self-reflection will help significantly. Just remember to do your research, try new things, leave it open, make it accessible, and listen to feedback.

The staff is encouraged by the progress made in the program so far, and excited to see where the Path to S.U.C.C.E.S.S. will take the program in this upcoming academic year.

Liz Freedman
Assistant Director of Academic Enrichment
Bepko Learning Center
IUPUI
elmafree@iupui.edu

Maria Makeever
Senior studying Journalism at IUPUI
Student Coordinator, Bepko Learning Center
mnmakeev@iupui.edu

Katie Weller
Senior studying Biology at IUPUI
Student Coordinator, Bepko Learning Center
kvweller@iupui.edu

References

Hudson Institute of Coaching. (2017). Our approach. Retrieved from https://hudsoninstitute.com/approach/

Nova Southeastern University. (2017). Academic success coaching. Retrieved from http://www.nova.edu/yoursuccess/coaching.html


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Developing a Strengths-Focused Community

Jennifer Hart, University of Southern Maine

Jen Hart.jpgColleges and universities around the United States have invested in strengths-based programming. While several tools are available, Appreciative Advising and Strengths-Based Advising are two popular programs. Students have countless opportunities to apply their talents and strengths in a variety of settings in college, including academics, residential life, first-year experience programming, and student leadership development.

In 2018, Matson and Robison reported that 600 institutions utilize the Clifton StrengthsFinder, a popular assessment for strengths-based advising which is built on the idea that college students engage in the process of discovering, investing in, and applying their natural talents, which develop into strengths. Research on strengths-based education models conducted by Soria and Stubblefield (2015) identified a positive relationship between awareness of personal strengths and student retention between the first and second year.  Soria (2015) also found an increase in retention for students who participated in strengths-based conversations with college and personal connections, including academic and career advisors, faculty, and friends.   

Application of a strengths model to academic advising can focus on students applying their talents and strengths to academic courses, study techniques, and major exploration. Schreiner’s (2013) chapter on strengths-based advising in NACADA’s Academic Advising Approaches provides advisors with an outline focusing on the process of students identifying their talents, affirming and building awareness, envisioning future possibilities including how to leverage their  talents to reach goals, identifying a plan, and finally applying strengths to areas of challenge.  Strengths-based advising has been particularly successful for students on academic probation by having students use their strengths in an area of academic challenge.  

Case Study: University of Southern Maine

The University of Southern Maine’s (USM) Academic Advising Department integrated a strengths-based advising model into their work with undergraduate students in 2013. In collaboration with a university wide Strengths@USM program, students engage in strengths programming in multiple settings, including academic and career advising, the academic classroom, campus and residential life, and student leadership programming. This initiative was spearheaded and funded by a Title III Strengthening Institutions U.S. Department of Education grant.

Academic advisors incorporate discussions about a students’ strengths into several points of contact throughout the academic year. These strengths-based conversations range in topics from a general exploration and discussion of a students’ top five strengths, to discussion around academic strategies and study techniques.

During a 90-minute advising and course registration meeting, advisors meet with newly admitted students on a one-on-one basis to welcome them to the university. This meeting begins with an open-ended question encouraging students to reflect on areas of strength, personal accomplishments, and successes. Student responses are diverse, and the discussion offers an opportunity for newly admitted students to reflect on their own areas of success and achievement as they transition to college, which is at times an overwhelming experience for many incoming students. USM advisors have shared feedback that opening the meeting with a student’s personal reflection on their strengths and achievements is one of the most valuable parts of the meeting, going on to share that this conversation sets the tone for the next 90 minutes. Following the one-on-one meeting, first-year students are sent an access code to take the StrengthsFinder assessment, which is integrated into multiple settings during the academic year.  

The strengths advising model is a great tool to use with students on academic probation as well. Students on probation participate in an academic recovery program which provides support from advising, and other academic support areas on campus including tutoring, TRIO, and faculty advisors. During academic recovery meetings, advisors encourage students to reflect on how they can apply their talents and strengths to areas of academic challenge. StrengthsQuest: Discover and develop your strengths in academics, career, and beyond (Clifton, Anderson, & Schreiner, 2006) identifies a set of academic study techniques for each identified strength. A review of these academic study techniques can lead to constructive conversations between advisors and students focused on the application of talents and strengths toward areas of academic challenge. These conversations can lead to ah-ha moments and also reinforce positive study techniques the student may already be utilizing, such as participation in study groups, test taking techniques, awareness of study environments, or establishing academic goals.

Professional Development and Developing Culture

Integrating strengths-based activities into staff meetings and professional development is a constructive way of continuing to develop awareness on a professional level of how strengths impact individuals, colleagues, and the dynamics of the team. Programming reinforces that advisors have an opportunity to leverage their personal strengths in their own professional work on campus and career development. As advisors learn about their own strengths, they develop an awareness beyond the basic model, which can have a positive impact on mastery and comfort using the StrengthsFinder language in conversations with students. Ongoing professional development can focus on individual or team development and can occur in multiple settings including supervision, committee work, or departmental meetings. 

A potential pitfall of any new program is the trap of talking about it once or twice a year and not taking the steps to actively integrate it into the departmental or university culture. At USM, many advisors, staff, and faculty have their top five strengths visible in their office as well as in their email signature. Additionally, interactive white boards highlight how to apply strengths to career, academic study techniques, or group work and are available for the USM community to take information and learn about new applications for their strengths. These are ways of keeping the conversation alive for the university community and have also spurred constructive conversations between staff, faculty, and students around shared strengths. 

Building a strengths-based culture on campus creates a common language on campus; advisors, faculty, and staff have shared incredibly rich conversations that they have had with students focused on shared and common strengths. A strengths-based culture on campus actively involves academic advisors who play an integral role in supporting students and creating an environment where students feel valued and known. Integrating strengths into advising conversations can foster an educational environment conducive to learning, development, and growth. To learn more about the University of Southern Maine’s program, please visit our website where you can find advising, student, and faculty resources: https://usm.maine.edu/strengths (USM, n.d.).

Jennifer Hart
Academic Advisor, Coordinator of USM Strengths
University of Southern Maine
jennifer.hart@maine.edu

References

Clifton, D. O., Anderson, E., & Schreiner, L. A. (2006). StrengthsQuest: Discover and develop your strengths in academics, career, and beyond (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Gallup Organization.

Matson, T., & Robison, J. (2018). Using a strengths-based approach to retain college students [Opinion].  Retrieved from http://news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/232088/using-strengths-based-approach-retain-college-students.aspx

Schreiner, L. (2013). Strengths-based advising. In J. K. Drake, P. Jordan, & M. A. Miller (Eds.) Academic advising approaches: Strategies that teach students to make the most of college (105–120). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Soria, K. M. (2015). Building strengths awareness and hope in students’ transition to higher education. College Student Affairs Journal, 33(1), 47-65.

Soria, K. M., & Stubblefield, R. (2015). Knowing me, knowing you: Building strengths awareness, belonging, and persistence in higher education. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 17(3), 351–372. https://doi.org/10.1177/1521025115575914

University of Southern Maine (USM). (n.d.). Strengths @ USM. Retrieved from https://usm.maine.edu/strengths


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The Art of Intervention: Partnering with Faculty for Early Academic Alert

James K. Winfield, University of South Carolina

James Winfield.jpgWith higher education reaching enrollment peaks of students from various backgrounds with diverse needs, a huge responsibility is upon colleges and universities. This increase in students warrants the necessity for more support. To meet this challenge, colleges and universities look to the development of early-alert mechanisms that identify students who are academically at-risk. Currently trending at many institutions, these programs have become institutional priorities to improve student retention. Processes typically involve an automated referral system that alerts faculty and staff to refer a student as signs of academic need occur. Institutions are investing thousands of dollars into launching and further developing efforts to monitor students and their behaviors, as they could exhibit signs of a need for intervention. These signs can include negative changes such as a decrease in class attendance; a lack of classroom participation; and, the most obvious indicator, poor grades.

It is imperative to note that regardless of the technological platform used to drive these retention initiatives, there is a human factor that proves vital in this process: the faculty who provide instruction to these students. Greenfield, Keup, and Gardner (2013) address the need to identify those “critical partners” upon implementing any early alert initiative, a list that typically includes advisors, counselors, peer mentors, tutors, and other academic success personnel. These are the common figures that one would expect to make up a panel of individuals to both develop and sustain these programs.

A National Survey for Student Engagement (NSSE) report cites that faculty should consider themselves as an “integral cord in an institution’s safety net for students” (Cambridge, 2005, p. 2). The roles of faculty members and instructors are essential in providing effective and seamless interventions for academically at-risk students. Often it is the charge of an academic support unit to implement and sell an early-alert mechanism; the best way to foster that buy-in is to identify and engage faculty early who partner with services such as tutoring or supplemental instruction. These are the potential advocates who can mobilize and share these efforts for student success.

A 2013 report from The Higher Education Resource Institute (HERI) revealed the top three factors that contribute to student success and persistence in college are a sense of belonging, ease of academic adjustment, and faculty interaction (as cited in Pryor, 2013). Although all of these are interconnected, it is evident that faculty have a consistent role in fostering a sense of connectedness and support to the students whom they serve. As student services staff and advisors it is essential to share feedback with students to ensure that they know where they stand along with if they are meeting the expectations of the college classroom.  Grounded in the idea of Reynolds (2009) helping strategies and providing effective feedback, there are three best practices offered that can guide approaches to making effective referrals through these systems: identify the student’s needs early, make the student aware they are at-risk, and connect the student to relevant resources.

Here is the summation of these best practices and things to consider as faculty and instructors find the need to intervene with students:

Identify the Student’s Needs Early. Joe Cuseo (2011) identified academic disengagement, absenteeism, and mid-semester grades as some of the tangible indicators to warrant intervention for a student. These factors, if found at the right time, have been proven to have a positive effect on student performance in the classroom. “If we have learned anything over the years in our attempts to improve student retention, it is that the earlier one attends to a problem or potential problem, the easier it is to deal with that problem and the less likely it is that it will manifest itself in the form of student withdrawal” (Tinto, 1993, p. 171). These signs should be identified early to host the proper form of intervention, specifically within the first few weeks of the academic semester as these are prime times to address a student’s academic concerns.

Make the Student Aware That They Are At-Risk. According to Reynolds (2009), to be effective, “helpers must present the referral in the spirit of respect and collaboration arranging the initial contact between student and referral either by telephone or in person” (p. 160). This approach is a crucial point in the academic referral process”. The ability to disarm the student and convey a genuine sense of care can bridge the gap of trust and provide comfort between both faculty and student. In some cases, the intervention may become resolved solely based on the referrer or recommender showing care and concern for the student and the issue that they are trying to navigate. Reynolds even proceeds to outline the level of care and sensitivity that is required to inform students that they have been referred and cautions advisors to bear in mind that in these instances a student can likely convey an attitude or disposition of not wanting the help.

Connect Student to Relevant Resources. It is imperative that faculty members possess an awareness of institutional support opportunities that are in place to make the proper referral. Common practice for many institutions is that a student should become aware of campus support resources during admissions events and new student orientation, but most students only connect with these resources when there is a need for immediate assistance. In the event that the intervention is necessary, Reynolds (2009) goes on to say that helpers (faculty or staff) “must offer referrals with the same care as interpretations and confrontations, bearing in mind that the student may feel threatened by the suggestion that their dilemma requires expert or professional attention” (p. 160). Prepare for resistance from the student as they may be reluctant to accept the need for academic intervention.

Effective interventions for academically at-risk students are not possible without the buy-in and support of faculty members and academic departments. Early-alert programs are at their best when the pulse of student performance centers on faculty observations within the classroom. Such insights can strengthen the argument for the necessity of these programs along with showing that feedback and intervention can contribute to student success. Students are more likely to succeed in an environment where feedback about their performance is offered early and honestly, thus enabling all parties to adjust behaviors and approaches to enhance the likelihood of success. Additionally, providing training for faculty and instructors can ease comfort in identifying the signs of early-alert and bridge the gap between efforts to retain and support students.

James K. Winfield
Assistant Director for Faculty Development
University 101 Programs
University of South Carolina
winfield@sc.edu

References

Cambridge, B. L. (2005). Promoting student success: What new faculty need to know (NSSE DEEP Report, Occasional Paper No. 12). Retrieved from http://nsse.indiana.edu/institute/

Cueso, J. (2011). Early-alert (early-warning) programs: Definition, advantages, variations & illustrations. Retrieved from http://www.uwc.edu/sites/uwc.edu/files/imce-uploads/employees/academic-resources/esfy/_files/red_flags-behavioral_indicators_of_potential_student_attrition.pdf

Greenfield, G. M., Keup, J. R., & Gardner, J. N. (2013). Developing and sustaining successful first-year programs: a guide for practitioners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Pryor, J. (2013, May) Preparing students to thrive in the 21st century- HERI CIRP Data. Presented at the annual ideaPOP Conference, Columbia, SC.

Reynolds, A. (2009) Helping college students: Developing essential support skills for student affairs practice. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.

Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.


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Supporting Student Development and Success with Pre-Advising Reflective Writing

Karl R. Wirth and Adrienne Christiansen, Macalester College

Adrienne Chhristiansen.jpgKarl Wirth.jpgOf all the factors leading to student academic success, academic advising constitutes an increasingly important one. Accumulating evidence demonstrates that effective academic advising and high-quality interactions with faculty are related to improved student satisfaction and engagement (Kuh, Kinzie, Schuh, & Whitt, 2010), retention and persistence (Drake, 2011), and learning outcomes (Mu & Fosnacht, 2016; Pascarella & Blaich, 2013; Smith & Allen, 2014; Young-Jones, Burt, Dixon, & Hawthorne, 2013). Philosophies of academic advising that are more developmental or learner-centered (e.g., Crookston, 1972; Lowenstein, 2005) are well-aligned with these findings but have not been universally implemented.

Calls for improved advising have become even more urgent as the demographics and educational needs of today’s students change. However, such appeals come during an era of increasingly limited resources (Thompson, 2016), expanding faculty workloads, and the professionalization of academic advising. The benefits of excellent advising for students warrant new and creative approaches.

As faculty members at Macalester College, a private, liberal arts college in St. Paul, Minnesota, we developed a new advising model to enhance student learning while contending with the challenges posed by workloads, time, and resource scarcity. Designed with the student life-cycle and reflective practices in mind, our blueprint for learner-centered advising utilizes pre-advising reflective writing to improve student learning and success. The model grew out of Macalester’s multi-year effort to improve academic advising. It has been adopted by advisors across campus, but required no institution-wide buy-in or funding for development or implementation. Owing to its versatility, the model can be easily adapted to different institutional contexts.

Development of an Advising Co-Curriculum

Historically, advising at Macalester College has been rooted in a first-year seminar program that was facilitated by faculty. Efforts to improve advising had to respect existing curricular structures, faculty roles, and faculty workloads. As an institution, Macalester aimed to shift academic advising toward a more developmental and learner-centered approach, and thus the authors drew inspiration from the literature on self-authorship (e.g., Magolda & King, 2008) and a first-year initiative model of advising at Beloit College (Gummer, 2012). The model (Wirth, 2016) also shares similarities with “flipped advising” advocated by Steele (2016). 

The authors used a reverse design process for developing the advising co-curriculum and reflective prompts. First, we considered broad learning goals and important choices that students make along the arc of their undergraduate experience. These include, for example, learning to learn, understanding the liberal arts, developing intellectual and practical skills through general education courses, identifying an academic major, engaging in capstone research, and preparing for post-graduate study or work (Figure 1). 

Figure1.jpg

Next, we arranged the learning goals into a sequence that broadly aligned with student experiences and developmental stages. For example, because students must declare an academic major before the end of their fourth semester at Macalester College, we made the goal of advising during the fourth semester about electing an academic major. Although many students declare an academic major well before their fourth semester, advising during the fourth semester provides an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of joining an intellectual community (the advising theme for that semester).

Once we identified advising themes and learning goals for each semester, we developed reflective prompts to foster student thinking and learning about each of the advising goals. Some learning goals (e.g., learning to learn) are so central to, or recur throughout, the undergraduate experience that we included them each semester to encourage students to periodically reflect on their knowledge, skills, and the learning processes. Other reflective prompts that relate to a particular theme (e.g., considering study away opportunities) can be included in the most appropriate semester. Still other reflective prompts can be used to scaffold student development and learning around a theme that is the focus of a later semester.

Finally, a few reflection prompts encouraged students to consider life’s big questions that are at the core of liberal learning (e.g., “what is the good life?” and “what is your mission in life?”). Inspiration for these questions came from Harvard’s “Reflecting on Your Life” program and Stanford University’s 2025 “Purpose Learning” initiative. Although these big questions do not require immediate answers or fit into specific advising goals or themes, student answers relate to academic advising goals and they inform decisions that students must make.

Fortunately, our reflective writing and advising co-curriculum model can be easily implemented, even in environments with few resources. In its simplest form, the reflection prompts can be handed to students on paper or sent electronically using email. Alternatively, an advisor can distribute the prompts using tools that are common in most learning management systems (e.g., Blackboard, Moodle). Finally, free services such as Google Suite (Forms, Sheets, and Docs) can be used to effectively implement the pre-advising reflective writing co-curriculum, an approach used at Macalester College in implementing the model.

Reflective Writing Prior to the Advising Conversation

Our model requires written responses to a set of reflective prompts that are keyed to students’ stage of education and development (materials can be found in the Additional Resources section below). The students receive the prompts several weeks before the advising conversation and must submit written responses to their academic advisor. A student’s compliance with this process can be encouraged by using the receipt of the written responses as an entrance pass for the face-to-face advising conversation. After reading the student’s responses, the advisor identifies interesting or significant observations, reactions, and questions in the student’s writing, and these become logical starting points for the conversations that ultimately lead to decisions about registering for courses, development of major plans, strategies for improved learning, planning for vocation, and life after graduation.

Value of Pre-Advising Reflections for Students

Students, advisors, and institutions all stand to realize meaningful benefits from academic advising that uses a reflective writing co-curriculum.

For example, this approach to advising:

  • Guides students toward more integrative learning and will develop a greater capacity for self-authorship (Hodge, Magolda, & Haynes, 2009; Magolda, 2002). 
  • Makes more explicit to students that metacognitive reflection is both a skill and disposition utilized by expert learners and that it involves self-direction (Ertmer & Newby, 1996).
  • Increases the likelihood that students will make informed decisions as they progress through the different stages of the undergraduate experience.
  • Makes the hidden curriculum of the university more evident, especially to students from traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations (Smith, 2013).
  • Puts students’ education into practice by reflecting on their experiences, integrating these with their course and co-curricular learning, and applying all of these to making decisions and addressing challenges they face in college and in their lives (Kuh, 2015).
  • Helps students realize greater benefits from their college experience.

Value of Pre-Advising Reflections for Academic Advisors

Reflective writing offers a familiar pedagogy to help advisors shift their perspectives in important ways:

  • Pre-advising reflections provide the advisor with a greater understanding of student challenges, successes, and aspirations. Advisors, thus, are better equipped to help students.
  • Makes it more likely that advisors will address the development of the whole student (e.g., Schoem, Modey, & John, 2017).
  • For faculty, advising no longer can be dismissed as merely a professional service or chore that distracts from teaching or research. Reflection-infused advising unmistakably becomes a form of teaching.
  • College faculty who are not trained as academic advisors can more easily understand the kinds of intentional conversations needed by students in order to develop their agency as learners.
  • Advisors gain a greater understanding of self-authorship and metacognition, while also becoming more comfortable with learner-centered advising. In so doing, they can better contribute to the conversation with the addition of their own reflective prompts.

Value of Pre-Advising Reflections for Academic Institutions

Academic institutions stand to benefit in multiple ways from deeper student-faculty interactions and student engagement with educational goals and planning, including:

  • Improved retention and success for all students.
  • Advisors developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of institutional mission and goals.
  • Ongoing faculty and staff development through efforts to fine-tune reflective writing prompts during conversations about educational goals and student development.
  • More integrative learning occurs that connects valuable concepts, skills, and experiences across both the curricular and co-curricular dimensions of college.

Impact and Conclusion

Our experiences with using pre-advising reflective writing have been very positive. Although Macalester College faculty have incorporated the reflective writing model in a variety of ways and at different times in the advising process, they generally report that their advising conversations with students are more meaningful than they had been previously. Representative responses from a survey of faculty include “I know better what questions to ask/where to focus limited time with students,” and that the approach has been a good way to “remind both me and the student to move beyond ‘transaction-based advising.’”

Students, too, reported overall satisfaction with the process of self-reflection and conversation. Some first-year students felt that the process was "tedious" and "time consuming” but the majority of students used words like "wonderful" and "helpful" in describing their experience. One student sums up these positive attitudes: "I think it was a great way for advisees to reflect on what they want to achieve while at Macalester. I found it extremely valuable because it let me self-evaluate where I was in relation to my goals."

We believe that the model of pre-advising reflective writing described here brings together the most significant developments in academic advising, philosophy, and current practices. It promises to provide benefits to students and advisor alike and to better meet our institutions’ core mission of teaching and learning.

Karl R. Wirth
Associate Professor
Geology Department
Macalester College
wirth@macalester.edu

Adrienne Christiansen
Associate Professor, Political Science
Director, Jan Serie Center for Scholarship & Teaching
Macalester College
christiansen@macalester.edu

Additional Resources

References

Crookston, B. B. (1972). A developmental view of academic advising as teaching. Journal of College Student Personnel, 13(1), 12–17.

Drake, J. K. (2011). The role of academic advising in student retention and persistence. About Campus, 16(3), 8–12.

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1996). The expert learner: Strategic, self-regulated, and reflective. Instructional Science, 24, 1–24.

Gummer, N. (2012). Student agency: Rethinking the assessment process to support student learning and advising. Presentation at the ACM Conference on Successful Liberal Arts Students: Reflecting on the Development of Student Skills and Agency, Chicago, IL. Materials retrieved from https://serc.carleton.edu/acm_face/student_agency/beloitoverview

Hodge, D. C., Baxter Magolda, M. B., & Haynes, C. A. (2009). Engaged learning: Enabling self-authorship and effective practice. Liberal Education, 95(4), 16–23.

Kuh, G. D. (2015, June). Advising for student success. Keynote presentation at the international conference of the National Academic Advising Association, Melbourne, Australia.  Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Portals/0/Events/International%20Conference/documents/Kuh_Powerpoint.pdf

Kuh, G. D. Kinzie, J., Schuh, J. H., & Whitt, E. J. (2010). Student success in college: creating conditions that matter. San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass.

Lowenstein, M. (2005). If advising is teaching, what do advisors teach? NACADA Journal, 25(2), 65–73.

Magolda, M. B. B. (2002). Helping students make their way to adulthood. About Campus, 6(6), 2–9.

Magolda, M. B. B., & King, P. M. (2008). Toward reflective conversations: An advising approach that promotes self-authorship. Peer Review, 10(1), 2–9.

Mu, L., & Fosnacht, K. (2016, April). Effective advising: How academic advising influences student learning outcomes in different institutional contexts. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Washington, DC.  Retrieved from http://nsse.indiana.edu/pdf/presentations/2016/AERA_2016_Mu_Fosnacht_paper.pdf

Pascarella, E., & Blaich, C. (2013). Lessons from the Wabash national study of liberal arts education. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 45(2), 6–15. doi:10.1080/00091383.2013.764257

Schoem, D., Modey, C., & John, E. P. S. (2017). Teaching the whole student. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Smith, B. (2013). Mentoring at-risk students through the hidden curriculum of higher education. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Smith, C. L., & Allen, J. M. (2014). Does contact with advisors predict judgments and attitudes consistent with student success? A multi-institutional study. NACADA Journal, 34(1), 50–63.

Steele, G. E. (2016). Creating a flipped advising approach. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Creating-a-Flipped-Advising-Approach.aspx

Thompson, C. A. (2016, September). Faculty advising strategies in a climate of reduced resources. Academic Advising Today, 39(3). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Faculty-Advising-Strategies-in-a-Climate-of-Reduced-Resources

Wirth, K. R. (2016). Flipped advising: Using pre-advising reflections to support student development and success. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, 48(7). doi:10.1130/abs/2016AM-287025

Young-Jones, A. D., Burt, T. D., Dixon, S., & Hawthorne, M. J. (2013). Academic advising: Does it really impact student success? Quality Assurance in Education, 21(1), 7–19.


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The Fisherfolk Class: A First Gen-ESL-BA Attempts to Nurture Intellectual Curiosity in Her Advisees

Mercedes Gonzales, University of Houston-Downtown

Dedicated to my late father, Pedro Gonzales, whose lessons nurtured a lifetime passion for learning

Mercedes Gonzales.jpgOne of the most vivid childhood memories that immediately materializes for me with any conversation on higher education and its goal of nurturing critical thinking is the role that a set of World Book Encyclopedias, circa early 1970s, played in my education. An encyclopedia, for younger readers, was the equivalent of Wikipedia without the wiki option, volume after volume of white, grainy hardcovers with deep red binding and gold lining and letters. For a pre-teen new to the world of higher learning, they were analogous to a set of War and Peace sized volumes but bigger, smarter, and much more intimidating. Nonetheless, they set the stage for my journey and continuing discovery of the intellectual world. 

I was a curious child, and as curiosity would have it, I asked many questions. As a first-generation student, I began my bilingual (English/Spanish) studies in elementary school a year late because of language barriers. After a few years under the caring tutelage of my teacher, Mrs. Wren, I managed to excel in the English-speaking world and applied my learning effectively and successfully. In high school, I placed in an Honors program and graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts (BA). I am much older now, but I still check my reading, writing, and speaking, always aware of my English as a Second Language (ESL) heritage. I use the dictionary, google any subject at any time, research topics I hear in passing, and purchase books that spark my interest with a single word. The answers to my never-ending questions are no longer in hardcover volumes, but luckily for me, are now accessed by an instinctive press of a few keys on my iPad.

My late father was not an angler, but he knew how to cast a line. Orphaned early in childhood, he never attended high school, much less an institution of higher education. My father’s appearance, his deep-bronzed skin color, high cheekbones, and deep black hair and eyebrows, confirmed his Latino/Aztec/Native American birthright. One would expect a Spanish accent, yet his superior English had none and he was my go-to for all my intellectual endeavors. His go-to, however, was that set of encyclopedias. I asked a question and he would cast his line with a smile and a glance in the direction of the shelf where they stood, tightly packed; at the time, I was unaware of the process he had set in motion. I was frustrated and confused by my father’s deliberate (as I deemed it to be) denial of answers, and it was only late in life that I wondered if my father knew he only had answers the size of minnows to offer and I was asking for the big catches. Thus began my fishing for answers as I began to “conduct inquiry and analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information” (University of Houston–Downtown, 2018).

My greatest fear, alarming as it may be, is not of misadvising, not of student complaints, or even of not connecting with a student. My greatest fear is of the possibility of a graduate navigating the world without ever casting a line and remaining dependent on others to provide a catch. I am continuously assessing the effectiveness of my advising in nurturing fisherfolk. I vehemently adhere to the learning theory of advising by guiding students through the process of recognizing a bite on the line, reeling in the catch, and feeding that curious, intellectual mind for life. Alternatively, Confucius (as cited in Quotes, n.d.) would say:

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

First and foremost, I recognize that there are as many variations of First Year students as there are fish in the sea. Every student casts differently, and thus learning may take many different paths to the eventual catch. Second, casting and waiting for a bite is a time-consuming effort; give a person a fish and your task is brief—teach a person to fish and your task is lengthy.

Reynolds (2010) discusses incorporating learning theory into academic advising via six principles that rely on a partnership between the advisor and advisee: active learning, goal-oriented planning, high expectations, motivation, feedback, and interaction. I utilize each of these principles in every advising session.

  • Active is “being able to do something physically or mentally (Active, n.d.). Active learning, for example, is consistently demonstrated when a student sits at my desk with their degree audit in hand. More often than not, a student sits and lays their degree audit on the desk and turns it around to face it in my direction. Without hesitation, I turn it around to face them and assure them that I can read upside down and want to ensure they are able to read it themselves. 
  • A goal is “an aim or purpose (Goal, n.d.). Goals for the advising session include conducting a thorough review of the degree plan, making plans to maximize their career options pre- and post-graduation, and ending with a projected graduation date: plan A and plan B. Goals begin with an initial assessment of current skills; thus, I begin by asking, “How comfortable are you with understanding the degree plan?”
  • Expectation is “the feeling or belief that something will or should happen (Expectation, n.d.). At an institution of higher education, the expectations are, by default, set high. My first advising session tends to be lengthy, because I assume a new student enters our institution with a learning curve present in any new environment. The sessions are detailed, slow-paced, repetitive, questioning, engaging, etc. While the second session may have remnants of the first, the third session has expectations. By the third visit, I expect a student to be able to explain the majority of the degree audit, address specific questions, and engage in future planning with concrete goals and verifiable progress.
  • Motivation is “the willingness to do something” (Motivation, n.d.). Perhaps the most challenging of all the principles is motivation. Generally, l do not provide answers but instead assist the student in finding the answer. A regular occurrence is to give the student my keyboard, turn the computer screen in their direction, and have them do the research. Motivational statements are routine; I often say to them that we have a user-friendly website and I myself bookmark all my commonly used pages. 
  • Feedback is a reaction to a process or activity (Feedback, n.d.). Every session is an opportunity to evolve academically, personally, and professionally. It requires Q&A, tangible results, follow-up, encouragement, praise, etc. I apply all of these aspects of feedback when I advise students on probation, and I have them use an online GPA calculator to project their GPA. As I turn over the keyboard and guide them through GPA projections, I witness in real-time the student’s realization that they have control over their academic success. The discovery is indeed powerful.  
  • Finally, interaction is “when two or more people or things communicate with or react to each other” (Interaction, n.d.). The most critical component of any relationship is interaction. With sincere and deliberate interest in the success of a student, advising will naturally produce a mutually successful outcome: a well-rounded professional. A student that moves beyond a discussion about the degree plan and engages in a spontaneous conversation about summer travel plans, for example, is acting on the assumption that the advisor’s actions create a nurturing environment for such discussions, just as the student turned professional is able to move from boardroom to breakroom dialogue with similar ease.

At an institution dealing with high-risk students, the application of learning theory is a challenging endeavor. A student may ask for the grade posting date. When I provide the link to the academic calendar to fish for the date, the student may or may not receive the bait well. Some will not click on the link (as evident in their responses), and some respond with an exclamatory "thank you". Yes, that sense of excitement when there is a bite at the end of the line happens both in and out of the water. Yet another challenge is that of the student that circumvents all university processes, expecting numerous exceptions to the rule.

I often wonder if they will be able to fish and feed themselves, always expecting bites in rough waters. The teach-a-person-to-fish philosophy supports the notion of challenging our limitations; asking unprompted, imperfect questions; and relentlessly seeking answers to simple as well as complex questions. 

I expect a student to enter the advising session with a rod and reel in hand and carry that academic tackle box of indispensable tools that are available to all students: catalog, degree plan, institution’s website, advisor’s full contact information, etc. If necessary, I will drift along with the student while casting, I will be their life jacket should they ever feel overwhelmed by the deluge of time and effort required of a student, and I will untangle their lines of inquiry, with the single presupposition that the student actively participates in the adventure. 

I wish all students a lifetime of casting and an Instagram full of big catches.  

Mercedes Gonzales
Academic Advisor II
Department of Criminal Justice
College of Public Service
University of Houston-Downtown
GonzalesMer@uhd.edu  

References

Active. (n.d.). In Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/active

Expectation. (n.d.). In Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/expectation

Feedback. (n.d.). In Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/feedback

Goal. (n.d.). In Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/goal

Interaction. (n.d.). In Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/interaction

Motivation. (n.d.). In Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/motivation

Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.quotes.net/quote/9115  

Reynolds, M. M. (2010). Learning theory in academic advising: An advisor’s half dozen: Principles for incorporating learning theory into our advising practices. Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Learning-theory-inacademic-advising.aspx

University of Houston – Downtown. (n.d.). General education & common core requirements. Retrieved from http://catalog.uhd.edu/content.php?catoid=1&navoid=69.


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Various Roles of an Academic Advisor with the Increasing Needs of Japanese Higher Education

Saki Inoue, Kanazawa University

Saki Inoue.jpgAcademic advising: this term has not been clearly defined in Japanese higher education. The phrase usually refers to faculty advisors who teach freshman seminars and support students’ academic life by having individual meetings, checking class registration information, or communicating about grades. Mostly, the role of an academic advisor is allocated to faculty members rather than specialists, but the faculty advisor system does not function well in Japan (Yamasaki & Tomioka, 2017). Students are not familiar with the system, and most of them do not see their academic advisor other than during seminars.

On the other hand, the need for offering learning support services is expanding due to the increasing rate of enrollment in higher education and the request of quality assurance of students’ learning outcomes from the ministry of education. Teachers or staff who work for learning support are sometimes called academic advisors. Therefore, currently there are two types of academic advisors in Japan. The one is derived from the U.S.'s academic advisor who supports students in terms of class registration and guiding them to graduate, and the other advisor is to help learning itself.

Practices of Academic Advising in Japanese Universities

According to the definition by the ministry of education, academic advising is attentive support for students by faculty members who have consultation or give advice regarding a student’s GPA or class registration situation. Advisors are responsible for students until they graduate (MEXT, 2012, p. 38). Usually faculty advisors are required to have an individual meeting with students at least once a semester (or a year) to check the student’s performance at school.

The problem is that this individual meeting is often held after students are experiencing difficulties, such as low grades or low attendance rates. Moreover, according to the survey by Yamasaki and Tomioka (2017), only 6% of students answered that they will meet their advisor when they have difficulties. In the same survey, 31% of respondents said they never met with advisors outside of the classroom and did not see the necessity of meeting with their advisor. Since faculty advisors are busy with teaching, research, or other school tasks, the priority of advising tends to be low. Also, most faculty advisors are not trained to be an advisor, so it is difficult for them to fulfill the role of academic advisor as the university or the government expect. Furthermore, the quality of advising differs depending on the advisor.

On the other hand, Seki (2011) defines academic advising as comprehensive support which deals with learning assistance, student life matters, academic planning, support to receive scholarships, and career development (p. 98). Academic advising is expected to cover many more areas in Japanese universities. For example, the following statements are the description of an academic advisor or academic advising from three universities’ websites.

  • The system of academic advising is established to support students to be able to effectively learn by giving guidance and advice (Sangyo Noritsu University, 2018).
  • Academic advising is a system which increases students’ motivation and encourages students to act and learn to achieve their own goals (Nagaoka University, 2018).
  • Academic advising supports every-day learning and is dedicated to learning support (Shimane University, 2018).

There is rising attention on academic advising in Japan since presentation titles including academic advising or academic advisor started to appear in conferences of the Japan Association for College and University Education, a big academic association of higher education in Japan since 2017. Nevertheless, there are multiple ways of understanding expectations toward academic advising.

The Need for Support for Academic Planning in Japan

There is a need for learning support beyond just advising for class registration or academic planning in Japan. One of the biggest purposes of academic advising in the U.S. is to improve graduation and retention rate as introduced by UNESCO (2002). In contrast, the Japanese graduation rate is over 90%, the highest rate in the world (OECD, 2017). This high graduation rate is deeply connected with Japanese job-hunting culture and social pressure. In Japan, more than 80% of freshman enroll directly from high school, and only 2% of them are over 25 years old (OECD, 2017). There is invisible social pressure on students pushing them to enter a college or university at the age of 18 and graduate within four years. Also, Japanese students start job hunting a year before they graduate. Therefore, both companies and universities expect students to graduate in four years, and the educational system is shaped accordingly.

Even though the graduation rate is high, there are other challenges in Japanese higher education. One of them is mismatching: students realize their major is different from what they want to learn after they enter a university. In Japanese admissions systems, most students choose their major when they apply for a university. Once they enter the university, it requires complex procedures to transfer from their school or change majors. In fact, 15% of students who left school entered university again with a different major, which means they took the entrance exam again and repeated the first-year experience course (MEXT, 2014). According to the newspaper survey, the number of students who retook entrance exams from other universities drastically increased in the last 15 years (Onishi, 2013).

The cause of mismatching is often related to how students choose a university in high school. According to a survey, about 42% of students answered that the level of entrance exam was the most important factor when they chose a university (Benesse Educational Research, 2017). In addition, Japanese students tend to avoid taking a gap year since it is regarded as failure, so many students enter a university whose level is appropriate for them without enough consideration of its curriculum.

Under these circumstances, more and more universities have established late specialization programs such as a liberal arts program. In these programs, students have more flexibility of choosing their field of study. Students in these programs need to have enough correct information to make a right decision. The pioneer of implementing liberal arts programs in Japan is the International Christian University (Morikawa, 2011). To support students’ academic planning in late specialization programs, it will be necessary to hire specialists who understand the goals and objectives of the school and curriculum and are able to give appropriate advice on each student.

Kanazawa University

Kanazawa University is one of the national universities in Japan, and it consists of three major colleges (Human and Social Sciences; Science and Engineering; and Medical, Pharmaceutical, and Health Sciences) and 17 schools under the three colleges. Kanazawa University is one of the examples which incorporated a late specialization program and hired academic advisors. Kanazawa University has started accepting (as of 2018) a group of students who do not belong to any school and choose their major when they become a sophomore based on the first-year experience. In order to support them in choosing their major, the university hired academic advisors and trained them to understand the university curriculum and build connections with staff in different divisions of the university. The advisors visited some universities with similar academic advising systems, such as International Christian University and Temple University Japan Campus, to learn about academic advising. Currently, the main job of academic advisors is to hold freshman orientation for the group, independent consultation meetings with students regarding choosing a school, helping with class registration, and passing on useful information.

Learning support for ordinary students is also included in an academic advisor’s job. The academic advisors plan academic skill seminars and events for language learning or work with peer supporters to help students write, present, and study effectively for various classes. The role of the academic advisor also covers academic planning and learning support.

Conclusion

Since the definition of academic advising has been regarded differently among universities, it is necessary to get together and consider the role of academic advisors within the Japanese education context. Just importing the system or idea from elsewhere does not work, as the research shows.  Therefore academic advisors, faculty advisors, and university staff need to consider how to incorporate academic advising in a Japanese university with careful assessment of the current situation.

Saki Inoue
Assistant Professor (Academic Advisor)
Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Kanazawa University (Japan)
sinoue@staff.kanazawa-u.ac.jp

References - See https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Various-Roles-of-an-Academic-Advisor-with-the-Increasing-Needs-of-Japanese-Higher-Education.aspx


How to Use Assessment Efficiently in Academic Advising

Seeta Rees, 2018 Assessment Institute Scholarship Recipient

Seeta Reese.jpgAs a new academic advisor, I have tried to access as much information as possible that would provide deeper insights into academic advising for myself and would also enhance service to students in the advising department. During my information exploration, I noticed NACADA was hosting an Assessment Institute in Daytona Beach, Florida. I was fortunate to be a scholarship recipient and looked forward to discussions on seamlessly integrating assessment in my work structure, as well as examining its influence on the academic advising experience for all stakeholders.  For the duration of the Assessment Institute, I reserved a room at the Plaza Resort and Spa, which had a breathtaking view of the seemingly endless beach, unbroken horizon, undulating waves, and magnificent sunsets. It was the perfect location to relax after the rigor of assessment sessions.

Information at the plenary meeting indicated that the curriculum for the Assessment Institute was carefully planned to maximize information sharing during sessions. Classes were interactive, and staff paid attention to diverse learning styles with varied activities, including both group and individual tasks. Sessions covered a variety of topics, including the purpose of assessment, how to create a vision or mission statement for one’s academic advising department, understanding a cycle of outcomes, mapping and measurement, the importance of multiple measures, and how to interpret data.                       

Participants were at various stages in the assessment process: many were at a point where they were brainstorming ideas, while others had an outline. Presenters skillfully guided us through the process using NACADA Pillar documents (NACADA, n.d.) as we worked to create a culture of success by using assessment in academic advising that incorporated the goals and mission statement of our institution.   

Quite often, discussions extended beyond classrooms; we would share what was being done at our institutions over meals or on the outdoor patio enjoying the fresh, crisp sea breeze. It was a relief to know that we did not have to reinvent the wheel. The mission statement we were designing would be one element used to prepare outcomes from the advising experience with students. After you have established what you want students to learn, you direct your attention to appropriate measurements. It is vital to consider existing resources of both instrument and data. It was interesting to listen to other ideas about systematic planning and fun making new friends. 

The Assessment Institute staff provided an abundance of information, which I have added to my academic advising toolbox; it would prove to be invaluable during advising sessions. The institute also has given me deeper insight into how assessment could be used to enhance the advising experience for all involved. It is essential to remember that in order to be effective, assessment should be a continuous process where information about learners’ educational experiences is compiled from multiple sources and results are used to improve subsequent learning. The Assessment Institute was time well-invested. I know I am better equipped with effective tools and resources to enhance the academic advising experience and am also pleased to have a support group of new-found friends.      

Seeta Rees, Ph.D.
Sr. Academic Advisor-Retention Specialist
Reading Area Community College
srees@racc.edu

References

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (n.d.). Pillars of Academic Advising. Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars.aspx

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