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Voices of the Global Community


Deb Dotterer, NACADA Professional Development Committee Chair (2018-2020)
Gavin Farber, NACADA Advisor Training and Development Advising Community Chair (2019-2021)
Teri Farr, NACADA Professional Development Committee Past Chair (2015-2018)

Gavin Farber.jpgDeb Dotterer.jpgIn March 2017, NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising’s Board of Directors approved the Academic Advising Core Competencies Model, and, in October of that year, the Academic Advising Core Competences Guide (Farr & Cunningham, 2017) was debuted at the association’s Annual Conference in St. Louis. In developing the components of the Core Competencies, the NACADA Professional Development Committee (PDC) took a 30,000-foot view, and the committee believes that the components can assist advisors in all advising situations. Since the 2017 Annual Conference, the PDC has worked to promote the Core Competencies and Teri Farr.jpggather feedback and suggestions from various constituencies. Much of the feedback has focused on how the published Core Competencies help members use the components as a roadmap for their own professional development. In this article, PDC members aim to provide ideas and examples of how members are utilizing the Core Competencies for academic advising training and development.  

This article reports on four institutions’ unique approaches to the using the Core Competencies to create dynamic advisor training programs for their practitioners. 

Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Informational Training

Located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, MTSU is home to approximately 80 professional academic advisors. This institution follows a decentralized advising model. Bryanna Licciardi, an academic advisor in the College of Education, serves as Chair of the Advisor Training Committee.

The committee used the Informational Competency area in their training model. It is the goal of this committee to (1) assist in new hire training and (2) create an advisor manual for all practitioners. There are also specialized trainings called Advisor Targeted Trainings focusing on areas including: advisor policies, technology tutorials, legal guidelines, and other topics.  

According to Licciardi, there are also 90-minute refresher trainings on specifics that are important for the MTSU advisors to learn. This is a way to bring this advising community together and gain insights from university experts. 

Other efforts to strengthen the advisor trainings at MTSU include looking at the advisor’s own personal development. They used resources from their university’s Center for Health and Human Services where there is a Mental Health First Aid program that encouraged a practitioner’s development in skill-strengthening. 

To learn more, contact Bryanna at [email protected]

University of Cincinnati Advisor Training and Professional Development

Lacey Tomlinson serves as the Assistant Director of Advisor Training, Professional Development, and Online Resources at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati, Ohio. When she began this position almost two years ago, it was an expectation to use the NACADA Core Competencies. 

In Lacey’s view, “It’s already built; let’s use it!”

The first thing she did in her role was to survey the 120 advising practitioners on their understanding of the Core Competencies. Overwhelmingly, advisors were high in their knowledge of the Informational Competency. They were informed on the topics discussed within the Relational and Conceptual frameworks. 

As a result, Tomlinson created the Professional Development (PD) Session for all advisors. This monthly program during the academic year allows her office to host webinars and other training opportunities. She said that there are two large training session before orientation and the start of the semester for advisors. These sessions can host anywhere between 80–100 advisors. There were 5–6 PD sessions and 5–6 webinars a year. 

UC’s advisor training also includes a Blackboard course that is designed for new advisors. Practitioners will complete 11 modules on various topics. These trainings are linked to the Core Competencies. There is no formal assessment of this training, but participants are required to complete journal reflections. According to Tomlinson, her office is currently in the process of building interactive modules through Articulate Storyline. During these trainings, short quizzes will be built to assess advisors’ learning. It is their goal to have these new trainings completed by the end of the year.

To learn more, contact Lacey at [email protected]

University of Arkansas Fulbright College Advisor Portfolios

Shane Barker is the Advising Director of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas. This institution has a decentralized advising model. Barker created an internal professional development advising training program for his advising staff that allows them to gain advising knowledge from the Core Competencies while also increasing their professional skills.

Barker wanted to find ways to reward his advising team in a different advisor training format. The in-house training would recognize an advisor’s completion of levels beginning at new, senior, and mastery.  This completion would allow that professional to add value to their roles in their office. 

The Fulbright College Advising Center requires each advisor to create a professional portfolio every year where they must address all three core competencies areas. They are given a lot of autonomy in the way they address each competency. Some of Barker’s staff were at first resistant to the idea of this assignment because they were intimidated. 

In Barker’s view, the portfolio allows an advisor to account for each year they are working beginning as a new advisor and progressing into a senior level and mastery level advisor. While they cannot make professional title changes without the assistance of Human Resources, this exercise adds value to their understanding of their role as an academic advisor, linking their chosen competencies to those learned in that particular year. 

These portfolios also assist Barker in his yearly evaluations of each staff member. They can reflect on the impact they have had that academic term/year and over the course of their professional careers. 

The NACADA Core Competencies make a huge impact on the Fulbright College academic advisors. While Barker might not always be able to send advisors to professional conferences, he can offer professional development opportunities on campus. He might share a case study or an article relating to an advising practice that highlights a competency with his staff. The staff will then come together as a group and discuss their findings and reactions. 

Keeping staff motivated is key, and Barker’s strategy of professional portfolios and advisor training and development exercises have guided his team to feel a part of the association and the profession as a whole. 

To learn more, contact Shane at: [email protected]

Portland Community College Advisor Redesign

Jason Pinkal serves as Program Manager of Advising Redesign and Orientation at Portland Community College. With an enrollment of 71,000 students (Demographics, 2019) there are students on four main campuses. There is an advising staff of 120 advisors. Professional advisors make up the majority of them in full-time, part-time, and casual advising roles. A casual advisor is a non-contracted, part-time employee who are limited in the issues they can address with students. There is a small cohort of faculty advisors at the institution as well.

In his role as program manager, Pinkal said there was an assessment at Portland Community College in 2009 that focused on advising at the institution. PCC was at one-point part of the Achieving the Dream School program that required their school to have guided pathways towards degree completion. The challenge advisors faced on campus was that prior to their redesign, they worked in very different ways.  There was a practice of transactional advising which was not student friendly. During this period of transforming the advising techniques, they focused on a case management/holistic advising approach.

As a result, there was a need to develop the academic advisors on campus. New tools including professional development trainings using the NACADA Core Competencies, webinars, and other web resources were provided to add foundational knowledge. There are in-person and asynchronous online training programs. Mid-level advisors at PCC are encouraged to use their experiences to aid in their creation of an advising philosophy. There are also trainings on equity and inclusion. 

To learn more, contact Jason at: [email protected]

Final Thoughts

Using the NACADA Core Competencies in the creation of advisor training and development programming can be simpler than one might think. If you have any questions or want to report your institution’s practice, please reach out to the Advisor Training and Development Advising Community Chair and the Professional Development Committee Chair (email addresses provided below).

Deb Dotterer
NACADA Professional Development Committee Chair (2018-2020)
Michigan State University
[email protected]

Gavin Farber
NACADA Advisor Training and Development Advising Community Chair (2019-2021)
Temple University
[email protected]

Teri Farr
NACADA Administrative Division Representative (2018-2020)
University of Illinois
[email protected]


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

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

Portland Community College. (n.d.). Demographics. https://www.pcc.edu/about/quick-facts/demographics.html

Cite this article using APA style as: Dotterer, D., Farber, G., & Farr, T. (2020, March). Discovering association wide advisor training and development practices using the NACADA core competencies. Academic Advising Today, 43(1). [insert url here] 

Posted in: 2020 March 43:1


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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.