Author: Wendy G. Troxel
I am so honored to have this opportunity to share a few thoughts in this issue of Academic Advising Today (AAT) as NACADA’s Interim Executive Director. I’ll take this moment to formally acknowledge the work of Dr. Melinda Anderson, who served most recently as NACADA’s Executive Director during a critical season of challenge (the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic). As the world faced uncertainty of what the new normal might look like, NACADA’s traditional modalities for professional development and member interaction were redefined. Dr. Anderson led NACADA through that season with strategic vision, compassionate innovation, and fiduciary care. The Executive Office staff, a team of the most hardworking professionals I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, came together to reimagine and redefine the resources, instructional strategies, and interactions of our Global Community.
Concurrently, higher education institutions around the world were having similar conversations and asking the same types of questions:
- What does “instruction” look like coming out of the pandemic?
- Will enrollments decline or increase at our institution?
- What will students expect regarding the educational environment? Will they refuse to come back to campus, preferring virtual modalities that are both efficient and effective, or will they crave face-to-face interactions and connections?
- Given these uncertainties, to what extent will we invest in the professional development of our staff and faculty?
The results vary, to be sure. But as I write this article, I am wandering this spring among thousands of academic advisors of all ages, all races and genders, that represent the full range of experiences and roles within academic advising. These are the attendees of NACADA’s 2023 Region Conferences and our Winter Institutes. The topics are timely, the conversations spirited, and underlying it all is a feeling that both NACADA and academic advising broadly are facing a surge of importance in higher education.
This is good news. Attention to academic advising in the media has highlighted its complexity and its impact (McMurtie & Supiano, 2022). Additionally, considering that NACADA has been in existence for over 40 years, recently higher education associations with historically peripheral connections to academic advising have begun to claim new spaces of influence. A proliferation of new terms like holistic advising offer important opportunities for elevated discussion, yet also threaten to cloud historic, consistent descriptions of academic advising’s intended role and scope. For example, is holistic advising an approach or a structure? Do we structure our academic advising offices and units with cross-collaboration in mind, or do individual advisors advise students holistically? We need only review the earliest literature on academic advising to confirm that the tenets of Developmental Advising sound strikingly familiar. Crookston’s (1972) original work explored academic advising through the lenses of counseling psychology and its focus on student development theory. O’Banion (1972) followed with the identification of early intentional frameworks of academic advising interactions and purposes that led to intentional, documentable approaches to guiding a student toward their “total potential” (p. 62).
So is holistic advising just “old wine in new bottles?” Perhaps. But we know that too many institutions still use advisors as minimalists, relegating them to transactional tasks and responsibilities and limiting their earning and professional growth potential. Many others, however, view academic advising (whether done by staff or faculty) as central to the teaching and learning mission of the institution and consider academic advisors as professional educators with a unique and critical role within the team. Academic advisors embrace the importance of getting to know the whole student because they understand the complexities of learning and developmental growth. And they carefully and compassionately help students through the challenges and barriers they face academically, personally, and socially. They do this not only through innate dispositions of care, but through an intentional commitment to learning more about their craft and exploring new ways of knowing and pondering.
Finally, then, I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the articles in this issue of Academic Advising Today, through a simple, yet important framework. Years ago, the NACADA Research Committee, led at the time by Janet Schulenberg, established NACADA’s Research Agenda by identifying three conceptual areas under which the scholarship of advising can be situated. The fascinating articles in this issue of AAT represent those three areas. The impact of academic advising explores the evidence revealed by the intentional interventions advisors employ to influence intended learning and developmental outcomes of students (Malak, 2023; Smith, 2023). The context of academic advising explores the environments through which our work is achieved (Gallien & Ewing-Cooper, 2023; Hage & Engle, 2023; Talbott et al., 2023). And underlying it all are the theories we apply to the strategies and contexts of our work and how our understanding of human behavior and interactions reveal meaning, experience, and growth (Wuriyeti, 2023). A full description of NACADA’s Research Agenda can be found at https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Research-Related.aspx.
Academic advisors who view their work in a scholarly way (consulting and applying the advising-related literature), working together with colleagues across the institution, ensure that students interact with caring, knowledgeable professionals who are committed to their success and elevate advising’s place within higher education. NACADA professional development opportunities are in full swing, through both in-person and virtual platforms. We look forward to learning with you!
Wendy G. Troxel, NACADA Interim Executive Director
Crookston, B. B. (1972). A developmental view of academic advising as teaching. Journal of College Student Personnel, 13(1), 12–17.
Gallien, K. N., & Ewing-Cooper, A. (2023, March). Academic advisors with advanced degrees: Exploring connections between educational backgrounds and professional experiences. Academic Advising Today. https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Academic-Advisors-with-Advanced-Degrees-Exploring-Connections-Between-Educational-Backgrounds-and-Professional-Experiences.aspx
Hage, E., & Engle, J. (2023, March). (Can’t get no) satisfaction in advising for technical disciplines. Academic Advising Today. https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/-Cant-Get-No-Satisfaction-in-Advising-for-Technical-Disciplines.aspx
Malak, E. (2023, March). Advising students on leave. Academic Advising Today. https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Advising-Students-on-Leave.aspx
McMurtie, B., & Supiano, B. (2022). The future of advising: Strategies to support student success. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
O'Banion, T. (1972). An academic advising model. Junior College Journal, 42, 62, 63, 66–69.
Smith, T. (2023, March). Supporting at-risk adult learners through purposeful communication. Academic Advising Today. https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Supporting-At-Risk-Adult-Learners-through-Purposeful-Communication.aspx
Talbott, K., Miller, O, & Kuizin, L. (2023, March). From advising undergraduate students to advising graduate and professional students: Experiences from the field. Academic Advising Today. https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/From-Advising-Undergraduate-Students-to-Advising-Graduate-and-Professional-Students-Experiences-from-the-Field.aspx
Wuriyeti, H. (2023, March). Understanding Chinese students’ learning behaviors from a cultural perspective. . Academic Advising Today. https://nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Understanding-Chinese-Students-Learning-Behaviors-from-a-Cultural-Perspective.aspx