From Myopia to Systemic Thinking
Patrick T. Terenzini, Pennsylvania State University
Editor's Note: Patrick T. Terenzini, co-author of the two-volume series How College Affects Students, will deliver the opening keynote address, October 18, 2007, at the NACADA Annual Conference in Baltimore.
Ernie Pascarella and I have now reviewed nearly 35 years of research on how college affects students (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005), and it seems entirely reasonable to ask: 'Well, what did you learn, and so what?' Two sets of conclusions come to mind, one about how students learn and the other (more speculative) about how colleges shape that learning.
First, what can we conclude about how students learn? The research from cognitive science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and higher education tells us a good deal about student learning. Among an impressive array of findings, we know that learning: 1) requires an encounter with a challenge to the learner's current knowledge and belief structures; 2) requires active learner engagement with those challenges; 3) occurs best in a supportive environment that promotes reflection, consolidation, and internalization; 4) is relational and social, occurring best in the company of others and providing both enjoyable interaction and personal support; 5) is maximized in settings where both the learning activity and the learning outcome(s) have meaning for the learner, and 6) is neither time nor location bound.
The striking feature about these characteristics of student learning is that they are common across a wide array of educational outcomes and an equally broad array of different student experiences, both inside and outside the classroom. Experiences having one or more of these characteristics tend to be more educationally effective – regardless of the outcomes under study – than experiences with few or none of these traits. These educationally powerful experiences are found in the nature and integrity of curriculum, in the pedagogies instructors adopt in their classrooms, and in a host of out-of-class experiences.
Equally interesting, these traits are found to varying degrees in studies that focus largely on only one or a small set of possible influences on learning or change. For example, one cluster of studies examines the influence of some aspect of the curriculum and/or a particular instructional approach (e.g., collaborative learning, service learning) on, say, students' critical thinking or problem-solving skills. Those studies, however, frequently overlook a number of students' out-of-class experiences that may also promote the outcome under study. Another cluster of studies examines the influences of students' co-curricular experiences (e.g., in the residence hall, leadership programs, student organizations, or intercollegiate athletics) on some aspect of students' psychosocial development (e.g., identity formation, autonomy, interpersonal skills, or attitude change). Like those focusing on cognitive outcomes, studies of psychosocial development often overlook the possibilities that students' classroom or other academic-related experiences (including the kind of advising they receive) also shape the outcome under study. These patterns suggest quite clearly that most studies of college effects on students have adopted an overly narrow – one might even say myopic – conceptual focus, concentrating on only a comparative handful of factors at a time. Pascarella and I concluded that much of the current body of evidence “present[s] only a partial picture of the forces at work” (2005, p. 630).
This scholarly myopia has its administrative manifestations in our sometimes single-minded search for 'best practices.' When the evidence suggests that some program or intervention effectively promotes an educationally desirable outcome, practitioners adopt that practice for use on their own campuses. The practice seems reasonable enough: If something works on another, similar campus, why would it not also work on one's own? That question has a number of answers, such as different student bodies; different institutional histories, contexts, and cultures; and differences in the commitment and even the capacity of important stakeholders to make the change. What seems reasonable may not always be so.
In its scholarly form, this myopia represents a serious threat to understanding fully what constitutes educational effectiveness. In its administrative forms, this myopia also threatens the full and effective promotion of student learning. In both manifestations, the tendency is to overlook the full richness and range of the things that influence student learning. Perhaps the most important and inescapable conclusion Pascarella and I reached – in all its simplicity and all its complexity – is that student learning is shaped by multiple influences, operating in multiple settings, and affecting multiple outcomes. Student learning is clearly a function of the levels of students' engagement in their college experience, and one measure of educational effectiveness is an institution’s ability to promote high levels of student engagement. But the sixth characteristic of student learning listed above – that it is neither time nor location bound – suggests the need for a broader, more complex vision of how students learn and how we can best enhance it.
Frequently overlooked in the research we do, and in the ways we educate students, is the fact that students' educational experiences do not occur in a vacuum. Their peers (i.e., their friendship groups) and the larger peer environment constitute other important sets of influences that shape student learning. Indeed, Astin (1993) concluded that “the student’s peer group is the single most potent source of influence on growth and development during the undergraduate years” (p. 398).
But the range of influences on learning does not stop there. Students’ individual experiences, their interactions with their friends, and the broader peer environment exist within a still larger setting – the organizational context. Organizational influences are frequently overlooked in the research on college's effects on student development and change. When considered at all, the institutional features studied are usually size, control, mission, or selectivity. Thirty-five years of research indicates that those characteristics are too distal from the student experience to have much, if any, impact on student learning (Astin, 1993; Dey et al., 1997; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005).
Re-examining what institutions do, rather than what they are, may offer potentially more productive scholarly and administrative paths. This alternative suggests a need to think more systemically, from top-to-bottom and from wall-to-wall. Educational effectiveness may lie not so much in the kinds or range of programs we offer students, but rather in the extent to which each institutional program, practice, and policy manifests one or more of the characteristics of learning listed earlier. Organizationally, the six characteristics of learning provide a kind of checklist for reviewing current organizational structures, programs, and policies and the extent to which they promote (or militate against) the characteristics of effective learning. What an institution or its units do, specifically, may be less important than that whatever is done be consistent with what we know about how students learn. Kuh and his colleagues (2005) provide clear insight into what some of those internal organizational features are and how a variety of different kinds of institutions have capitalized on them to enhance student learning. Space precludes discussion of those characteristics, but a central theme in those case studies is the ability of the institutions and their faculty and staff members to look and think beyond the boundaries of their own units and activities and to understand the place and role of what they do in relation to the role and activities of others. The product is a coherent, integrated, intentional learning environment that serves the institution's students and its educational mission.
Patrick T. Terenzini
Center for the Study of Higher Education
Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Astin, A. (1993). What matters in college? Four Critical Years revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Dey, E., Hurtado, S., Rhee, B., Inkelas, K. K., Wimsatt, L. A., & Guan, F. (1997) . Improving research on postsecondary outcomes: A review of the strengths and limitations of national data sources. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University, National Center for Postsecondary Improvement.
Kuh, G., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J., Whitt, E., & Associates. (2005). Student success in college: Creating conditions that matter. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Pascarella, E., & Terenzini, P. (1991). How college affects students: Findings and insights from twenty years of research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Pascarella, E., & Terenzini, P. (2005). How college affects students (Vol. 2): A third decade of research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
From the President: Take Advantage of the Moment!
Susan Campbell, NACADA President
As I begin writing this article, I am watching the wind whip through the pine trees during the third Nor’easter of April 2007. I am reminded of how unpredictable life’s events really are and of how, at any given moment, we can find ourselves in places and in situations that we never thought possible or probable. As a result, we should take advantage of the opportunities before us at the moment they present themselves. One such opportunity is adoption of the NACADA Concept Statement on Academic Advising and the growing recognition that academic advising is a significant contributor to student success. In pondering this, I realize that there is a somewhat symbiotic relationship between the Concept Statement and student success. Let me explain.
We have all read the literature on academic advising and the importance of looking at academic advising as a holistic and developmental process. Toward that end, many of us have experienced the challenges of transforming academic advising on our own campuses from a point-of-service transaction coincidental with course registration to an educational process grounded in teaching and learning. For many of us, this has been a slow march—as all cultural change is. What has emerged while we have been marching is a fairly substantial body of writing that suggests that others are in agreement with us; that, indeed, academic advising, when approached holistically and developmentally, really does support student success! At this moment, we are in a good place. We must now take advantage of this moment by embracing and acting upon what is reflected in the NACADA Concept Statement on Academic Advising. As that document summarizes,
Academic advising, based in the teaching and learning mission of higher education, is a series of intentional interactions with a curriculum, a pedagogy, and a set of student learning outcomes. Academic advising synthesizes and contextualizes students’ educational experiences within the frameworks of their aspirations, abilities and lives to extend learning beyond campus boundaries and timeframes.
While reinforcing our expressed beliefs that the potential for academic advising rests in helping students make sense and meaning of their educational experiences, the Concept Statement also articulates that academic advising is ‘integral’ to an institution’s fulfilling its teaching and learning mission. As such, our challenge (and it is one that many have already taken up) is to enact what it means to be ‘integral.’ To do this, we must be clear about how academic advising contributes to student learning by identifying desired student learning outcomes and intentionally designing opportunities for students to learn that which we desire them to learn. While we may not all spend time in a classroom, we are all teachers. We teach through academic advising.
The opportunity to strengthen the position of academic advising on our own campuses is upon us. There is clear recognition that academic advising positively contributes to student persistence and success. The Concept Statement on Academic Advising provides a framework to guide us in our task.
Now, more than ever, we must draw upon each other and the resources of our Association to support our work. The myriad NACADA publications and events available to us makes the expertise of our colleagues (e.g., monographs, Webinars, Institutes, Consultants’ Bureau) and resources of our Association (a strong, credible community with remarkable executive office support) readily available to our quest. Collectively and collaboratively we can continue our march toward full realization of the potential of academic advising in higher education. I encourage us all to take advantage of this moment!
Susan Campbell, President
National Academic Advising Association
From the Executive Director: Academic Advising in the Spotlight
Roberta 'Bobbie' Flaherty, NACADA Executive Director
The purpose of this Association is to impact student development through the enhancement of academic advising. One avenue for addressing this purpose is by heightening the recognition of the importance of effective academic advising within the higher education community in general and on campuses specifically. Our challenge becomes how to get our message to those who are not members of the Association, but are key campus decision makers.
Identifying the person most likely responsible for advising at each institution is difficult since there is no one consistent title describing that person across institutions. It might be the chief academic officer, the chief student affairs officer, a director of a centralized unit, a vice president, a dean, an associate dean, etc. Thus, it is important for us to consider other methods for reaching these decision-makers.
I believe our best “promoters” are our members! You know the value of effective academic advising, you know the value of the resources available to you through NACADA, and you know the critical administrators at your institution and at nearby or “sister” institutions. So, we need you carry the message to others within your institution and beyond – yes, spread the word!
Some ways in which you might do this are:
- Organize a campus-wide group to discuss advising issues and provide input to the administration. Many such institutional groups already exist and would provide models for your consideration. In the September 2005 issue of Academic Advising Today, Debbie Barber (Kent State University) discussed how KASADA was formedand has benefited the institution.
- Network with other campus advisors using Robert Bryant, Agnes Chagani, Jennifer Endres, and Jim Galvin’s (University of Minnesota) “Strategies for Building Professional Advising Networks” in the Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources.
- Form a networking group with advisors at surrounding or similar institutions and have the group become an Allied Member of NACADA – see Allied Members under “Membership” on the website.
- Make key administrators aware of NACADA resources and events that can help them (and you) address issues your institution is facing or might consider for improvement.
- Contact the NACADA Consultants Bureau to engage a consultant or team to conduct a review of your advising program that will highlight your strengths and provide guidance on what you might consider to further enhance your program.
- Become familiar with all the NACADA resources (especially the Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources ) so that you can utilize that information in your daily work with students and in growing your academic advising program.
Share your knowledge of resources with others so that they might share your passion for student success through effective academic advising. Establish a seminar or brown bag lunch series to address advising issues at your institution. Regularly distribute electronically across your campus an article from the NACADA Clearinghouse on a key issue on your campus.
- Refer others to NACADA resources when they ask questions on listserves, in meetings or with accreditation study groups.
- Share your knowledge of advising and NACADA with colleagues through presentations or discussions at other meetings and conferences.
Yes, YOU are important in assuring that the visibility of advising is heightened and that central administrators hear what we all know – that effective academic advising impacts student success. Your involvement and support of NACADA impacts how far and wide we can spread this important message.
Have a wonderful summer!
Roberta 'Bobbie' Flaherty, Executive Director
National Academic Advising Association
Adapting Academic Advising Strategies to Meet the Needs of a Diversified Student Body
Alison Grewe, University of Miami
Recent statistical trends have led experts to project that ethnic minorities will become the numerical majority in the United States by the year 2010 (Cornett-Devito & Reeves, 1999). The impact of this growth is pervasive and, according to Howe & Strauss (2000), is evident in the current generation of students who are the most racially and ethnically diverse in this nation’s history. Those involved with collegiate student development must adapt current policies and practices to better meet the unique needs of our students. As academic advisors charged with facilitating the development of student potential, we must acquire new skills and strategies in order to provide more effective advising services.
At the forefront of the debate surrounding the administration of academic advising services has been the paradigm shift from a prescriptive to a developmental methodology. Proponents of the latter have contended that developmental advising supersedes the scope of prescriptive advising in that it promotes a rational process that embraces the holistic development of the student toward the achievement of a self-fulfilling life (Frost, 2000, p. 12-13). To presume however, that one mode of practice can serve the needs of all students despite social, cultural, and historical differences, is misleading. Brown and Rivas (1994) note that the perception rather should be one in which “…prescriptive advising, rather than being incompatible with a developmental approach to advising, is in fact a significant and necessary part of a thorough developmental advising methodology, one which gives due consideration to individual and group differences and needs” (p. 108). Viewing advising practices through a lens in which developmental advising falls along a continuum, therefore, may be more appropriate when engaging the current generation of students.
In fact, recent trends in the field indicate that some students prefer the directive approach of prescriptive advising. For instance, Brown & Rivas (1995) note that “many people of color have a need for concrete, tangible, structured approaches to addressing and resolving issues and problems” (p. 128). Here, the perception is that the non-directive approach seen in developmental advising techniques may be counter to cultural experiences and therefore be seen as untrustworthy and withholding of information, and thus ultimately confusing and disorienting (Cornett-DeVito & Reeves, 1999, p. 37). Therefore, in the interest of rapport building and the development of trust with a student from a minority cultural background, a “…perceived expertness [may be] crucial to developing a productive ongoing advisor-advisee interaction” (Cornett-DeVito & Reeves, 1999, p. 37). Counter to standard developmental advising practices, to reduce advisee hesitancy, the advisor may be required to take the primary responsibility for the establishment of the advising relationship and provide as much information as possible.
Advisors must be cognizant of the students’ individual and cultural characteristics and adjust their advising methodology to address students’ specific needs. To effectively meet developmental advising goals, advisors must recognize the need to change their approach with the changing environment (Priest & McPhee, 2000, p. 110). To this extent, advisors are charged with “…examining their knowledge, attitudes, perceptions and feelings” relative to a culturally diversified student body (Priest & McPhee, 2000, p. 110). Advisors who reflect upon their own beliefs, attitudes and biases are afforded an opportunity to develop an awareness of their relational style and the level to which services are provided in a competent, sensitive, and appropriate way. However, the development of advisors’ competencies should not be limited solely to an understanding of their own views but should incorporate an “understanding of the students’ life experiences and the resultant philosophical assumptions that they carry with them” (Brown & Rivas, 1995, p. 124) if the process is to be meaningful and effective.
The culmination of this perceptual awareness and the subsequent development of a competent skill set can only ensure the implementation of strategies that serve the best interest of students while ensuring a positive experience. The guidance and support provided to students during the first year is often the essential component to their integration, persistence and achievement; thus, for advisors the “challenge is to identify and implement interventions that will support increased levels of achievement and success” (Brown & Rivas, 1995, p. 126). Such interventions should include the implementation of effective referral systems, facilitating relationships with faculty mentors and professionals, and encouraging students to utilize the dynamics of a group setting to promote peer interaction and academic success. To successfully implement these strategies advisors must “acquire verbal and nonverbal communication skills necessary to be appropriately and effectively adaptable to students” (Cornett-DeVito & Reeves, 1999, p. 39).
Recent “retention studies have shown that effective academic advising is positively correlated to students’ satisfaction with their college experience” (Priest & McPhee, 2000, p. 106). Advisors who understand that minority students often underutilize advising services realize that they must continually develop their skills and strategies if they are to meet students’ diversified needs (Gordon et al., 2000; Brown & Rivas, 1995). Advisors must use varied interventions if they are to demonstrate flexibility and empathy that takes into account the world views and cultural trends presented by this new generation of students. Advisors who interact with a diversified student body must possess a skill set that incorporates knowledge about cultural groups and norms, appropriate and effective verbal and nonverbal aptitudes, and an awareness of the factors that support social and academic integration. Ultimately, as the campus student population becomes increasingly diverse, advisors must adapt their skills and strategies if they are to effectively support students in the development of their total potential.
Academic & Career Advisor in Residence
University of Miami
Brown, T. & Rivas, M. (1994). The prescriptive relationship in academic advising as an appropriate developmental intervention with multicultural populations. NACADA Journal, 14 (2), 108-111.
Brown, T. & Rivas, M. (1995). Pluralistic advising: Facilitating the development and achievement of first-year students of color. In M.L. Upcraft & G.L. Kramer (ed.), First-year academic advising: Patterns in the present, pathways to the future. (pp. 121-133). Columbia: University of South Carolina.
Cornett-Devito, M., & Reeves, K. (1999). Preparing students for success in a multicultural world: Faculty advisement and intercultural communication. NACADA Journal, 19 (1), 35-44.
Frost, S.H. (2000) Historical and Philosophical Foundations for Academic Advising. In V.N. Gordon, W.R. Habley & Associates (Eds.), Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook(pp. 3-17). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gordon, V.N., Habley, W.R. & Associates. (2000). Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Howe, N. & Strauss, W. (2000) Millennials rising: The next great generation. New York: Vintage Books.
Priest, R. and McPhee, S.A. (2000). Advising Multicultural Students: The reality of diversity. In V.N. Gordon, W.R. Habley & Associates (Eds.), Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (pp. 105-115). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Sexual Minority Students: An Academic Advisor's Thoughts
Kathy J. McCleaf, Mary Baldwin College
As new students arrive on our doorsteps, many are unaware of the personal growth to come. Recent researchers (Bruch et al. 2004; Banks et al. 2001; Hurtado et al.1999) have noted the changing ethnicity of students. What has not been as readily recognized in circles of multicultural understanding is the uniqueness of students who fall into the category of “other” as a sexual minority.
Savin-Williams (2001) used the term sexual minority to “refer to individuals who report that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, unlabeled, or sexually questioning, or have same-sex attractions” (p. 15). It is important that we realize that not all students will identify with these labels. Frequently, ethnic minority students will not ascribe to the use of socially constructed labels reflected in the dominate culture. Instead, they may use alternative language, e.g., Native Americans who use the term “Two Spirit” to celebrate those “believed to possess both male and female spirit” (Garrett and Barret, 2003, p. 134). Hall (as cited by Garrett and Barret) reflects that “because you are elements of both male and female– but you’re neither. You don’t fit in, you’re a go-between. And consequently, it’s easier for you to transcend from the physical to the spiritual realm” (p. 134). Use of the term sexual minority allows for inclusion of the complexity of each individual’s background and multiple intersections of their identities.
The young adult years in American culture include room for student inspection of who they are and how they can make a difference in the world. Astin and Astin (2004) noted that this generation of American students is far more ready than their predecessors to ask global questions of life purpose and engage in dialogue about issues of peace and civility. Thus, it is logical that sexual minority students may add to this conversation.
Recent research allows us a glimpse into our students’ presence. Savin-Williams (Winter, 2004) posits that today’s youth do not want the stereotypes associated with sexual identity labels. An expression of fluidity without expectation for certain behaviors is more the norm for today’s young people (Savin- Williams, 2005).
Konik and Stewart (2004) found that college students who identify as a sexual minority are linked with “more advanced global, political, religious, and occupational identity development” (p. 815) than their heterosexual peers. Advisors should note that the very gift of difference, both generational and in sexual identity, can be nurtured into a contributing gem of insight for a young gay person who participates in these global discussions. Maybe what we must learn from our advisees includes watching how our young people deny the social constraints of heterosexism, homophobia and other cultural barriers. So, how can we apply what seems intrinsic to some students as we advise them during their college careers?
Active Support Suggestions
As advisors we can contribute to the thoughts and challenges of every student by validating the contributions of minority peoples, including sexual minorities. We must continue personal efforts to educate ourselves about sexual minority individuals who are making a difference by serving in our government, our schools, and the corporate, sport, and global arenas. These contributions should be shared. Recently, a sexual minority student expressed the need for role models, both those out as heterosexuals and those out as sexual minorities: I need to see other gay people who have made it in this world; I also need to know about individuals in my career and major who have expertise in what I will need to be successful (Anonymous, personal communication, November 6, 2006, paraphrased).
Consider that all students should openly learn about sexual identity development, not just sexual minorities. Although the literature reveals only two recent studies on heterosexual identity development (Konik & Stuart, 2004; Hoffman, 2004), much like the limited literature on white identity development, majority cultures often assume that only those not fitting the majority paradigm should be researched as if a problem or an anomaly is evident (Hoffman, 2004).
Advisors who are available and affirming to students who share important milestones of romantic interest, cultural festivities, and group identification, demonstrate support that may lead to increased institutional retention and students better integrating their intellectual and social identities. Advisors who make their offices welcoming to all students show active support through the display of sexual minority affirming symbols such as rainbow flags, stickers and buttons or pink triangles on bulletin boards or book shelves.
These displays of affirmation let students know that their advisor is a safe and non-judgmental adult who welcomes discussions in regards to issues surrounding sexual minority identity or choices for major or career options. It also means understanding and actively talking about the heterocentric constraints decisions students may make. This includes having conversations about any negative dimensions of our heterocentric culture – for example, offering students considering military careers resources on how to navigate the culture of don’t ask, don’t tell. Discussion of how personal levels of authenticity may be dissonant in various settings will help students assess what comfort levels are appropriate for themselves.
We should do our part to make our campus climates friendlier by actively combating the homophobic statistics uncovered in recent studies (Rankin, 2005; Brown et al., 2004). Access to a resource network for sexual minorities can be a tremendous help to academic advisors and the students they serve. Connecting with a Safe Space or Safe Zone program (National Youth Advocacy Coalition, 2006) that combats homophobia and encourages dialogue around sexual identity development issues can make difficult conversations easier and bring resources closer.
Becoming a part of Safe Zone contacts provides a network of campus colleagues who can direct students toward multiple resources, including academic, health, safe social venues, spiritual, and listening and affirming adults. The program this author facilitates encourages networking for faculty and staff in supporting this population of students. Academic advisors can help all students become tomorrow’s leaders regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Advisors should become active participants in the networks that support sexual minority students.
Kathy J. McCleaf
Mary Baldwin College
Astin, A. W., & Astin, H. S. (2003). Spirituality in college students: Preliminary findings from national study, John Templeton Foundation (pp. 1-7). Radnor: Higher Education Research Institute.
Banks, J. A., Cookson, P., Gay, G., & Hawley, W. D. (2001). Diversity within unity: Essential principles for teaching and learning in a multicultural society. Phi Delta Kappan, 83 (3), 196-203.
Brown, R. D., Clarke, B., Gortmaker, V., & Robinson-Keilig, R. (2004). Assessing the campus climate for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students using a multiple perspectives approach. Journal of College Student Development, 45 (1), 8-26.
Bruch, P., Jehangir, R., Jacobs, W., & Ghere, D. (2004). Enabling access: Toward multicultural developmental curricula. Journal of Developmental Education 27 (3), 12-19.
Garret, M. T., & Barret, B. (2003). Two Spirit: Counseling Native American gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 31, 131-142.
Hoffman, R. M. (2004). Conceptualizing heterosexual identity development: Issues and challenges. Journal of Counseling and Development, 82, 375-380.
Hurtado, S., Milem, J., Clayton-Pedersen, A., & Allen, W. (1999). Enacting diverse learning environments: Improving the climate for racial/ethnic diversity in higher education. Higher Education Reports, 26 (8), 1-116.
Konik, J., & Stewart, A. (2004). Sexual identity development in the context of compulsory heterosexuality. Journal of Personality 72 (4), 815-844.
National Youth Advocacy Coalition. (2006). Retrieved November 20, 2006 from the World Wide Web at http://www.nyacyouth.org/nyac/resources.html.
Rankin, S. (2005). Campus climates for sexual minorities. In R. Sanlo (Ed.), Gender identity and sexual orientation: Research, policy, and personal perspectives: New directions for student services (pp. 17-23). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Savin-Williams, R. C. (2001). Mom, Dad. I'm gay: How families negotiate coming out. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Savin-Williams, R. C. (2005). The new gay teenager. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Winter, M. (2004, June). Reconceptualizing the gay teen. Human Ecology, 32 (1), 14-16.
The Student You've Met But May Not Know
Jeffrey Herman, Lehigh Carbon Community College
Tony appeared like any other student on campus, so when he came to see his advisor to drop a class it wasn’t considered unusual. Two weeks later he wanted to drop another class, claiming he was too busy with his part-time job to do the work required in this course. A week later, he returned saying he couldn’t concentrate and was missing classes because of difficulty getting out of bed. A discussion on attendance policies, scheduling later classes, and balancing work and college was mostly met with silence. When asked if he ever had similar problems, Tony revealed he had been treated by a psychiatrist and counselor while in high school. He saw college as an opportunity to put high school and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder behind him. Tony wanted to be “normal” so he stopped taking his medications and, motivated by his father’s belief that he wasn’t sick–just lazy, he enrolled at the local community college.
While some may consider college a refuge from the rest of the world, it is also a place where students struggle with finances, loss, career choices, unhealthy relationships, and a myriad of other concerns. Still others, like Tony, cope with a diagnosed or undiagnosed mood disorder including depression, bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, dysthymia, or cyclothymia. The student with a mood disorder might visit an advisor for excessive absences, tardiness, repeatedly dropping courses, or poor academic standing. These students may believe they are failures, appear overly sensitive, pessimistic, dependent, irritable, or even hostile. Some have problems with concentration, motivation, indecisiveness, or being overly ambitious despite a lack of accomplishments. While none of these behaviors is proof of a mood disorder, it provides academic advisors with an opportunity to speak with students about support services available on their campus. In addition to giving guidance about a study skills class, time management workshops, or tutoring, advisors could inform students about college counseling services to increase their awareness. Sharkin, Plageman, & Coulter (2005) cited the importance of informing students about the benefits of counseling as a preventive measure before a crisis develops.
One in twelve American college students make a suicide plan and more than 1,000 successfully complete suicide every year (National Mental Health Association, 2002). Praag (2002) notes that depression is a major precursor to suicide, and half of those who complete suicide have had a depressive episode. Schwartz (2006) states that the presence or history of a major psychiatric illness, including depressive disorder or another mood disorder, increased the risk of suicide in both men and women. A study by Kansas State University found that between 1989 and 2001, the number of students with depression doubled, students considered suicidal tripled, and those taking psychiatric medications rose to 25 percent from 10 percent (Hoover, 2003). It should not be surprising that many of these same students report substance abuse problems given the academic and social pressures of college. The evidence appears to demonstrate that advisors will encounter students with these disorders during their career. Whether a student has a diagnosed mood disorder or is among those with symptoms who have delayed treatment, advisors should have some knowledge of these illnesses and an awareness about how to respond when confronted with symptoms.
The value of a college degree has not been lost on those with a mental health diagnosis, their families, and advocates. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have opened the door to college for people with disabilities. Better psychotropic medications and community based treatment options have allowed more individuals with mood disorders to enter college. Thousands more receive support from governmental agencies such as the Veteran’s Administration and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to pay for college as part of their vocational rehabilitation plan. Advisors should expect the number of students with mental health disorders to increase as the result of all these forces.
A brief description of mood disorders will only be possible in this article; advisors can find further information in publications such as the Journal of College Counseling and the Journal of Counseling & Development. The Web site www.jedfoundation.org is an easy-to-use resource for additional information on mood disorders. Depression, probably the best known of the mood disorders, is distinguished by a depressed mood most of the time over a period of two weeks. The person experiences a loss of interest or pleasure, may sleep too much or too little, has feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and can be indecisive due to a diminished ability to think (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2000).
A person diagnosed with bipolar I disorder has had one or more major depressive episodes and at least one manic episode that can result in a euphoric mood for up to a week (APA, 2000). This person may take on too many projects, miss class, be easily distracted, and believe that their ideas are brilliant. Bipolar II disorder is distinguished by the presence of at least one depressive episode and one episode of hypomania, which has a shorter duration than a full manic episode (APA, 2000). These students may be diagnosed as only being depressed but are often described as irritable, angry, or sensitive by others. They may do poorly in social situations due to fluctuations in their demeanor with school truancy and failure being common.
A person with dysthymia has had a depressed mood on most days for at least two years (APA, 2000). They might be viewed as having a personality problem, so this illness often goes undiagnosed. These students may want to flee situations when overwhelmed and are described as dependent, sensitive to criticism, and indecisive. The student with cyclothymia has had periods of depression and hypomania for at least two years (APA, 2000). They often have an unstable record at school, show poor judgment, and have an inflated self-image despite few accomplishments.
Even with these brief descriptions, it becomes evident many advisors have encountered students who demonstrated these characteristics and behaviors. To support these students, listen carefully and use “I”, not “you”, statements to address concerns. Try to give students a choice instead of an ultimatum to increase ownership of the problem. Do not assume anything, be non-judgmental, and understand how stereotypes about mental illness shade our perceptions. If you encounter a situation that appears to be escalating in its intensity, consider speaking in a calm, quiet manner. Advisors should always maintain professional boundaries and set limits to avoid misunderstandings. Finally, know your college’s code of conduct and keep a list of community and college resources nearby to better educate your advisees.
Whether a student discloses a mood disorder or you suspect as much, advisors should know that relationships make a difference in the lives of students. As an advisor you are often the first contact for a student. The development of an encouraging relationship provides us with the opportunity to guide students to the most appropriate services, give support, and leave the door open to their future success.
Lehigh Carbon Community College
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.
Hoover, E. (2003). More help for troubled students. Chronicle of Higher Education, 50, A25-26.
National Mental Health Association. (2002). Safeguarding your students against suicide: Expanding the safety net. Proceedings from an expert panel on vulnerability, depressive symptoms, and suicidal behavior on college campuses. Alexandria, VA: Author.
Praag, H.M. (2002). Why has the antidepressant era not shown a significant drop in suicide rates? The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 23, 77-82.
Schwartz, A.J. (2006). College student suicide in the United States : 1990-1991 through 2003-2004. Journal of American College Health, 54, 341-352.
Sharkin, B.S., Plageman, P.M., & Coulter, L.P. (2005). Help-seeking and non-help seeking students’ perceptions of own and peers’ mental health functioning. Journal of College Counseling, 8, 65-73.
Taking Advising to the Classroom: Maximum Results in Minimal Time
Kathy Shearer, University of Central Missouri
Busy advisors look for avenues to improve their services to students while making the most of their time. Group advising is a popular way advisors can efficiently connect with students. Whether faculty invite advisors to address a class or advisors hold student workshops, advisors may only have short amounts of time to communicate with a group of students. It is important that advisors make the most of that time.
In situations where advisors are given 30 minutes or less to complete a group advising presentation, it is important that they effectively engage students in the advising process. The primary goals of a group advising session can be to connect students with the advisor and spark student interest in using advising services.
Often new students find the college-level advising system mysterious and confusing. Group advising can educate students about the substantial difference between their high school counselor and their college academic advisor. Delineating the similarities and differences can help students develop ideas and questions to discuss with their advisor in future individual appointments. Woolston & Ryan (2007) noted that group advising often opens communication and creates a more comfortable environment between advisors and advisees. This can, in turn, aid in increasing student participation in individual advisor conferences (p. 121).
A group advising session should help students increase their comfort levels with advisors; students attending group advising sessions may be more likely to seek out the advisor for additional assistance and referrals. Teitelbaum (2000) noted that classroom advising can be an efficient way to provide introductory and general information to students (p.398). Information that advisors think simple can frequently perplex students; they often are glad to have the information explained without having to risk feeling inadequate. Understanding this information can help students gain the confidence to inquire about other issues they may be facing. When students feel at ease with their advisor, they will pursue meeting with their advisor for advice ranging from course selection to life goals.
Jordan (2003) suggested that classroom advising should serve to integrate academic advising into the students' overall college experience. Incorporation of the advising component allows students the opportunity for a more well-rounded educational experience. King (2000) recommended that group advising sessions be used to address the broader purpose of advising and that students should be encouraged to meet with their advisor to establish appropriate and meaningful educational plans in conjunction with the advisor (p. 234). When students realize that their educational plans and future are within their control, crucial pieces of their overall college experience can be revealed in classroom advising sessions. Advisors who provide examples of the responsibilities of professional and faculty advisors help students recognize the ‘big picture’ of their collegiate experiences. This sharing of examples can prompt students to take control of their own educational processes.
In group sessions, information should be simple and straightforward; don’t bore the student with things such as a tedious degree audit explanation. Consider quick explanations of things that apply to all students such as general education, the advising syllabus, or campus resources. According to Woolston & Ryan (2007), handouts are crucial to a meaningful group advising session. Having tangible materials available for students to follow along with and review at home, as well as worksheets that are clear, concise and interesting to look at, can assist the advisor with frequently asked questions and clarity (p. 120). Students are receptive to brief explanations rather than monotonous and lengthy descriptions. If students find the advisor uninteresting and long-winded, it will lessen the chances of them seeking out the advisor for additional assistance and information. When preparing for a group advising session, it is vital to be prepared for a myriad of questions. Making up inaccurate answers to questions that may be difficult or confounding is not appropriate and can lead to student distrust in the advisor (Woolston & Ryan, 2007, p. 120).
Be sure to provide information specific to student groups such as non-traditional and transfer students. Students in these groups are typically in need of information about department contacts and referrals rather than the basic information lower level students seek. Sharing information that assists students adjusting to college life and learning university procedures is also very helpful. Information that can help students prepare for registration or information on special topics such as internships or preparing for graduation can be valuable tools for specific student groups (Woolston & Ryan, 2007, p. 119). It is important to communicate to these students the importance of developing their educational plans with their advisor, even though these students may think they have already heard, or are aware of, the information you have to offer.
Let students know that advisors can not only assist them with academic planning, but also explain available resources and answer the questions they may be afraid to ask. It is crucial that students realize that the advisor’s office is a safe place; here they can learn about resources, ask questions and get answers in a secure environment that is free from ridicule and judgment. Students also need to know that their advisor is accessible to them; advisors should make certain that they have time available to meet with students after extending the invitation in a group session. Students who are eager to speak with their advisor during a group session may lose their fervor after calling and learning that the advisor is unavailable for days (Woolston & Ryan, 2007, p. 121).
Group advising is an important and beneficial opportunity for advisors to reach out to their students; however, advising in a classroom situation is not an easy task and should not be approached without careful preparation and analysis of student groups. When attempting to address large and varying populations of undergraduate students, time and content planning are essential to success. Advisors should be conscientious regarding their presentation; demonstrating enthusiasm for the significance of advising is paramount to success.
University of Central Missouri
Jordan, P. (2003) College Café. Retrieved 1/19/2007 from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/College_Cafe.htm
King, N.S. (2000). Advising Students in Groups. In Gordon, V. N. & Habley, W. R. (Eds.). Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Teitelbaum, H. (2000). Anticipating, Implementing, and Adapting to Changes in Academic Advising. In Gordon, V. N. & Habley, W. R. (Eds.). Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Woolston, Donald & Ryan, Rebecca. Group Advising. (2007). In Folsom, Pat (Ed.). The New Advisor Guidebook: Mastering the Art of Academic Advising Through the First Year & Beyond (Monograph No. 16). Manhattan, KS: National Academic Advising Association.
Managing the Transition to Retirement
Betsy McCalla-Wriggins, Rowan University
Individuals respond to retirement in many different ways. One person may respond to the question of retirement by saying, “I can’t wait,” while another person at the same institution working with the same people in the same position might say, “I hope I never have to retire.” What is it that causes people to have such differing responses?
As a recent retiree, I have discovered that there is not a simple answer, nor is there “a one size fits all” way to manage this transition.
Most retirement planning addresses the financial aspect, but equally important are the emotional and psychological pieces. This article will identify the key phases in the transition to retirement, suggest resources for those considering retirement, and share recommendations from my personal retirement transition journey.
William Bridges, in his book Transitions, describes three commonalities in transitions. The first phase is an ending, followed by the neutral zone which may be a period of confusion and distress, which then leads to a new beginning.
The ending phase has multiple characteristics and issues. People in this phase are beginning to disengage from activities that once had high priority, to lose their identity with a role that was once very important, to feel that things are no longer what they seem to be, and to feel lost. There is no particular order to the above phases, but they lead to the neutral zone.
Based on the individual, the neutral phase may last days, weeks or months. People in this phase often wonder what is wrong with them, feel reluctant to discuss their feelings with others, find themselves being inactive and passive, and spend a great deal of time reflecting on what is really important. This time of inner reorientation can lead to a new beginning.
The new beginning phase starts within and will not take place until the individual is ready. When a person can identify his or her passions and deep longings, then powerful motivation occurs and helps move the person to a new place.
For some, these phases occur sequentially; others may move back and forth through these phases several times, and some even get stuck in the first or second phase and never move to a new beginning.
In her book Retire Smart, Retire Happy, Nancy Schlossberg calls these three stages: Moving Out, Letting Go; Moving Through, Searching; and Moving In, Creating a New Life. Since the work environment provides many opportunities to have various social and psychological needs met, she identifies some key questions that need careful consideration in retirement planning.
- Who am I? How do I feel about establishing a new identity?
- To whom will I “matter”? Who will make me feel noticed, appreciated, and needed?
- What gives meaning to my life? What do I value and makes me feel fulfilled?
- With whom will I interact and socialize on a regular basis? Where will I feel a sense of community and belonging?
- How will I spend my time? Do I have enough structure, routine, and activities to fill my day, both short and long term?
- How do I feel about income change or not receiving a paycheck? Will I have enough income to do the things that are important to me?
- What is my physical health? How will this impact my options?
Just as there are no right answers to the above questions, there is no right way to transition into this new phase of your life. However, through her research Schlossberg identified five different models that describe how many people craft this stage of their lives.
- Continuers: These people continue to be involved in some of their previous activities, but often package them in different ways.
- Adventurers: Individuals who start new endeavors, learn new skills, and organize their time and space in new ways are in this group.
- Searchers: Trying out new options, learning through trial and error, stopping and starting over are characteristics of these people.
- Easy Gliders: Going with the flow and being open to anything is a way to describe those with this approach.
- Retreaters: People with this approach may be disengaging from life and giving up.
Some people take one of the above approaches and continue that throughout their lives. Schlossberg notes that most people are combinations of the above, although with a continuing dominant approach. At varying times in retirement there is movement back and forth through several of the models.
In reflecting on these important issues and my personal experiences, here are some recommendations for those considering this retirement transition.
- Create a plan: Begin now and take personal responsibility for managing this important transition. Dream and visualize what you want your life to be like in this next phase. Thoughtfully reflect on the answers to the questions listed above and clearly identify what financial resources will be needed to achieve your goals. Do not be surprised if your plan changes and evolves over time.
- Develop a timeline: Project a date in the future when you want to be in this new phase. Back map the different decisions that have to be made between now and then.
- Research the transition options at your institution: If alternatives are not in place, find like-minded colleagues, research new options, and suggest ways to pilot them.
- Try out your plan: If possible, structure time to simulate your new life. While nothing is totally like the “real thing,” this preview may give you some valuable insights.
- Acknowledge your feelings: As you experience this process, don’t be surprised if your feelings range from excitement to anxiety, anticipation to fear, and certainty to uncertainty. Identify the source of uncomfortable feelings and seek to address underlying issues.
- Find a support group: Share your feelings, fears, hopes and dreams with others who are thinking about, experiencing, or who have successfully negotiated this transition.
- Articulate your expectations: This new phase will often alter your current relationships. By articulating your expectations to those closest to you and having them do the same, you can identify and talk through expectations that are significantly different.
- Cultivate a positive attitude: You have complete control over your attitude. Therefore, the way you approach this new phase of your life will have significant impact on how you feel about retirement transitions.
As indicated at the beginning of this article, retirement means different things to different people. What you make of your retirement is really up to you….so start dreaming and enjoy the opportunity to make it your own.
NACADA members wishing to discuss retirement issues can subscribe to the NACADA retirement listserve.
Director Emeritus, Career and Academic Planning Center
Anthony, M. (2006). The new retirementality: planning your life and living your dreams-at any age you want. Chicago: Kaplan.
Bridges, W. (1980). Transitions. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Cullinane, J., & Fitzgerald, C. (2004). The new retirement. Emmaus, PA: Rodale.
Koff, A. (2006). Invent your retirement: resources for the good life. Winchester, VA: Oakhill Press.
Reiss, S. (2000). Who am I? New York: Berkley Books.
Scholossberg, N. (2004). Retire smart, retire happy: finding your true path in life.Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Waxman, B., & Mendelson, R. (Ed.). (2006). How to love your retirement: advice from hundreds of retirees. Atlanta: Hundreds of Heads Books.
Zelinski, E. (2005). How to retire happy, wild, and free. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press.
Advising is Teaching: Advising, Accountability, and Assessment
Chrissy L. Davis, Seward County Community College
In the fall of 2006, I boldly went where no other “non-faculty” academic advisor at Seward County Community College had gone before; I joined the teaching scholar learning community. Why? One word: CURIOSITY. I wanted to test the catchy academic advising slogan, Advising is Teaching. I kept asking myself, if advising is teaching, then what links the two domains? What tools can we use to showcase these similarities? And how do we obtain buy-in from all stakeholders, especially students? As an academic advisor and a teaching scholar participant, I made it my charge to find this essential element.
During the first teaching scholar session, the differences between a “non-faculty” academic advisor and a “faculty” academic advisor were noticeable. These differences were not negative, nor did they highlight the importance of one profession over the other. However, I must admit I thought that the faculty members had an edge. For example, faculty members knew the courses they would redesign as their project and why. As an academic advisor, I did not have a structured course to redesign. I listened intently to my experienced colleagues and mentally marked one common denominator among them all: ASSESSMENT.
Following the initial session, I felt like an “at-risk” student: UNDERPREPARED. At that point I decided to dedicate myself to the experience. I spent countless hours reading the provided textbook: Creating Significant Learning Experiences (Fink, 2003), researching best practices in academic advising (NACADA), and attaining external resources on assessment methodologies. The studying and research paid off because the next few sessions were much easier. And, the common denominator continued to be communicated: ASSESSMENT. This time around I realized there are no major dissimilarities between advising and teaching. Advising is Teaching, and this is why.
Neither assessment nor evaluation is a new practice in the field of education, although with the current focus on accountability there is, and will continue to be, a paradigm shift (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). How does the issue of accountability influence academic advising, since advising is teaching?
The following are two examples of the positive impact accountability will have on academic advising. The evaluation components of advising will no longer be systematically-driven, meaning possibly less weight will be placed on the procedural aspects and more on the contents (i.e., as outlined by the campus advising syllabus). For accountability, advisors (especially administrators of academic advising) should begin to examine and address the possible loopholes between the institutional and advising missions, the stated student learner outcomes, and the current assessment techniques. One example of a student learner outcome is “students will show respect for self and others.” Students will demonstrate an educational gain by scheduling appointments, arriving at advising sessions on time, and being prepared for sessions by completing all assignments, including referrals.
How can advisors express the significance of these outcomes to students? What tool(s) can advisors use to monitor students’ progress or regression? After brainstorming the aforementioned questions, I began the backward design phase of my project, as described by Dr. Fink (2003).
“As implied by the label, the designer starts the process by imagining a time when the course is over, say one to two years later, and then asking: What is it I hope that students will have learned, that will still be there and have value, several years after the course is over?” (Fink, 2003). Fink’s quote is also applicable to advising. Advisors do not have the luxury of teaching structured courses, but we do facilitate advising sessions. Just as assessment is critical in teaching, the same is true for advising. The ultimate goal of assessment is to determine if students attain an educational gain. Confirmation is visible when students apply skills learned during the first semester during subsequent semesters.
Based on the information I gathered and the knowledge I gained from the text, I created an academic advising rubric. I hope that this rubric will assist all advisors with the concept ofAdvising is Teaching.
What is an academic advising rubric?
An academic advising rubric is a basic, user-friendly matrix that assesses three competencies: Timeliness, Preparedness, and Communication-Written and Verbal. It is based on a four-point Lickert scale.
How can advisors use the academic advising rubric with students?
- disseminate the academic advising syllabus,
- discuss the mission and goals of advising,
- provide the students with a visual aid, i.e., the rubric,
- explain how the rubric works, and
- make sure that students understand how each component ( e.g., mission, syllabus, and outcomes) is connected to the rubric.
The academic advising rubric can be utilized after each advising session, and it does not require a lot of time. Recommendation: Students should know up front that this is how their progress will be monitored.
Why use the academic advising rubric?
Advisors can use the rubric to:
- evaluate students’ performance (similar to employee evaluation). Advisors are preparing students for the future, in particular, the workforce. One significant factor about the workforce is evaluation.
- close the feedback loop between advisor and advisee. According to Fink (2003), feedback should be: Frequent, Immediate, Discriminating (based on criteria and standards), and done Lovingly (or supportive). This is known as the FIDeLity feedback loop.
- coordinate program evaluations and rubric data. After three to five years of usage a cross-analysis could be conducted on student satisfaction and individual evaluations.
- communicate the significance of ACCOUNTABILITY. Providing the students with a visual aid and conversing about the level of responsibility, in relation to the rubric holds students accountable for their performance, or the lack thereof.
To view a copy of the academic advising rubric I designed, go tohttp://www.sccc.edu/academics/assessment/Resources/Rubrics/documents/cldadvrubric.pdf
Chrissy L. Davis
Title 3 Activity Director/Student Success Specialist
Seward County Community College
National Academic Advising Association. (2007). www.nacada.ksu.edu
Fink, L.D. (2003). Creating Significant Learning Experiences. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
U.S. Department of Education, Education Publication Center (2006, September). A test of leadership: Charting the future of U.S. higher education. A Report of the Commission Appointed by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Retrieved from the World Wide Web at www.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/hiedfuture/reports.html
Communicating the Story of an Academic Advising Program
Gail Stepina, University of New Hampshire
College administrators and faculty are responsible for making academic, programmatic and financial decisions that can greatly impact an advising program. The practice of academic advising can be misunderstood by those who do not function in an advising role. Thus, it is essential that advisors interpret the ‘story’ of an advising program in ways that are informative and of interest to decision makers.
This article outlines a strategic and thematic approach to communicating the story of an academic advising program and is a summary of a concurrent session presented at the 2006 NACADA Annual Conference (Stepina, Bishop and Wible, 2006). The approach was successfully implemented by the presenters at their institution in 2005.
Differences between Advisors and Key Audiences
Often, higher education professionals do not have the time to become fully aware of the day-to-day work of their colleagues. As a result, information asymmetry may occur, in which two or more individuals have very different information about a problem, situation or relationship (Wible, 2006). This can create a dynamic in which faculty, administrators and professional staff are incompletely informed about each others’ work. Such a dynamic can be problematic for advisors who need key decision makers to fully understand the advising role.
While non-advisors may realize that advisors advise, they may lack a clear understanding regarding the scope and depth of advising activities. For example, while advisors understand that study abroad advising may involve several extended conversations with a student pre- and post- travel abroad, a non-advisor may perceive that a brief meeting to sign forms is all that is required to adequately address the situation.
Professional advisors and faculty may use different professional language and vocabulary, and often have had different academic experiences. For example, faculty and deans are familiar with terms such as ‘teaching, research and service’ that are used to evaluate tenure. However, many professional advisors do not teach in a classroom or conduct research and service in the same way as faculty. While advisors know that advising IS teaching, with its own pedagogy, non-advising faculty may not view it as such.
Components of a Story
The emphasis of a story should be the development of a program overview, grounded in the details of professional activities and functions of the advising program. Professional activities include all work of an advisor, e.g. academic planning, responding to emails, helping students change majors, consulting with faculty, conducting orientation programs. Advising activities will vary depending on the functions of the particular program.
If possible, advisors should enlist the help of key allies. A respected faculty member, for example, can provide additional input and credibility. Ensure that there is adequate time to communicate and gain full support from an ally prior to communicating the story to the audience. It may be helpful to schedule several conversations with the ally in order to discuss philosophy, goals and practice of advisor work. Also, the ally can provide valuable feedback and perspectives on terminology useful in communicating the story. If enlistment of an ally is not possible, seek general input from several individuals within the key audience group. Another alternative may be to seek input from individuals outside of the audience, who may have valuable knowledge.
Utilize NACADA resources, such as the Concept of Academic Advising (NACADA, 2006) and the NACADA Statement of Core Values (NACADA, 2004), to explain academic advising in the educational terms likely to resonate with faculty and administration. Information to consider includes:
- Academic advising is part of the educational process and has its own pedagogy, which includes interpreting the meaning of higher education, the institution’s mission and curricula.
- Advising utilizes theories from the fields of education, social sciences and humanities.
- Advisors use informational, relational, and conceptual skills in their practice.
- The goals of academic advising are to engage students in learning, promote students’ academic success, foster students’ personal and intellectual growth, promote application to citizenship and lifelong learning.
Provide numerical data about the program since faculty and deans rely heavily on data during decision making. Include the total number of: students advised in a year, internal and external transfers, students advised from areas outside the designated department, and students in each advisor’s case load. Reference Habley’s (2004) work in the ACT study that found that the average advisor load is 285.
Identify aspects to the advisor role in a one page document. Advisor activities can be numerous and varied. This can present the challenge to demonstrate the scope and depth of activities without overwhelming the intended audience. The author and her colleagues designed a tool that clearly, yet simply, communicates an overview of the advisor role.
The tool is a two-sided Excel matrix with 37Advisor Activitieslisted in the far left column. Activities will vary in number and type related to advisor role and function within the program, but the tool can be utilized with any advising program ( e.g., athlete, international, multicultural, or undeclared). Activities may include: academic planning, changing majors, emails, file notes, consults with faculty, graduation certification, Web site update, staff training, etc. A sample matrix can be viewed at: http://wsbe.unh.edu/WSBE_Advising/advising_graph.pdf.
Listed at the top of six columns are major categories that are analogous to faculty’s teaching, research and service evaluation components. Each advisor activity involves aspects of one or more of the categories: Advising, Communication, Programs, Preparation and Planning, Committees, and Administration. Categories and definitions may vary, depending on the program.
Where activity and category columns intersect, the advisor records the total hours of time spent on each activity during the year. Every advisor in the program must estimate how many hours per year are spent on the activity related to each major category.
The amount of an individual’s work hours during one year may be calculated at 2,000 hours per person (50 weeks of work X 40 hours per week). After estimating the hours involved in each advisor’s work activity, a total estimation can be demonstrated. If two advisors total work time equals 6,000 hours, for example, the data provides evidence that a third full-time advisor position is needed.
A second Excel document, an annual calendar of advising program activities, can provide another view of advisor work in which a yearly and semester pattern can be demonstrated. A sample may be viewed at: http://wsbe.unh.edu/WSBE_Advising/advising_cal1.pdf. For the color legend of the calendar, go to: http://wsbe.unh.edu/WSBE_Advising/advising_cal2.pdf.
Communicating the Story
All of the components should be combined into PowerPoint slides that can be presented in approximately fifteen minutes. Provide copies of the slides to the audience, along with copies of the matrix and annual calendar. The ally should be a visible participant in the presentation. Include separate slides to identify and briefly explain each major category. A concise explanation of the concepts and goals of academic advising should be part of the presentation, as well. Leave time for comments and questions.
The story of an academic advising program is a complex and important one to tell. Advising can be negatively affected by the academic and financial decisions of those who may have limited understanding of advising. It is a time consuming effort to catalog every advising activity completed throughout a year. However, unless this task is done, others may not fully discern the complexity of advisors’ roles. Additionally, the exercise provides advisors with an opportunity to examine their work and program goals. Completion of the task can lead to discussions of methods to increase overall effectiveness and outcomes. Estimations must be carefully calculated so that they appear reasonable to the audience. Some audiences may not trust estimations; however, this is when support of a respected ally can be very important.
The expected outcomes of communicating the story of an academic advising program on campus are:
- realignment of the perceptions of decision makers,
- creation of a clearer understanding of advisors’ work and the advising program,
- increased respect for the advising profession within an institution,
- appreciation for the complexity and value of academic advisors, and
- improved communication among advisors, faculty and administrators.
Whittemore School of Business and Economics
University of New Hampshire
Habley, W.R. (2004). Advisor Load. Retrieved May 9, 2004, from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web Site:http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/advisorload.htm
NACADA. (2006). National Academic Advising Association concept of academic advising. Retrieved February 24, 2006, fromhttp://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Concept-Advising.htm
NACADA. (2004). NACADA Statement of Core Values of Academic Advising. Retrieved April 21, 2005, from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Core-Values.htm
Stepina, G., Bishop, P., and Wible, J.R., (2006). Communicating the Story of an Academic Advising Program. Concurrent session presented at the 2006 National Academic Advising Association Conference, Indianapolis, IN.
Wible, J.R. (May 2005). A term usually used in relation to Economic models. (Personal communication).
Let Them Snooze and You Lose: An Argument for Active Training Methods
Amy Marie Aufdembrink, Missouri State University
Are the training and development programs at your institution lecture heavy? Do participants nod off? Do their eyes glaze over as they listen to yet another talking head? While lecture is easy, it may not be effective. Research and experience have shown there are more effective means to reach audiences.
Advisor training and development programs lay the foundation for quality academic advising and enhance the image and reputation of academic advising on campus. How faculty and staff advisors feel about advisor training and development influence how they feel about advising in general. Active training methods out perform lecture for learning and enhance the overall reputation of academic advising at the institutional level.
It is a challenge to plan training and development for overworked, underpaid advisors who have projects piled high on their desks and lines of students at their doors. Academic advisors always have other things they need to do, but advisors also need current information and skills. In an effort to be efficient, coordinators of advisor training and development programs often rely on lecture. Lecture may be quick, but does it result in quality programming? Lecture encourages passive learning where advisors may miss fundamental principles which underlie the subject matter (McCarthy & Anderson, 2000) and thus result in advisors who are unable or unwilling to apply new information, resources or skills. Active training methods, rooted in psychological research on memory, allow advisors to process knowledge deeply, retain information longer and use information more readily (McKeachie, 2002).
Active training methods include group discussions, case studies, individual exercises, role-play simulations, games, quizzes, peer teaching, writing projects and more. Used correctly, active training methods not only enhance learning, but improve the culture of advising at the institutional level. However, active training methods take more planning and preparation. Since activities take longer than traditional lecture, many coordinators opt for lecture. Advisor training and development directors who make the effort find the rewards of active training methods can be huge. Active training methods can boost an institution’s advising culture in three specific ways: 1) help advisors invest in advisement and in the advising community, 2) honor and respect the existing knowledge, skills and experiences of advisors and 3) generate word-of-mouth endorsements.
Wilson (1995) showed that active learning injects trainings with ENERGY. Active learning also engages participants and fosters a sense of involvement (August, Hurtado, Wimsatt & Dey, 2002). The use of active training methods helps participants invest in academic advising and builds a sense of community.
Different active training methods serve different goals. Activities utilizing group interaction specifically generate cohesion (Silberman, 2004; Nagel, 2001). Conflicts and territorialism can be concerns when advisors from a variety of departments are brought together. When group interaction activities are used, an alliance forms among advisors (Silberman, 2004; Nagel, 2001).
Cooperative activities generate tolerance, acceptance of others, and inclusion of outsiders (August, Hurtado, Wimsatt & Dey, 2002; Slavin, 1987). Active training can simultaneously break down barriers and knit together an advising community while introducing new topics and covering advising material. Where there is cohesion within a group, there will also be greater commitment and motivation related to that group’s goals and achievement of those goals (Johnson & Johnson, 2004; McCarthy & Anderson, 2000).
Program coordinators should keep in mind the larger goals of advisor training and development; these can include the development of an advising community and helping advisors invest in advising. The “kiss of death” for any advisor training and development program is allowing facilitators or participants to insult or patronize advisors.
Regardless of advising experience, each participant brings experiences, knowledge and skills to the training session. Advisors are well educated and bright individuals. Active learning works best when participants’ own experiences are utilized and emphasis is placed on realistic scenarios (Silberman, 2004). The wise facilitator takes advantage of what advisors bring to training and honor it. Advisors are energized when active learning allows for personalization of information that enhances understanding (McCarthy & Anderson, 2000). When advisors are allowed to reference their experiences, application of information is more obvious (Silberman, 2004).
Facilitators should recognize that both trainers and participants can be teachers. Peer teaching is an excellent way to activate training; it works for a variety of content and learning levels (McKeachie, 2002). Teaching material to others requires assignment of meaning and practical application of the material, activities that further enhances the advising culture because practical learning positively impacts attitude change (Sternberg, 2002)
To ensure that advisors leave advisor training and development programming with positive impressions, facilitators should respect advisors, engage them, foster community, and finally make sure that the training is enjoyable. Many individuals find lecture boring; they prefer engagement and believe that they learn best from activity (August, Hurtado, Wimsatt & Dey, 2002). While there may be debate over whether adults truly learn more from active methods (McCarthy & Anderson, 2000; Miller & Groccia, 1997), there is no debate over whether adults enjoy active methods more than lecture (August, Hurtado, Wimsatt & Dey, 2002; McCarthy & Anderson, 2000; Miller & Groccia, 1997).
One of the most credible endorsements of advisor training and development is word-of-mouth. When training is informative, applicable, AND enjoyable advisors talk about it; they encourage others to attend. When advisors respect and appreciate their training, they respect and appreciate academic advising and the campus advising culture is enhanced.
Active training methods can help facilitators provide training and development that is not only informative, but practical and enjoyable. Active training ensures that advisors have complete and functional knowledge of advising materials and skills. While improved advisor knowledge and application is necessary, one of the greatest results of active advising training methods is the positive effect it can have on the campus advising community.
Amy Marie Aufdembrink
Academic Advisement Center
Missouri State University
August, L., Hurtado, S., Wimisatt, L.A., & Dey, E.L. (2002). “Learning styles: Student preferences vs. faculty perceptions.” Annual Forum for the Association for Institutional Research. Ontario, Canada.
Johnson, D.W. & Johnson, R.T. (2004). Assessing students in groups: Promoting group responsibility and individual accountability. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
McCarthy, J.P. & Anderson, L. (2000). Active learning techniques versus traditional teaching styles: Two experiments from history and political science. Innovative Higher Education, 24, 279-294.
McKeachie, W.J. (2002). Creationist vs. Evolutionary Beliefs: Effects on Learning Biology.The American Biology Teacher, 64 (3), 189-191.
Miller, J. & Groccia, J. (1997). Are four heads better than one? Ac comparison of cooperative and traditional teaching formats in an introductory biology course. Innovative Higher Education, 21, 253-273.
Nagel, G.K. (2001). Effective grouping for literacy instruction. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Silberman, M. (Ed.). (2004). The best of active training: 25 one-day workshops guaranteed to promote involvement learning and change. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
Slavin, R.E. (1987). Cooperative learning: Student teams (2 nd ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Education Association.
Sternberg, R.J. (2002). Raising the achievement of all students: Teaching for successful intelligence. Educational Psychology Review, 14, 383-393.
Wilson, J. B. (1995). Mapping a winning training approach: A practical guide to choosing the right training methods. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.
The New Advisor Guidebook
Pat Folsom, Editor
Advisor training programs typically end just when the most critical part of an advisor’s development begins—the experiential synthesis of the conceptual, informational and relational components of advising that is achieved student-by-student in the advising chair. As a profession, we should do more to help new advisors reach their potential by creating year-long new advisor development programs that recognize the experiential nature of advisor development by setting realistic expectations for first-year advisor development, establishing expectations for long-term development and providing the necessary support to move from the first set of expectations to the second (Folsom, 2007, p. 8). With the publication of NACADA’s new monograph, The New Advisor Guidebook: Mastering the Art of Advising Through the First Year and Beyond, we now have the resources and tools to do this. As a “guide,” The New Advisor Guidebook diverges a bit from a typical monograph; therefore, as its editor, I have been given the opportunity here to discuss how we imagine NACADA members using it.
Our aim in The New Advisor Guidebook is to
- Serve as a primer/curriculum for new advisors.
- Assist new advisors in creating a plan for self-training and managing their own post-training professional growth.
- Serve as a primer for administrators who wish to extend their current training programs into advisor development programs that support new advisors as they learn to synthesize conceptual issues, informational issues and relational skills while advising students during their first year in the profession (Folsom, 2007, p. 8).
The New Advisor Guidebook is designed to serve two audiences: new professional advisors and the people who train them. For new advisors, the monograph provides the content, tools, and road map needed to manage their own first-year training and development when no formal training program is available. For trainers, it provides the content, tools, and road map for creating a year-long new advisor training and development program. The starting point for both new advisors and trainers is the “New Advisor Development Chart” (Chapter One).
The Guidebook ’s “New advisor Development Chart” addresses the core functions of advising by asking: “What should advisors know and be able to do in their first year, in year two, and beyond—regardless of their institutional setting or the type of student they advise?” The Chart gives new advisors and trainers a starting point for development—a “realistic picture of the advising skills and knowledge” (Chapter One) they can attain in their first year by providing explicit short-term goals/outcomes for each of the major components of advising: conceptual, informational and relational. The Chart also provides new advisors and trainers a developmental destination by delineating explicit long-term goals for each component of advising. We anticipate that new advisors will use the Chart to identify learning outcomes they wish to achieve during their first year and that trainers will use the chart to define learning outcomes for their advisor development programs. Then, of course, trainers and new advisors will need road maps—resources that support their journeys from starting point to destination. The rest of Th e Guidebook, representing the expertise of over 30 authors, is devoted to providing this road map.
The Guidebook has chapters on the conceptual, informational, and relational components of advising as well as a chapter on how these components are synthesized through advising sessions (both one-on-one and group advising). Each chapter includes practice-oriented articles that can provide training content for new advisors and training programs. In addition, these chapters include informal strategies, tips, ideas, best practices and suggested activities that help new advisors reach their goals—on their own or through formal training programs. Each of the final two chapters focuses on one of the target audiences for the monograph. One chapter addresses the importance of professional development for academic advisors and strategies for getting involved professionally early in one’s career. The final chapter is designed for trainers who wish to develop year-long new advisor development programs and includes an article providing guidelines for program development, a sample year-long development schedule, case studies and multiple exemplary practices from a diverse group of institutions.
It is not necessary for new advisors to read The New Advisor Guidebook “cover-to-cover” to derive maximum benefit from it. Rather, those of us involved in the project imagined advisors and trainers “dipping into” the chapters to meet immediate and/or pressing advising needs. For example, new advisors who, at the end of their initial training, are overwhelmed with all of the information they must “learn by heart” may want begin by using the chart to identify the most important information to acquire. Turning to the chapter on informational issues, they will find an article byMark Goodner(Indiana University-Bloomington) that provides a framework for learning information, walks the reader through detailed, practical strategies for acquiring information during their first year, and suggests how to deepen that knowledge as they gain experience. Or perhaps, a new advisor wants to learn more about the specific students and student populations they advise. In that same chapter,Susan Kolls(Northeastern University) outlines a myriad of ways to learn about students—from institutional demographics to personal interaction. Sometimes, however, a new advisor is the only advisor in an office. ReadingPeggy Jordan’s article on relational skills orDon WoolstonandBecky Ryan’s (University of Wisconsin-Madison) strategies for conducting effective advising conferences can help give new “sole practitioners” the confidence they need before meeting with their first student.
Likewise, we encourage trainers to dig into The Guidebook in a way that makes the most sense for their situations. Trainers may, for example, want to begin with the chapter that outlines a year-long training program, then review the New Advisor Development Chart to identify learning outcomes and finally, scour the conceptual, informational and relational chapters for training and developmental activities, appropriate formats for training on specific content and skills (e.g. case studies, group sessions, campus visits), and to identify points during the year when training on specific skills and content would be the most effective. Or, they might want to begin with the exemplary practices to get a better sense of the programs other institutions have implemented.
We hope that new advisors will want to return to The Guidebook again and again as they gain experience, face new challenges, and seek new strategies; the same articles and suggested activities will assume new and deeper meaning with additional experience. In summary, we hope that The New Advisor Guidebook will become an integral part of new advisors’ journeys toward excellence, whether that journey is alone or as part of a formal training program.
Folsom, Pat. (2007). The New Advisor Guidebook: Mastering the Art of Advising Through the First Year and Beyond (NACADA Monograph No. 16). Manhattan, KS : National Academic Advising Association.
Making the Transition from Prescriptive Advising to Advising as Teaching
Robert F. Pettay, Vice-Chair, Kansas Academic Advising Network (KAAN)
What is advising as teaching, and why should advisors approach their work in this manner? How can advisors move their work from being viewed as a service to acknowledged as an integral part of the educational mission of the institution?
Academic advising has seen an evolution from prescriptive advising, to developmental advising, to the current concept of advising as a teaching experience. Prescriptive advising is based on advisor as authority figure whose primary responsibility is to dispense information about classes and schedules and prescribe solutions for problems the student encounters (Winston & Sandor, 1984). Not only do many advisors with little or no training find this to be the easiest way to approach advising, the prescriptive approach often fits with how advising is viewed on many campuses.
Advisors who use developmental advising are concerned not only with helping students make personal and vocational decisions, but with facilitating students’ rational processes, interpersonal interactions, behavioral awareness and problem solving, decision making, and evaluation skills (Crookston, 1972). This approach acknowledges student individuality, helps students integrate life, career, and educational goals, connects curricular and co-curricular aspects of their undergraduate experience, and provides scaffolding for decision making and problem solving skills (Smith & Allen, 2006). While there is a definite leap in the skill level needed to be a developmental advisor versus a prescriptive advisor, the question many ask is how does a developmental approach integrate into the institution’s educational mission?
For those who believe that advising is teaching, there is little question that academic advising supports the institution’s educational mission. However, the question becomes what does an advisor actually teach? Lowenstein (2005) discussed advisor goals including helping a student to: find/create logic in their education, view the curriculum as a whole, make educational choices based on a developing sense of self, and enhance learning experiences by relating them to previously learned knowledge. The goal would be to avoid what Reynolds (2003) describes as “students graduating believing they have completed a series of unconnected courses, marked by checks on an arbitrarily mandated list, without being aware that they have also acquired skills (and marketable ones at that) that can foster self-guided learning” (p.23).
My goal is to make advising an educational experience where students connect who they are with what they are learning and who they want to become. An initial step necessary to fulfill this goal is the production of an advising syllabus that outlines the goals and processes of the advising experience. This syllabus should include a rationale for the advising experience, a clear explanation of the mission of our department, college, and university, student and advisor responsibilities, learning outcomes, and assessment. This syllabus will serve as the framework for the ongoing advising experience of the student during their academic career.
How will this learning experience take place? One method would be the development of an introductory course within the department, college or university. I am currently developing such a course to provide the structure needed to begin this learning experience. This departmental course will allow advisors to provide information, interact, and assess student understanding of the information pertinent to advising. Long term planning, career exploration, awareness about campus services, departmental issues and standards, and basic skills that would enhance students’ college experiences could be introduced and assessed. Making this a required course with a graded outcome would help the students understand the importance of this information. This foundational course would provide students with a solid base for future advising sessions that could move from prescribing classes to meaningful interactions about student issues and interests. Students would develop a deeper appreciation of their educational experiences and opportunities available to them during their academic careers.
What if such a class cannot be developed, how can an advisor approach advising as a learning experience? Currently our department uses the new student orientation experience to introduce the advising syllabus to the student. This is a challenge in this limited time frame, but it does allow for an introduction to the goals and processes of the advising experience. Email and the department’s advising Web site encourage students to use university services that can assist them in their educational work. Power Point presentations outline the principles of the advising experience prior to student enrollment. Materials have been developed for the advisor use in enrollment sessions that help focus advising sessions on goals and understanding versus just scheduling classes.
Is this approach successful in educating the student? That question is answered with time. Graduating seniors are asked to complete an online survey about advising. This survey has multiple questions that encompass a wide range of issues from understanding of the departmental, college and university missions to understanding university services. Goals and outcomes detailed in the syllabus are assessed through forced choice questions. This approach obviously has some glaring weaknesses: information is self-reported, survey completion is voluntary, and it does not assess learning, only student perceptions of learning.
Advising as teaching is a laudable goal. Advising should be a vital part of students’ college learning experiences. The integration of information with students’ sense of self allows students to integrate and adapt in the professional world. It is essential that advising be re-framed from an institutional service to an educational component. This can only be done when we make advising a part of the educational mission. While demands on the advisor will increase, the benefits to students will be tremendous.
Robert F. Pettay
Department of Kinesiology
Kansas State University
Crookston, B.B. (1972). A developmental view of academic advising as teaching. Journal of College Student Personnel, 13, 12-17.
Lowenstein, M. (Fall, 2005). If teaching is advising, what do advisors teach? The Journal of the National Academic Advising Association, 2 5(2). 65-73.
Reynolds, M. (2003). Faculty advising at small colleges: Realities and responses. In M.K. Hemwall & K.C. Trachte (Eds.). Advising and Learning: Academic Advising from the Perspective of Small Colleges and Universities. (NACADA Monograph No. 8). Manhattan KS: National Academic Advising Association.
Smith, C.L. & Allen, J.M. (Spring, 2006). Essential functions of academic advising: What students want and get. The Journal of the National Academic Advising Association, 26 (1). 56-66.
NACADA Leadership Election Results
The election of NACADA leadership positions for terms beginning in October 2007 began on February 2, 2007 when the online voting system was made accessible to all eligible voting NACADA members. Login information and passwords were e-mailed individually to members using special mail-merge software. The positions for which candidates were seeking election included NACADA President, Vice President, Board of Directors members, Region Chairs, Commission Chairs, and Committee Chairs. The election process for these positions concluded on February 23 after which all valid votes were tallied. These newly elected leaders will begin their terms in October 2007 following the Annual Conference in Baltimore.
The election of the Division Representative for the Commission & Interest Group Division for the two-year term of October 2007-October 2009 was held immediately after the conclusion of the general election. Only current and newly elected Commission Chairs within the Commission & Interest Group Division participated in the voting process for this elected Division Representative position. The incoming appointed Division Representatives for the Administrative and Regional Divisions were recently announced by Susan Campbell, NACADA President, and those individuals will also begin a two-year term in October 2007 following the annual conference.
The 2007 leadership election results are as follows:
Board of Directors:
President (1-year term, 2007-2008): Jennifer Bloom (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Vice President (1-year term, 2007-2008): Casey Self (Arizona State University)
Board of Directors (3-year term each, 2007-2010):
Sharon Aiken-Wisniewski (University of Utah)
Jayne Drake (Temple University)
Rob Mossack (Lipscomb University)
Division Representatives (2-year term, 2007-2009):
Commission & Interest Group Division Representative: Victor Macaruso (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Administrative Division Representative: Skip Crownhart (Metropolitan State College of Denver)
Regional Division Representative: Gail Stepina (University of New Hampshire)
Region Chairs (2007-2009):
Northeast Region 1: Susan Kolls (Northeastern University)
Mid-South Region 3: David Goss (College of Charleston)
Great Lakes Region 5: Lynn Freeman (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh)
South Central Region 7: John Paul Regalado (University of Texas-Austin)
Pacific Region 9: Deborah Nakashima (Hawaii Pacific University)
Commission Chairs (2007-2009):
Advising Adult Learners: Lisa Peck (Western Connecticut State University)
Advising Business Majors: Deborah Noll (Iowa State University)
Advising Education Majors: David Benz (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
Advising Graduate & Professional Students: Sarah Naylor (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill)
Advising Student Athletes: Janice Robinson (Auburn University)
Advisor Training & Development: Pat Folsom (University of Iowa)
ESL & International Student Advising: Leslie Yeager (Indiana University-Southeast)
Liberal Arts Advisors: Sarah Ann Hones (Southern Oregon University)
Technology In Advising: Renee Babcock (University of Texas-Austin)
Theory & Philosophy Of Advising: Jeff McClellan (Utah Valley State College)
Two-Year Colleges: Steve Schneider (Fox Valley Technical College)
Committee Chairs (2007-2009):
Awards Committee: Susan Fread (Lehigh Carbon Community College)
Diversity Committee: Jane Jacobson (Iowa State University)
Professional Development Committee: Albert Matheny (University of Florida)
The NACADA Board of Directors and the Executive Office appreciate the time that NACADA members took to study the qualifications and platform statements of the candidates and cast their votes online. We also thank all individuals who participated in the election—the candidates who ran for office as well as those who nominated them. Congratulations to those who have been elected to leadership positions. Their willingness to make this commitment to NACADA is greatly appreciated.
If you or a colleague are interested in serving in a NACADA Leadership position and would like to become a candidate in next year’s elections, nominations must be submitted via the 2008 Leadership Recommendation Form to the Executive Office by Friday, November 2, 2007. An online nomination form will be available this summer on our Web site, which can be completed and submitted electronically. NACADA members will be notified of its availability via e-mail in the monthly Member Highlights. There will also be a Word version of this form available at this same site that can be printed, completed, and sent by mail or fax to the Executive Office. Leadership Recommendation forms can also be submitted at the NACADA Annual Conference in Baltimore where forms will be available in the conference program, at the NACADA display booth, at the Commission & Interest Group Fair, and at the conference registration area.
In the following articles, Sally Barton Dingee (Monroe Community College) and Cynthia M. Fiedler (Missouri State University) address the*Hot Topic*of working with the parents of today's 'Millennial Generation' students
Parents in the Room
Sally Barton Dingee, Monroe Community College
Today academic advisors, accustomed to the hectic pace of student advisement appointments, find that it is not just students who show up at their doors; increasingly students are accompanied by their parents. Howe and Strauss (2000) point to an increased level of parental involvement during the college years of the millennial students: traditional-aged students who are characterized as being “close to their parents.” Many advisors struggle to find effective strategies for working with parents who accompany students to advising sessions.
As coordinator of the undeclared major program at Monroe Community College, my summer is filled with advising sessions that involve students and their parents. Although I prefer to meet alone with students, I allow students to decide if parents should accompany them into advising sessions. To my surprise, a number of students want their parents in attendance. To advise effectively, advisors should develop strategies that are useful when faced with the parents invited into student advisement sessions.
One important strategy for working with parents and students involves the use of interpersonal communication skills. Advisors should acknowledge parental worry, distress, discomfort, or anxiety (Taylor, 2006); showing empathy can put parents at ease and help them relax. The nonverbal communication used by advisors when conducting an advising session is critical to success. Advisors should always maintain eye contact with the student. This keeps the focus of the conversation on the student and will often decrease parental interjections. While it may be obvious that an advisor should never talk to parents as if the student is not in the room, shy students may want their parents to speak for them. Advisors can easily find that they are answering parents’ questions without including the student in the conversation. When a parent asks the advisor a question, the answer should be rephrased to focus on what the student could do in the given situation.
Another useful strategy involves seemingly small details such as chair placement in an office. Advisors should have a chair directly across from them designated as the “front and center” chair. Place any additional chairs off to the side as “observer” chairs. This creates an environment that invites the student to become fully engaged in the advising session while parents can be observers. Office décor can also make a difference for parents and how they respond to the advisor. Some parents may notice college degrees hanging on the wall and ask advisors about their educational backgrounds. This type of conversation can reassure parents that the advisor is qualified and capable to assist their student.
Advisors may also find that parents comment on inspirational messages posted around the office. Parents seem to enjoy reading these messages; the messages can help parents realize that the advisor is someone who cares about student success. It is important that parents understand that they can work with the advisor toward the achievement of a common goal: the best college experience for their student.
Lastly, setting boundaries is an important strategy when working with parents. During the initial academic advisement appointment, advisors should always take the time to explain their role as an academic advisor. Many parents and new students believe that the advisor will serve in loco parentis (in place of the parent). It is critical that advisors set guidelines early so parents do not ask the advisor to provide wake-up calls or keep tabs on the student’s class attendance. Advisors should use a “one time rule” with parents who accompany students to the initial advisement appointment. At the end of the session, advisors can inform parents that while they enjoyed meeting them today and answering their questions, academic advisement is a process best accomplished with just the student and advisor. Parents need to understand that when the advisor meets with the student in the future that it will be alone, although parents can be encouraged to help their students prepare questions to bring to the advisor. When ending an advising session that included parents, the advisor should always strongly encourage students to contact the advisor for follow-up. Advisors can provide information to the student regarding academic or career planning research that can be completed prior to the next advising session. Finally, advisors should provide the student with the advisor’s business card or information about how they can be reached.
At Monroe Community College, we developed a parent letter that encourages them to allow their student to meet with the academic advisor alone. We also have developed a parents’ guide filled with answers to parents’ frequently asked questions. Parents can read this guide while waiting for their student during the advisement session. NACADA also provides a wealth of information on this subject. At our college, we make the NACADA Family Guide to Academic Advising available in our waiting room. Articles published in Academic Advising Today and the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources (www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Advisors-Parents.htm ) can aid advisors in developing strategies for working with parents as can attendance at NACADA conference presentations on this topic.
Sally Barton Dingee
Counseling & Advising Center
Monroe Community College
Howe, N. and Strauss, W. (2000). Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation. New York: Vintage Books.
Taylor, M. (2006, November). Helicopters, Snowplows, and Bulldozers: Managing Students’ Parents. Association of College Unions International, 13-20. Retrieved April 17, 2007 from http://www.taylorprograms.com/images/BulletinNov200612-21a.pdf.
Preparing Advisors to Respond to Parents
Cynthia M. Fiedler, Missouri State University
Regardless of the method – email, telephone or personal visits – faculty and staff on today’s campuses should expect to hear from concerned parents of traditional-aged college students. Advisors with an unclear understanding of FERPA can almost be afraid to talk to parents and thus can prematurely end a conversation that could be beneficial. Because the millennial generation values the opinions of their parents so highly (Jayson, 2006; Tucker, 2006), many parents may have more initial credibility with students than advisors. Advisors who listen to parent concerns and respond with helpful information can make parents into valuable allies in supporting successful students. Thus it is time to develop strategies to facilitate appropriate and productive conversations between parents, advisors and students.
Productive conversations begin with an understanding of current parent/student relationships. Millennials report that they have a close relationship with their parents (Jayson, 2006) and turn to parents for help in making decisions. From “nannycams” to “drivecams,” parents have grown accustomed to watching more moves during the first 18 years than ever before. Parents also are investing more money into their students’ educations than ever before (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). Educators have noted an increase in the frequency of students consulting with parents before making academic decisions, as evidenced by the number of articles found when searching the term “helicopter parents” on the Web.
Those in charge of advisor development opportunities should consider starting a conversation among faculty and staff advisors about how to respond to parent concerns. It will be helpful to plan an agenda that encourages advisors to:
- apply customer service techniques to strained conversations.
- listen to parental concerns without interruption, identify the underlying concerns, and offer helpful suggestions.
- provide information about campus resources.
- respond without referencing information contained in a student’s record.
- assist parents in understanding institution or course-specific policies, appeal procedures, and campus deadlines without revealing federally protected information.
- refer parents to printed materials and Web sites when appropriate to increase advisor credibility and parent understanding.
- model professional behavior that, when emulated, will enable parents to find information that will help their students in the future.
- become familiar with mailings sent to students, even if they originate in other departments, to be ready to respond to student and parent concerns, e.g., admissions information, orientation requirements, housing contracts, suspension letters, disciplinary action.
- review information in the popular press that can support parents who are trying to understand student perspectives on issues.
- Books like Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years (Coburn & Treeger, 2003) and Don’t Tell Me What to Do, Just Send Money: The Essential Parenting Guide to the College Years (Johnson & Schelhas-Miller, 2000) inspire suggestions advisors can give parents.
- Interesting Web sites like www.collegeparents.org and www.mofchat.com foster advisor understanding of parental concerns.
- encourage parents to help students become responsible and problem-solve for themselves.
- enlist parental help in getting the student to communicate with instructors and advisors.
- as gently as possible, help the parent understand why higher education professionals may respond differently when students take action for themselves rather than relying on parental intervention.
- encourage parents to discuss concerns with their student. Involve the student in the discussion when possible. Advisors should avoid promising confidentiality to parents, as it can negate the advisor’s credibility with the student.
- document and secure responses to parents (copies of email responses, summaries of telephone or in-person conversations) to improve accountability and continuity. Advisor development programs should discuss the legal implications of keeping privately held documents vs. those accessible to other campus professionals or the student.
Those in charge of advisor development should prepare case studies for discussion; realistic examples drawn from the experiences of current advisors are most effective. Case studies should encourage discussion of appropriate responses to common parent questions. Also valuable are discussions regarding effective ways to provide meaningful information to parents in the form of newsletters, on-line resources, hotlines, parent organizations, or parent advisory boards. Advisors should become knowledgeable about resources available to parents and how information can be accessed. The NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources (www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Advisors-Parents.htm ) provides articles and resources that can aid in advisor development in this area.
With proper attention, advisors can provide a great deal of helpful information to concerned parents and protect a student’s right to privacy. Most parents have years of experience helping their student, while instructors and advisors may have less than a semester with the student. Who better to join educators in retention efforts than parents?
Cynthia M. Fiedler
Academic Advisement Center
Missouri State University
NOTE: The ideas represented in this article were generated during the development of a presentation for the Missouri Academic Advising Association (MACADA) by the author and Joe Morris, SOAR Coordinator at Missouri State University.
Coburn, K. L., & Treeger, M. L. (2003). Letting go: A parents’ guide to understanding the college years (4th ed.). New York: Quill.
Jayson, S. (2006, June 29). The ‘millennials’ come of age. USA Today, p. 1D. Retrieved April 17, 2007 from http://www.usatoday.com/life/lifestyle/2006-06-28-generation-next_x.htm.
Johnson, H. E., & Schelhas-Miller, C. (2000). Don’t tell me what to do, just send money: The essential parenting guide to the college years. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.
NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources. (2007). Resources for Working with Students' Parents. Retrieved March 6, 2007 from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Advisors-Parents.htm
Tucker, P. (2006, May). Teaching the millennial generation. The Futurist, 7.
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2006). Digest of Education Statistics, 2005 (NCES 2006-030), Chapter 3.
Dear Career Corner,
I have an interview for a new job on campus coming up soon. I have also just been diagnosed with an “invisible” disability. Can you suggest some ways that I can now prepare for the interview?
You are to be congratulated on taking a proactive approach to your situation. Most employers are very concerned these days about a prospective employee’s ability to do the job so you need to demonstrate that you are the best candidate and that your disability will not have any impact on work performance.
You’ve already done the hardest part – getting that interview. Your focus in the interview will be your knowledge of the department and how your background and prior experience can meet its goals. Here are some suggestions to help you prepare:
- Bring along samples of your work. An advising portfolio is an excellent way to showcase examples of your work and demonstrate proficiency and familiarity with job responsibilities.
- Practice discussing your strengths and qualifications in terms of the department’s needs to demonstrate that you are familiar with and motivated to work there. Use your network of personal contacts on campus to learn more about its needs. Ask a friend or family member to role-play with you for practice. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become.
- If you have to do some tasks a little differently because of your disability, become comfortable with explaining how and why. Again, role-play for practice.
- Know, in advance if you will require any adaptive technology. Computers have built-in accessibility features that can be adjusted to accommodate some disabilities and enhance skills. Know how these work in case you need to adjust the computer at your desk.
- If asked about your medical history or some other inappropriate question, reply with grace and say something like, “There is nothing about my personal life that will prevent me from doing this job to the best of my ability.”
Chair, Member Career Services Committee
Fielding Graduate University
Advising Graduate and Professional Students: Who We Are and How We View Our Professional Lives
Kati Markowitz, Advising Graduate and Professional Students Commission Chair
Judith Goetz, Advising Graduate and Professional Students Commission Member
In early 2006, the NACADA Advising Graduate and Professional Students Commission achieved a milestone when it completed a comprehensive survey of its Commission membership. The results were both expected and surprising, with certain trends transcending the small confines of our very specialized group and adding further details to the state of the advising profession in general. On the broadest level, the findings show that we are overwhelmingly female, well educated, not very well paid, and rather poorly trained. Yet, we like our work.
During the period from January 23 through February 12, 2006, members of the Advising Graduate and Professional Students Commission were invited to participate in an on-line survey. Three email invitations were sent out within a three-week period. Eighty-one members (20.88%) completed the survey out of a total membership in 2006 of 388. To assure confidentiality, no detailed responses are reported in cases where fewer than three members responded to the question.
In an attempt to cross check the validity of results and set them into a wider context, we compared them with the following surveys: 2004 National Association of Graduate Admission Professionals (NAGAP) Survey, 2006 NAGAP Membership Survey, and the ACT Sixth National Survey. The 2004 NAGAP Survey, the more comprehensive of the NAGAP surveys employed in comparisons, had similar participation rates to the NACADA survey: approximately 20%.
The NACADA survey’s thirty questions were divided into four broad categories: demographic information, organizational issues (both within campus settings and within the NACADA commission), professional issues, and quality of “work-life.” The following review focuses on aspects that may be of interest to the wider NACADA membership, not merely to the members of our Commission.
Females made up 80% of the survey respondents, as compared to 71% female respondents in the 2004 NAGAP Survey. Staff in public institutions made up 63% of the respondents, as opposed to only 40% of NAGAP members. These discrepancies are worth noting, especially when comparing salaries among these two groups. The median salary of NACADA members of the Advising Graduate and Professional Student Commission falls within the $40,000-$44,999 range. NAGAP members from public institutions earned an average of $55,210, while those in private institutions earned $52,555.
Information on our NACADA Commission members’ educational level closely follows the NAGAP survey: 21% earned a baccalaureate degree, 48% earned a master’s or professional degree, and 27% earned a Ph.D. or Ed.D. (Note that the ABD is included within this group). NAGAP numbers stand at 18% baccalaureate, 53% Masters or professional degree, and 23%, Ph.D., Ed.D., or ABD.
The discrepancy in earnings may, at least partially, be due to the gender and institutional differences of our members. Other reasons might include the prevalence of recruiters in professional schools, such as, medical, law, and business. These organizations usually charge professional fees and thus have greater means of compensating employees.
The NACADA survey included several questions related to the members’ student constituencies. We found that 37% of respondents advise both undergraduate and graduate students. While almost 62% of respondents indicated that they have been in the advising profession for up to ten years, the same percentage said that they have been advising graduate students for merely up to five years. About one-quarter of the respondents indicated that they have been in the advising profession over 15 years, yet only 10% said they have been advising graduate students for the same length of time. These results may point to the relative newness of using professional advisors in graduate studies and may seem to indicate some movement from undergraduate to graduate advising, or to positions that combine advising both student populations. The fact that over one third of respondents work with both graduate and undergraduate students also suggests that our findings pertain to the wider NACADA membership, not only to the graduate student advisors who make up one of the smaller NACADA commissions.
Questions pertaining to organizational issues have been divided into two groups: campus specific and NACADA specific matters. The latter set of questions relates to methods of preferred communication within the Commission membership and to specific subjects to be covered at the annual meeting. The Commission leadership has already started the process of incorporating and implementing these findings.
The campus specific questions highlight organizational issues such as availability of professional networks and organizations, as well as training and development. Only 36% respondents indicated that they had advising organizations on campus, and most of those were for undergraduate advisors, although membership was open to all. Very few respondents mentioned specific graduate student advisor organizations. One of the few organizations specifically geared toward professional advisors of graduate students, the Graduate Coordinators Network (GCN) at the University of Texas at Austin, is the result of a process combining grassroots efforts on the part of departmental graduate coordinators with active support from the Graduate Dean’s Office (for details, see www.utexas.edu/ogs/gcnet/about.html).
Accessibility to training and development opportunities on campus seems to be closely related to the availability of campus organizations and networks. Thirty-eight percent of the members indicated that they have training and development on campus. The activities mentioned included workshops, topical training on FERPA and other advising related subjects, monthly meetings with main stakeholders, such as the Registrar and Graduate Dean’s Office (pp. 42-44, Findings from the ACT Sixth National Survey, validate the findings of the NACADA Survey on types of training as well as general availability of the different training opportunities). Surprisingly, training and development seemed not to be related to availability of funds, with 72% of respondents reporting that they receive financial support for outside training and development opportunities.
Many universities have manifold divisions between colleges, departments, and various auxiliary units, and budgets are likewise divided among different constituents. The availability of funds for outside training, which by its very nature is more expensive since attendees have to pay registration fees, travel expenses, etc., may be a symptom of campus divisions. One solution may be to develop campus-wide training opportunities that would be easily accessible to a wide group of people. These could be tailored for specific needs of the campus communities, making them more cost-effective, especially if on-campus expertise is utilized.
Quality of “work-life”
As seen from the findings thus far, there would appear to be a number of areas of importance to the profession that need to be addressed and improved. Yet, 70% of respondents are very and/or somewhat satisfied with their current position, and only 15% are somewhat and/or very unsatisfied. Moreover, while 50% think that their work is highly valued by others, only 5% think that their work is highly undervalued. Altogether 86% feel that their work is somewhat and/or highly valued.
These seeming discrepancies between factual data – see compensation and the training and development issues – and perceived worth may be interesting areas for further analysis. From anecdotal data, the explanation for the level of satisfaction with work and how it is valued may relate to the nature of graduate programs: the communities are smaller and more intimate; advisors, graduate students, and faculty get to know each other better during the duration of graduate studies (for Ph.D. programs these relationships can last for over 5 years); the students are more mature and aware; and graduate students seem to articulate more clearly both their expectations and their response to received guidance and help.
As mentioned, the survey included thirty questions, with several having open-ended answers. The intent of this article, a first cut at analyzing and discussing results, was to focus on findings pertaining to the wider audience of the NACADA membership. Future plans for investigation include an in-depth analysis of the specific professional topics within the community of graduate student advisors, as well as further analysis of training and development matters.
University of California, Berkeley
Pennsylvania State University
Carlson, J. (2006). National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals (NAGAP) Annual Membership Report. Perspectives 18(4):10-11.
Habley, W.R. (Ed.). (2004). The Status of Academic Advising: Findings from the ACT Sixth national Survey (NACADA Monograph, No. 10). Manhattan, KS: National Academic Advising Association.
National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals (NAGAP). 2004 Membership Survey. Retrieved from http://www.nagap.org/research/index.asp (member login required)