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Voices of the Global Community


Victor Macaruso, Assessment of Advising Commission Chair

The Assessment of Advising Interest Group became a commission in part as a consequence of the growing interest in, and awareness of, the importance in assessment of advising. This change coincided with the Commission’s national survey on the status of the assessment of advising. Although the results of this survey are currently being prepared for submission to the NACADA Journal, it might be useful to look at some of the responses to the survey question, “What could the Assessment of Advising Commission/NACADA sponsor to assist your assessment efforts?”

The assessment of advising is much indebted to the assessment culture that has developed on campuses as a result of the work of regional accreditation associations. One of these associations’ recurrent themes has been the necessity of developing multiple measures and multiple modes of evaluation. Too often, institutions depend on satisfaction surveys and contact volume to measure the success of the enterprise. While satisfaction surveys used by many institutions assess the delivery of advising services, they do not address the outcome of advising, namely, student learning. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in its 2003, “Commission Statement on the Assessment of Student Learning,” wrote “an organization committed to understanding and improving learning opportunities and environments it provides students will be able to document the relationship between assessment of and improvement in student learning.” As have the regional accrediting agencies, NACADA encourages the profession to develop student learning outcomes. Yet survey results show that approximately 25% of responding institutions have developed student learning outcomes for their advising units.


Many survey respondents were interested in discovering instruments to use in assessing advising. The NACADA web page “Assessment of Academic Advising: Instruments and Resources” lists many resources for assessment of advising services. One instrument, the Academic Advising Inventory (AAI), is a nationally normed instrument available to NACADA members without cost. Two other nationally normed instruments are the ACT and Noel Levitz. The web page lists the CAS Standards for Advising, a definitive program assessment document. The web page also provides links to individual advisor evaluations and other advising resources.

It is good to note that while particular instruments may find a place in a comprehensive assessment program, they are not a substitute for such a program. Any assessment program must follow from the values, vision, and mission statement of the institution. Because each institution is unique, each assessment program must of necessity be unique so that it will be consistent with the values of the institution. Once developed, the assessment program must be ongoing and not episodic. It should not be mustered up only when there is a need to produce data for some internal or external constituency, but it must become an integral part of what we do.

Another concern of survey respondents was to be able to find consultants with assessment expertise at reasonable cost. The NACADA Consultants’ Bureau has been a resource for members for more than twenty years. For a very reasonable fee the Consultants Bureau matches institutions with experts in the advising fields most applicable to the institution's needs.

For the past several years there have been pre- and post-conference workshops on the assessment of advising. In response to the growing interest in the topic of advising, NACADA offers a national institute solely devoted the assessment of advising. If you would like to gain hands-on experience in assessment, consider attending the Assessment of Academic Advising Institute, 2-4 February at St Pete Beach, Florida. This institute will focus on the components of a successful assessment program and participants will learn specific strategies for developing such a program on their home campuses.

As a result of the success of the previous Assessment Institute and in response to an expressed need of the members (validated by 61% of the respondents to the status of the assessment of advising survey), the Guide to Assessment in Academic Advising will be published in spring 2005. In the text, Susan Campbell, Charlie Nutt, and Richard Robbins outline a framework for the assessment of academic advising. They characterize their framework as a model that draws from elements common to the many assessment models found in the literature. They carefully stress, “This model is NOT to be a pre-packaged, all-inclusive document on what assessment in academic advising should include.” The book provides a five part framework that can be used to direct assessment on campus.

Survey results lead us to believe that advisors have a responsibility to make assessment an integral part of our practice; a practice that makes up but one dimension of the complex paradigm of students’ academic experience. Only through assessment can we truly know how successful we are in discharging our responsibilities to our students and to our institutions. With that knowledge we will be able to discover ways to do better what we do well.

Victor Macaruso
University of Wisconsin-Madison


Commission Statement on Assessment of Student Learning. (February 21, 2003). The Higher Learning Commission. A Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Retrieved November 5, 2004 from http://www.ncahigherlearningcommission.org/resources/positionstatements/assessment/

Campbell, S., Nutt, C., & Robbins, R. (2005) Guide to Assessment in Academic Advising. Manhattan, KS: NACADA. Note: Projected publication date is Spring 2005.

Cite this article using APA style as: Macaruso, V. (2004, December). Resources and challenges in the assessment of advising. Academic Advising Today, 27(4).  [insert url here]


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