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Results of Member Assessment at 2008 NACADA Annual Conference

Terry Musser, NACADA Board of Directors


Assessments of membership information were implemented at the 2008 NACADA Annual Conference, sponsored by the Board of Directors. A survey and a town hall meeting were designed to: 1) gather information from the members about their member benefits; 2) determine the viability of gathering this type of information in a large conference setting; and 3) allow the current leadership to interact more with the membership.

275 participants were surveyed by volunteers from the planning team, the Emerging Leaders Program, and the current leadership. A town hall meeting was held on Friday of the conference with approximately 80 people in attendance. Eight volunteers were trained to conduct the Nominal Group Process to answer the question: “What benefits are you currently not receiving as a member that you would like to have?” Each of the eight groups produced a list of the top 3-4 benefits they would like to have as NACADA members.

The majority of respondents (67%) to the survey have been members for a relatively short amount of time – five years or less. The largest percentage of respondents worked at public four-year institutions and 25% work at a public research institution. Table 1 summarizes the number and percent of respondents from institution type.

Table 1. Type of Institution

Type of Institution # Responding Percent
Public Research 69 25.09
Public Four-Year 100 36.36
Private Four-Year 54 19.64
Private Two-Year 0 0.00
Two-Year/Community College 39 14.18
Other 6 2.18

When asked about their professional role, most indicated they were academic advisors or counselors. Table 2 summarizes the types of roles represented by the participants.

Table 2. Advising Role

Role # Responding Percent

Faculty Advisor 10 3.65
Academic Advisor/Counselor 142 51.64
Advising Administrator 87 31.64
Counselor 7 2.55
Non-Institutional 0 0.00
Other 22 8,00
No answer 10 3.64

Table 3 shows the number of respondent reasons for joining NACADA as well as a percentage of the total answers to this question.

Table 3. Why did you join NACADA? (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

Reason # or Responses Percent

I heard it was somewhere I could get advising information. 94 34.18
I was hired to be an advisor and needed to find help and
information. 58 21.09
My colleague(s) told me it was a good organization. 100 40.0
For professional development opportunities. 198 72.0
To support my work as an advisor or advising administrator 175 63.64
For networking opportunities 135 49.09
Other 26 9.45

Table 4 summarizes the responses to the question, “Why do you continue your membership?”

Table 4. Why do you continue your membership? (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

Reason # of Responses Percent

For the networking 151 54.91
For the professional development 233 84.73
To get away from the office once or twice a year 71 25,82
Receive the publications (Journal, Newsletter, Monographs, etc) 98 35.64
Other 34 12.36



The last question asked “What NACADA membership benefits have you taken advantage of?” Table 5 shows responses and percent of responses to each of the member benefits.


Table 5. What NACADA membership benefits have you taken advantage of? (Respondents could choose more than one answer.)

Benefits # of Responses Percent

State workshop 59 21.45
Regional conference 141 51.27
National conference 247 89.82
NACADA Clearinghouse 104 37.82
NACADA Website 227 82.55
Webinar 129 46.91
Summer Institute 40 14.55
Assessment Institute 29 10.55
Administrators' Institute 24 8.73
Faculty Institute 11 4.00
Purchased publications 128 46.55
Other 17 6.18


The final two questions were reserved for non-NACADA members. When asked, “What has prevented you from joining”, answers were almost evenly distributed among the choices. Table 6 shows the distribution of answers to this question.

Table 6. What has prevented you from joining?

Reason # of Responses Percent

I'm not an advisor. 2 20
I want to see if it is worth it before I decide. 1 10
I can't afford the dues. 1 10
Lack of institutional support. 1 10
Nor sure of the benefits. 3 30
Had not heard of it before 1 10
NACADA doesn't offer me anything work joining for. 1 10
Other 0 0.0


Table 7 indicates the number and percent of responses to each option for what would make them want to join.

Table 7. What would make you want to join?

Reason # of Responses Percent

My institution pays my dues. 4 25.0
The professional development opportunities. 5 31.0
More support from my institution for attending
professional development opportunities 2 12.5
Networking opportunities 4 25.0
The dues were less. 1 6.30
There were more benefits. 0 0.00
Other 0 0.00


Town Hall Meeting Results

The Nominal Group Process gives small groups a chance to brainstorm all possible answers to a question and then to discuss, select and prioritize their top answers. One category of ideas repeated throughout several of the small groups is improved functionality and offerings for members via the NACADA Web site. Included in this area would be a searchable membership directory, searchable Journal, online chat communities, and easier navigation. Related to technology was the need for wireless Internet access at conferences. Job placement activities at conferences were included on two lists and monetary incentives for members came up two times as well. The need to provide more scholarships and research grants and to rethink the allocation of funding within the Association was also identified.



Addressing membership needs of a large organization is always a challenge. NACADA has grown very quickly in the past five years and the demographics are changing to reflect a younger, less-experienced advising workforce. Providing resources that target the wide ranging needs of a diverse membership is a priority of the NACADA Executive Office staff and the Board of Directors. This approach to assessing membership needs at an annual conference gave us valuable insight and information including:

  • It is possible to gather data from individuals and small groups attending a conference and volunteers typically enjoyed meeting new people and discussing their needs.
  • Members are taking advantage of the plethora of resources and professional development activities currently offered at various levels and they have ideas about how their needs could be better addressed using state-of-the-art technology.
  • Membership demographics must be examined when designing professional development activities. The needs of new or newer members, as well as those who have many years of experience in advising and with the Association, must be considered.
  • If nothing else was gained from this activity, more than 300 members’ voices were heard and dozens of volunteers were given the opportunity to get involved in the Association.

Terry Musser
Penn State University
[email protected]

Cite this article using APA style as: Musser, T. (2009, March). Results of members assessment at 2008 NACADA annual conference. Academic Advising Today, 32(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]

Posted in: 2009 March 32:1


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