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Kalani M. Palmer, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Kalani Palmer.jpgIn higher education, the tenure and promotion process involve a review of teaching, scholarship, and service. Faculty at a research institution are heavily assessed on scholarship, while faculty at a teaching institution may have greater expectations placed on teaching and service (Green, 2008). It is important to note that while faculty at teaching institutions may have a greater expectation regarding teaching and service, scholarship remains a focus in the tenure process for all faculty regardless of institution type (Bowden, 2007; Green, 2008; Social Sciences Feminist Network Research Interest Group, 2017; Youn & Price, 2009). Teaching is typically evaluated based on student feedback after completing a course, peer observation, and a review of syllabi or assignments. Service is often demonstrated by serving on committees at the institution, on a state committee or organization board of directors, and through volunteering with professional associations, reviewing manuscripts, editorship, or reviewing grants. Scholarship is often focused on peer reviewed publications and external funding awards (Bowden, 2007; Green, 2008). Despite the focus on scholarship in the review process, lower ranked faculty spend a great deal of time on teaching, service, and advising (O’Meara et al., 2017; Social Sciences Feminist Network Research Interest Group, 2017). This may be especially true for faculty that identify as a person from an underrepresented or marginalized group (Social Sciences Feminist Network Research Interest Group, 2017). Moreover, advising performance is not typically part of the tenure and promotion review process (Green, 2008). For faculty that advise, advising is a time intensive job duty but not assessed in this vital review process. Quality advising is vital work that leads to retention, persistence, and graduation (Donaldson et al., 2016; Ryan & Glenn, 2003); for faculty that engage in quality advising, ignoring this work in the tenure and promotion process is an injustice.

Advising as Part of the Case for Tenure and Promotion

If higher education administrative leaders want to best serve students, faculty need to be held accountable for advising practices. Advising done well requires personalization and relationship building, as well as knowledge of policies, procedures, career opportunities, and the skills needed for the field (Barker & Mamiseishvili, 2014; Crocker et al., 2014). Essentially high quality advising requires time. Faculty that put in the effort should highlight the work. Encouraging and advocating for faculty to highlight their advising work may help normalize the inclusion of advising efforts in tenure and promotion materials. For many faculty, this may amplify their scholarship of application and/or advising.

Table 1

Dimensions and Evidence of Effective Advising in Tenure and Promotion Application



Example or Evidence

Student outcomes and feedback

Advisee achievements and student perceptions of advisors

Unprompted student emails, images of messages in cards, course evaluations, anonymous survey responses, student awards/scholarships, # of students admitted to graduate school, # of students employed after graduation, retention rates, persistence rates, graduation rates

Peer feedback and recognition

Colleagues’ and professional organizations’ perceptions of your advising work

Peer observation, department committee or peer letter, college/university awards, regional awards, national awards

Effective management

The number of advisees and the amount of work related to advising managed

Caseload, # of recommendations/references, frequency of advising meetings, length of meetings

Scholarship of discovery

Contributions to knowledge development in advising

Peer reviewed article, internal and external research grant funding

Scholarship of integration

Investigating existing literature or research, making connections, and synthesizing information

Peer reviewed literature review, white paper, non-academic outlet publication

Scholarship of application

Application of research through program design, policy changes, collaboration, and/or developing/leading professional development

Training flier, attendee feedback, program funding, program theory of change, program logic model, needs assessment, evaluation report, letter from collaborators (e.g., student affairs staff), screenshots of program website or events

Scholarship of advising

Implementation of best practices, evidence-based practices, formative assessment, self-reflection, and ongoing continuous improvement

Advising syllabus, advising philosophy, screenshots of learning management system (LMS) for advisees, screenshots of advisor emails, questionnaires, forms or exercises created, certificate for training attended



  • Student performance and feedback: Student performance is not caused by advisor actions or advisor-advisee relationships, but student performance is influenced by advisors (Young-Jones et al., 2013). Including information on student performance or student perceptions of faculty advisor performance helps illustrate the impact of quality advising.
  • Peer feedback and recognition: Peers and professional associations can also assist in validating the quality of work performed by a faculty advisor. Peer observations, awards, and letters attesting to work that the faculty member has conducted in relation to advising corroborates statements made in the tenure and promotion application.  
  • Effective management: Effectively managing the workload, which includes work that is often ignored, is challenging. Using data such as the number of students advised each semester, the average amount of time spent with each student, and/or the number of recommendation letters or references provided helps illustrate a full and complete picture of the skill level and effectiveness of the faculty member.
  • Scholarship: Lastly, scholarly efforts may aid in exemplifying the quality of work performed by a faculty advisor.

Boyer (1990) attempted to diversify the demonstration of scholarly activities and opened the discussion for higher education to be more inclusive in the tenure and promotion review process. Boyer (1990) outlined four types of scholarship: discovery, integration, application, and teaching. Troxel (2018) discusses the scholarship of advising, which is like the scholarship of teaching. The scholarship of advising or teaching is when a faculty member demonstrates excellence in practice.

Scholarly activities include:

  • Scholarship of discovery: Faculty advisors can engage in knowledge discovery and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the field (Troxel, 2018). Advising research performed by faculty advisors might focus on advising in their specific discipline or with certain populations (e.g., international, first generation, undergraduate-level, graduate-level) that they frequently encounter. Engaging in advising research will inform and enhance the professional practice of the faculty advisor while also increasing the professional community’s understanding of faculty advising in higher education (He & Hutson, 2017). Unfortunately, faculty engaged in the scholarship of discovery in their specific discipline often find burdensome the pursuit of a secondary research agenda in academic advising (Bowden, 2007).
  • Scholarship of integration: For this reason, the scholarship of integration or application may be more appealing. Faculty advisors that read and consume advising research may find a need or desire to investigate existing literature across disciplines. This investigation can produce meta-analyses or literature reviews that highlight recommendations or findings with implications for practice and future research.
  • Scholarship of application: When faculty advisors design programs, offer training, as well as recommend and implement policies that improve practice, they demonstrate the scholarship of application. The scholarship of application is undervalued in higher education, but can improve outcomes (Bowden, 2007).
  • Scholarship of advising: Finally, faculty advisors engaged in the scholarship of advising implement evidence-based practices, utilize current research, monitor their practice, and adjust based on formative feedback.

Scholarly work can be performed in a variety of ways, and when discussing advising in tenure and promotion, faculty should be encouraged to select the scholarly work that best represents their efforts.


The work is being done; faculty are advising. The absence of advising in the tenure and promotion review process signals that the work is devalued. The dimensions of advising noted can support the case for tenure and promotion. Dedicating a small portion of time and space to advising in tenure and promotion materials accurately articulates faculty contributions while affirming the significance and value of faculty advising.

Kalani M. Palmer
Associate Professor
Department of Professional Studies in Education/ College of Education and Communications
Indiana University of Pennsylvania


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Bowden, R. (2007). Scholarship reconsidered: Reconsidered. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 7(2), 1–21.

Boyer, E. L. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate. Princeton University Press.

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Donaldson, P., McKinney, L., Lee, M. & Pino, D. (2016). First-year community college students’ perceptions of attitudes toward intrusive academic advising. NACADA Journal, 36(1), 30-42.

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Ryan, M.P. & Glenn, P. (2003). Increasing one-year retention rates by focusing on academic competence: An empirical odyssey. Journal of College Student Retention, 4(3), 297-324.

Social Sciences Feminist Network Research Interest Group. (2017). The burden of invisible work in academia: Social inequalities and time use in five university departments. Humboldt Journal of Social Relations39(39), 228–245. https://digitalcommons.humboldt.edu/hjsr/vol1/iss39/21/

Troxel, W. G. (2018). Scholarly advising and the scholarship of advising. New Directions for Higher Education2018(184), 21–31. https://doi.org/10.1002/he.20300

Youn, T. I., & Price, T. M. (2009). Learning from the experience of others: The evolution of faculty tenure and promotion rules in comprehensive institutions. The Journal of Higher Education80(2), 204–237. https://doi.org/10.1080/00221546.2009.11772139

Young‐Jones, A. D., Burt, T. D., Dixon, S., & Hawthorne, M. J. (2013). Academic advising: Does it really impact student success? Quality Assurance in Education, 21(1), 7–19. https://doi.org/ 10.1108/09684881311293034

Cite this article using APA style as: Palmer, K.M. (2022, September). Using advising to make the case for tenure and promotion. Academic Advising Today, 45(3). [insert url here]


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