Book by Laurie Richlin
Review by Nikki Allen Dyer
Director, Student Retention
Wor-Wic Community College (MD)

While it is has long been postulated that advising is teaching (Crookston, 1972), academic advisors may ask, “Can the same processes for designing, facilitating, assessing, and documenting learning in college courses be employed to design, facilitate, assess, and document learning in the academic advising function?”  After a review of Richlin’s text, administrators and advisors alike will affirm that such can be done.  Although Richlin’s text is primarily designed as a tool for designing courses and facilitating, assessing, and documenting, learning outcomes which result from college classroom instruction, the teaching goals (TGs), learning outcomes (LOs), classroom assessment techniques (CATs) and learning resources can readily be applied to academic advisement.  Whether selecting, designing, or improving an advisement model, developing an advisement syllabus, portfolio or assessment project, or laying the foundation for an advisement philosophy, this text can serve as a “blueprint” to establish, maintain, or enhance the teaching> <learning (T> <L) connection via effective activities (p. x).  

This text provides an overview of the scholarly teaching process and an overview of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) process.  Such reading would be particularly valuable to committees preparing to design, implement, and assess change in the advising unit, as it provides a schematic that can be used to systematically establish advisement goals, examine the advisement models within other units or institutions, and formulate advisee learning objectives, advising activities, and assessment projects.  Also, advisors who wish to contribute to the body of knowledge regarding academic advising by publishing or presenting original research, will find application of this section beneficial.  

The text features visual depictions of elements of the SoTL design cycle, including how they interrelate, thus providing readers with an appreciation for how a properly devised design cycle can be self contained and sustained – in the classroom and in the advisement function. A significant benefit of employing this design cycle in advisement assessment and planning processes is that the cycle fosters ongoing evaluation and improvement of the advisement function at the unit or institutional levels. The section of Richlin’s text, titled, “Facilitating Learning”, takes a multi-disciplinary approach to examining how college students learn and how teachers can teach with respect to such learning styles.  Advisors and advising administrators should understand basic brain functions associated with learning and those respective behavioral changes which signify learning, student learning styles and intelligences, and how college students learn and develop, as related, in particular, to academic advising.  With the help of this text, advisors could gain awareness as to how they themselves learn, how they teach, and how their teaching style interacts with students’ learning styles, thus better enabling them to make their advisement practices truly student-centered, individualized, and pedagogically-founded.    

The chapter titled “Designing Learning Experiences” would be useful in both the design of the academic advising model, and in the processes contained within the individual advisement conference. While advisors may not traditionally perceive the advising relationship as a series of learning experiences, it can be, for it is acknowledged that learning experiences are associated with learning outcomes.

Blueprint for Learning: Constructing College Courses to Facilitate, Assess, and Document Learning. (2005). Book by Laurie Richlin. Review by Nikki Allen Dyer. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 160 pp., $24.95, ISBN # 1-57922-143-2
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