Book by Wes Habley
Review by Jennifer E. Spencer
Family & Consumer Sciences
Texas State University – San Marcos

Wes Habley opens his review of the latest national survey with an overview of the previous five ACT sponsored advising surveys and a brief history of the evolution of advising as a profession.  Since the first survey in 1979 to this latest one in 2003, the practice of advising has changed dramatically across academia.  From who advises, to how advising is evaluated, to the level of importance advising is granted in different types of institutions, this history of advising over the past quarter century should be interesting and informative to anyone working as an advisor today.  

The next four chapters of the monograph detail the findings of the 2003 ACT survey. ACT has continued to refine this survey since it was first instituted. This latest sampling differentiates the data as it was collected from two-year and four-year public and private institutions. Habley, based upon survey responses, reviews how each different type of institution organizes, oversees, and evaluates academic advising. He includes detailed charts and tables with the percentages of each type of respondent, and in circumstances where the same question was asked in each of the five previous surveys, he includes percentages for each relevant survey year. For example, Habley includes three different tables to outline the responses to the question of who is responsible for academic advising on campus. The first table shows the percentages of all respondents, and the second and third break out the respondents based on type of institution.  This easy-to-read format makes trends readily apparent: in 1979, 14% of all respondents indicated they had a director or coordinator of advising on campus, and in 2003, 33% of respondents did (pp. 15-17).

Other interesting findings include those on how technology is used in advising, who serves as advisors and their physical location on campus, advisor reward and compensation, and how advising is structured on campus.  The fourth chapter is devoted to the structure and responsibilities of advising centers, which seems at first glance like a lot of space to devote to just one topic. However, the first chart in this chapter explains why: in 1979, 14% of all campuses reported having advising centers but in 2003, that number jumped to 73%. Habley’s final chapter details his conclusions about the current status of academic advising; these conclusions will not surprise readers who work in the profession. I found this chapter to be the least interesting and least helpful of the monograph.  

This monograph will be particularly useful to those wishing to compare the status of academic advising at their institutions to nationwide trends. I was disappointed that the survey did not address differences in advising across institutions based on size and geography, but that might be a new area to explore in subsequent monographs. Habley’s charts make advising trends across the years easy to spot, but the lack of an index will make it difficult for researchers to find this exceptionally useful information quickly. I recommend all advisors, particularly those new to the profession, spend an hour reading the first chapter and skimming the charts in the subsequent chapters to attain a greater appreciation for the growth and development of our profession.

The Status of Academic Advising: Findings from the ACT Sixth National Survey. (2004). Book by Habley, Wesley. Review by Jennifer E. Spencer. Manhattan, KS: NACADA, 100 pp., ISBN # M10
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