From the Research Center

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Wendy Troxel, Director // NACADA Center for Research at Kansas State University

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Welcome to this edition of NACADA Research Quarterly. There’s a lot going on all over our Global Community!

Did you know that… 

… the NACADA Research Institute (formerly the Research Symposium) has been redesigned and will be held virtually. For more information, and to meet the faculty, go to:

… there’s a lot of writing happening every 2nd Saturday of the month? Sign up to write alone, together at

… the big fall conference event for NACADA is called the “Annual Conference” (not the “National Conference”)? Why? Because we’re a Global Community! This year will mark the beginning of the new “scholarly paper” session type. Recruitment is now underway to be considered for the position of “discussant.” Discussants are assigned two scholarly papers to read, ponder, and critique during the month of September. They present their remarks following the two 15-minute presentations by the authors and provide valuable feedback toward the next steps for the manuscripts, as well as to model scholarly discourse in advising=related inquiry. Discussants must also be willing to be paired with a Discussant Apprentice and to serve as a mentor throughout the process. There are ten (10) positions available. To apply to be a Discussant, go to 

… there’s such a thing as a “Discussant Apprentice”? If you’d like to learn more about how to serve as a discussant in the future please apply to be a “Discussant Apprentice” to be paired with an experienced discussant. The Discussant Apprentice” reads the pair of papers and engages in conversations about the process and resultant feedback. The Discussant Apprentice does not have a formal speaking role during the session at the Annual Conference but commits to be in attendance at the session. To apply to be a Discussant Apprentice go to 

. . . the next cohort of the Ph.D. in Leadership in Academic Advising at Kansas State University will begin in the summer of 2022? Applications are due on December 1, 2021. A series of information sessions will be held over the next few months (recordings will be available for those registered):

For complete info go to

Editor's Corner

The “Spark”
Elisa Shaffer, Managing Editor // NACADA Center for Research at Kansas State University

Welcome the first in the doctoral adventure series of your managing editor. This will chronicle my trek through the doctoral process. It is my hope that it will encourage you wherever you may be in your journey. So on to the spark…

We all have a different moment in our lives that we can look back on that we reflect on as pivotal. For me, it was a culmination of several factors. First, I have been lucky enough to grow up in a family that values education. Both of my parents have their Master’s degrees. Both pursued those degrees while working full-time and while being parents. This experience of seeing my parents work through their degrees through the eyes of a child has been invaluable to me. It has shown me the incredible work ethic and desire to grow and change throughout one’s career. My parents and their example to me let me dream.

Second, I have been privileged to be surrounded by many women and men who have taken a hard road down the doctoral path. In the spring of 2019, when the idea of a doctorate truly started to percolate pursuing a doctorate, three of my dearest friends in NACADA had already completed their doctorates, and one was months away from defending his dissertation. Every time I talked to one of them about the idea, they were always so encouraging but genuine in their description of the process. With them, I was able to ask if it was worth it, what type of doctorate is “better,” what schools would look more favorable, about women and doctorates, and all my other questions. These honest conversations with dear friends whom I could trust let me plan.

The final match to the kindling was in the spring/summer of 2019. I began working on a project that was conference solely focused on women and their work in advising. Of the 40 presenters, 38 were women, and many of those had their doctorate. During the preparation of this conference, I heard their stories over and over again. Stories of strength and power, struggle and triumph, women running after something meaningful to them. And each time, I heard a small voice inside calling out, “This is something you can do too. This is something you have been wanting for years. Why not now?” And each time, it got louder. These stories and voices gave me a platform to let me move.

So let me ask you, are you dreaming, planning, or moving? Or if you have already got your doctorate, who are you silently inspiring, who are you having honest conversations with, who are you are telling your story to?

Want to continue this conversation, email me at or join me on Twitter at @elisalynshaffer

Writer Support

What Should I Write About?
Thonda Dean-Kyncl, NACADA Coordinator of Writer Support

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Much like the question we hear from students, “What should I major in?”, the answer to this question is always within your identity and experience. You may already have a professional question you’d like to answer via research and writing, or you may already have an idea of an area that piques your interest, but if you don’t, I would recommend introspection via two possible pathways:

1. I believe it was writer Frederick Buechner who wrote that your vocation lists in the place “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Undoubtedly, you have experiences and wisdom from your own culture, upbringing, and education that intersect your work in academic advising deeply. Perhaps you were a first-generation student, and when you encounter first-generation students, you have a real sense of what they need based on your own past. Or perhaps, like me, you were a transfer student, and when you engage with transfer students now, you find yourself reflecting on your own experience at a new campus as an upperclassman and the unique challenges it presented.

Here at the intersection between your lived experience or education and the needs of your campus community, you may find a “sweet spot,” a place where you are uniquely motivated to research and write about that intersection.

2. Another author and professor is the source of a second pathway: Joseph Campbell wrote the book The Hero With a Thousand Faces that George Lucas credited as the inspiration for his Star Wars saga. Campbell writes, “Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for.” You may find your inspiration for your research or writing project in the issue or concern that challenges you the most.

Perhaps that challenge comes in the form of a social injustice you recognize, or in a campus policy or practice that you find demoralizing, or in a group of students with whom you struggle to identify or engage. That challenging place may hold a treasure of insight for you as you engage it from a place of open dialogue and research. And what you learn there may be the fodder for an inspiring project, article, or presentation.

NACADA Writes LogoOur common humanity ensures that whether through your deep passion and experience or your place of struggle, your work will resonate with others. 

From the Editors

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From the editorial teams of the NACADA Journal and the NACADA Review

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Epistemology and the View from the Review

Is there a hierarchy of knowledge? Another way to ask that question is to ask: Is one theory of knowledge—or epistemology—better than another? Should there be a hierarchy of knowledge? Should there be a hierarchy of knowledge in academic advising research?

Well, the editors of the NACADA Journal and the NACADA Review assert that while there may be more than one way to gain knowledge, the road you take depends on what you wish to find and where you wish to go. To generalize: the NACADA Journal is more aligned with epistemologies that are empiricist; the NACADA Review is more aligned with epistemologies that are interpretivist. Neither is intrinsically superior to the other on the face of it. Rather, the epistemological approach you choose when you do research in academic advising depends on, well, what you wish to find and where you wish to go.

Now, this is starting to sound like something the Cheshire Cat would say! Let’s simplify it a bit.

Empiricist approaches are those that seek to establish a knowledge based on sensory experience. Quantitative social science research methodologies—and most qualitative research methodologies as well—can be thought of as being based on empiricism. Empiricists do experiments, administer surveys, gather data, observe subjects, and generally seek to prove or disprove a hypothesis according to available evidence, to determine what is or is not the case. As with the natural sciences, empirical research asserts that the researcher can be separate from the object of study, at least to some extent.

Interpretive approaches also are interested in what is or is not the case, but are more likely to go beyond that to a discussion of what is good, of what should be the case, and of what the object of our scrutiny means—not intrinsically and for all time—but what it means for us here and now. Generally, we find interpretive approaches in the arts and humanities. Interpretive approaches to knowledge do not assume an unmediated, free-standing, objective reality. Nor do they assume that a given interpretation will last forever.

In academic advising research, the latter approaches remain the road less traveled, but the NACADA Review, the newest journal on the advising research scene, wants to extend a welcome to travelers on the interpretive road. You know who you are! Perhaps you come to advising and advising research from backgrounds in the arts or humanities. If so, your interpretivist methodologies are welcome here. Some of the methodologies that the NACADA Review would be interested in publishing would include, but are not limited to:

  • Essays that discuss the interplay between theory and practice, which is known as praxis.
  • Critical essays that discuss some aspect of academic advising and provide judgment and analysis.
  • Speculative essays that examine questions of value, that provide insight into what the entity under scrutiny can become.
  • Historical essays that examine the history of academic advising.
  • Philosophical essays that comment on or add to the body of philosophy on academic advising.
  • Interpretive essays that use hermeneutical methods to interpret what is meant by some of the discourses of academic advising.

It is important to keep in mind that “interpretive” does not mean some sort of impressionistic untethering from reality. But we, the editors of both journals, feel that we cannot rightly grasp the nature of advising if we only measure it by the yardsticks of positivist, empiricist epistemologies that are home territory to the natural and the social sciences. 

The editors of the NACADA Review wish to leave the light on for you to come back home to the interpretive epistemologies, because like many researchers, you may feel that there are some things we cannot say about academic advising without them. The common goal of all research is understanding. Regardless of the epistemologies and research modalities, you wish to use, there is a home for your research in one of the NACADA journals.

Events & Happenings

Join other writers across the world meeting virtually to write. Join us for our next Second Saturday Scholars

SAVE THE DATE // NACADA Research Institute will be held May 26 - 28, 2021 in virtually.

NACADA Research Committee

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Kiana Shiroma, Chair
NACADA Research Committee

Happy New Year, NACADA members!

As mentioned in the last newsletter, our focus this year is to support and provide research-related information to you! The Research Committee is hard at work fulfilling this goal with the following projects!:

  • Finalizing our keynote speaker
  • Creating more modules on research topics
  • Setting up a Canvas site to continue supporting those who complete the Research 101 eTutorial
  • Establishing a subcommittee to rethink grant packages for awardees
  • Drafting a research curriculum for our members
  • Updating our webpage

Thank you so much to the Research Committee members for all of the hard work, time, and effort they have already committed to these objectives! The full list of members can be viewed here.

NACADA Scholars

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graduation cap imageCongratulations to these scholars in NACADA who have recently successfully defended their dissertations!

Hapes, Rebecca L. - Texas A&M University
Hapes, R. L. (2021).  Thriving in STEM: A Mixed Methods Approach to Describing, Comparing, and Analyzing Factors that Contribute to First-Year Student Thriving in a Rigorous STEM Major at a Tier One Institution. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Texas A&M University.

Pipkins, Jermain - Dallas County Community College District
Pipkins, J. (2021). Proactive Advising and its Impact on Black Students. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. California State University, Fullerton.

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Congratulations to the scholara in NACADA who have recently published in related journals!

  • Kapinos, B. (2020). Community College Advising Coordinators: A Perspective from Middle Management. The Community College Enterprise, 26(2), 46-67.

form imageEach quarter we want to highlight the advising-related scholarly contributions by NACADA members across the globe.  To submit your doctoral defense or publication recognition, please complete this form by 12:00 pm Central time on the last of January, April, July, October (respectively).

Please contact the NACADA Research Center at NACADA-RESEARCH@KSU.EDU with any questions.

Highlights from the Global Community

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Kathryn Woods, UKAT Research Committee Chair

Since December 2020, UKAT's Research Committee has developed a range of resources and hosted a variety of activities to support scholarship in the field of advising and tutoring. There has been a particular focus on encouraging people who may not have previously researched in this area to do so, as well as to provide networking and collaborative opportunities to build an advising research community. The committee continues to support colleagues with their independent inquiries, and research on the committee's first annual research theme: Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion.

New resources recently published by the committee include 'Top 10 Tips for Researching Advising' Among the 'top tips' are: make a plan, collaborate, utilise research support, and don't be afraid to start writing! The committee has also provided an extensive research bibliography of works published specifically focused on advising and tutoring and a 'where to publish' guide 

At the recent UKAT annual conference (30 March - 1 April) the Research Committee hosted a well-attended workshop on 'Getting Started with Advising and Tutoring Research' and hosted the inaugural meeting of the Ph.D. and early career network. Both sessions focused on providing practical advice and guidance, and giving attendees an opportunity to share their experiences and research, and build their research networks.

Over the next six months, UKAT's research committee will look to host webinars on research methodology and getting published, and continue to develop the Ph.D. and early career network. The committee will also look to continue to build a community of advising research by collaborating with NACADA in hosting the Second Saturday Scholars Programme. We are excited to see you in a virtual space soon!

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