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Voices of the Global Community


2006 December 29:4

As we move into the 21st century, we find ourselves in a time when our educational system is plagued with a high number of dropouts and many students who complete college lack important skill sets. We also know that the U.S. is falling behind other countries in developing the workforce needed to sustain our communities. As higher education professionals, we must commit to implementing programs that focus on student learning outcomes.

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Once again, the NACADA Annual Conference was a resounding success! The breadth, depth, and quality of presentations from the pre-conference workshops through the concurrent and poster sessions were truly outstanding. Over and over again, colleagues with whom we had the opportunity to speak during the course of the short week indicated how impressed they were with the information being presented and the commitment to student success that was evident by all. Our shared commitment to student success reinforces our own observations about NACADA's membership, that is, we are, indeed, a community of teachers-scholars-learners. We fluidly move from role to role unselfishly sharing our knowledge and ideas for practice and, simultaneously, learning from each other. Who could ask for more?

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NACADA's shared governance structure encourages members to get involved with the Association and provides a variety of opportunities for various degrees of involvement - from committee or task force membership within one of the Divisions to the Board of Directors. Each position provides an opportunity to be involved and to shape the work of the Association while exercising your leadership skills.

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At their October 21, 2006 meeting, the NACADA Board of Directors approved the proposed NACADA Concept of Academic Advising Statement....NACADA is pleased to provide this new resource to our members and encourages you all to utilize the Concept of Academic Advising as you work on your campuses. 

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They sit in front of us, sometimes dejected, sometimes irreverent, always wondering, "What does this mean? What's going to happen now?"  Students who have earned academic suspension status are generally uneasy about speaking with an academic advisor, even though they may not tell us. Some did not realize that they were suspended until they came to register for classes. Many have lots of 'reasons' why they are in academic trouble. ALL of them need us! How can we approach these students to best meet their educational, occupational, and sometimes personal, needs?

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The program, Career Coach, comprises a series of personal and career developmental workshops supported by a powerful, interactive e-profile tool. Each class, in year one, attends a weekly hour workshop with a counselor to address one of the Career Coach themes. The workshops revolve around three main themes: Self ExplorationLife Skills, and the Job Search Process. In their first semester, students participate in a series of workshops to explore their personal styles, values, characteristics, and learning styles. Students are introduced to college life, academic expectations, rules and regulations in an attempt to support them as they settle in their new environment. In the second semester, workshops are aimed at supporting students personal and academic development with sessions that revolve around building self esteem, setting goals, time management, communication skills and style, team work, assessment management and presentation skills. 

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Advisors must understand how identity management (i.e., deciding when and if to disclose one's sexual or gender identity) affects students' academic success and career decision-making. We should be prepared to help students discern and prioritize their career values so they can make well-informed decisions. Additionally, advisors should become knowledgeable about the realities of oppression and provide students with guidance based in research.

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There are many benefits to utilizing the active learning environment of web-based instruction. The effectiveness of any learning environment is based upon the types and levels of cognitive and metacognitive activity engendered in the learning process (Oliver, 1996). Learning is enhanced in active environments in which students are engaged in processing personally relevant content and reflection during the learning process. Web-based instruction facilitates student-centered approaches and an active learning environment rich with visual and audio stimuli (Winfield, 1998). It can provide a medium that supports learning in an active learning environment and the ability to track skills and identify gaps in knowledge. It allows for reflective time in the learning process and a degree of participation well beyond that which is possible within the time constraints of a place-based session (Parker, 1998).

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Peer advising continues to grow in undergraduate programs (Koring and Campbell, 2005, p. 9). Despite this, little research has been devoted to outcomes of peer advising or student satisfaction with the process. What research has been done indicates that peer advising has positive outcomes in terms of student involvement, academic achievement and retention (Koring and Campbell, 2005). Nelson and Fonzi (1995) discovered that 80% of students who participate in a peer advising program find the process to be satisfactory, but they do not specify the terms of satisfaction (p. 42).

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The Action Plan I crafted at the 2005 NACADA Summer Institute focused on the interactions between our academic advisors, IPFW students and their families. My charge was to find a way to include family in the advising conversation without taking attention away from student development and still work within FERPA guidelines. I applied the following process, adapted from Robert Sternberg's (1987) Successful Intelligence, to this issue.

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The highly decentralized advising system at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) makes it difficult to gain a reliable view of the effectiveness of advising on campus. In response to the developing emphasis on campus toward assessment, a team of advisors was asked to lead an initiative to address this need. As representatives of the UAB advising community, we were asked by the administrators of our institution to attend the 2005 NACADA Assessment of Academic Advising Institute to begin the assessment process. Although we were from three different units, we were able to utilize our campus wide Committee on Academic Advising (CAA) to provide the structure for this project. The result of our two-year effort is a comprehensive approach to assessment that will be implemented university wide.

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One acronym strikes fear into many in the south-QEP. The QEP or Quality Enhancement Plan is a requirement for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). This is how one college, with NACADA 's help, survived and thrived during its QEP journey.

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As the field of enrollment management continues to develop, advisors will be asked to assume leadership roles because of our unique background of student involvement and post-secondary administration. It is our knowledge of both areas that give us the ability to affect change throughout the institution. The result will be the success of our students and the long-term viability of the institution.

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One of the hallmarks of a small, liberal arts college is its ability to provide students with a personal connection with the institution. The Department of Biology at Indiana University - Bloomington (IUB) has over 1,200 majors and, until recently, only two advisors. This large advisee load challenges advisors who seek to provide students with both excellent guidance and the kind of personal attention they would find in a smaller school.

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As academic advisors, we have an opportunity to not only encourage students to earn their degrees, but we can take a special interest in helping them develop into successful professionals. Giving a student 'an ear' to actively listen, providing the 'extra push' needed for forward academic progress, and at times, sharing our own experiences with students should never be done in a sense of duty but should be a privilege. Helping students find academic direction before enrollment will satisfy students' short term objectives, but inspiring them will enrich their confidence and have a far-reaching effect on their undergraduate experience.

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Nearly 2,600 colleagues came to Indianapolis October 18-21 to share information on current advising topics. To paraphrase one participant: 'I thought this Conference was outstanding. I have never been to a conference where the rooms were so full with participants on the last day of the conference. Obviously, the Conference attendees were really energized in Indianapolis and eager to learn as much as they could.'

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From June 2005 through December 2011, this publication was titled Academic Advising Today: Lighting Student Pathways. Articles included in these archived editions will be presented in a compiled version as well as broken down into individual articles to facilitate search capacity. News features from this period may be attained by contacting the Managing Editor.

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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.

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