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Lily R. Liang, Dong Jeong, Briana Wellman, LaVonne Manning, David Barnett, Chen Li and Byunggu Yu, University of the District of Columbia

Lili Liang.jpgThe way that advising records are maintained and updated has a big impact on the effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity of advising. In the past, hard copies of advising sheets were used to facilitate advising at most institutions. Each semester, before advising, students filled out their advising sheets with the classes they had taken and the ones they planned to take in the next semester. These sheets, together with any notes from the advisors, are called advising records.

Dong Jeong.jpgAdvising records need to be updated constantly. They also need to be shared, not only between students and advisors but also with the program directors and the department chair for graduation clearance. Students need autonomy to update their own advising sheets according to their academic progress, while the accuracy and integrity of the records should be maintained. This presents a big challenge for updating and sharing.

Briana Wellman.jpgThis is especially challenging for urban universities, such as University of the District of Columbia (UDC) in Washington D.C. At UDC, most of the students and faculty commute. Many of UDC students work full-time, have families and/or enroll part-time. In fall 2012, 57% of students were enrolled part-time. It is challenging for these students to meet face to face with their academic advisors. Often, advising is done via email or phone. In these cases, hard cLaVonne Manning.jpgopies of student records are hard to access and maintain. When an advisor does not have access to student records at the time of advising, the efficiency and effectiveness of advising can be jeopardized and the advising communication including recommendations may not be documented. Electronic advising records have higher accessibility to a certain degree. However, unless they are stored online, an advisor away from his/her office may still not be able to access them.

David Barnett.jpgWith the development of technology, nowadays we have access to many new technology products.  Google Drive (previously named Google Docs) is a free platform provided by Google for creating and sharing documents online. Because of its ease of document- sharing, it is now being used more and more in many areas, including academics. Schwenn (2010) pointed out its advantages as one of the interactive web applications to be used for academic advising.  A few departments/colleges have started to use it foChen Li.jpgr advising-related activities.  For example, a faculty member in the Department of Criminal Justice at Radford University uses Google Drive to host an advising sign-up form. (See http://www.radford.edu/content/chbs/home/criminal-justice/resources/academic-advising.html) The Hospitality Department at Austin Community College uses Google Drive to host their academic advising form (See http://www.austincc.edu/hospmgmt/current.html).  The School of Education at Argosy University, Atlanta, Byunggu Yu.jpguses Google Drive to host advisor assignment information.

In the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology at UDC, we developed, on Google Drive, a departmental Academic Advising Record System. We decided to use the Google Drive platform not only because it meets the previously stated challenges, but also because it is free and many students and faculty already have Google accounts.

Major Components 

Our Google Drive Academic Advising Record System has the following components:

Advising assignment lists:

  • Advising assignment sheet for faculty: includes contact information for each student and identifies his/her assigned advisor. This document is shared among all faculty in the department
  • Advising assignment sheet for students: contains only the names of the student names and their advisors. This document is shared among all faculty and all students in the department.

Templates of advising sheets: Each template is a form with a suggested course sequence of a particular program. A sample advising sheet can be found here.

Advising records of students: A folder is created for each student in the department, under the folder of the student's program (BSCS, BSIT or MSCS). Inside the student's folder are the following two files:

  • Advising sheet. This document outlines the program and keeps track of courses the student has been taking. Both the student and the advisor have editing access.
  • Advisor's notes. This document is for the advisor to note his/her consent, recommendation, etc. The student does not have editing privileges.

Instructions for students: Step-by-step instructions for students who use the system for the first time.

Instructions for faculty: Step-by-step instructions for faculty who use the system for the first time.

Record Creation and Maintenance

All student records are under the ownership of the department's Google account.  Faculty and students utilize the following procedure:

  • Faculty and students refer to the shared assignment list for their advisees/advisors.
  • To establish their advising records on Google Drive, students create their own advising sheets by saving a copy of the advising sheet template of their program and filling it out with what courses have taken and what they plan to take. They give the ownership of these saved files to the department account. Then the program directors, who have access to the department account, move the sheets to the students’ folders, to which the advisors have access.
  • The student makes an advising appointment with the advisor. The advisor reviews the shared sheet before or during the appointment and makes notes at the end of the appointment.
  • For the next semester, the student will only need to revise the existing advising sheet with updated grades (if available at the time), add the classes he or she plans to take, and make an appointment for advising.

Clear communication and sufficient technical support are essential for the transition to the new system to succeed. To make the instructions to students as clear as possible, we first tested our instructions with a few students before we sent it out to all. We revised the instructions according to the feedback of these students. After that, we asked all graduate assistants to create and fill their own advising sheets on Google Drive following the instructions and provided assistance as needed. This prepared them to provide technical assistance to other students in the department. Only then did we send out the announcement and instructions to all other students.

After a couple of advising periods, we have gradually transitioned to the new Academic Advising Record System on Google Drive. Firstly, this system significantly improved the sharing of records among the students, faculty, program directors, and the department chair. Secondly, it improved the accuracy of advising records. Now students can constantly update their shared advising sheets according to their academic progress, while only the advisors have the privilege to edit advisor notes. Thirdly, it improved the accessibility of advising records. Now students and faculty can access the records anytime from anywhere. This greatly reduced the time and location constraints of advising, and the system has improved the integrity and efficiency of academic advising without added cost.

Lily R. Liang
Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director
Department of Computer Science and Information Technology
University of the District of Columbia
lliang@udc.edu

Dong Jeong
Department of Computer Science and Information Technology
University of the District of Columbia

Briana Wellman
Department of Computer Science and Information Technology
University of the District of Columbia

LaVonne Manning
Department of Computer Science and Information Technology
University of the District of Columbia

David Barnett
Department of Computer Science and Information Technology
University of the District of Columbia

Chen Li
Department of Computer Science and Information Technology
University of the District of Columbia

Byunggu Yu
Department of Computer Science and Information Technology
University of the District of Columbia

Reference

Schwenn, C.C. (2010). Interactive Web applications and their use in academic advising. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Interactive-Web-Applications.aspx

 

Cite this article using APA style as: Liang, L.R., Jeong, D., Wellman, B., Manning, L., Barnett, F., Li, C., & Yu, B. (2014, September). Academic advising records on google drive: Sharing, accuracy, and accessibility. Academic Advising Today, 37(3). Retrieved from [insert url here]

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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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