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Voices of the Global Community

Nurtured Advising: An Essential Approach to Advising Students at Historically Black College and Universities

Iana L. Williams, Patrice W. Glenn, and Felecia Wider, Edward Waters College

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In recent years, many scholars and academics have questioned the legitimacy of the Historically Black college and university (HBCU) system in America. While many black colleges struggle to compete with the larger universities, historically black institutions accomplish what many large institutions cannot -- they take struggling students and promote significant gains. Some black students who elect to attend an HBCU enter with low scores and remedial skill levels. At an HBCU, these students make significant gains; they can move from the 50th percentile to the 70th percentile. Consequently, not only is the HBCU necessary, it establishes an unprecedented level of academic augmentation among struggling students. Brown (2007) notes that “HBCUs don’t just provide students with a better chance; they provide them with every chance” (personal communication, October 19, 2007). Many agree that historically black colleges provide a necessary service to black students.

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Most historically black institutions are small and intimate. Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU) is one of the nation’s largest HBCUs. FAMU currently has approximately 11,000 students, but even FAMU has a small-campus spirit. At many historically black institutions, professors and staff members know students by name. At these institutions, many students look upon instructors and college personnel as “family.” The students develop a territorial protectiveness and appreciation for college personnel who show them they care. For many HBCU employees, their career is more than a job; it is a service to the black community. Black colleges nurture black students.

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One of the essential services historically black institutions provide to their students is a specialized form of advising focused on nurturing. This goes beyond Intrusive Advising, as described by Varney (2007), and allows the advisor to simulate a maternal or paternal influence that can help shape the student’s life. The Nurturing Advisor expects the students to do well and consistently reiterates that expectation to students.

When a student believes an adult cares about him and has his best interest at heart, the student is more prone to heed instruction. Begley (2003) notes that expectation has a profound effect on student outcome (p. B1). Therefore, if caring adults, who take the time to nurture and insist on excellence, guide the students, then students perform better.

At many institutions, a number of students can lack direction for their academic and professional lives. From 2002-2006, 41 percent (annual average) of the students at Edward Waters College (EWC), the oldest historically black college in Florida, were undecided about their majors (EWC Fact book, 2007). EWC is an open enrollment institution. Ninety-five percent of students entering EWC need remediation in at least one area: reading, math, English (EWC Fact book, 2007). These students enter college clinging to the hope that a college degree will provide them with a better opportunity to live productive lives. Nevertheless, these students often do not know the steps necessary to succeed. Therefore, advisors must provide care and guidance.

Nurturing Advisors extend their role as an advisor outside of the confines of their offices; they engage in street advising. Street advising is a term used at HBCUs to describe the active Nurtured Advising that takes place anywhere and at any time, including but not limited to the basketball court, the student union, the cafeteria, and in building corridors. Nurturing Advisors take extra care to ensure that students comply with school policies, faculty expectations, and fulfillment of requirements. The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) core values (2004) state that “advisors are responsible to the individuals they advise. Academic advisors work to strengthen the importance, dignity, potential, and unique nature of each individual within the academic setting” (p.1). Nurturing Advisors extend the core values of advising into teachable moments, using life lessons to prepare students for academics, college life, and other expectations or demands placed on students in the college environment. Likewise, when a student fails, the Nurturing Advisor views this as a personal failure.

This type of student-advisor relationship simulates that of a concerned family member. This relationship can improve the student matriculation processes and provides students with a sense of security. The relationship also provides a sense of connectedness where students feel that they belong to the school and that the school belongs to them. Concerning the advising he receives at EWC, sophomore Tremel Grant stated, “This is the department that smiles throughout the day. It makes me feel more comfortable with EWC; I feel like someone is on my side” (personal communication, November 7, 2007). Grant’s response is typical of students who receive Nurtured Advising.

Nurtured Advising can benefit students at many colleges and universities, but it is essential at HBCUs. Although originally established to educate descendents of African slaves, historically black institutions have become a gateway of opportunity for black students to compete in today’s society. When the relationship between the student and the advisor is such that the student knows that the advisor cares for him as an individual, the student feels he has support.

The Academy must focus on student success; Nurtured Advising is an essential part of this process.

Iana L. Williams
Director of Advising
Edward Waters College
Iana.williams@ewc.edu

Patrice W. Glenn
Faculty/Advisor
Edward Waters College
Patrice.glenn@ewc.edu

Felecia Wider
Faculty/Advisor
Edward Waters College
Felcia.wider@ewc.edu

References

Begley, S. (2003, Nov.). Expectation may alter outcome far more than we realize. Wall Street Journal-Eastern Edition, 242 (92), B1. Retrieved November 2, 2007, from the EBSCOhost database.

Brown, T. E. (personal communication, October 19, 2007).

Edward Waters College. (2007). EWC Fact book [pamphlet]. Office of Planning, Research, and Institutional Advancement: Author.

Grant, T. (personal communication, November 7, 2007).

NACADA. (2004). NACADA statement of core values of academic advising. Retrieved November 7, 2007, from www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Core-Values-Exposition.htm.

Varney, J. (2007). Intrusive advising. Academic Advising Today 30 (3). 


From the President: Board of Directors Update on Strategic Plan

Jennifer L. Bloom, NACADA President

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Happy New Year! 2007 was an important year in the history of NACADA – we hit the 10,000 member mark, our Executive Director, Bobbie Flaherty, began a phased retirement, and Charlie Nutt was promoted from Associate Director to Executive Director. I would argue, however, that 2008 is going to be an even more important year for NACADA and our members. Our institutions are suffering budget constraints, the economy is shaky, and the pace of change just gets faster every day. The one constant is that higher education remains the clearest and best avenue to achieving the American Dream. The student retention literature consistently maintains the importance of academic advising to student success. I want to assure you that the NACADA Board of Directors is working hard to move the field of academic advising as well as NACADA forward so that we are positioned to not only meet the needs of our members, but also of our country by ensuring that every student who steps on our campuses has the opportunity to succeed.

The NACADA Board of Directors is focused on implementing the five strategic goals for our organization. As those of you who have participated in the strategic planning process at your institution know, creating a strategic plan is not always an exciting assignment, but it is even more difficult to implement the strategic plan. We all know that many strategic plans just gather dust on our bookshelves. However, the Board is dedicated to breathing life into the Strategic Plan by partnering with the entire NACADA member leadership team and the Executive Office. To this end, we have assigned two Board members to each of the five strategic goals. At our monthly teleconference Board meetings, a team presents their ideas on how the organization might fulfill their assigned strategic goal. After getting feedback from the Board, each pair will oversee the implementation of their goal. I must say that I have been very impressed with the strategic goal presentations to date. I’ll keep you informed throughout the year on our progress.

In addition, there have been a number of Task Forces and subcommittees created to help us implement the Strategic Plan goals. Phil Christman is heading the Policy Subcommittee of the Board. Phil is continuing the work started last year by former Board member Jane Jacobson. We’re trying to establish a stable infrastructure for how the Board operates by putting down in writing the policies and procedures of the Board. Next, Past President Susan Campbell is chairing a Priority Partnerships Task Force that is actively seeking out ways for NACADA to partner with other higher education organizations so that we can spread the word about the importance of academic advising and raise the visibility of our field. Vice President Casey Self is chairing a Leadership Orientation Task Force that is devising new ways to orient new NACADA leaders to their positions. NACADA Council member Glenn Kepic is chairing a Task Force to explore how best to reflect our growing international members in the name of our organization.Josh Smith, Chair of the Research Committee, is chairing the Infusing Research Throughout NACADA Task Force. In order for academic advising to have the credibility that it deserves, we need to be able to demonstrate our impact through high quality research. To accomplish this will take a multi-pronged approach. Board member Rich Robbins is chairing the Performance Review Subcommittee of the Board to develop evaluation instruments to ensure the effectiveness of the Board and the Executive Office. Finally, Past President Eric White has reconvened the Sustainability Task Force that is examining the benefits of the relationship between Kansas State University and NACADA.

As you can see, we have a lot of people working on task forces and subcommittees. On behalf of the Board, I want to sincerely thank the chairs and members of each of these groups. They are doing incredibly important work that will help ensure the viability of NACADA and the field of academic advising. Most of these committees’ reports are not due until September, but I want to assure you that your Board of Directors, the Council, and the rest of the leadership team is working hard on your behalf.

Finally, the NACADA Regional Conference season is just about to begin. I am looking forward to attending six of the 10 Regional Conferences this spring. I will be at the Regional Conferences for Regions 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9 and look forward to meeting many of you there. There will be at least one Board member at every Regional meeting. Please seek us out at these conferences and let us know how NACADA can serve you and your needs even better.

Jennifer L. Bloom, President
National Academic Advising Association
jenny.bloom@sc.edu


From the Executive Director: Thoughts from the Executive Office

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director 

Charlie Nutt.jpgI am beyond excited that our membership has passed 10,000 and is moving closer to the 11,000 mark! Our growth is due not only to the increased emphasis on academic advising on our college and university campuses, but also due to the highest quality programs, events, resources, and publications that are developed through our strong collaborations between you, our phenomenal members, our NACADA Leadership, and our outstanding Executive Office staff.

As our NACADA continues to grow, it is essential that each of us takes a personal responsibility for our Association’s focus on diversity in our membership and in our leadership, as outlined in our Board of Directors’ strategic goals for the Association. The Diversity Committee has implemented an exciting Emerging Leader Program that has identified the first class of nine future Leaders from underrepresented populations who are being mentored by nine NACADA Association leaders. The next class of Emerging Leaders and Mentors will be selected in May; I encourage you to both apply to be a Leader or Mentor and to nominate other members for Leader or Mentor positions. Our Association’s membership and leadership can grow in diversity only if each of us makes it our personal goal to become involved!

Therefore, I challenge each of us to introduce NACADA to a potential member from an ethnicity, gender identity, institutional type, or advising role that is different from our own. I further challenge each of us to encourage a fellow NACADA member from an ethnicity, gender identity, institutional type, or advising role that is different from our own to become more involved in our Association. Members can do this by volunteering at the regional or commission level, serving on a committee or advisory board, running for an elected position in our association, or writing for Academic Advising Today , the NACADA Journal, the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources, or other NACADA publication. If you are not sure of all the opportunities for involvement, please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time.

As you read this issue of Academic Advising Today, our Regional Conference season is beginning. I hope that many of you are registered for one of the 10 Regional Conferences. Our Regional Conferences are an outstanding way to connect with fellow advising professionals in your area. They are also a great opportunity to make presentations on your programs as well as your own research in the field of advising. My very first NACADA conference was the 1992 Region IV Conference in Birmingham, Alabama, chaired by our immediate past Vice President Nancy Walburn. I still remember how welcoming and inviting everyone was to the group of newcomers from Brunswick College in Georgia and how much our team learned about academic advising at the Conference. I hope all of you will have the exact same experience at a 2008 Regional Conference! Visit the Conference Web page for more information on our Regional Conferences.

In addition to the spring Regional Conferences, many of you have been participating in our continuing Webinar broadcasts. Well over 1,000 participants internationally have taken part in each Webinar since we began offering presentations in this medium. Webinars are an excellent professional development event that you can host on your campus to reach many advisors, both professional and faculty, who have not had the opportunity to be involved in one of our conferences or institutes. I encourage more of you to take advantage of these unique opportunities to bring focused academic professional development to your campus. Also, just a reminder, if you have not been able to take advantage of the live Webinars, all of them are available on CD so that you can utilize the Webinar experience with groups or teams on your campus. For more information, visit the Recordings site.

This summer NACADA will host the 22nd annual Summer Institutes in Portsmouth, Virginia, and Austin, Texas. The NACADA Summer Institute on Academic Advising is a highly interactive and focused week-long opportunity that will help you gain valuable knowledge and advising skills, as well as develop an Action Plan to solve a problem or improve the advising experiences of your students. Many institutions have found that NACADA Summer Institutes are a great opportunity to bring together a campus-wide team, representing a variety of constituencies, to both learn together and to develop together an Action Plan for their campus. Learn more about on the Summer Institutes on the Web.

I look forward to seeing many of you at a Regional Conference or at one of our Summer Institutes. If I can ever be of assistance to you in any way, don’t hesitate to call or e-mail me any time!

Charlie Nutt, Executive Director
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
(785) 532-5717
cnutt@ksu.edu

 

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The Concept of Advising: From Theory to Practice - The United Kingdom Context

Paula Hixenbaugh, University of Westminster

Editor’s Note: Paula Hixenbaugh will be a keynote speaker at the combined Region 2 Conference / Second International Conference on Personal Tutoring and Academic Advising Conference, coming up in Pittsburgh, PA on April 16-18th.

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As I look forward to the 2008 NACADA Region 2 Conference, which will also be the Second International Conference on Personal Tutoring and Academic Advising, I am struck by some of the similarities as well as some of the differences in our work. Your recent Concept of Advising Statement provides a clear framework in which you formulate policy and practice. In the United Kingdom, we lack a national organization devoted to those interested in Personal Tutoring and the field remains fragmented, although there is a core group of active researchers and practitioners in the area. I think we have much to learn from you, and I hope that we also have something of value to share.

In my talk at the Conference, I will address the social and political context in which advising/tutoring takes place in the United Kingdom. Additionally, I will discuss some of the research we have conducted at the University of Westminster over the last three years which is helping to inform policy and practice.

More than 10 years ago, Prime Minister Tony Blair was elected on a platform which emphasized education. “Education, Education, Education” became the British Labour Party’s rallying cry of the 1997 election. Just before his recent departure, Tony Blair reflected on the last 10 years. “Education is the most precious gift a society can bestow on its children. When I said the top three priorities of the Government in 1997 would be education, education, education I knew then that changing educational opportunity was the surest way to changing lives, to social justice” (Blair, 2006).

Few would argue that education is the foundation for improved life opportunities. It is estimated that over their working lives, graduates in the United Kingdom earn over £100,000 ($200,000) more than non-graduates. It is estimated that the government also benefits by collecting higher taxes from these graduates, estimated to be 11% over and above the cost of providing a university education. But to what extent has educational opportunity changed in the United Kingdom over the last 10 years? The government has had a clear target of 50% participation of 18-30 year olds in higher education by 2010, and we are well on the way to achieving this with a current participation rate of 43%. However, the increase in student numbers has come largely from the middle classes and the educational social engineering targets of the British Labour Government have largely failed.

Currently, there is a renewed emphasis on widening participation as seen in the Government’s HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) Strategic Plan 2006-11:

Despite the expansion of student numbers, some groups in society are still under-represented in HE. We cannot afford to waste talent simply because of a reluctance to foster it. That means continuing to reach out to those for whom HE seems beyond reach, not for any lack of potential, but often for reasons of family or community tradition. This challenge of widening access and increasing participation remains a crucial part of our mission (HEFCE, p.9).

But it is not good enough to recruit students into University if they are not able to complete their studies. Students leave their course early for a variety of reasons. While there has been extensive research on why students fail, there is much less work on what enables students to succeed. What is clear, however, is that the better the student experience, the more likely students are to persist with their studies. In a recent major review of retention in United Kingdom Higher Education (National Audit Office), the authors state that:

There are two especially important areas where we concluded that an institution can target their work and make a difference, these are: getting to really know their students and how, generally, they feel about their particular course of study and the culture and amenities offered in the institution; and developing a more positive approach to retention related activities that recognise how they can also improve student success, and so attract students to take up services who might otherwise not do so (p.10).

This is exactly what Personal Tutors aim to do by forming one-to-one relationships with students and helping them to integrate socially and academically. I was struck with the similarity of these goals with the statement in the Preamble of NACADA ’s Concept of Academic Advising:

Through academic advising, students learn to become members of their higher education community, to think critically about their roles and responsibilities as students, and to prepare to be educated citizens of a democratic society and a global community (NACADA, 2006, Preamble).

However, to be able to do this effectively we need clear information on the needs of our students. In an attempt to better understand our students, for the last three years, all first year students at the University of Westminster have been sent an online survey which includes a number of psychometric scales measuring, for example, physical health, mental health, coping, social and academic integration, and health and lifestyle variables.

The analysis is still ongoing, but we have found significant differences between those students who have seriously considered abandoning their course and those who have not on almost all measures. They report poorer estimations of their current health, poorer estimation of their health now compared to one year ago (i.e. a reduction in health status), lower feelings of integration into the university, lower levels of satisfaction with their courses, lower estimations of social support and lower estimations of general well-being. These vulnerable students also tend to come from families where the parents have relatively low levels of education. It may be that students who do not come from a background of higher education do not have the benefit of experience and have unrealistic expectations of university life.

An important factor emerging from our research is that the significant variables we have identified are measures of students’ attitudes, feelings, and beliefs about concepts and events. It may be that interventions targeted at enabling students to have more accurate perceptions and expectations will be more beneficial than trying to change actual structures.

Our research is providing evidence for the importance of a holistic approach to tutoring/advising. This is clearly in agreement with the emphasis many in NACADA place on a developmental approach to advising and hopefully adds to the growing body of evidence that, as your Past President Susan Campbell (2007) wrote, “academic advising, when approached holistically and developmentally, really does support student success!”

Paula Hixenbaugh, Professor
Department of Psychology
University of Westminster
309 Regent Street
London W1B 2UW
hixenbp@wmin.ac.uk

Blair, T. (November 30, 2006). “Education is the most precious gift.”   Speech presented for Specialist Schools and Academies Trust Annual Conference. Retrieved January 16, 2008 from www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page10514.asp.

Campbell, S. M. (2007). Take advantage of the moment. Academic Advising Today, 30 :2.

NAO. Staying the course: The retention of students in higher education. Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General HC 616 Session 2006-2007, July 26, 2007. Retrieved January 16, 2008 from www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/06-07/0607616.pdf.

HEFCE Strategic Plan 2006-2011 www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/2006/06_13/06_13.doc.

National Academic Advising Association. (2006). NACADA concept of academic advising. Retrieved January 3, 2008 fromwww.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Concept-Advising.htm


You, Me, and Mom Makes Three: How Academic Advisors Can Capitalize on Parental Involvement

Christine M. Spindler, Cedar Crest College

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Today’s parents are often characterized as obstacles in the development of student independence and autonomy. However, results from the recent National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) show that students whose parents intervened on their behalf experienced “greater gains on a host of desired college outcomes, and greater satisfaction with the college experience” (NSSE, 2007, p. 25). Despite this information, college personnel often struggle with parental involvement in their students’ academic affairs; many personnel believe that the path to development of student self-sufficiency and decision-making is blocked by well-meaning, hovering parents. Instead of viewing parental involvement as obtrusive and intrusive, personnel on college campuses should embrace the potential for building a partnership with parents. Academic advisors, in particular, are in the unique position to partner with parents in a relationship that will benefit those with a vested interest in students’ success: parents, students, and advisors.

Today’s academic advisors must have strong understandings of FERPA regulations if they are to ensure that student privacy is respected. However, even when students are unwilling to sign a release permitting the free flow of information between campus personnel and parents, communication between the academic advisor and parents can be beneficial. Though advisors might not be able to release specific student information, they can still listen to parental concerns. Many times parents can fill in information gaps. In one example, an advisor learned a great deal from a father who phoned and inquired if his student was attending class and meeting work-study obligations. Earlier in the week this student told her advisor that she was struggling with time management issues and balancing her workload. The student and advisor discussed strategies and did some problem-solving, but the student failed to share one crucial piece of information. When the student’s father mentioned that she was spending three or four nights per week visiting her boyfriend at a college located an hour away, the advisor saw the student’s time management issues in a new light. A follow-up student meeting provided the advisor with the chance to probe the issue. In response to some carefully-crafted questions, the student admitted that her recent social decisions were impeding her classroom performance and a new plan was crafted to help her make better choices. Had the advisor not listened to the father’s concerns, a vital piece of the puzzle would have remained undiscovered. Subsequently, the student implemented her new action plan resulting in better grades: at mid-term, every grade was a “B” or better.

Parents also can reinforce the messages advisors deliver to students. Parents of first-generation college students, in particular, are often unaware of the scope of services available to support students. (Note that The National Center for Education Statistics, as quoted by Swail, found that first generation college students account for about 40% of those enrolled at our institutions [Swail, p. B16]). When advisors share information about the process for securing a peer tutor, for example, parents are often relieved to hear that services are readily available. Then parents can provide clear, concrete advice when their students share information about academic challenges. Additionally, forging a relationship with the academic advisor prompts parents to suggest that a student meet with the advisor when difficult situations arise. Many students land on advisors’ doorsteps because “Mom said that maybe you could help me with this.”

For a partnership with parents to be successful, academic advisors must first establish boundaries. When a student has not signed an information release form, the academic advisor must be clear about what information can and cannot be shared. Advisors can use two specific techniques in conveying information. First, parents often just want to be heard. Wise advisors tell parents that while they cannot share certain details about their student, they are happy to listen to what the parents want to share. Parents are often relieved just to know that someone on campus is aware of their concerns, particularly when that person is an academic advisor who has direct student contact. Another method by which advisors can respect the boundary of student privacy while still engaging meaningfully with parents is providing general information about the student. For example, an advisor can tell a parent that she is not currently concerned about the student’s progress and has no plans to call the student in for crisis intervention. The parent is relieved, and the advisor has acted within the appropriate legal guidelines.

In addition to establishing boundaries, academic advisors must also establish trust. Many parents tell the advisor that their student is not aware that the parent is calling the advisor, and some parents request that the advisor avoid disclosing the parent call. Advisors should honor those requests to the best of their ability but make it clear to parents that if a student asks whether or not a parent has called, the advisor will not lie. Advisors should encourage parents to share concerns with their students directly in the spirit of open communication. To further promote trust in the relationship, it is important that academic advisors follow through with their promises. If advisors tell parents that they will meet with the student and follow up with the parents, they should do just that.

Establishment of a relationship with parents provides advisors with an opportunity to enrich the advising relationship. NSSE results illustrate the positive relationship between student satisfaction, engagement, and level of parental involvement. These results should encourage advisors to discuss ways to best cultivate the student-advisor-parent relationship without sacrificing the development of students’ personal accountability and independence. Academic advisors who promote partnerships with parents help students make strong connections to their institution.

Christine M. Spindler
Director, Academic Services
Cedar Crest College
cmspindl@cedarcrest.edu

References

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Retrieved November 28, 2007, fromwww.ed.gov/print/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html

National Survey of Student Engagement (2007). Experiences that matter: Enhancing student learning and success. 2007 Annual Report. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research and Planning.

Swail, Watson S. (January 23, 2004). Legislation to improve graduation rates could have the opposite effect, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 50 (20), p. B16. Retrieved November 28, 2007 from http://chronicle.com/prm/weekly/v50/i20/20b01601.htm with Chronicle log on.


Doing It All: Adding Advising into Faculty Workloads

Rhonda J. Sprague, Faculty Advising Commission Chair

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The majority of universities in the United States depend upon faculty members to serve as advisors. Although I must be honest and admit that some faculty members resent their advising duties and others should never be allowed near a student’s degree audit, many enjoy the one-on-one time with students that advising affords. Finding the time to achieve excellence in advising can be difficult, however, especially when the rewards for doing so are small. Being a great advisor normally cannot help a faculty member get promoted or tenured, but there are ways for faculty members to maximize their advising effectiveness while fulfilling the other responsibilities associated with being a full-time academic.

Faculty members typically need to demonstrate effectiveness in Teaching, Scholarship, and Service to receive promotion and tenure. The importance of each leg of this “three-legged stool” varies from institution to institution. For example, while an undergraduate-only institution might place its greatest importance upon teaching, a research institution is likely to emphasize publication of original research in quality journals. The placement of advising responsibilities varies, as well. Some institutions consider advising as a service-related responsibility, while others think of it as a dimension of teaching. This article will focus upon these traditional dimensions considered for promotion and tenure, demonstrating some ways that can help faculty advisors find time to “do it all.”

Linking Advising and Service

If faculty members need to show specific evidence of advising effectiveness within the service category, there are more ways to do so than simply listing the number of advisees seen in a given semester.

  • Advise a student organization. Being a faculty advisor for a student organization normally is a manageable activity. It might require a few hours per week or month. Honorary societies, in particular, can be very helpful for advising. Members of an academic honor society can be called upon to offer informal peer advising in classes or to serve as mentors for new students.
  • Join a campus advising group. If a faculty member’s contract requires participation in university committees, why not seek out membership in an advising group? Many universities and colleges have a campus-wide organization designed to centralize concerns related to advising issues. This type of group also can be excellent for keeping abreast of curriculum changes, policy changes, and new initiatives across campus.
  • Help design advising training materials. Most faculty advisors discover shortcuts and hints during their careers. Pulling those hints into one centralized location – a handbook or a Web site – could be a valuable contribution to a department or unit. If a load reassignment can be arranged in exchange for the production of training materials, an entire unit can benefit for the cost of one three-hour course.
  • Consider group advising. While one-on-one sessions are best for developmental and career-related advising, basic information can be provided easily in a group setting. Arranging groups according to class year or status in the major will help ensure that students who need help with advanced requirements (internships, capstone courses) will not be overlooked in favor of students needing basic assistance.

Linking Advising and Scholarship

Integrating advising into scholarship and research requirements is perhaps the most difficult of the proposed links, as it is almost entirely dependent upon the will of a faculty member’s unit, college, or university. However, if work in publications other than major journals in a discipline is acceptable, many different methods might be found for combining scholarship and advising. Taking advantage of load-reassignment opportunities is essential for achieving this goal.

  • Conduct Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) projects. Many disciplines respect SoTL projects as legitimate research. Finding outlets for research exploring the learning outcomes of advising activities in a discipline can help a faculty member combine these essential activities. Articles (e.g., Stolpa Flatt, 2005) and books (e.g., Richlin, 2005) can be found to assist in the development of course materials that are appropriate for this form of research.
  • Research advising or advisors in a discipline. Even an annotated bibliography might be a helpful start to exploring characteristics of advising within a specific educational setting. As a general rule, any characteristic impacting student-professor relationships is likely to impact student-advisor relationships.
  • Connect disciplinary theories to advising issues. The NACADA Journal recently published a special issue about discipline-specific theories and their application to advising (Hagen, 2005). If a discipline does not publish a journal related to education, the NACADA Journal can be an excellent outlet for publication.

Linking Advising and Teaching

If advising truly is teaching, this connection should be the easiest to make. The goal of any of these activities is to minimize the necessity for prescriptive advising and maximize opportunities to provide developmental and career advising.

  • Advise during classes. Any faculty member can take five minutes during class to address an advising-related issue. This time can be used to address curriculum changes, policy adjustments, or internship possibilities. It also can be used to highlight university services students can use to assist them with personal or academic issues.
  • Design an advising course. A course designed to orient students to a given major can be extremely valuable. Done well, this type of course will almost teach itself. Guest speakers can provide basics about coursework in the major, services available on campus, student organizations, and other major opportunities. Older students can be used for informal peer advising; alumni can be brought in to discuss their jobs and job searching. Advising exercises can help students learn how to plan for future semesters and assemble portfolio materials.

The number of methods for integrating advising into more traditional responsibilities is limited only by the imagination of faculty members and the willingness of a department and/or university to accept these activities. Faculty members who find creative methods of advising while doing teaching, scholarship, or service activities will find it considerably easier to “do it all.”

FacAdvCM.jpgRhonda J. Sprague
Division of Communication
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
rsprague@uwsp.edu

References

Hagen, P. (Ed.). (2005). Theory building in academic advising. [Special Issue]. NACADA Journal, 25 (2).

Richlin, L. (2005). Blueprint for learning: Constructing college courses to facilitate, assess, and document learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Stolpa Flatt, J. (2005, Fall). The Scholarship of teaching and learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85 (3), 3-5.


Challenges in Advising ESL Students with Learning Disabilities

Aura Rios Erickson, Shoreline Community College

AuraRiosErickson.jpgWhen instructors and students contact academic advisors about a learning progress concern, advisors might be faced with the difficult task of helping students suspected of having a learning disability. The problem of identifying a disability becomes more complex if students speak English as their second language (ESL).

A learning disability may not be as noticeable in the student’s first language. It is possible that a disability might be masked by the student’s compensatory learning strategies. A student having learning difficulties may insist that she has never had this type of problem before. She may have completed her education in her native country and never needed academic assistance. Shewcraft (2000) noted that sometimes a learning disability does not manifest itself in the learner’s first language “because of the systematic structure or transparent nature of his native language versus English” (Shewcraft, personal communication, June 2000). It is also possible that the student was not able to recognize his or her difficulties because of lack of educational assessment services in his or her country.

Advisors should also be aware of a cultural bias that students might have regarding disabilities. Students from other cultures may have different responses to being labeled as having a learning disability depending on their cultural background. On our campus, the mother of a student with an obvious developmental disability came to an advisor’s office to assure the advisor that nothing was wrong with her son. In fact, the mother indicated that her son had special abilities for healing and helping others. In this instance, the advisor carefully helped dispel prejudices and biases that ESL student and mother had towards people with disabilities.

Advisors, in conjunction with campus disabilities coordinators, should take a careful look at a student’s current study skills, previous educational background, current socio-cultural factors, external problems, attendance, attitude, and personal perception towards the perceived learning problem. When assessing a potential referral, advisors should first ask themselves if the problem the student is facing has persisted over time. Schwarz and Terrill (2000) indicate that s ome of the questions an advisor should consider are:

  • Has the problem resisted normal instruction?
  • Does the learner show a clear pattern of strengths and weaknesses in class or outside of class?
  • Does the problem interfere with a life activity in some significant way?

Other areas an advisor might consider include instructor teaching style versus the student expectations and student current stresses or previous traumas that might cause difficulty in learning. These factors most likely could affect all learning, whereas a learning disability usually affects one area of learning (Adkins, Sample & Birman 1999; Almanza, Singleton & Terrill 1995/96). Depending on this initial assessment, the advisor could recommend that the student take a reduced course load, be selective in the type of courses elected, and have access to tutoring or other support services.

In addition to these issues, ready access to a skilled diagnostician can be a challenge. Few institutions have on-site professionals who screen students and diagnose learning disabilities. In many cases, services are offered off-campus and are expensive; cost might be a barrier for students. Students from different cultures may prefer access to a professional who speaks their language or knows about their culture. If this is the case, finding a skilled professional could be a challenge.

Current assessment instruments used to diagnose potential learning disabilities in ESL students are most often designed for young students. Even though it is not appropriate to use this type of tool with adults, it may be the only option available. In addition, the concepts and language used in assessment tools may have no direct translation in the student’s native language. Schwartz and Terrill (2000) note that the validity of tests translated into the student’s native language can be questionable. The assessment and diagnosis of ESL students with disabilities is relatively a new field. The need for more effective assessment instruments is growing as the immigrant population continues to increase.

At this time, advisors must continue to use a comprehensive approach when thinking about referring ESL students to a licensed psychologist who can provide a learning disability diagnosis. Minnesota’s Learning Disability Association (LDA) has produced a resource guide for instructors serving ESL students with learning difficulties or disabilities entitled “Taking Action.” This guide provides information that advisors might find helpful.

The screening checklist for Adult Learning Disabilities adapted by the LDA in 2002 might be helpful. A brief profile of Learning Disabilities (LD) characteristics might guide advisors in identifying potential learning disabilities. These characteristics include:

  • Previous diagnosis or family history of LD
  • Inconsistent skill profile
  • Knowledgeable in many areas but cannot read or write
  • Seems to know the answer but cannot express it
  • Difficulty learning, remembering or keeping organized

There are no easy solutions to this complex problem; however, advisors can help students by connecting them with the appropriate on and off campus services so that they can achieve their goals.

Aura Rios Erickson
ESL Program Advisor
Shoreline Community College
aerickso@shoreline.edu

References

Adkins, M.A., Sample, B., & Birman, D, (1999), Mental health and the adult ESL refugee: The role of the ESL teacher. ERIC Digest, Washington, D.C: National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education.

Almanza, D., Singleton, K., & Terrill, L., (1995/96). Learning disabilities in adult ESL: Case studies and directions. The Year in Review, 5, 1-6

Schwartz. R. & Terrill, L. (2000). ESL instruction and adults with learning disabilities, ERIC Digest. Retrieved November 28, 2007 from www.ericdigests.org/2001-2/esl.html.

Shrewcraft. (personal communication, June 2000).


Avoiding Teacher 'Dropouts'

Lee Kem, Murray State University

LeeKem.jpgWeaver (2002) noted that “almost a third of America's teachers leave the profession sometime during their first three years of teaching, and almost half leave after five years.” A plethora of information is available regarding what can be done to promote retention after the new teacher is employed. To increase the probability of remaining in the teaching field, can this teacher dropout problem be addressed at the college level? What issues are involved? What can advisors of education majors do to help address this problem?

There are three areas of concern that affect the new teacher dropout rate:

  • Lack of academic preparation and subsequent lack of content knowledge required for teaching in the classroom
  • Teacher dispositions
  • Lack of “goodness of fit” for the teaching profession

Lack of students’ academic preparation can result from a combination of student-related factors, such as the rigor of college classes, poor study strategies, and lack of understanding of their own learning, writing, and test-taking styles. Many freshmen enter college without a personal understanding of these issues. Within the first two months of the freshman year, it is important that students complete assessments; results from these assessments can help enhance the probability of students’ success in college and in their majors. Student results from assessments such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® not only help advisors better relate to students, but can be useful in raising students’ understanding of themselves.

Assessment results can tell the advisor if the student learns best through class discussion. In instances where this is the case, a lecture class may be more difficult and thus the advisor may suggest that students register for fewer course credits during that semester. Students who prefer group study can be guided toward professors who utilize group work in classes. The better the “fit” between the students’ learning, writing, and test taking styles and the teaching style of the professors, the easier it should be for students to learn. Students who understand their test taking styles should find it easier to study for different types of tests and achieve better grades. Knowledge of individual preferences for acquiring and gathering information, how to make decisions, and how to relate to others, can have a powerful impact on student success in college and in future careers.

Online assessments such as the MBTI ® Form M provide continued access to the results by any advisor even if students change their majors. The advisor has access to the assessment results every semester and the continuity in advising can be most beneficial in helping students utilize campus resources such as the learning center, tutoring services, and study skills classes.

Students who lack understanding of the connection between their own styles of learning, studying, and test-taking are more likely to encounter academic problems leading to probation. At midterm, advising can focus on the link between low grades and the self-knowledge gained from the assessment results. Students can make adjustments to increase the probability of their success in college.

Students’ dispositions are another area of concern that can result in students being required to change to another major. Some students may continue through the program and be certified to teach without identification of dispositions issues. When transferred from the college student environment into the school setting where the “recent student” is quickly thrust into the demanding “adult teacher” role, new teachers’ dispositions can cause relationship problems with students, other teachers, and administrators. This abrupt change in environment, roles, and relationships can cause severe stress, often resulting in dissatisfaction, dropout or dismissal from the teaching profession. The root cause of this problem can be a lack of understanding of self and the fit necessary for different types of majors. Assessment results can point to areas of deficiency for the teaching profession that could be considered strengths for other majors and careers.

Another reason students experience difficulty in the education program and in the teaching field is “goodness of fit.” Holland (1992) suggested that individuals with certain interests and characteristics are more attracted to certain career fields. There are several interest inventories available that will help assess the goodness of fit for career fields, including education. One inventory based on Holland’s ideas is the Strong Interest Inventory ® (SII). Advisors may find the SII’s online version to be especially useful, especially the Career Report based on the combined results of the MBTI and the Strong Interest Inventory. The inventory can help students determine if their interests are not a good “fit” for the teaching field. When it is necessary to advise students to change majors out of the education program, showing them other options based on their interest inventory can make the decision more palatable. When students see that their preferences and interests offer numerous possible career options, it is often easier to accept the advice to change majors.

Murray State University education advisors who utilize the MBTI and Strong Interest Inventory (SII) with all incoming freshmen know that assessment results can open the doors for expanded discussion about studying, learning, and appropriate choice of major. This can be an important component of developmental advising; as students gain a better understanding of self, they are empowered and equipped to make better choices and decisions.

Can advisors help reverse the dropout rate of new teachers? YES, YES, YES for three important reasons that relate directly to the use of assessment results:

  • When the advisor knows students’ preferences and interests early in the freshman year, the advisor can better understand students and provide higher quality advising.
  • Utilization of assessment results enhances students’ self-understanding, use of campus resources, and increases the probability that students will choose appropriate majors.
  • The increased knowledge of both advisor and students can result in better student decisions thus reducing the total number of “major changes” for the university --- a win-win for the students, the university and, most importantly, the education majors’ future pupils.

Lee Kem
Associate Professor
Murray State University
College of Education
Lee.Kem@coe.murraystate.edu

Holland, J. L. (1992). Making vocational choices (2nd edition). Odessa, F: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Weaver. R. (November 2002). President's viewpoint: A respect shortage. National Education Association. Retrieved November 29, 2007 from www.nea.org/neatoday/0211/presview.html


Defeating Dr. No: How Advisors Can Be Positive Change Agents

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Janet R. Jensen and Andrea R. Campbell, Wichita State University

Editor’s Note : The following article is based upon a presentation at the 2007 Kansas Academic Advising Network (KAAN) Conference.

JanetJensen.jpg

In the classic 1962 movie by the same name, James Bond defeated the evil Dr. No. Like James Bond, advisors can feel that the Dr. Nos are taking over their worlds. However, advisors can become positive Change Agents to defeat Dr. No.

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In the work environment where advisors function, Dr. Nos are people, places or things that prevent advisors from flourishing and growing. In our advising world at Wichita State University, Dr. No was a new computer system. We were asked to adjust to using the new system despite initial kinks and larger, systemic issues. We had a choice. We could either become negative influences who spread gloom throughout our work world, or we could become positive Change Agents who encouraged advisors to share better ways for managing this change. Fortunately, we decided on the latter and made a positive impact on campus.

What is a Change Agent? Wikipedia (2007) defines a Change Agent as someone who intentionally or indirectly causes or accelerates social, cultural or behavioral change. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Urban Transportation Studies suggests that the ideal Change Agent is outgoing, cooperative and persuasive yet also broad-minded. He or she is also: 1) articulate but a good listener; 2) sensitive to but not overcome by the “political” environment; 3) energetic yet patient; 4) probing but not disruptive; and 5) intelligent but not overly intellectual. Change Agents should be unselfish, enthusiastic, sensitive, disciplined and precise.

Advisors should have a clear understanding of their preferred methods for dealing with change before seeking to become Change Agents. This knowledge can help advisors understand what issues they may need to address. We use a short “Change Agent Survey” adapted from the book Promoting a Development Culture in Your Organization by Peggy Simonsen (1997, 136). Results from this survey can help advisors discover whether they were already acting as Change Agents or need help in improving their skills.

Advisors must make conscious decisions to become positive Change Agents. Those who choose not to become Change Agents miss opportunities to become smarter professionals. They lose opportunities that can lead to new career horizons and the acquisition of new skills which can make advisors more marketable. In turn, being a Change Agent can expand networking possibilities which could offer opportunities to reshape the destiny and reality for advisors.

Change Agents can take on several different roles in creating an environment that incorporates change. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Urban Transportation Studies suggests that these roles be classified by the characteristics defined as:

  • The Linker– passes information about needs and solutions from one group to another
  • The Champion– actively campaigns against bureaucratic objections in an influential way
  • The Translator– translates needed information into an “easy to read and understand” format
  • The Broker– offers good advice and assistance to various parties involved in the change
  • The Advance Man (Woman)– smoothes the way ahead of the change so the transition is easier to make
  • The Hand Holder– checks up on the progress of the change and offers assistance as needed
  • The Problem Solver– realizes problems related to the change and uses skills to solve problems before they become bigger issues
  • James Bond– Our character inspiration, of course

Once advisors have the necessary skills and tools to incorporate change, they may encounter a resistant Dr. No. Graham (2007) proposes that strategies helpful in overcoming the resistant Dr. No include:

  • persuade with influence
  • be prepared to ask a favor
  • always consider compromises
  • be sure to involve key people
  • communicate reasons effectively
  • most importantly, the Change Agent must support the decision

In our presentations, we use Dilbert™ cartoons to demonstrate the positive change process. Each cartoon serves as an example of a Dr. No idea we want to change in our work environment. Small groups determine the Change Agent needed for each cartoon situation and what strategies could bring about a positive change in the environment. Upon completion of the mission, advisors are given “License to Change” cards that “certify” them as “Change Agent Advisors.” These cards serve as reminders of the importance of being a positive Change Agent.

We know that change is inevitable and desirable. Advisors must educate themselves on the change process, show confidence in their plan for change, be prepared to accept changes that cannot be controlled, and when in doubt, act according to their plan. Change Agents should keep in mind that all changes create a few “hiccoughs” along the way. Furthermore, Change Agents need to plan and work toward reducing unknown factors. The final and most important change advice advisors can follow is to stay positive, because negativity in the work environment will never accomplish Change Agents’ desired results.

Janet R. Jensen
Senior Academic Advisor
Barton School of Business
Wichita State University
janet.jensen@wichita.edu

Andrea Campbell
Academic Advisor & Scholarship Coordinator
College of Education
Wichita State University
andrea.campbell@wichita.edu

References

Adams, S. (2007). Dilbert. Retrieved November 29, 2007 from www.dilbert.com/.

Broccoli, A.R. (Producer), & Young, T. (Director). (1962). Dr. No. [Motion picture].United Kingdom: Eon Production, LT.

Change Agent. (August 8, 2007). In Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia. Retrieved November 29, 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change_agent.

Graham, G. (February 26, 2007). Managing change in the workplace. Wichita State University (KS): Center for Management Development.


NACADA: Opportunities for Involvement Await

Jermaine Williams, NACADA Membership Committee Chair 

JermaineWilliams.jpgNACADA has been a welcoming support system since I first became a member. I have been encouraged to write articles, present at conferences, serve on committees, accept a nomination for a leadership position and truly professionally explore and enhance myself. This experience has been overwhelmingly positive and surprisingly transcendental. This article will illustrate how NACADA has affected my life. A brief recount of my personal experiences will illustrate how NACADA’s support of the academic advising profession, opportunities for involvement and acceptance of diversity are but a few reasons for my extraordinary experiences.

My first academic advising position was a tumultuous time for me. I was a professional advisor at the University Freshman Center at St. John’s University located in Queens, NY. There was so much to learn about first year student development, student expectations of academic advising, professional expectations of academic advising, curricula for all the majors I advised, etc. It was during this time I attended my first Regional NACADA Conference – it took place in Rhode Island.

This Regional Conference was a refreshing, exciting and educational experience. I was able to make connections in a warm and welcoming environment. It was extremely beneficial to speak with and hear from advisors with similar concerns and goals. This experience also brought me closer to my colleagues at St. John’s University, as a cohort of us drove up and back together. I considered the trip to be a great success. It opened my eyes to an organization that champions the profession of academic advising, and I was, and still am, thankful to my institution for affording me the opportunity to attend that Regional Conference.

In Spring 2005, I was lucky enough to attend my second Regional Conference. It was there I met Charlie Nutt (then NACADA Associate Director, now Executive Director), who would turn out to be someone I consider a true friend, during a small concurrent session about scholarship within the academic advising profession. Charlie and I had a stimulating conversation about the changing characteristics of the traditional first year college student. Subsequently, Charlie encouraged me to write an article for Academic Advising Today on this topic. I e-mailed him after the conference to follow up on our conversation. He put me in contact with Leigh Cunningham (Academic Advising Today’s Managing Editor), and I started working on my first article (Millennial Students: Rethinking Time Management ). Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was the beginning of my active involvement in NACADA.

Active involvement in NACADA has given me the opportunity to be part of a grand international organization and to enhance myself both professionally and personally. Taking advantage of leadership opportunities in the Association has helped me develop several skills: leadership, interpersonal communication, diplomacy and global thinking style are a few. There are many opportunities for involvement within NACADA: Administrative Division, Committee and Interest Group Division, Regional Division, Academic Advising TodayNACADA Journal, etc. I would implore any member to become immersed in the opportunities NACADA provides.

I have supported NACADA since my first Regional Conference attendance, and I will continue to support this Association. I had no clue NACADA was going to affect my life in such a positive manner. All things considered, I only wish I would have become a more active member earlier in my career, perhaps at or after my first Regional Conference.

Fast forwarding to the present and to begin to conclude, it is my pleasure to continue active involvement in an Association that has provided me with a multitude of positive experiences over the years. It is wonderful to have found opportunity for growth within an Association whose mission and vision I believe in, as a leader and a professional in higher education. I am ecstatic to continue to support an organization that champions the academic advising profession through a congruent espoused and enacted mission.

The Association’s focus is communicated transparently through the mission: “NACADA is the acknowledged leader within the global education community for the theory, delivery, application and advancement of academic advising to enhance student development” (www.nacada.ksu.edu/AboutNACADA/index.htm). To champion academic advising is to support an environment of knowledgeable, educated and diverse academic advising professionals and leaders. Among other initiatives, NACADA constantly strives to “champion the educational role of academic advisors to enhance student learning and development in a diverse world.” I am proud to support and contribute to an organization that has and will continue to “foster the talents and contributions of all members and promote the involvement of diverse populations.” I have seen and experienced NACADA’s dedication to the aforementioned statement. I look forward to witnessing the increasing diversity of NACADA, especially in leadership roles. The opportunities are waiting.

Jermaine Williams
Temple University
jermaine.williams@temple.edu


NACADA Summer Institutes Provide Unique Opportunities for Every Advisor

Debbie Marlow, 2007 NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient

DebbieMarlowe,jpgAs I prepared to attend the 2007 NACADA Summer Institute in Salt Lake City, I wondered how the Institute would differ from NACADA Annual and Regional Conferences. Institute faculty asked each participant to come to Salt Lake City with their institution’s mission statement and an advising problem to consider, so I suspected participation in the Institute would involve a more focused intent than conferences, where we pick and choose from a wide variety of session topics. My assumption was correct. The Institute format, which combined presentations, workshops, small groups, and luncheons, provided a level of in-depth discussion not easily achieved in conferences and not readily available to many advisors on their home campuses. The Institute kept us focused on a few key themes, defined by faculty, and a handful of problems, defined by the members of each Small Group. The primary value of the Institute for me was the rich, complex dialogues that emerged from those themes and problems.

The faculty set and reinforced the Institute’s framework. NACADA 2007 President Susan Campbell outlined the central themes in her opening address. Daily, faculty-delivered General Session lectures kept bringing us back to emphasized key themes that NACADA identifies as guiding principles for academic advising. Good academic advising helps students question and arrive at some understanding of their goals and how they want to live. Advisors encourage students to connect what they learn in the classroom with their beliefs and goals. We also connect students to campus resources. Institute faculty continually reminded us of our role in helping students make those kinds of connections.

Each participant was assigned to a Small Group that met every day. Because our groups were composed of participants from a variety of institutions, diverse perspectives emerged in our discussions. In our groups, each participant set to the task of defining an advising problem on their campus and forming an Action Plan they would take back to their campus to set into motion. Throughout the small group sessions, Jayne Drake, the faculty leader for my group, kept us on task by asking us to think about our institutions’ mission statements and where our institutions fit with what we heard from our institutions’ missions. Jayne asked us every day to consider how a theme from that morning’s opening lecture resonated for us in our work with students. Small Group discussions gave us the opportunity to find out how other campuses define their challenges and to find out what works on other campuses, as well as what does not work. While NACADA conferences enable advisors to identify some of those issues and to hear about certain workable solutions, the Institute’s group discussions provided a unique opportunity to find out what has not worked for different types of institutions – and why.

General Session presentations reminded us of the principles of good advising, group discussions provided us with the forum for a rich, multi-institutional dialogue on particular advising problems, and faculty gave us their expert advice through workshops, concurrent sessions, and individual consultations. Those experts, who have long engaged in the kinds of discussions in which we were immersed during the Institute, told us how they would handle the kinds of advising problems we were tackling. This expert advice added another layer to our multi-perspective dialogue around central advising problems. I knew that the work we did in our small groups was important when I realized that in the topical sessions and workshops, faculty reaffirmed conclusions we were coming to in our small group discussions.

Though we worked hard, I also enjoyed relaxing and fun moments during my week at the Institute. Salt Lake City is a wonder in architectural achievements, highlighted by Temple Square and the music hall where I watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse one evening. The Institute colleagues with whom I shared much of my free time kept me laughing when we were not comparing notes on our jobs and advising on our campuses. I knew I was in trouble, though, when I boarded the bus bringing us back to our hotel after an evening of dinner and dancing at a lodge in the mountains. It was a long ride back with Charlie Nutt leading a sleepy chorus singing John Denver tunes!

The NACADA Summer Institute provided a unique opportunity for every advisor to learn more about their role in serving students. Those who clearly defined an advising problem on their campus and developed an Action Plan probably extracted the greatest benefit from the week, but it seemed that even the least-experienced advisors with less-defined action goals left with a roadmap for how to improve their own advising practices. Participants also gained a good sense of the principles that inform the way their institutions provide connections for their students.

Debbie Marlow
Advising Specialist
The University of Arizona
dmarlow@email.arizona.edu


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It takes but one SPARK to ignite the flame for an idea. Does your campus have an unusual or exceptional process or program that could spark an idea on another campus?  If so, tell us about it in 350 words or less. Send your 'Sparkler' to Leigh@ksu.edu

This edition’s SPARKLER comes from academic advisors at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.

Westergaard-Battle.jpg<Tricia Westergaard and Paul Battle, academic advisors at Oakland University, tell us that OU’s advisers initiated Advising Week, a week of promoting student awareness of academic advising services. The idea was sparked during NACADA’s 2004 Annual Conference, when one OU advisor heard a presenter make a side comment about his university’s advising programs. After returning from the Conference, OU advisors shared other ideas gained from various presentations, sessions, and discussions, further fueling the concept. This collective knowledge and the passion to aid students spawned the idea of an Advising Week to be used to promote advising, reach out to students, and increase retention. Tricia and Paul explain, “after gaining full advisor support, the Advising Week Planning Committee was established, including advisors and programming experts from New Student Programs, Center for Student Activities, and Residence Life. Planning began with no budget, high expectations and a determination to succeed. Since all events occurred around meal times the program was titled: Fast Food Advising Week . Activities included a resource fair in the student center, evening advising in the residence halls, Golf Cart Advising, and Staff versus Students Quiz Bowl. Donated prizes were given out. After drafting a schedule of events, a proposal was presented to the Dean of Students, who offered financial support.” Tricia and Paul are happy to report that the program was deemed a success by all, leading to a second Advising Week held in fall 2006 and a third in fall 2007. “Although some changes have occurred in planned activities,”they tell us, “the basic events serve as the core of Advising Week, many of which grew out of concepts presented at the NACADA Conference.' What initially sparked one advisor’s interest at a Conference session turned into an opportunity for professional advisors to emerge from their offices and bring advising services to the students. Large advising ratios, piles of paperwork, and departmental obligations did not dampen participation -- they only reinforced the need to help more students. To counter balance advisors’ already over-stretched day, only one event per day was scheduled. Led by the advisors, the campus community came together to help the students with an exciting program that energized students, staff, faculty, and the advisors! For more information, contact Tricia or Paul.

Posted in: 2008 March 31:1

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