Improving Our Advisees' Cultural Capital

Kathy J. McCleaf, Mary Baldwin College

Kathy McCleaf.jpgStudents in our institutions today arrive on campus with an assortment of baggage, some literal and some figurative. Academic cultural capital helps students more quickly glean an understanding of the academic society they are about to participate in and the new expectations of them. Acquired understandings to be successful in college are not equally accessible to every student walking into an advisor’s office.

Cultural capital can be defined as previously acquired knowledge necessary to successfully navigate in a particular environment. In an academic environment, this means developing recognition of implicit and explicit expectations, both inside and outside the classroom.

Collier and Morgan (2008) express a sense of frustration and miscommunication between faculty expectations and student expectations. When applying Collier and Morgan’s academic success model, they build on several theories derived from role theory and cultural capital theory, making all the more clear the importance of our student / advisor / faculty interactions. To assist students who have less cultural capital means to add more tools to their personal arsenal for attaining greater academic skill. Collier and Morgan’s model suggests that “mastering both the explicit and implicit aspects of the college student role” (p. 248) increases the likelihood that students will succeed during their undergraduate years.

The role of an advisor should include bolstering the cultural capital of each advisee. Most advisors are aware of the inequities in student preparation through early personal interactions, review of admission files, or initial progress reports by faculty members. Cultural capital can be understood by examining the difference between actual capacity and the demonstrated capacity that a student has when performing academically (Collier & Morgan, 2008). Helping students move toward actual capacity includes designing and implementing a plan for intellectual development.

Incorporating a plan for student intellectual development must take into account the college environment. Initial insights can be gleaned when advisors consider the complexity of college life. Assisting students with achieving integration through both social engagement and academic engagement as suggested by Pike and Kuh’s (2005) research can be an important first step. Social and academic opportunities together help to enhance the application of what students are learning in the classroom. Integration may hold the key to peer intellectual engagement and social development. Advisors can encourage social engagement as well as academic engagement by providing students with resources and connections to campus activities that complement their academics. Some of the implicit cultural capital that may be missing can be further developed when peer relations with stronger students are developed outside the classroom.

Integration can be seen when students take the concepts they are learning in classes and apply them in campus social environments. One example of integration would be watching students generate a campus-wide social justice effort initially fostered through an academic class.  Another example would involve students actively pursuing service learning opportunities after the requirements of an academic course are completed. Opportunities encouraged during advising sessions can help students with unequal cultural capital find common ground.

Key to understanding cultural capital differences is recognizing the tremendous amount of knowledge that is implicit as students successfully navigate a college campus, both inside and outside of the classroom (Collier & Morgan, 2008). Students without the benefit of family and friends who have previously traversed the first exam period or first long paper do not understand the demands and requirements for study, persistence, and staying power necessary for completing a college degree.

Advisors can become instrumental in helping bridge the knowledge gap by not letting unfamiliar language, faculty expectations, or systemic processes, often assumed to be understood, get in the way of an advisee’s academic success. When meeting with advisees, ask them questions about their course syllabi, including whether they understand the significance of the documents themselves. Doing so creates a bridge between the students and their faculty that will help advisees to understand faculty expectations.  Point out that a syllabus will be received from each professor. Spend time explaining the purpose of a syllabus. This helps students affirm an understanding of the initial contract with the professor about their learning obligations.

Continue the dialogue with advisees by asking what ancillary documents were provided by their professors, such as reading lists, honor code, and disability service expectations. Do they understand how their faculty members will provide them feedback on the work that they submit? Remind students to be certain they understand how to submit their work, electronically or in paper form and by when. Review with students each professor’s office hours and late penalties.

Be sure students can access course materials. Can they readily access the computer labs, the electronic software and online learning systems? Even if a course that they are scheduled for is not  identified as an online class, many professors expect students to access quizzes and course materials online. Make certain that campus resources are easily located with a clearly identified campus map.

Identify the roles of offices, such as the Registrar’s Office or the Office of Technology or the differences between the Academic Dean’s Office and the Student Affairs Dean’s Office. Be sure advisees know how to use the library and access its resources, including how to use professors’ reserve shelves in the library. Help students discover what choices in vendors are available for purchasing course materials to help with budgeting available educational dollars.  

Help advisees to realize the advisor’s role as a partner in their learning. When a dialogue includes an exchange of questions, richness is added to the information that can help students to become academically successful and increase their academic cultural capital. Be open to all questions, most importantly the questions that may be most taken for granted. Build advisees’ cultural capital. Take implicit understandings and make them explicit. Adding to an advisee’s academic cultural capital will increase the likelihood of a great start on the new semester.

Kathy J. McCleaf
School of Social Science, Business and Global Studies
Mary Baldwin College
kmccleaf@mbc.edu

References

Collier, P., & Morgan, D. (2008). 'Is that paper really due today?”: Differences in first generation and traditional college students' understandings of faculty expectations. Higher Education 55(4), 425-446.

Pike, G. R., & Kuh, G. D. (2005). First- and second-generation college students: A comparison of their engagement and intellectual development. Journal of Higher Education, 76(3), 276-300.


From the President: Checkpoints, Milestones, and Markers

Jennifer Joslin, NACADA President

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March is the midway point of my year as President of NACADA and as with all checkpoints it's a good time to take stock of projects, tasks, and the inevitable to-do lists that are part of any meaningful endeavor.  This edition of AAT will provide plenty of evidence that talented NACADA colleagues have worked tirelessly to bring innovative projects to fruition, and there are exciting initiatives underway that will have a long-term effect on NACADA’s future.  In April, the Board of Directors and Council will meet in Nashville to hear updates from committees and task forces and will also learn about the 2011-2012 initiatives brought forward by the Commission and Interest Group, Region, and Administrative Divisions.

But professional development isn’t just for committees. U.S. advisors are in the home stretch of their academic year.  This marker provides a good personal reflection point. How would individual advisors and administrators answer questions about the year-to-date? What projects are coming to fruition? Are advisors meeting short and long-term goals that will ensure a terrific personal and professional year? Are faculty on-track with writing and publishing that will further promotion / tenure goals?  Have advising administrators effectively balanced emergent (and emergency!) issues and long-term project planning?

Fortunately, the barometer of a successful year does not revolve around work alone. I frequently turn to the Internet to tackle project management issues (see  http://delicious.com/stacks/view/T4QJ3K) and there is a trend emerging from the “get things done” movement.  I am referring to the “live better” or “voluntary simplicity” trend that is growing in popularity. “Zen Habits” (zenhabits.net) is probably the most well known site representing this movement. Wonderfully, this trend is mirrored in NACADA as well.  For many years, advisors have focused on wellness issues. Most recently, Washington State University’s Lisa Laughter’s presentation, Journey to Wellness, was “Best of Region 8” in 2011, and Cecilia Olivares (Heartland Community College) and Sandy Waters (Old Dominion University) have organized extremely popular presentations at the last two annual conferences focusing on “work-life balance.”

Whether the focus is professional and/or personal growth, the midpoint of the year is a time to reflect, plan, and rejuvenate.  And for those who are ready to end this year and begin anew, our colleagues in Australia and in other regions of the Southern hemisphere have finished their summer break and are about to begin a new academic year…!!

Jennifer Joslin, President
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising

Director, Office of Academic Advising, University of Oregon
jjoslin@uoregon.edu


From the Executive Director: NACADA's Focus on the Future of the Profession and the Association

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director

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At the start of each calendar year, it is always gratifying to look back at the past year and see all that NACADA has accomplished in not only one short year but also in its rich and exciting history! But it is even more exciting to look forward as the NACADA Board of Directors, Executive Office staff, and all NACADA leaders are focusing on the future of NACADA and its place in higher education.

First, the NACADA Board continues its exciting work as we look at the role of NACADA in the Global Community. In just the past year, NACADA leaders have or will have visited Hong Kong, Australia, Netherlands, Abu Dhabi in the UAE, Qatar, the United Kingdom, and Egypt. Along with these strong connections that have been made in these countries, President Jennifer Joslin has appointed a Task Force chaired by Immediate Past President Kathy Stockwell to develop a priority list of action steps to be taken to expand the association’s global initiatives as well as to ensure that NACADA is building partnerships with institutions across the globe. With an international conference scheduled in the Netherlands in 2013, we are continuing our connections with our global members. It is also exciting to see this initiative highlighted in Academic Advising Today, with our new masthead “Voices of the Global Community.”

In addition, it is exciting that the association is looking strategically at the role that technology should and will play in the future. With the appointment of a Technology Standing Committee, President Joslin has ensured that the Board of Directors will continually investigate the technology needs and expectations of the association today and in the future.

It is also an exciting time as the future of NACADA is so keenly strengthened by the 10 outstanding Region Conferences being held this spring across the country. With conferences from Portland, Oregon to Miami, Florida and all points between, NACADA’s Regions continue to provide outstanding opportunities for professional development, networking with colleagues, and growing in your involvement in the association. I encourage all of you to make every attempt to attend one of our 10 Region Conferences.

I look forward to seeing many of you this spring at the Region Conferences! Please continue to let me and our Board of Directors know how NACADA can better serve you as well as the students at your institution!

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


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Academic Advising Challenges at an American-Style University in Kuwait

Heba Mansour and Hala Al-Abdulrazzaq, American University of Kuwait

Heba Mansour.jpgHala Al-Abdulrazzaq.jpgThe American style of education is growing in popularity in many different areas of the world, especially the Arabian Gulf region. Adopting and borrowing the American model of liberal arts is occurring for various reasons, including the growing demand internationally for an American-style education and increasing interest in investing in the young people pursuing post-secondary education at universities outside the United States.  It is also a new opportunity for well-established American universities to branch out into this region; examples include NYU Abu Dhabi, Cornell Doha, and Georgetown University Doha, among many others. Scholars predict that the global university will expand to 200 million seats by 2020 and has the potential to grow by 80 percent over the next decade (McDougall & Kleypas, 2011).

The American University of Kuwait is a locally owned and operated institution that has a memorandum of understanding with Dartmouth College. It is a young liberal arts institution based on the American model of higher education. At AUK, “we prepare our students for the contemporary world where critical thinking, communication skills, and lifelong learning have become imperative” (The University, 2011). Along with the American-style model of liberal arts education, we also follow the American-style model of academic advising. We have an institutional membership with NACADA and refer to its lists of best practices. What we believe is generally missing from the body of critical literature on academic advising and retention is the reference to the different issues in American-style education outside the borders of the United States. We have identified a host of issues specific to our student population which we believe must be addressed in order for us to best perform our roles as academic advisors.  While those issues are not unique to us or to Kuwait, we believe each university has its own distinctive constellation of issues that academic advisors deal with as we work to best support our students in their academic goals.

The first observation that we find extremely interesting is the variety of high school backgrounds that our students come from. There are many different types of high schools available in Kuwait, such as the co-ed American-model high schools, British-system schools, Indian schools, Pakistani schools, private Arabic schools, and the public schools.  Each school follows a different curriculum and has a unique method of teaching. The American model, for instance, would include critical thinking as opposed to public schools which use rote learning methods. With all these different types of high schools feeding AUK, there are many different levels of preparedness within an incoming freshman class.

Since our students come from different ethnic backgrounds, the issue of language preparedness has a huge impact on some of our students, because the main language in Kuwait is Arabic and exposure to English is sometimes minimal. The common obstacle that our students face is the adjustment from using Arabic only to completely English, which is the language of instruction at AUK. There is a full range of competencies in English and not enough understanding within undergraduate faculty concerning how effectively they can teach second and third language students.

Another problem our students have is learning to adapt to a wide range of teaching styles. Due to Kuwait’s geographical location, our students benefit from a diverse group of faculty; however, with this diversity comes vast differences in approaches to teaching. For example, there are some professors who  favor a straight lecture format where students are discouraged from challenging the professors’ authority; on the opposite extreme, there are professors who divest themselves of authority in the attempt to empower students and promote critical thinking. This is a challenging situation for our students to be able to understand how to deal with different professors. It is very difficult to coach students about how to respond to teachers’ expectations when the expectations vary from one professor to another so dramatically. According to Marian Woolhouse and Trixi Blair (2003), “If students understand their own learning preferences they are more likely to be successful and therefore both stay in formal learning circumstances longer and achieve their desired outcomes” (p. 258).

A final issue that requires more effective interventions on the part of the advising staff is that of learning disabilities. Due to the lack of awareness as well as lack of resources, it is difficult to identify a student at an early stage, therefore creating conditions not favorable to students’ success. The issue of cultural bias often makes families resist having their child tested and the disability identified earlier. Since we work closely with students, we can usually identify that there is a problem, but since there is no system in place to diagnose the disability, it becomes very challenging to understand how we can best assist the student. The good news is that Kuwait is working toward identifying this as a problem which will need more time and resources to be able to better assist those students. In efforts to support the learning disabled students, Kuwait opened the first public school for students with disabilities in September 2011; there are several private schools that are well-established, and we think that this is a progressive step toward helping the students who need it ('First public,' 2011). We think this will help tremendously in identifying the learning disabilities at an early stage, which will result in preparing the students to cope with the disability as they enter their university career.

The issues that we have discussed are no different than anywhere in the world and already exist in other universities as well. We have recognized our own particular challenges at The American University of Kuwait, and as American-style education increases in the region it becomes very important to be aware of the particular challenges of advising college students in this context. We have learned that identifying areas of concern help us best understand how to be responsive to our students’ needs as we support them through their academic careers. Those insights guide us in our research toward developing better systems of support for our own unique body of students.

Hala Al-Abdulrazzaq
Senior Academic Retention Advisor
Academic Advising Center
The American University of Kuwait
Halabdulrazzaq@auk.edu.kw

Heba Mansour
Academic Retention Advisor
Academic Advising Center
The American University of Kuwait
hamansour@auk.edu.kw

References and Additional Reading

First public school for students with learning disabilities opens. (2011, September, 22). Retrieved from Kuwait Times http://www.kuwaittimes.net/read_news.php?newsid=MjQ5MTU5MzQ5Mg.

Hemphill, L. L. (2002). Advising students with disabilities. The Academic Advising News 25(3),.Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources website: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/disability.htm 

Lamont, B. J. (2005). East meets west – Bridging the academic advising divide. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources website: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/East-Meets-West.htm

McDougall, J. I., & Kleypas, K. L. (2011). The modern knowledge worker in the global u: An interview with Andrew Ross. In J.I. McDougall & K.L. Kleypas (Eds.) The American-style university at large: Transplants, outposts, and the globalization of higher education, 95-104. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

The University. (2011). American University of Kuwait Academic Catalog 2011-2012, 23. Kuwait.

Uhlik, K. S. (2005). If advising is teaching, then learning style matters. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources website: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Mental-Health.htm

Woolhouse, M., & Blaire, T. (2003). Learning styles and retention and achievement on a two-year A-level programme in a further education college, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 27(3), pp 258-260.

Zhang, L. (2004). Thinking styles: University students’ preferred teaching styles and their conceptions of effective teachers, The Journal of Psychology, 138(3), pp 233-252. 


Domestic Study Away: Overview and Benefits of Cultural Exploration

Kasha M. Klinegores, University of South Carolina

KashaKlinegores.jpgWhen we think of opportunities for students to study at locations separate from their home campus, usually we think of study abroad programs. Students and educators alike are often not aware that there are other opportunities for students to study away rather than study abroad.

Domestic study away programs can present great avenues for students to gain valuable experiences in different areas of the United States, Canada, and the U.S. territories. The purpose of this article is to inform academic advisors about study away options, share the benefits of participating in study away programs, and give advisors tips on how best to promote study away programs to students.

Overview of Domestic Study Away Programs

There are many different types of domestic study away programs that already exist. While this is not presented as an exhaustive list, these are some ways for students to participate in domestic study away programs.

National Student Exchange (NSE). The National Student Exchange (NSE) is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for students at member institutions to participate in semester, year-long, or summer exchanges at another NSE member institution. NSE has been around since 1968 and has sent over 100,000 students on exchange. There are nearly 200 colleges and universities that students may choose from throughout the United States, Canada, and the U.S. Territories—including Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands (National Student Exchange, 2011).

Faculty-led Trips. Another way for students to get domestic study away experience is to participate in study trips led by faculty members as a part of an academic course. Many institutions offer study away trips as a part of their common curriculum, honors curriculum, or other opportunities for travel while studying. Some institutions include “Maymester/May Term,”or “J-term/January Term” trips as part of their domestic study away programs. These are typically three to four week classes that incorporate a travel component within the United States to help facilitate student learning on a particular topic. These study away trips offer students great first-hand learning experiences and opportunities to connect what they are learning inside of the classroom to “real world” settings.

The Urban Education Semester (UES). The Urban Education Semester (UES) is available to “exceptional” sophomores, juniors, and seniors from any U.S. college or university. The semester is spent at Bank Street College of Education in New York City, NY. The program is extremely competitive, accepting only 7-14 students each semester. The UES is of particular interest to students wishing to pursue careers in education, systematic reform, urban development, public service, and public policy. Students spend three days each week in direct placement in New York City public schools, a huge and complex public educational system. Students examine the field of urban public education from the viewpoints of academics, policy makers, and educators. Coursework involves graduate-level study and includes group field trips, seminar-style group discussions, individual advising sessions for students, and an opportunity to integrate their studies with first-hand field experience (Brown University, n.d.).

Benefits of Study Away

There are many benefits to the various programs available through domestic study away. Similar to students who study abroad, students find that studying away domestically is a time for personal growth and development. They report returning to their home campus with a new sense of maturity and purpose. Although they are studying domestically, students learn from having experienced a different culture and a different area of the country. Students often gain greater self-confidence and become more independent. They are forced to go beyond their comfort zones while studying away and find themselves needing to develop important life skills such as independence, flexibility, inventiveness, and decision-making skills. They are more willing to take risks and gain a new understanding of others and the world (National Student Exchange, 2011).

Students have the chance to explore different career ideas and think about their own futures while studying away domestically. It can be a great time to network with future employers, obtain an internship, or gain experience in a field in which they have had no previous experience. Domestic study away opportunities also may be more affordable for students who cannot afford to study overseas (National Student Exchange, 2011).

Promoting Domestic Study Away Opportunities

Advisors working with students who are considering study abroad should also be made aware of domestic study away options.  Advisors can educate themselves about study away programs by determining where the study away office is housed on campus (some are included in study abroad; others are housed in a separate office) and learning more about on-campus resources for study away programs. It is also important to let students know that they typically are not limited to just one study away or study abroad experience. In fact, some students participate in at least one semester of study abroad and one semester of domestic study away as undergraduates, enhancing their variety of meaningful experiences.

Conclusion

Although domestic study away is a field that has not previously had much exposure, it can be a fabulous experience for students. It has the power to transform perspectives and to change lives. An important aspect of study away is that it creates opportunities for students who previously thought they could not or would not study abroad gain important cultural experiences. Whether it is spending a semester at another campus in a different part of the country or studying for three weeks during “May Term” somewhere in the United States, domestic study away has the power to make a positive and meaningful impact on students.

Kasha Klinegores
Office of Student Engagement
University of South Carolina
klinegor@mailbox.sc.edu

References

Brown University. (n.d.) Urban education semester. Retrieved from http://www.urbanedsemester.org

National Student Exchange. (2011). What exactly is NSE? Retrieved from http://www.nse.org/exchange/desc.asp#1


Building Advising Workshops with Native Materials

Robert Allen Alexander, Jr., Nicholls State University

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I am still haunted by the words, uttered by my dean more than half a decade ago: “Build it and let’s see if they come.”

The “it” is an advising workshop series, and the “they” are the faculty and staff members who advise our students.

So there I was, a recently tenured associate professor of English, fresh off a stint as the chair of a university committee charged with writing a retention plan, an experience through which I had now earned the “privilege” to spearhead a major initiative to improve advising. But what did I really know about advising? And, more to the point, what did I know about developing workshops that could “train” our advisors to do a better job?

Prepared or not, I had been entrusted with a vital task – or at least that is how our retention plan had characterized it. So exactly how does one go about building workshops? It helps to have some tools, and the only tools that matter are those readily at hand. One tool readily available to me, gained from my experience with teaching writing, is knowing the importance of understanding audience before constructing any piece of writing. Why would the audience for a workshop be any different from the potential reader of an essay?

Who, then, would be the audience? Because our campus follows a faculty-based advising model, my primary audience would be faculty members from disciplines as varied as traditional programs in the arts and sciences and professional areas such as nursing and petroleum engineering.

Being a faculty member myself, and having worked and played well with other professors, I think I have a good idea of what makes us tick. We are not complicated. Though we seemingly know a lot, we want to learn more. And while legislators and some of the general public think that we live a life of leisure, in reality we are insanely busy and stressed. Given all that, what we typically like are pleasant environments where we can engage in meaningful activities – that is, conversing, sharing, learning. What faculty members who advise do not desire is yet another policy manual, or to be lectured to on a subject as dry as a well-done steak.

Simple enough. Of the many materials that should go into the construction of a workshop, the ones that I should not procure include boredom, tediousness, and anything that would insult the intelligence of a highly educated professional. So what I need to purchase are engagement, originality, and insight. And I need to make sure that all the pieces fit together cohesively.

It has also been my experience that a builder is only as good as the passion he brings to his craft. Well, if I am to be the builder of these workshops, then I ought to construct them with the tools and materials with which I am most familiar: the knowledge I have accumulated from teaching courses in writing, literature, philosophy, and other humanities areas. How can I expect my potential audience to be enthused about something for which I lack enthusiasm?

This is why I decided to build the foundation of the workshop series upon a jazz-infused theme (based somewhat off of a class I had taught titled “The Blues Idiom in American Culture”). I then proceeded to recruit facilitators for eight one-hour workshops that would address fundamental areas about which all advisors need to know (information about academic support and health services, for example) and to work with them to come up with engaging, music-inspired titles, such as “Jam Sessions with the Master Craftsmen: Connecting Students to Tutorial and Academic Enhancement Resources” and “It Ain’t the ‘Saint James Infirmary’: What University Health Services Provides for the Campus Community.” (It is worth noting that those original eight workshops have now been supplemented, over the past five years, by thirty additional ones, many of them proposed and facilitated by previous workshop participants).

So following this unorthodox blueprint, we built a whole neighborhood of advising workshops, relying primarily upon native materials – that about which we know and are passionate (our intellectual and cultural interests) – supplemented, of course, with imported goods – those indispensable resources available through the NACADA website, for example. And having built “it,” “they” did come – lots of them. Over the first five years of our workshop series, 216 faculty and staff members have earned advisor certification (by attending at least eight one-hour workshops within a calendar year). Considering the size of our campus (with roughly 7,000 students) and the fact that attendance at these workshops is voluntary, that level of participation is significant.

While none of what we have done is revolutionary, we have learned important lessons about what seems to work, at least in the context of our campus culture (which I doubt is all that different from the cultures of campuses of similar size and mission). We have ornamented our workshops with bells and whistles, but we try to keep in mind the following foundational ideas as we build and renovate: (1) We should not characterize these workshops as either “training” or “development” (two words that college professors generally find demeaning, given their professional status); and (2) we should not build workshops that box in our colleagues (by being overly prescriptive and thereby stifling the creativity and insight that can make a workshop more than just a stuffy building full of rusty tools). Instead we strive to build workshops that are like pavilions, sporting a foundation and support posts and solid roof, but not blocking out what is so inviting outside the structure. Outside that pavilion, after all, is probably a field (or at least a flat plain in the delta region we inhabit), and “field” is, as Latin scholars will remind us, just another word for “campus,” a place ripe for exploration and cultivation.

Robert Allen Alexander, Jr.
Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
Nicholls State University
robert.alexander@nicholls.edu


Three Approaches to Everyday Dilemmas

Drew Puroway, University of St. Thomas

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Whether or not we are aware of it, advisors face a myriad of ethical dilemmas in our daily work.  For example, what distinguishes a “reality check” from “dream killing” as we work with students to realistically pursue majors and careers that match their skill sets?  Should we “friend” our students on Facebook© or does this cross a boundary of professionalism?  When and what should advisors disclose to parents when even the information allowed to be disclosed by FERPA may not be in the students’ best interest to disclose, or vice versa?  These questions just scratch the surface of the complicated issues advisors face, and it is important to remember that these are choices that ought to involve ethical reasoning.  Too often, we attempt ethical reasoning only when we perceive a crisis situation.  We use our own feelings about the situation to guide our decisions, and while this may work on occasion, it is not wise to simply go with our gut instincts in every situation.  To raise consciousness about these everyday dilemmas, it may be helpful to think about different ways of approaching dilemmas.

In the book Mountains and Passes (Lampkin & Gibson, 1999), three approaches to ethical problem solving are described: virtues-based, principle-based, and case-based.  Let us explore these approaches through the following case study:

Harold is a 20-year-old transfer student, about to enter his second semester at our institution.  When he first met with his advisor as a newly admitted student, Janice, his mother, sat in on the appointment during which the advisor discussed the curricular requirements and assisted him with registration.  While it is common for a traditional-aged transfer student to bring a parent to their initial appointment, the advisor is a bit shocked when Janice arrives with Harold for his next appointment.  The advisor remembers from their first interaction that Janice dominated the conversation and was very judgmental of Harold’s potential major interests.  The advisor is concerned that Janice may be impeding Harold’s development and undermining his autonomy.

A person who prefers the principle-based approach would be most concerned with the application of an established principle from a source of authority that would guide (if not outright prescribe) actions.  A principle-based approach would focus on the “problem” of the case study and the actions themselves more than on the actors and consequences.  This might be the advisor’s ethical style if he has a tendency toward deductive reasoning, perhaps applying the following rationale to this situation: It is unethical to stifle autonomy; Janice infringes on Harold’s autonomy; therefore Janice should wait in the lobby rather than participate in the appointment.  Toward a different end, one might reason that the departmental policy welcomes parents with the student’s consent.  Harold gave his consent, so Janice should be allowed to participate in Harold’s advising appointment.  The advantages of the principle-based approach are: 1) it is relatively concrete; 2) it is flexible to the extent that moral norms are flexible; and 3) our profession and our institutions readily provide us with ethical principles to inform our reasoning. The challenges to this approach:  1) the advisor is required to subscribe to the authority from which the principles are established; 2) the advisor must decide how to respond when principles conflict; 3) the advisor must decide how to best balance individual versus community interests (the approach tends to favor the individual); and 4) it may be perceived as too rigid by colleagues who prefer to use other approaches.

An individual who prefers a case-based approach may read Harold’s case study and immediately have numerous questions about the situation.  She would seek to understand the unique features of the case and to place it in the context of similar situations.  While a person using this approach may be informed by principles, the individual is generally more focused on paradigm.  In the case of Harold, an advisor using the case-based approach could reason that it is important to respect Harold’s autonomy, but based on past experience, students similar to Harold were not developmentally ready to assume all of that autonomy, so Janice should be allowed to participate in the appointment.   The strengths of this approach: 1) one’s reasoning is easy to revise when future cases show different outcomes; 2) this approach recognizes that humans are not machines that mechanistically apply principles; and 3) it avoids the criticism of rigidity.  The challenges to case-based reasoning include: 1) its relativistic nature; 2) its focus on the individual over the community; 3) it may tend to be overly concerned with anticipating consequences; and 4) sometimes the source of its moral authority is ambiguous.

Finally, an individual applying a virtues-based approach would consider which virtue to embody in the situation.  The focus here is on a particular application of a virtue such as kindness, temperance, or loyalty, rather than on a specific action.  Here are possible applications to Harold’s case:

  • It doesn’t matter if I allow Janice to participate in the appointment or not – I will treat both Harold and Janice with kindness.
  • I will act with loyalty to Harold and allow Janice to participate, if that is his wish.
  • I will act out of care for Harold’s well-being and will not admit Janice into the appointment.

The advantage of this virtues-based approach is that it may be more communally based than the others, as virtues can be embodied by a community.  The disadvantages lie in the task of learning virtues, the need for moral wisdom to apply virtues, and the challenges of evaluating the internal motivation behind actions (a right act done for the wrong reason is not considered virtuous).

Hopefully, consideration of Lampkin and Gibson’s (1999) approaches will raise our level of awareness of everyday advising dilemmas.  We may discover our own style is a combination of one or more of these approaches.  When faced with daily advising dilemmas, our instincts might be better guided after we attempt to reason through the lens of each approach.

Drew Puroway
Academic Counselor
University of St. Thomas
dwpuroway@stthomas.edu

References

Lampkin, P.M., & Gibson, E.M. (1999). Mountains and passes: Traversing the landscape of student affairs administration. Washington DC: National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.


 Advising Students Accused of the 'P' Word

 Brian A. Williams, Centenary College New Jersey

BrianWilliams.jpgThe job of an academic advisor entails many different roles: cheerleader, supporter, and comforter.  I often think of my advising role with adult learners in terms of being a lawyer, where I advocate for my students’ best interests.  The lawyer analogy is especially appropriate in cases where a student is accused of the “P” word – plagiarism.  When a professor states that a student has plagiarized, the student might have a  variety of feelings, such as fear, confusion or anger.  At worst, the student could be dismissed from school as a result.  But how do advisors help students through their trouble?

Nearly every student I have advised in this situation says, “I didn’t mean to plagiarize.”  Most times I believe them – they did not intend to plagiarize – yet the professor takes this position against the student based on evidence within a submitted work, often to the student’s surprise. Why the accusation?  After some investigation, the reason is almost invariably a misuse of proper APA formatting within a paper (at schools where APA is the standard writing format). Although Hard, Conway and Moran (2006) reported an increase in recent decades of plagiarism and general academic misconduct, most students in my experience do not show mal intent. Following are four points to consider when a student informs an advisor of an accusation of plagiarism.

Understanding the violation

The most immediate path to understanding is the professor’s feedback on the assignment.  Has the student read and understood it?  Borham-Puyal and Olmos-Migueláñez (2011) said regarding teacher feedback that students “Must be able to critically interpret what they read” (p. 373).  It is surprising how many students do not read their professor’s feedback, but only the final grade.  Advisors should direct the student to read professor comments and offer an interpretation if necessary.  For example, perhaps the advisor is proficient in APA formatting.  The advisor can use his/her training to help the student understand the importance of using quotation marks for a direct quotation from a resource.

Meaning for the student

Every school responds seriously to cases of plagiarism.  The advisor can play an important role by giving information about how to respond to the situation. An offer to resubmit gives the advisor and student opportunity to review problem areas and submit a quality assignment.  If the student fails the assignment, the two can work through different scenarios.  If the student receives an “A” on the remaining assignments, what is the best possible grade for the class?  Or, does the failed assignment prompt consideration for dropping the class (if within the drop period) to save the overall GPA?  Failing the class would prompt consideration about rescheduling the course, future classes (if the failed class is a prerequisite), and even implications for staying in the program when failing grades warrant dismissal.

Response to the accusation

Students have different feelings when confronted with plagiarism.  These feelings generally fuel the student’s desire to do well in school.  Knowles’s adult learning theory (as cited in Kenner & Weinerman, 2011) proposed that adult students are task and internally motivated.  Therefore, they are usually motivated to continue with school.  The advisor should be prepared to inform of the ways to respond to the accusation.  In accordance with the level of accusation, the advisor should direct the student to follow up with the professor or to prepare an appeal letter to appear before the college review board.  If accepted, appeals generally have conditions for the student, such as following a timeline to resubmit work or obtaining a certain grade when retaking a class.  Should the appeal be denied, the advisor should address the needs of dismissed students, including informing of future appeal opportunities, providing financial aid/bursar department information, or advising how to request a transcript.

Education concerning the infraction

If the student is allowed to remain in school, the advisor should be motivated to help the student avoid future accusations of plagiarism.  As stated earlier, many such accusations stem from improper use of APA formatting within a student’s paper.  The easy response would be simply to refer the student to the APA manual (sixth edition).  However, advisors can offer a tailored plan to the student.  Boehm, Justice, and Weeks (2009) stated that administrators should focus on education concerning academic integrity rather than its penalties, as noted in these suggestions:

  • Locate example papers showing proper APA formatting from reputable Internet sites and review them with the student.
  • Provide time management tips so the student is not tempted to plagiarize under time constraints (Duke University, 2002 as cited in Aluede, Omoregie, & Osa- Edoh, 2006).
  • Offer to be the student’s mentor throughout the class.
  • Inform the student of school-sponsored resources, such as writing tutors.

Regarding point 3, I offered to be a mentor to a student having writing issues in an undergraduate-level course.  She did not understand why she was accused of plagiarism when she believed she was honest in her academic work.  After our session on understanding the professor’s feedback, we developed a plan to keep her on track for the remainder of her six-week course.  We held weekly sessions, reviewed her progress through the class, and discussed problem areas.  Not only did she successfully pass the class, she gained useful skills that helped her for the remainder of her program.

Students can have a difficult time managing accusations of plagiarism on their own.  An informed, caring advisor who is skilled in working with the student’s problem area can be the greatest asset to that student’s academic success.

Brian A. Williams
School of Professional Studies
Centenary College New Jersey
Williamsb01@centenarycollege.edu

References

Aluede, O., Omoregie, E. O., & Osa- Edoh, G. I. (2006). Academic dishonesty as a contemporary problem in higher education: How academic advisors can help. Reading Improvement 43,(2), 97-106.

Boehm, P. J., Justice, M., & Weeks, S. (2009). Promoting academic integrity in higher education. Community College Enterprise, 15(1), 45-61.

Borham-Puyal, M., & Olmos-Migueláñez, S. (2011). Improving the use of feedback in an online teaching-learning environment: An experience supported by moodle. US-China Foreign Language, 9(6), 371-382.

Hard, S. F., Conway, J. M., & Moran, A. C. (2006). Faculty and college student beliefs about the frequency of student academic misconduct. Journal Of Higher Education, 77(6), 1058-1080.

Kenner, C., & Weinerman, J. (2011). Adult learning theory: Applications to non-traditional college students. Journal Of College Reading And Learning, 41(2), 87-96.


Perspective on the ELP Experience: A Journey in Leadership and Friendship

Lisa Laughter, NACADA Emerging Leader
Kazi Mamun, NACADA Mentor

Lisa Laughter with President Kathy Stockwell.jpg

The ELP Leader’s Perspective – Lisa Laughter

I was sitting in the audience at the plenary session of my second NACADA Annual Conference in Baltimore in 2007 when they introduced the first class of NACADA Emerging Leaders. I hadn’t previously heard about the Emerging Leaders Program(ELP), but what I heard at this session got me intrigued. I said to myself, I want to do that!  I am passionate about my professional development and love getting involved in my professional organization. I was fairly new to advising but knew that I wanted as many opportunities as possible to grow. I found more information and took the idea back to my supervisor, who, unfortunately, did not have the same passion for getting involved with professional development as I did, and thus did not support my desire to apply to the Program.  However, by the next year I had a new supervisor who supported my application to be an Emerging Leader in 2009. I was ecstatic when I found out I had been accepted; what a privilege to have been chosen!

The work started with summer assignments to prepare us for the 2009 Annual Conference in San Antonio. I was challenged right away with thinking about how I would like to contribute to this amazing organization that had given me so much already. The program Orientation Team (comprised of Executive Office staff and members of the ELP Advisory Board) did an excellent job of helping our new 2009-2011 Class members feel comfortable with one another and really dive into why we had chosen to participate in such a unique experience.

One of my favorite memories is of the “speed dating” experience with potential mentors. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet the mentors who had so much to offer the eager mentees. I was really anxious to find out who my mentor was and to begin working together on my goals! I was delighted to find out I had been paired up with Kazi Mamun, who was at that time a member of the NACADA Board of Directors.

Over the past two years, Kazi and I have had a “standing” phone call once a week. This has provided us with consistent communication about where I was with my goals as well as a wonderful opportunity for us to get to know one another. I am eternally grateful for our conversations and Kazi’s wisdom, experience, and guidance. I have grown a LOT in the past two years, personally and professionally.

One of the things this program has helped me with is to shape more realistic and achievable goals. I am a very ambitious, pie-in-the-sky kind of person and have many lofty goals which are at times a bit over my head for the moment and not very focused. Working with an experienced professional like Kazi helped bring me down to earth and gave me a place to start. I now have a better understanding of the hierarchy and ways to contribute in order to reach and achieve my goals (which are now a bit more narrowly defined and focused!). I thank Kazi for helping me narrow my goals and take things one step at a time. I tend to want to take on the world all at once, and having someone rein me in and help me realize what I can handle realistically given the resources available to me at any given time has been invaluable.

Kazi has given me excellent guidance not only with my involvement within NACADA but in my professional life within my organization as well. It has been great having someone with that outside perspective to help me see not only what some of the options are in situations I deal with at my institution, but sort through them as well. I feel overwhelmingly connected with my organization as a result of my interaction with other ELP classes and NACADA leaders. It is wonderful that no matter what level of experience we have, we are welcomed into this family and built up from the ground up!

Kazi Mamun with President Kathy Stockwell.jpg

The ELP Mentor’s Perspective – Kazi Mamun

I was nervous. Unbeknownst to me, I was probably a mentor to some people in the past because I have been a professional academic advisor for about two decades. When someone new was hired at my place of work, I remember training some advisors and helping them through some tough situations.   But this was different—it was a formal program. Was I up to the challenge?  The Coordinator of ELP had asked me to step in because there was a disparity in the number of mentors who had volunteered and leaders who were eager to participate in the program. With
everything that I had to do as an advising administrator in challenging budgetary times, would I be able to give this new professional the time she deserved? Shaking aside all my reservations, I jumped in.  Whether it was my own desire to mentor a young professional or whether the persuasive powers of the ELP Coordinator at the Executive Office made the difference, we’ll never know. Having gone through the process, what I can say with certainty is that I am glad that I did it. It was one of the most rewarding professional experiences I have had!

The “speed-dating” scenario in San Antonio was invigorating in that I got to meet ten professional advisors asking me all sorts of questions about what I found rewarding in being an academic advisor. In addition to answering questions, what I realized was that it made me think clearly and hard about why I had chosen the profession that I did.  Although I had been an “undeclared” professional and “tumbled” into advising because of a series of discrete circumstances, over time I grew to love it and eventually embrace it as a calling. I subscribe to the philosophy that even though we guide our students through the labyrinth of college life, some of them may adopt us as a mentor, a coach, or even a role model. This is all the more reason why we need to be on our A-game all the time, despite all the pressures of the job, the particular day, and the turbulence of our personal lives.

The next day, Lisa Laughter from Washington State University was paired with me as her mentor. We exchanged cell phone numbers immediately and decided to work on communicating with each other on a regular basis. Before we left San Antonio, we found several opportunities to get to know each other: lunch by the San Antonio river with all the mentors and mentees, a fantastic dinner at a Brazilian restaurant picked out by one of the ELP leaders (a veritable meat fest and an exercise in gluttony!), and informal meetings and networking with the group, as well Lisa and I just meeting together. Before we left, we had come up with a schedule to contact each other on Fridays from 9:00 to 9:30 am.

For the two years that we were in this formal partnership, unfailingly Lisa would call me every Friday and we would talk about a variety of things focusing mostly on how she could get more involved in leadership positions in NACADA. We found that being in the same time zone helped a great deal! I distinctly remember those first few conversations when Lisa wanted to be involved in just about everything one can imagine. Being careful not to burst her bubble and still keep her at a high level of enthusiasm, I slowly but firmly preached to her the idea of not only focusing on what could be done, but on what was achievable given all of her other personal and professional responsibilities. I do not know if she initially appreciated this fully, but as time went by she realized that a true professional makes discerning choices about what she selects to do and delivers on what she has taken on. This is an area that I think we have  come to appreciate fully, and both Lisa and I will benefit from our exchanges on this subject.

Our relationship progressed over time. Even though we were not able to connect with each other every Friday, we both made an effort. I remember that there was a period of a few weeks where we were not able to connect because of scheduling conflicts, and so I had her call me at home (a few times), when I was on the road (on my cell), and once when I was in Las Vegas on vacation. Lisa went to a program in Las Vegas on many occasions but she called me from there even if to chat for a few minutes. What started as an obligation because of the ELP soon became a part of my life. Talking to Lisa about her involvement in NACADA and her own institution invigorated me professionally. Here I was a “seasoned veteran” prone to bouts of cynicism who was challenged by this young professional with oodles of positive energy. There were so many things we talked about that listing everything would focus on the minutiae. Suffice it to say that we really began to enjoy our conversations, which turned philosophical at times, constantly challenging each other in our perspectives on advising. I am from an age that believed advising to be adjuvant to the mission of higher education, while Lisa comes from the perspective as do many of her peers and NACADA that advising is central to the mission of higher education—that it has its own theories, its own pedagogy, and its own place in the annals of research.

I am a better advisor for having undergone this great program and having Lisa as a mentee. I only hope that I have been of some help in furthering her leadership abilities!

Lisa Laughter
Academic and Career Advisor
Washington State University
laughterl@wsu.edu

ELP logo.gif

Kazi Mamun
Assistant Dean, School of Business Administration
University of California-Riverside
kazi.mamun@ucr.edu

Editor’s Note: Interested in becoming a NACADA Mentor or Emerging Leader?  Visit the Emerging Leaders Program section of the NACADA website to learn more!


2011 NACADA Summer Institute: Significant Advising Immersion Experience

Terri Reckart, NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient

The 2011 Colorado Summer Institute: registration – free for scholarship recipients; airfare – $427; watching Charlie Nutt square dance at a dinner and mixer – priceless.

TerriReckart.jpgIt is so difficult for me to give NACADA enough accolades for my wonderful experience at the Summer Institute in Colorado. Immediately upon return to my institution, I was promoted from Student Success Advisor to Coordinator of Student Success Advising, and then three months later I was promoted to Director of Student Success Services, which includes Learning Support, Academic Resources, Student Success Advising, AAMI, and our Multicultural Affairs program. Undeniably, my professional credibility and perceived self-efficacy increased at a rapid pace following my attendance at the Summer .Institute, for which I am eternally grateful.

The Institute provided a plethora of experiential and didactic learning opportunities. I especially appreciated learning about the three essential components / competencies of high quality academic advising, which seemed to be embedded in all structured venues of the Institute. These components, according to Wes Habley (Gordon & Habley, 2000; Light, 2001) and many presenters at the Institute, are identified as conceptual elements, information, and interpersonal/relational skills. The conceptual elements of advising, as defined by Blane Harding at the Institute, encompass curriculum, pedagogy, and student learning outcomes. Additionally, I learned that the contextualized informational component pertains to the strengths and needs of the advisee, advisor, and the campus environment; it is an introspective interface of advisor/advisee, the campus culture, and expectations of everyone involved. Last, the relational component concerns the symbolic interactions of an advisor that are grounded in proven theoretical research and the methodological scope of advising across all initiatives of a campus environment.

Conceptually, the Summer Institute was a parallel experience of the high quality academic advising that every professional in attendance strives for at their institution, just as the NACADA “gurus” provided for us by way of foundation sessions, group discussions and action plans, workshops, topical sessions, roundtables, individual consultations, institutional team meetings, and end-of-the-day dinners/mixers. Intermittently, I stood back to survey the overall process and wondered exactly who is the NACADA expert/guru and who is the NACADA developing professional, because the ideal transparency in all social and learning interactions seemed to blur the expected delineation of roles; everyone interacted as both learner and instructor of high quality advising.

Everyone should attend the Summer Institute, because it is invaluable for conceptual learning and professional development from beginning to end. For instance, one of many great moments that stand out to me came near the end of the Institute when I attended Charlie Nutt’s foundation session, Initiating Change: Leading from Your Position. It was obvious that everyone in my small group semi-regretted leaving this immersion experience of professional development – but at the end of Charlie’s session, I felt validated in my self-efficacy and readiness to try out my newly developed “wings” at my institution. Literally, upon my return, I became recognized on my college campus as an advising expert who was assigned an integral role in the strategic planning process for our student graduation and retention rates. I can say without hesitation that NACADA, my institution’s generosity and belief in me, and being given the opportunity to participate in the Institute all precipitated my success as I “came into my own” in a role of leader and expert advisor.

Don’t miss this opportunity!  Learn more about the Wesley R. Habley NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship and apply today!

Terri Reckart
Director of Student Success Services
Middle Georgia College
treckart@mgc.edu


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 Kiana Shiroma (University of Hawai'i at Manoa).

KianaShiroma.jpgKiana Shiroma, Academic Advisor at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa (UHM), tells us that many students at her institution have experienced what has become widely known as the “sophomore slump.” The second year retention rate of students who entered UHM in 2006 was only 69.2 percent, compared to peer institutions’ of 79.2 percent. “To improve these statistics,” Kiana says, “the Sophomore Experience Committee (SEC) was created with members from academic and student affairs offices.” The first SEC event was the Passport to Sophomore Success Conference (PSSC) in Spring 2010. It was an on-going one-day occasion held at Campus Center, the hub of UHM. PSSC targeted freshmen and sophomores to prevent and address sophomore slump issues. Sixteen workshops, as well as a majors and resources fairs, were offered throughout the day. Workshops covered establishing academic and career connections, engaging in co-curricular activities, and personally developing. Additionally, over 30 offices participated in the fairs. “Since UHM is a commuter campus,” Kiana explains, “the event was a success with over 115 attendees. A key factor was that attendance fulfilled the mandatory advising requirement. Feedback was positive, with students following up with their academic advisors to learn how to participate in opportunities they heard about in PSSC.” Presently, SEC is coordinating a Sophomore Social specifically for first-semester sophomores; celebrating the start of the second year for students and reminding them of the resources available to them is the focus of this event. Moreover, advisors, faculty, staff, and students will have the opportunity to speak with each other in a less formal setting. The goal of SEC is to improve the second year retention rates of students at UHM. To accomplish this objective, sophomore slump issues of feeling disconnected from the university, professors, and peers are being addressed with events like the PSSC and Sophomore Social. These occasions remind sophomores that they are still integral to UHM and that there are offices and people who are here to support and help them succeed. For more information, please contact Kiana at kianak@hawaii.edu.


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Posted in: 2012 March 35:1

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