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From the President: Staying Engaged in NACADA

Categories: 2015 March 38:1

John Paul (JP) Regalado, NACADA President

President Regalado.jpgI can’t believe it is 2015! I hope your year is starting off well. As I head into the second half of my presidency, I am still in a bit of awe as to where we are in higher education and our collective role in shaping its future!

On our campus, and I know on many others, we continue to talk about the completion agenda and our respective responsibilities in helping our students succeed. It is an awesome responsibility and, truth be told, sometimes an overwhelming one, but one that I think we should embrace. Every time we see a student discover their passion, make a difficult choice that we hope will lead to a positive outcome, finally get “it” and thrive, overcome a significant challenge, or best of all, graduate, it is a reminder of why we do what we do. Yes, it helps to work for supportive supervisors and administrators, and yes, it helps to work with dedicated colleagues who share in our collective goal of student success, but let’s be honest: the reason we do what we do is because of our students!

I want to share with you a little bit of what the NACADA Council and Board of Directors are working on. The Council continues to work with their divisions on their respective tasks and initiatives. Having served on the Council for three years, I can assure you that it is in these divisions that much of the NACADA “magic” happens. Our chairs submitted mid-year reports in late fall and all are working hard on achieving their respective outcomes. There continue to be opportunities for some great collaboration and idea sharing across the divisions that we believe will enhance NACADA as an organization and assist you in your daily work with your students and institutions of higher education. The Board of Directors has been tasked with working on strategic planning in the areas of Diversity/Inclusion, Research/Scholarly Inquiry, and Leadership and has been divided up into three subcommittees. Some questions I have asked us to ponder and answer are:

  • How would we visualize an action plan, with short-, medium-, and long-term steps toward the goals we set for the future of NACADA?
  • How do we organize ourselves? What are the first, second, and third steps of our plan?
  • Do we need to re-prioritize where we invest our resources?
  • What additional resources do we need?

If you have any ideas/suggestions/comments, please let me know and I will be happy to share them with our NACADA Board of Directors.

In addition, a committee charged with looking into the possibility of creating a Center for Research with Kansas State University has met and is determining what that will take. Last, a committee has been created to revise and update our organizational by-laws. It is our goal to have significant progress on all these tasks by our mid-year meeting in April.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about all the “NACADA Near You” professional development opportunities that will be available to you over the next months. Last month, we had our Winter Institutes take place in Florida. Our recent webinars have covered a variety of excellent material and best practices in the areas of Academic and Career Advising, Advising in Two-Year Colleges, and Advising and the Completion Agenda. Look at the NACADA website for more information on our remaining webinars. Lastly, we have our regional conferences coming up in March, April, and May. Did you know that, in at least the last several years, we have had more NACADA members attend our combined region conferences than attend our annual conference in October? The point in all this is that NACADA is your organization and we want you to engage in NACADA in the way that is best for you and your institution. Having participated in all of these opportunities, I can truly say that I got something out of all of them that helped me in my work with students and in my work with my colleagues and administrators, while developing me professionally and personally.

I want to thank all of you for staying engaged in NACADA. Without your participation as a reader, writer, presenter, participant, and researcher, we wouldn’t be as strong as we are.

Last, I want to thank you for voting in our recent elections. I also want to thank our candidates for stepping up to the plate and running for a position. While running for a position is not the only way to get involved in NACADA, it isn’t easy to put yourself out there, and I appreciate your willingness to do so.

It continues to be my esteemed honor and pleasure to represent you and all the great work that you do for our students. Thank you for all that you do!

John Paul (JP) Regalado, President, 2014-2015
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Executive Director of Academic Advising
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
john.regalado@tamucc.edu 

Cite this article using APA style as: Regalado, J.P. (2015, March). From the president: Staying engaged in NACADA. Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from [insert url here] 

- See more at: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/From-the-President-Staying-Engaged-in-NACADA.aspx#sthash.72aRVQrT.dpuf

From the President: Staying Engaged in NACADA

Categories: 2015 March 38:1

John Paul (JP) Regalado, NACADA President

President Regalado.jpgI can’t believe it is 2015! I hope your year is starting off well. As I head into the second half of my presidency, I am still in a bit of awe as to where we are in higher education and our collective role in shaping its future!

On our campus, and I know on many others, we continue to talk about the completion agenda and our respective responsibilities in helping our students succeed. It is an awesome responsibility and, truth be told, sometimes an overwhelming one, but one that I think we should embrace. Every time we see a student discover their passion, make a difficult choice that we hope will lead to a positive outcome, finally get “it” and thrive, overcome a significant challenge, or best of all, graduate, it is a reminder of why we do what we do. Yes, it helps to work for supportive supervisors and administrators, and yes, it helps to work with dedicated colleagues who share in our collective goal of student success, but let’s be honest: the reason we do what we do is because of our students!

I want to share with you a little bit of what the NACADA Council and Board of Directors are working on. The Council continues to work with their divisions on their respective tasks and initiatives. Having served on the Council for three years, I can assure you that it is in these divisions that much of the NACADA “magic” happens. Our chairs submitted mid-year reports in late fall and all are working hard on achieving their respective outcomes. There continue to be opportunities for some great collaboration and idea sharing across the divisions that we believe will enhance NACADA as an organization and assist you in your daily work with your students and institutions of higher education. The Board of Directors has been tasked with working on strategic planning in the areas of Diversity/Inclusion, Research/Scholarly Inquiry, and Leadership and has been divided up into three subcommittees. Some questions I have asked us to ponder and answer are:

  • How would we visualize an action plan, with short-, medium-, and long-term steps toward the goals we set for the future of NACADA?
  • How do we organize ourselves? What are the first, second, and third steps of our plan?
  • Do we need to re-prioritize where we invest our resources?
  • What additional resources do we need?

If you have any ideas/suggestions/comments, please let me know and I will be happy to share them with our NACADA Board of Directors.

In addition, a committee charged with looking into the possibility of creating a Center for Research with Kansas State University has met and is determining what that will take. Last, a committee has been created to revise and update our organizational by-laws. It is our goal to have significant progress on all these tasks by our mid-year meeting in April.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about all the “NACADA Near You” professional development opportunities that will be available to you over the next months. Last month, we had our Winter Institutes take place in Florida. Our recent webinars have covered a variety of excellent material and best practices in the areas of Academic and Career Advising, Advising in Two-Year Colleges, and Advising and the Completion Agenda. Look at the NACADA website for more information on our remaining webinars. Lastly, we have our regional conferences coming up in March, April, and May. Did you know that, in at least the last several years, we have had more NACADA members attend our combined region conferences than attend our annual conference in October? The point in all this is that NACADA is your organization and we want you to engage in NACADA in the way that is best for you and your institution. Having participated in all of these opportunities, I can truly say that I got something out of all of them that helped me in my work with students and in my work with my colleagues and administrators, while developing me professionally and personally.

I want to thank all of you for staying engaged in NACADA. Without your participation as a reader, writer, presenter, participant, and researcher, we wouldn’t be as strong as we are.

Last, I want to thank you for voting in our recent elections. I also want to thank our candidates for stepping up to the plate and running for a position. While running for a position is not the only way to get involved in NACADA, it isn’t easy to put yourself out there, and I appreciate your willingness to do so.

It continues to be my esteemed honor and pleasure to represent you and all the great work that you do for our students. Thank you for all that you do!

John Paul (JP) Regalado, President, 2014-2015
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Executive Director of Academic Advising
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
john.regalado@tamucc.edu 

Cite this article using APA style as: Regalado, J.P. (2015, March). From the president: Staying engaged in NACADA. Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from [insert url here] 

- See more at: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/From-the-President-Staying-Engaged-in-NACADA.aspx#sthash.72aRVQrT.dpuf

From the President: Staying Engaged in NACADA

Categories: 2015 March 38:1

John Paul (JP) Regalado, NACADA President

President Regalado.jpgI can’t believe it is 2015! I hope your year is starting off well. As I head into the second half of my presidency, I am still in a bit of awe as to where we are in higher education and our collective role in shaping its future!

On our campus, and I know on many others, we continue to talk about the completion agenda and our respective responsibilities in helping our students succeed. It is an awesome responsibility and, truth be told, sometimes an overwhelming one, but one that I think we should embrace. Every time we see a student discover their passion, make a difficult choice that we hope will lead to a positive outcome, finally get “it” and thrive, overcome a significant challenge, or best of all, graduate, it is a reminder of why we do what we do. Yes, it helps to work for supportive supervisors and administrators, and yes, it helps to work with dedicated colleagues who share in our collective goal of student success, but let’s be honest: the reason we do what we do is because of our students!

I want to share with you a little bit of what the NACADA Council and Board of Directors are working on. The Council continues to work with their divisions on their respective tasks and initiatives. Having served on the Council for three years, I can assure you that it is in these divisions that much of the NACADA “magic” happens. Our chairs submitted mid-year reports in late fall and all are working hard on achieving their respective outcomes. There continue to be opportunities for some great collaboration and idea sharing across the divisions that we believe will enhance NACADA as an organization and assist you in your daily work with your students and institutions of higher education. The Board of Directors has been tasked with working on strategic planning in the areas of Diversity/Inclusion, Research/Scholarly Inquiry, and Leadership and has been divided up into three subcommittees. Some questions I have asked us to ponder and answer are:

  • How would we visualize an action plan, with short-, medium-, and long-term steps toward the goals we set for the future of NACADA?
  • How do we organize ourselves? What are the first, second, and third steps of our plan?
  • Do we need to re-prioritize where we invest our resources?
  • What additional resources do we need?

If you have any ideas/suggestions/comments, please let me know and I will be happy to share them with our NACADA Board of Directors.

In addition, a committee charged with looking into the possibility of creating a Center for Research with Kansas State University has met and is determining what that will take. Last, a committee has been created to revise and update our organizational by-laws. It is our goal to have significant progress on all these tasks by our mid-year meeting in April.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about all the “NACADA Near You” professional development opportunities that will be available to you over the next months. Last month, we had our Winter Institutes take place in Florida. Our recent webinars have covered a variety of excellent material and best practices in the areas of Academic and Career Advising, Advising in Two-Year Colleges, and Advising and the Completion Agenda. Look at the NACADA website for more information on our remaining webinars. Lastly, we have our regional conferences coming up in March, April, and May. Did you know that, in at least the last several years, we have had more NACADA members attend our combined region conferences than attend our annual conference in October? The point in all this is that NACADA is your organization and we want you to engage in NACADA in the way that is best for you and your institution. Having participated in all of these opportunities, I can truly say that I got something out of all of them that helped me in my work with students and in my work with my colleagues and administrators, while developing me professionally and personally.

I want to thank all of you for staying engaged in NACADA. Without your participation as a reader, writer, presenter, participant, and researcher, we wouldn’t be as strong as we are.

Last, I want to thank you for voting in our recent elections. I also want to thank our candidates for stepping up to the plate and running for a position. While running for a position is not the only way to get involved in NACADA, it isn’t easy to put yourself out there, and I appreciate your willingness to do so.

It continues to be my esteemed honor and pleasure to represent you and all the great work that you do for our students. Thank you for all that you do!

John Paul (JP) Regalado, President, 2014-2015
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Executive Director of Academic Advising
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
john.regalado@tamucc.edu 

Cite this article using APA style as: Regalado, J.P. (2015, March). From the president: Staying engaged in NACADA. Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from [insert url here] 

- See more at: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/From-the-President-Staying-Engaged-in-NACADA.aspx#sthash.72aRVQrT.dpuf

From the President: Staying Engaged in NACADA

John Paul (JP) Regalado, NACADA President

President Regalado.jpgI can’t believe it is 2015! I hope your year is starting off well. As I head into the second half of my presidency, I am still in a bit of awe as to where we are in higher education and our collective role in shaping its future!

On our campus, and I know on many others, we continue to talk about the completion agenda and our respective responsibilities in helping our students succeed. It is an awesome responsibility and, truth be told, sometimes an overwhelming one, but one that I think we should embrace. Every time we see a student discover their passion, make a difficult choice that we hope will lead to a positive outcome, finally get “it” and thrive, overcome a significant challenge, or best of all, graduate, it is a reminder of why we do what we do. Yes, it helps to work for supportive supervisors and administrators, and yes, it helps to work with dedicated colleagues who share in our collective goal of student success, but let’s be honest: the reason we do what we do is because of our students!

I want to share with you a little bit of what the NACADA Council and Board of Directors are working on. The Council continues to work with their divisions on their respective tasks and initiatives. Having served on the Council for three years, I can assure you that it is in these divisions that much of the NACADA “magic” happens. Our chairs submitted mid-year reports in late fall and all are working hard on achieving their respective outcomes. There continue to be opportunities for some great collaboration and idea sharing across the divisions that we believe will enhance NACADA as an organization and assist you in your daily work with your students and institutions of higher education. The Board of Directors has been tasked with working on strategic planning in the areas of Diversity/Inclusion, Research/Scholarly Inquiry, and Leadership and has been divided up into three subcommittees. Some questions I have asked us to ponder and answer are:

  • How would we visualize an action plan, with short-, medium-, and long-term steps toward the goals we set for the future of NACADA?
  • How do we organize ourselves? What are the first, second, and third steps of our plan?
  • Do we need to re-prioritize where we invest our resources?
  • What additional resources do we need?

If you have any ideas/suggestions/comments, please let me know and I will be happy to share them with our NACADA Board of Directors.

In addition, a committee charged with looking into the possibility of creating a Center for Research with Kansas State University has met and is determining what that will take. Last, a committee has been created to revise and update our organizational by-laws. It is our goal to have significant progress on all these tasks by our mid-year meeting in April.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about all the “NACADA Near You” professional development opportunities that will be available to you over the next months. Last month, we had our Winter Institutes take place in Florida. Our recent webinars have covered a variety of excellent material and best practices in the areas of Academic and Career Advising, Advising in Two-Year Colleges, and Advising and the Completion Agenda. Look at the NACADA website for more information on our remaining webinars. Lastly, we have our regional conferences coming up in March, April, and May. Did you know that, in at least the last several years, we have had more NACADA members attend our combined region conferences than attend our annual conference in October? The point in all this is that NACADA is your organization and we want you to engage in NACADA in the way that is best for you and your institution. Having participated in all of these opportunities, I can truly say that I got something out of all of them that helped me in my work with students and in my work with my colleagues and administrators, while developing me professionally and personally.

I want to thank all of you for staying engaged in NACADA. Without your participation as a reader, writer, presenter, participant, and researcher, we wouldn’t be as strong as we are.

Last, I want to thank you for voting in our recent elections. I also want to thank our candidates for stepping up to the plate and running for a position. While running for a position is not the only way to get involved in NACADA, it isn’t easy to put yourself out there, and I appreciate your willingness to do so.

It continues to be my esteemed honor and pleasure to represent you and all the great work that you do for our students. Thank you for all that you do!

John Paul (JP) Regalado, President, 2014-2015
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising
Executive Director of Academic Advising
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
john.regalado@tamucc.edu 

Cite this article using APA style as: Regalado, J.P. (2015, March). From the president: Staying engaged in NACADA. Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from [insert url here] 


 

From the Executive Director: College Completion Equals High Student Learning Equals High Quality Academics

Charlie Nutt, NACADA Executive Director

Charlie Nutt.jpgAs completion and persistence to graduation is an agenda item of major importance at all colleges and universities globally, the age-old argument of “lowering standards” or “focus on completion minimizes student learning and growth developmentally” has become louder and more polarizing than ever. I am proud that NACADA has worked diligently in the past year to bring focus to the “completion agenda” issue through two webinars and our recent National Seminar on College Completion. We have built partnerships with groups such as the John N. Gardner Institute, College Complete America, USA Fund, the Lumina Foundation, and the Gates Foundation as well as bringing high-level administrators from colleges and universities into our conversations.

Through these conversations, NACADA has clearly set forth our very strong view, as indicated through our association’s vision, mission, and strategic goals, that completing or persistence to graduation must clearly be tied to increased student learning. This goal requires the highest quality academic advising experience for all students at all levels.

Many institutions are working diligently:

  • To increase the use of technology to more easily, effectively, and correctly track student progress to graduation;
  • To create new policies, procedures and support to assist students in choosing a major and graduating in a timely manner;
  • To restructure academic advising offices to provide the highest quality customer service, registration support, and academic advising experiences; and
  • To strengthen all partnerships across the institutions to clearly demonstrate that student completion and persistence is an institution-wide responsibility.

These initiatives all work together not only to define the importance of completion and persistence, but also to demonstrate that student learning is the primary purpose of a college degree.

Therefore, it is imperative that NACADA members become vocal advocates on our campuses in consistently emphasizing student learning at all levels while at the same time become intimately involved with the college completion initiatives on our campuses.  We can no longer sit back and be spectators in the campus conversations about increased student learning; or if we do, we run the risk of being labeled as merely registration and scheduling support or degree auditors for graduation plans. It is our responsibility to clearly connect academic advising to the academic mission of a campus. To do so we must develop our curriculums, student learning outcomes, and assessment strategies for measuring these outcomes.  It is only through these steps that academic advisors, whether advising be our primary role or whether we are faculty with advising responsibilities, will be recognized for what we do each day to teach our students the skills, behaviors, and attitudes necessary for successful college completion.         

I challenge all of us to take our place at the table when important decisions are being made concerning what our institutions must do to increase and enhance student learning and thus increase student completion. I challenge us to demonstrate at our institutions across the world, whether we are at two-year colleges, private colleges and universities or large public research universities, that academic advising is not a service and academic advisors are not service providers. We must define ourselves as educators and not rely on others at our institutions to finally see the importance of what we do. 

As we attend NACADA regional conferences, institutes, international conferences, and our annual conference, we must make it our goal to network with our colleagues across the globe and to learn from each other new structures, strategies, activities, and connections that we will take back to our institutions.  As we participate in NACADA webinars, we must invite our campus communities to join us and to have powerful conversations about how we work together for increased student learning. We must share across our campuses NACADA publications and the research being conducted to bring academic advising out of the shadows and into the light of teaching and learning. And we, finally, must become scholars in our field by conducting our own research and sharing this research through both presenting at events and writing for the various NACADA publications.

As always, I know that your involvement in NACADA is inspiring significant and important changes in higher education across the world and is inspiring our students to learn at the highest level possible. On behalf of our students, thank you for all you do! 

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

Cite this article using APA style as: Nutt, C. (2015, March). From the executive director: College complete equals high student learning equals high quality academics. Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]


 

NACADA and Kansas State University Investigate a Research Center for Academic Advising

At the October 2014 NACADA Board of Directors meeting, the Board approved the creation of a collaborative task force with Kansas State University’s College of Education to investigate the feasibility of establishing a center for research and excellence in academic advising. The task force is co-chaired by NACADA Executive Director Charlie Nutt and KSU College of Education Dean Debbie Mercer.

Research in the field of academic advising is imperative to the future of higher education through its focus on student learning and completion to graduation.  Research continues to be a major strategic goal of NACADA as well as a focus of Kansas State University’s 2025 Strategic Plan. While NACADA has traditionally awarded research grants, published the NACADA Journal, and in recent years hosted two-day research symposiums, there is presently no entity focused specifically on research in the field of advising.  Mercer and Nutt brought the proposal for the task force to the Board of Directors because of the close partnership between NACADA and KSU College of Education as well as the fact that KSU created the first online graduate certificate and master’s degree in academic advising in higher education.

The task force is working during this year to identify what the vision, mission, and goals might be for such a center, to investigate research centers that exist at other higher education institutions, and to develop an action plan for the creation of a center. This would include such issues as the feasibility of a center, the structure of a center, potential financial implications for both NACADA and the College of Education, and the timeline for the opening. The task force will present a preliminary report to the Board of Directors at the Mid-Year meeting to be held at Kansas State University, as well as present a final report and possible proposal at the October 2015 Board of Directors meeting.

The task force will provide opportunities for member input in a variety of ways, including at the regional conferences.  This is an exciting endeavor, and we encourage member with ideas and questions to take part in these opportunities for input.

 Maastricht Research Symposium.jpg

PHOTO: Wendy Troxel leading discussions at a NACADA research symposium held at the University of Maastricht in June 2014. 


At the Corner of Advising and Assessment

Steve Quinn, Olympic College

Steve Quinn.jpgAssessment is learning; advising is teaching.  The intersection between these two is the street corner where NACADA needs to have its next institute.  Vincent Tinto (1993) has broken the ground, telling us retention is a byproduct.  But how do we build on that truth? Is our next question, “how do we do what is best for our students?” Is it, “how do we get them to like us better?”

I suggest a third option, different from both the tower of the benevolent dictator and the garden of earthly delights that seduces students into doing what is good for them.  It is different in design and materials, in language, and yes, in the assessments it uses and the learning it supports.  The space I am speaking of is not exotic or foreign, and it does not require as its first step that we take a wrecking ball to the places we already work.

I am referring, of course, to empowerment.  Students will stay if they decide to stay.  Our next question is not how can we influence that decision, but how can we support it? We can help them learn to make better decisions, or we can use what we know to make staying in school an opportunity worth choosing, but ultimately we need to trust them.  And they need to know it.

We know something about empowerment.  Every parent anxiously draws and redraws the floor plan of freedom to help their child find the limits and place the footings of personal responsibility.  But adult learners are their own architects, and the foundations already are set.  Higher education offers a scaffold within which learner empowerment is supported by four primary elements: information, resources, and instruction, punctuated with time.

Informational Integrity

Even in today’s information jumble, the adult learner has no difficulty discerning patterns.  The clutter does not get in the way of learning; it only means learners may have more trouble than ever distinguishing the intentional message as something to place special faith in.  “You are responsible for your own learning,” says the sign hanging over a reception area that looks like it was engineered to keep the herd calm while it efficiently is moved through processing.  “We value each learner’s goals,” says the cover of the glossy annual report that breaks completion into pie slices and trends by color. 

Learners learn.  When they leave, that decision probably is based in part on something they learned from us.  We must assess our information against new standards.  From our publications to what we wear; from how we decorate our offices to the incentives and benchmarks we design and tolerate. If information is not intentional, if it does not empower and demonstrate trust, then the students who leave may be the ones who are learning their lessons well.

Resource Literacy

Resources are repositories of information below the surface of choosing.  They can add depth or desperation, credibility or vertigo to a decision process.  Compared to information, resources are an order of magnitude further beyond our control.  Skill sets described as critical thinking and information literacy rise almost to the level of urgency if we are to begin to help our students equip themselves to make the choices and face the consequences before them.

But even amid the explosion of resources around us, the most critical for learners to be able to use is not digital—it is reflective.  Until students see themselves and their personal histories as relevant, rich resources for decision-making, they will not be empowered but only imitators.  The introduction of the variable of individuality is where the algorithmic approach to learner engagement and retention breaks down, and it is only on the far side thereof that progress in these areas becomes sustainable.

Instruction as Diagnosis

If we are to progress beyond educating by power or coercion, decision processes must become explicit topics of teaching and assessment.  Our methods may include modeling, case studies, analysis, and reflection, but hindsight is a terrible teacher unless the decision one looks back upon was made deliberately.  If the steps and resources used cannot be retraced, if we cannot help students see the leaps of faith, assumptions, and surrenders made along the way, any lessons learned will be bounded by reactivity, superstition, and the assignment of blame.

Tinto (2006) also cautions that staying in school is not the mirror image of leaving.  To empower learner decision-making, we must help them see beyond lessons learned and address the decisions before them.  We must open for our students territory that is beyond critical thinking as far as peace of mind is beyond the reach of reason, as far as measures of cognitive dissonance, bias, and intuition are beyond the scope of the headcount.  Decision-making, especially in advising, is much more a process of diagnosis than of engineering.  We are not helping the student design a future as much as we are diagnosing a present, and diagnosis begins not with prescription but with unfiltered observation and careful description.  We must help students learn to see and assess their own decision processes and make deliberate choices while they still are works in progress.

Time to Pause

Like the breeze invited through the open window, the fourth element of empowerment is not structural but dynamic.  And while informational integrity, resource literacy, and diagnostic deliberation can and should be in evidence across the range of experiences in higher education, the pause that breathes life into empowerment may be the specialty of advising.

The onslaught of information, the credibility of resources, and the momentum of a structured decision process can feel to students like an onramp.  One of the critical things we can help students learn is that it is an intersection.  Full stop.  Empowerment requires an interruption in the flow of question and response, a space within which to expand the list of the possible.  At the corner of assessment and advising we are opening a gallery, and, just as with a Rothko or a Cezanne, the point is not efficiently to check off the options and perspectives on display as “seen” but to pause, consider, and perhaps accept the invitation of each in turn to inform perception, inspire feeling, and influence trajectory.

These then are the components we must bring together to transform the assessment of advising into a space of empowerment.  Three questions shape the framework of our practice: Are you aware of more options? Are the characteristics and consequences of the options before you more clear? Do you have a greater sense of personal power and responsibility now than when you came to advising? The fourth element of assessment is not a question; it is the opening created by asking the other three.

Steve Quinn, M.S.
Advising Faculty
Advising and Counseling Center
Olympic College
squinn@olympic.edu

Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Tinto, V.  (2006). Research and practice of student retention: What‘s next? Journal of College Student Retention, 8(1), 1-19.

Cite this article using APA style as: Quinn, S. (2015, March). At the corner of advising and assessment. Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]


VPbanner.jpg

On Binaries, Belonging, and Bravery: Honoring the Legacy of Leslie Feinberg

Nancy Willow, State University of New York at Delhi

Nancy Willow.jpEvery now and then we are fortunate enough to find ourselves reading the right book at the right time.  Such was the case for me when I picked up Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues during the joyful and tumultuous period of identifying and coming out as queer.  Feinberg—author, activist, and self-proclaimed “revolutionary communist”—passed away on November 17, 2014.  I am forever grateful for her* passionate human rights and social justice work, liberation activism, and most especially her writing which influenced my life so deeply (Pratt, 2014).

Long before I understood the word queer to be anything other than a standard-issue schoolyard taunt, I knew I was in trouble when it came to gender.   As Andrea Gibson (2006) explains,

It’s not that I thought I’d grow up to be a man
I just never thought I’d grow up to be a woman either
From what I could tell neither of those categories fit me
But believe me
I knew from a very young age never to say
Hey Dad, this Adam or Eve thing isn’t really working for me
I mean what about all the kinds of people in between?

I didn’t have the vocabulary as a young person, and still struggle today to find suitable language to describe and talk about gender.  Feinberg helped me understand I didn’t have to grow up to be a woman or a man; I didn’t have to fit into that binary. Rather, she introduced me to a community of people in between.  In Stone Butch Blues, she writes, “You're more than just neither, honey.  There's other ways to be than either-or.  It's not so simple.  Otherwise there wouldn't be so many people who don't fit” (Feinberg, 1993, p. 218).

Feinberg has much to teach us about the limitations of binary thinking and the importance of questioning our entrenched thought processes.  When she writes, “I defend my right to be complex,” she invites us to dive into the complexities of identity and community (Feinberg, 1999, p. 70).  Feinberg challenges us to look beyond the binary—not only in terms gender, but also in terms race, class, and culture.  Her insights complicate our understandings of both self and others while imploring us to create communities where people can feel secure, acknowledged, and free.

In our work with students, it is important to recognize our own patterns of thinking and to examine the binaries we take for granted.  How do we label and categorize people?  How does this affect the way we view and interact with others?  How can we break down our own binary thinking while helping students do the same? 

Our advisees are likely working through core identity issues having to do with gender, race, and culture, while simultaneously working through issues of student identity and college culture as well.  Below are just a few examples of binaries our advisees may be carrying with them:

  • I am either a 4.0 student or I am a failure.
  • I am either an immigrant or I am an American.
  • I can either major in a subject I am passionate about or I can have a job that pays well.
  • I am either gay or I am straight.
  • I can either do what makes me happy or I can meet my family’s expectations.
  • I am either religious or I am an atheist.

These types of either/or statements limit the range of possibility for our students.  As advisors, we can help our advisees identify binary thinking and encourage them to think outside of their self- and culturally-prescribed boxes.  In doing so, we can become what Terrell Strayhorn (2014) refers to as “cultural navigators.”

In his keynote address at the 2014 NACADA Annual Conference, Strayhorn (2014) frames higher education as a “clash of cultures,” particularly for minority and first-generation college students.  He notes that these students often come from cultures of origin which value collaboration, so they may feel lost and isolated within college cultures which center on individual effort.  While Strayhorn doesn’t use the term binary, what he describes is certainly an example of either/or thinking: I either value my home culture or I value the college culture.  As advisors, we can help students expand their thinking in a way which honors all cultures and allows students to create an identity which transcends the binary.

Strayhorn (2014) also talks about the importance of belonging, noting that students need to feel, act, and think like they belong in order to successfully navigate the college environment.  He argues that belonging is a fundamental need, one that “takes on a heightened importance when one feels isolated.”  As advisors, we need to be aware that when we encourage students to conform to the college culture, our intentions may also make them feel ignored or devalued if we have inadvertently ignored their culture of origin. We need to develop the ability to work beyond this binary to help students form their own identities and find the resources and community they need in their new environment.   

Our work as advisors does not stop with individual students; we must also continue working to transform our institutions into welcoming spaces for all students.  Arnsperger Selzer and Rouse (2013) encourage advisors to “speak up and challenge institutional barriers, such as inequitable policies and practices that unfairly affect students” and to “engage students in difficult conversations” about inequality, power, and privilege (para. 3).  These are not easy tasks, and it can be intimidating to tackle these types of challenging issues at the institutional level.  However, Feinberg (1993) reminds us, “Everybody’s scared.  But if you don’t let your fears stop you, that’s bravery” (p. 95).

Feinberg spent her one brave life fighting for freedom, standing up for the marginalized and the oppressed, and challenging us to work across cultures and identities for the common cause of human rights.  We honor her legacy in our everyday lives by choosing to be brave, to engage in difficult conversations, to question our binary ways of thinking, and to create and sustain diverse and welcoming communities within our institutions and larger communities.  As Arnsperger Selzer and Rouse (2013) assert, “Now is the time for advisors and academic systems to institute a contemporary approach to advising where a commitment to social justice is deeply embedded, acknowledged, implemented and lived in daily practice” (para. 6). 

In other words, now is the time to be brave. 

Nancy Willow
Academic Advisor
School of Nursing
State University of New York at Delhi
willowne@delhi.edu

*In a 2006 interview with Camp, Feinberg addresses preferred pronouns:

For me, pronouns are always placed within context.  I am female-bodied, I am a butch lesbian, a transgender lesbian—referring to me as "she/her" is appropriate, particularly in a non-trans setting in which referring to me as "he" would appear to resolve the social contradiction between my birth sex and gender expression and render my transgender expression invisible.  I like the gender neutral pronoun "ze/hir" because it makes it impossible to hold on to gender/sex/sexuality assumptions about a person you're about to meet or you've just met.  And in an all trans setting, referring to me as "he/him" honors my gender expression in the same way that referring to my sister drag queens as "she/her" does. (Tyroler, 2006)

Based on this interview and the example set forth by Feinberg’s wife in writing Feinberg’s obituary, I chose to use feminine pronouns when referring to Feinberg throughout this article.

References

Arnsperger Selzer, R. & Ellis Rouse, J. (2013, September). Integrating social justice and academic advising. Academic Advising Today, 36(3). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Integrating-Social-Justice-and-Academic-Advising.aspx  

Feinberg, L. (1993). Stone butch blues. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books.

Feinberg, L. (1999). Trans liberation: Beyond pink or blue. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

Gibson, A. (2006). Andrew. On When the bough breaks [CD]. Raven Studios.

Pratt, M.B. (2014). Transgender pioneer and Stone Butch Blues author Leslie Feinberg has died. Advocate. Retrieved from http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/books/2014/11/17/transgender-pioneer-leslie-feinberg-stone-butch-blues-has-died

Strayhorn, T. (2014, October). Keynote address [Lecture notes]. Conference presentation at the NACADA Annual Conference conducted at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN.

Tyroler, J. (2006, July 28). Transmissions – Interview with Leslie Feinberg. Camp. Retrieved from http://www.campkc.com/campkc-content.php?Page_ID=225

Cite this article using APA style as: Willow, N. (2015, March). On binaries, belonging, and bravery: Honoring the legacy of Leslie Feinberg. Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from [insert url here] 


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Sink or Swim! How Students and Advisors Navigate the Waves of Change

LaDonna Porter, Eitandria Gatlin, and Tanya Stanley, San Jacinto College

Gatlin, Porter & Stanley.jpbWhy are some students and advisors energized by the challenges of the constantly changing world of higher education and life—swimmers—while others, when faced with similar situations, become frustrated and discouraged—sinkers?

The use of water metaphors is natural for us when describing events because of the proximity of our institution, San Jacinto College, to the Gulf of Mexico.  In addition, a striking parallel exists regarding the way students progress on their journeys toward success: some are easily drawn off course once barriers are presented, while others effectively navigate the obstacles in their way and learn from those experiences.  The trajectory of a student’s journey is not linear.  In fact, there are predictable highs (crests) and lows (troughs) along the way that advisors can guide students through.

Skip Downing (2011) used similar, but less watery, terminology to describe successful and unsuccessful students in On Course: Strategies for Creating Success in College and in Life, which is the textbook used for one of San Jacinto College’s mandatory first-time-in-college classes.  Downing postulated that students can choose to adopt a stance of a “Creator” or a “Victim,” which we explore as it relates to change.

Change can be voluntary or out of one’s control.  Challenges and obstacles can overwhelm students like a tidal wave or energize those with the means to stay afloat.  In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck (2008) stated that it is not just abilities or talents that bring success: it is also the mindset that determines if people reach their goals.  With that idea in mind, neither failure nor success is a permanent condition; instead, both are opportunities for growth.

Dweck’s and Downing’s texts create an intertextuality regarding the language people use to describe their responses to adversity.  The response to change takes people down one of two paths—“forks in the road” (Downing, 2011, p. 9).  People can respond to adversity by sulking, losing interest, and, unfortunately, giving up; these people are Victims (Downing, 2011), and they have a fixed mindset (Dweck, 2008).  This response to adversity does not help someone deal with change in a healthy way nor does it move the person up Perry’s (1999) scale of intellectual development.  In contrast, people can also respond to adversity by embracing the problem, maintaining a positive attitude towards change, and changing their behavior; these people use Creator language (Downing, 2011) and have a growth mindset (Dweck, 2011).  Ultimately, these people will move up Perry’s scale of intellectual development.

One approach to student success is as a TEAM: transform one’s mindset upon encountering change; evaluate capabilities, and seek resources as needed; affirm oneself, and listen to the affirmations of others; and master the new behavior or thought in order to negotiate the next change.

Transform one’s mindset upon encountering change.  The TEAM model engages learners of all levels in their personal, academic, and professional roles. If one person’s behavior is positive, it can help others respond to change using their growth mindset.  A member of the TEAM must transform his or her mindset upon encountering change.  If someone’s response to change is negative, that response can cause the TEAM to focus on the negativity instead of accepting the new course of action.  The TEAM may not be able to perform or reach goals with this response to adversity.  Negativity is contagious.  The new normal as a response to adversity takes time and effort—the time and effort to speak like a Creator.

Evaluate capabilities and seek resources as needed.  Members of the TEAM also need to evaluate their own capabilities and seek resources as needed.  The suggestions advisors give students are the suggestions advisors need to take themselves.  Sometimes, people take on one too many projects, assignments, committee workloads, and classes.  Help managing all of these tasks is necessary, but most people do not want to admit two things: they do not know the answer, and they need help.  For many people, these two reactions are in response to fear of being judged and fear of showing weakness.  Most often, these responses to change create an inner roadblock and avoidance of behavior: ignoring emails, not attending meetings, or using sick days more often than normal.  Instead of seeking help, people hope their problems will go away.  However, if someone requests help, that help is often immediate and well received.

Affirm oneself and listen to the affirmations of others.  TEAM members also need to practice affirming themselves and listening to the affirmations of others.  Most people are quick to accept constructive criticism, but they cannot accept a compliment without following up with self-criticism.  Accepting a compliment can be difficult; however, people need to take pride in their work and in their results as part of self-care and validation.  TEAM members can affirm one another while affirming themselves.  Reciting positive affirmations (Downing, 2011) can become a daily habit for everyone.  Daily affirmations become part of an individual’s internal dialogue, and with frequent reminders of these affirmations, they become part of the TEAM.

Master the new behavior or thought in order to negotiate the next change.  TEAM members also need to master the new behavior or thought in order to negotiate the next change.  Again, using Creator language (Downing, 2011) and having a growth mindset (Dweck, 2008) takes learned practice.  People can master their responses to adversity with effort, new habits, and deliberate practice; people must learn how to practice in order to be successful.  It is easy to resort to Victim language when things go awry.  Acknowledging the use of Victim language and the use of a fixed mindset is the first step to becoming a better TEAM member.  People who recognize the need for a cooling off period before they respond to adversity are more likely to use emotionally intelligent responses instead of heated initial responses.  TEAM members need to be aware of behaviors of other TEAM members.  Sometimes simply encouraging each other to think like a Creator or to use the language of someone with a growth mindset can change the dynamic of a stressful situation.  This change can often lead to more flexibility, more creativity, and more positivity in the workplace.

Self-care is the internal and external support necessary for success.  Remember leaning on colleagues, family, and friends for support is essential through tough times.  Most importantly, sharing success stories with professional colleagues validates the importance of one’s work.  Using the language and the behavior of a growth mindset (Dweck, 2008) will help students, advisors, counselors, and professors practice self-care.  Engage in professional development opportunities with like-minded colleagues to re-energize.  Most importantly, continue to have fun.

The TEAM model is timely because students face a changing labor market that constantly requires skill upgrades, usually connected to new technologies.  Helping students move from being a Victim to being a Creator places them in a better position to be flexible and responsive in an ever-evolving world.  The role of advisors in higher education is replete with change and challenges.  Changing to a growth mindset in response to national, state, and institutional initiatives is transformative.  Change is the new normal; it is as constant as ocean waves.  Just remember to keep swimming.   

LaDonna Porter, M.Ed., N.C.C.
Counselor—Educational Planning and Counseling (retired)
San Jacinto College
Ladonna.Porter@hotmail.com

Eitandria Gatlin, M.A., LPC-Intern
Counselor—Educational Planning and Counseling
San Jacinto College
Eitandria.Gatlin@sjcd.edu

Tanya Stanley, M.A.
Professor—College Preparatory
San Jacinto College
Tanya.Stanley@sjcd.edu

References

Downing, S. (2011). On course: Strategies for creating success in college and in life. Boston, MA:Wadsworth.

Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Perry, Jr., W. G. (1999). Forms of ethical and intellectual development in the college years: A scheme. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Cite this article using APA style as: Porter, L., Gatlin, E., & Stanley, T. (2015, March). Sink or swim! How students and advisors navigate the waves of change. Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from [insert url here] 


The Student Centric Continuum: Recruit, Retain, and Return

Raquel Fong, Jenna Kahl, Erica Mitchell, Connie Pangrazi, and Elizabeth Rosenkrantz, Arizona State University

Recruit, retain, and return are three words that help drive strategic actions for student services professionals.  The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University developed a Student Centric Continuum that spans the life cycle of the student experience beginning at the phase of recruitment continuing through to after graduation.  This continuum model has increased freshmen retention by 6% (from Fall 2012 to Fall 2013) and sophomore retention by 2%.

This continuum consists of four parts which include Recruitment, Advising, Retention, and Alumni Relations, placing the student at the heart of the experience.  Within each part of the continuum, students engage in four stages that lead to their holistic development and success.  This model is a student driven approach which allows students to be advocates for their own education by providing opportunities for leadership, research, innovation, and discovery.  Students engaged at every stage of the continuum have proven to persist to graduation at a higher rate and ultimately strengthen their affinity with the college to create connected alumni.

Recruitment Continuum

Recruitment, the first step in the continuum, is a vital starting point for the development of the student experience and has four distinct stages.  Campus based experiences, as surveyed by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s 2013 National Norms survey (Eagan, Lozano, Hurtado, & Case, 2013), ranks the importance of a campus visit at the top with other factors such as cost and academic reputation.  This is one of the main pillars of the recruitment continuum.  Through the development of unique experiences and interactions within each of the four phases, students develop college affinity, a sense of belonging, and build strategies for success.

  1. Explore:  The focus is on early outreach and exposure (elementary/middle school) through campus-based field trip experiences, university-wide community engagement, signature events such as homecoming, and admissions outreach events to all prospect levels.
  2. Experience:  The focus is early high school engagement through large scale on-campus events, summer residential camps, and a deep partnership to plan and host events in conjunction with high school groups such as the Future Educators of Arizona.
  3. Prepare:  By engaging juniors and seniors in high school, campus visit experiences are more focused on the beginning of the application process and partnership with university admissions.  Students engage in continued participation in college/career focused events, summer experiences, and programs that lead to dual credit opportunities.
  4. Commit:  In the final semester of high school and the summer before the student’s college freshman year, the on-campus engagement aspect centers on providing high quality, personalized, and timely interactions.  These interactions focus on building college affinity, yielding high achieving students, and providing resources, connections, and opportunities to engage with the student where they are in the decision process.

Advising Continuum

The purpose of academic advising is to help students grow personally and become lifelong learners (Chickering, 1994).  To accomplish this task, the advising continuum was created as a student-learning centered paradigm (Lowestein, 2005), consisting of four stages.  In this paradigm, students play an active role in their development and learning while the advisor provides tools and guides students through the four stages.

  1. Foundation:  Advisor provides students with tools for academic success and sets expectations of student-advisor relationship.  The relationship leads to meaningful dialogue and developmental tasks for personal growth and to help students discover purpose in academic pursuits (Crookston, 1994).
  2. Application:  Advisor facilitates dialogue to demonstrate the progression and interrelationship of ideas (Lowenstein, 2005) as students begin the use of tools to make meaning and apply knowledge.  For example, advisors use the major map tool to outline courses for major, engage students in a dialogue to explain the purpose of courses, and demonstrate how to create a schedule. 
  3. Feedback:  Advisor ensures student mastery of the first two stages and provides feedback to correct misconceptions, misapplication, and fill in gaps of knowledge.  Students begin to think critically, problem solve, make decisions, and develop evaluation skills and behavior awareness (Hemwall & Trachte, 1999).
  4. Reflection:  Advisor engages student in conversations about purpose and meaning of their academic pursuits, which results in critical self-reflection and self-transformation (Hemwall & Trachte, 1999).  Students self-reflect, holistically understand their personal development, and have a deeper connection to their coursework. 

Retention Continuum

From admissions to graduation, students experience four stages in the retention and engagement continuum.  Koring (2005) believes mentoring programs promote development of educational autonomy by engaging students in their own learning, personalizing their experience, and helping them become active in the campus community.  The Teachers College utilizes Student Ambassadors to assist students through each stage to maximize retention efforts and ensure student success.  Ambassadors serve as the core of the retention continuum and work in tandem with the advising continuum.  

  1. Inclusive:  Ambassadors are transparent and readily available to support students by serving office hours for increased student access and connection.  Furthermore, Ambassadors host events to promote students’ connection with advisors, peers, and professors in addition to an affinity for their major and college.
  2. Personalize:  Ambassadors establish connections with students from orientation to graduation by assisting students in their specific major.  Ambassadors schedule and meet one-on-one with students to provide information regarding clubs and organizations and other college resources. 
  3. Collaborative:  Ambassadors are paired with an advisor to discuss student issues and student support.  Furthermore, advisors and faculty refer students to Ambassadors to assist with peer support follow up.  Also, this partnership is an opportunity for Ambassadors to gain professional experience and mentoring from advisors. 
  4. Responsive:  Ambassadors are available Monday through Friday to support students and assist with any student concerns.  Ambassadors will respond to referrals within 24 business hours.  Ambassadors respond asynchronously and synchronously through varied mediums (email, phone call, in-person), depending on the preference and need of each student. 

Alumni Continuum

The alumni continuum, although a separate and final piece of the student centric continuum, runs parallel and concurrently with the recruitment, advising, and retention continuums.

Alumni have a pivotal role in the success of the college.  Official alumni status is acknowledged at a Certification Celebration shortly after graduation and once final grades are posted.  At this event, graduates are invited to obtain their official state certification from the Arizona Department of Education and are encouraged to self-select to be involved in alumni events and opportunities.  As alumni progress through the four stages, they have myriad opportunities to be involved with the college in the manner that best meets their needs.

  1. Explore:  Graduates attend a certification celebration event after graduation to obtain their teaching certificate.  Engaged alumni are given swag and are provided information regarding graduate school and other educational and career opportunities to increase affinity for college.
  2. Experience:  Recent graduates are communicated with regarding involvement opportunities and Teachers College events.  For example, alumni are invited to homecoming and an alumni dinner every spring to engage with current Teachers College students to share their experiences and wisdom.  Furthermore, alumni are connected through quarterly college update reports on recent innovations and research. 
  3. Prepare:  Through extensive opportunities to stay connected to the college and university, new professionals have the opportunity to assist in the development of future teachers by mentoring current Teachers College students.  Furthermore, alumni receive communication to further their education in graduate school and their connection to the Teachers College. 
  4. Commit:  There are numerous opportunities for alumni to become donors to show their support to the college and university.  Alumni also have the opportunity to be part of the Advisory Council, which gives them the opportunity to play an active role in the Teachers College and ASU. 

Thus, alumni are involved in every aspect of the college continuum from recruitment of future professionals, to retention events involving current students and pre-service teachers, to their own professional growth and development.

The continuum model began as a pilot in the Teachers College in 2012 and has proven to increase retention and strengthen relationships with our alumni.  The most essential ingredients to success of the continuum are collaboration among student services professionals, engaging students immediately from the start of the continuum by setting clear expectations, and having critical conversations and developing successful relationships which foster holistic development of the student.  These ingredients create purpose and increase investment in the institution and degree program, ultimately positively impacting retention, graduation, and affinity.   

Raquel Fong
Academic Success Coordinator
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Arizona State University
Raquel.Fong@asu.edu

Jenna Kahl
Director of Recruitment
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Arizona State University
Jenna.Kahl@asu.edu

Erica Mitchell
Senior Director of Student Services
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Arizona State University
Erica.Mitchell@asu.edu

Connie Pangrazi
Assistant Dean and Senior Lecturer
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Arizona State University
Connie.Pangrazi@asu.edu

Elizabeth Rosenkrantz
Program Manager
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Arizona State University
Elizabeth.Youngdale@asu.edu

Mitchell, Pangrazi, Kahl, Youngdale, Fong.jpg

References 

Chickering, A. W. (1994). Empowering lifelong development. NACADA Journal, 14(2), 50-53.

Crookston, B.B. (1994). A developmental view of academic advising as teaching. NACADA Journal, 14(2), 5-9.

Eagan, K., Lozano, J. B., Hurtado, S., & Case, M. H. (2013). The American freshman: National norms fall 2013. Los Angeles: Higher Education Research Institute, UCLA.

Hemwall, M.K. & Trachte, K.C. (1999). Learning at the core: Toward a new understanding of academic advising. NACADA Journal, 19(1), 5-11.

Koring, H. (2005). Peer advising: A win-win initiative. Academic Advising Today, 28(2). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Peer-Advising-A-Win-Win-Initiative.aspx

Lowenstein, M. (2005). If advising is teaching, what do advisors teach? NACADA Journal, 25(2), 65-73.

Cite this article using APA style as: Fong, R., Kahl, J., Mitchell, E., Pangrazi, C., & Rosenkrantz, E. (2015, March). The student centric continuum: Recruit, retain, and return. Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]


The Demise of In-Person Academic Advising is Nowhere in Sight!

Jennifer Noonan and Janice C. Stapley, NACADA Research Grant Recipients

Jennifer Noonan.jpgJanice Stapley.jpgAcademic advising plays a crucial role in retention, progress towards degree completion, and student satisfaction with the college experience (Kimball & Campbell, 2013).  With generous support from NACADA for the research study “An Examination of Academic Advice Seeking within an Emerging Adulthood Framework,” we collected data on more than 200 students’ behaviors, preferences, and opinions to assist in informing advising policies.  Through the lens of a developmental psychology perspective, we made the decision to ask the students themselves, rather than assuming that college personnel in a different age group know how undergraduates feel about things like communication technology and social media.  The interviews and open-ended questions from the questionnaires allowed the students to share with us, in their own words, their perspectives on the student-advisor relationship.

First and foremost, just because they contact their peers via social media, this does not necessarily mean that is the way students want to interact with their academic advisors.  Are we stereotyping them if we refer to them as the “net generation” that interacts primarily through technology?  Would students object to in-person meetings if they commute to school rather than living on campus?  The study sought to help answer these questions in order to gain a better understanding of student preferences for how they receive academic advice.

Data obtained this year through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews suggest that regardless of whether undergraduates are commuters or live in campus housing, most prefer to have in-person meetings with their advisors.  These data are consistent with the findings of Gaines (2014) who surveyed a very different sample.  Gaines's study was conducted at a public university in the south among students who tended to be older than the traditional college population, many of whom took online courses.  Although this is the type of question that obviously needs to be revisited every few years in a rapidly changing environment, finding consistent results across these two very different samples supports the assertion that current college students still prefer to discuss their academic plans with their advisors in a face-to-face meeting.

Thus, at a time in history when adults often assume adolescents and emerging adults are very technology focused and might prefer to communicate by email, text, or on a platform like Facebook, most undergraduates prefer to have personal interaction with their advisors.  This highlights the need to empirically test our assumptions that might be based on a small anecdotal sample.  The preferences reported by a northern private school sample and a southern public university sample have clear implications for college policies such as office hours for faculty who do academic advising as part of their contract.  Assumptions that availability via email can replace time spent with students in a brick and mortar office are not borne out by the most recent research! 

Students in our study reported that they prefer to email their advisors to make an appointment to meet or to ask a short, simple question.  For all else, most students prefer to sit down and chat in their advisor’s office.  One student explained, “If it’s an important topic, I feel like it needs to really be discussed, not back and forth emails.”  Students feel that they can get more subtle information from a face-to-face meeting.  As one student explained, “I like face-to-face interaction because I find, like, you get true answers. If they hem or haw you can kind of tell, instead of just for email you don’t really see emotion.”

One reason students may prefer face-to-face meetings is that although undergraduates are at a point in their development when they are individuating from their parents and focusing on their unique career trajectory, they generally want to do this with input from an advisor who knows them well enough to provide truly individual attention.  Emerging adulthood (roughly 18-29 in industrialized countries such as the United States) is generally characterized as a period of both instability and the feeling that there are endless possibilities for one’s life (Arnett, 2007).  If we understand that as the lived experience of the traditionally aged college student, it makes sense that they might be prone to thinking about changing majors and career goals and need someone with whom they can discuss and work through these thoughts.  Most students want this to be someone who will not just go through academic audits or lists of major requirements, but rather someone who will help them make the best decisions for them as unique individuals.

One of our study participants who reported choosing to see someone besides his assigned advisor explained, “My assigned advisor didn’t seem as personally involved or committed to getting to know me individually.  I feel like I hit it off better with the other two and they were more beneficial to me in terms of guidance and direction.”  The description of what students dislike in an advising interaction was explained by a student who reported, “My advisor, on the other hand, I think he just needs to take the time to actually get to know the person, because the one time I did meet with him, it was just straight to like academics, like this is what—this is how you should plan out the rest of your career at Monmouth and not try to get to know me as a person.”

Students at our medium-sized, private university in the New York metropolitan area arguably have high expectations for individual attention, but these conclusions are strengthened by their consistency with the responses that Gaines (2014) found in a public university in the south.  Students are happy to email their professors with quick questions or requests (like lifting a registration block) or to set up an appointment.  Otherwise, most prefer to have a face-to-face meeting, where they have the additional information from emotional expressions and nuanced conversation.  And they want this meeting to be with someone who is at least trying to know them as an individual, rather than giving them generic advice.

Of course, with heavy case loads, it’s impossible to know each of our advisees’ individual goals and needs really well, so it is important to ask questions and take notes in all advising sessions that may help us understand advisees’ individual circumstances better.  We need to take the time to inquire about outside commitments or other issues that affect their schedule, as well as career goals and graduate school aspirations.  Referring to the notes we have on past sessions in preparation for meeting with our advisees can help academic advisors tailor sessions to students’ needs and facilitates the interpersonal connection that allows the student to feel heard and understood as an individual.

Jennifer Noonan
Research Assistant, Social Development Laboratory
Department of Psychology, Monmouth University
Jnoonan88@gmail.com

Janice C. Stapley
Associate Professor
Department of Psychology, Monmouth University
jstapley@monmouth.edu

References

Arnett, J. J. (2007).  Emerging adulthood: What is it and what is it good for?.  Child Development Perspectives, 1, 68-73.

Gaines, T.  (2014). Technology and academic advising: Student usage and preferences.  NACADA Journal, 34(1), 43-49.

Kimball, E., & Campbell, S. M. (2013).  Advising strategies to support student learning success.  In J. K. Drake, P. Jordan, & M. A. Miller, (Eds.), Academic Advising Approaches (pp. 3-15). San Francisco, CA:Jossey-Bass.

Cite this article using APA style as: Noonan, J., & Stapley, J.C. (2015, March). The demise of in-person academic advising is nowhere in sight! Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]


Workplace Learning Experiences of Four Professional Academic Advisors

Craig M. McGill, Florida International University

Craig McGill.jpgAs the field of academic advising embarks upon professionalization and as universities begin investing in more professional academic advisors, it is important to better understand advisors’ workplace education and career development.  Of continuing professional education, Jeris (2010) notes, “There is a shared belief that public recognition of their occupational group as a profession is very desirable and requires vigilance to maintain and develop” (p. 275).

To explore this underdeveloped part of the field’s literature, I conducted interviews with four professional academic advisors to come to a better understanding of how they viewed their professional development and identity.  In this article, I highlight select themes that emerged from the data in three broad categories: (a) ways of learning, (b) sources of learning, and (c) the importance of workplace learning.

The Participants

The sample included four advisors, summarized in the following chart in terms of work area, years of advising experience, and highest degree.

 McGill chart.jpg

Three of the advisors came to the field through learning experiences.  Participant 1 came to advising after working with student records in the Office of the Registrar; curiosity about what was prohibiting their graduations motivated this transition to advising.   Participant 2 came by way of dropping out of college, working in shelters, and re-entering to do social work due to that experience (which ultimately led to advising). Participant 3 worked in admissions for one year after finishing her graduate degree in higher education. She transitioned to advising because she wanted more direct involvement with individual students. Participant 4 came through experiences of formal higher education that created a desire to work in a university setting.

These advisors are quite different,especially with respect to their background prior to advising and how they entered the field.  Their responses revealed different ways of thinking about their roles, how they learned on the job, to what lengths their power boundaries extended, etc.  This demonstrates that “two practitioners in the same field, and perhaps even at the same stage of development, are likely to construct quite different knowledge and skills from formal and informal learning opportunities.  Recognizing and valuing different learning and development trajectories have the potential for improving practice” (Jeris, 2010, p. 277).

Theme I: Ways of Learning

The participants were asked to describe what learning is and how they learn.

Participant 3 described learning as “the comprehension and intake of anything—material, information” but qualified this response by saying that in order to learn, a person must “actually grasp the concept that is being introduced.” There are many different levels of learning, the highest of which requires that “you really have to understand, thoroughly, the subject matter, to say you’ve actually understood and comprehended at the highest level.”

According to Participant 1, “It’s not enough for me to learn just one component. I need to see the big picture . . . and then once I see the big picture, I start asking ‘how does this fit into this?’ . . . I think they used cones in some classes. . . . ‘Do you learn general to specific or from specific to general?’ and I was like ‘oh yeah, [gestures] general to specific!”

The role of patience and motivation came up in the interviews.  For one participant, a lack of patience with oneself inhibited learning: “I feel like I learn a long way, the hard way, in order to get through. . . . I don’t have the patience with myself sometimes to go through the process of learning.  I want to learn fast because, to me, it seems as though everyone learns fast, and I don’t feel that I learn fast, so I get annoyed at myself” (Participant 1).  The implication is that if one is motivated to learn something, open about the information intake, and has patience with oneself, the learning will occur more organically.  This relates to self-efficacy (Bandura, 1976): “our own estimate of how competent we feel we are likely to be in a particular environment” (Merriam et. al, 2007, p. 289).

The three advisors who had worked less than two years felt positively about the university-wide training they received on the core curriculum aspects of advising.  However, two of the three participants also mentioned following training with practice of their own, because “you don’t retain everything, so there were a lot of things where I had to go back and find a tutorial, or figure out how to do something. . . . I found it helpful when it was on the website and certain things there, when I went back to relearn something, I learned how to do things for the first time” (Participant 4).  Another participant expressed a similar idea: in some ways, long trainings were futile without a more applied, hands-on approach to learning. “I don’t want to sit in a two-hour lecture because I’m not going to retain it.  I can go for a training . . . and I take the material back and I sit at my computer and I do it, and that’s experiential, and that’s helpful to me” (Participant 2).  This is one of three references the interviewee made to experiential learning.  Dewey (1938) argued that “all genuine education comes about through experience” but not “all experiences are genuinely or equally educative” (p. 13).  The training was long, intense, and full of dense new information.  In some cases, “the real learning started when I got my computer together and could go along, looking at these screens” (Participant 4). 

Although these advisors felt their training on the university core was helpful, once they were unleashed in their departments, they felt unprepared with little guidance:

The [university-wide training] is structured in their training, but when I came to the college, there was no structure for training me at all.  It was kinda like “here ya go” (Participant 2).

I didn’t have a lot of guidance in my department.  We have faculty advisors . . . and I had to seek them out to get this information, and even when I did seek them out, they were like 30 minute meetings. . . . Basically, “blah blah blah here’s some information, go” (Participant 3).

Yeah, like my knowledge of [the content area] is supposed to have been long completed before the [university-wide] people train me (Participant 4).

Participants 2 and 4 had the benefit of at least having a background in the discipline for which they advised.  Participant 3 was not so lucky: “I was placed in a major that I knew nothing about [vocal emphasis]. . . . I never even took college level [courses in the subject area], so there was a lot to learn about the curriculum, the sequencing of courses, the semesters in which they’re offered, . . . and I also learned that a lot of our students weren’t familiar with that information” (Participant 3).

Theme II: Sources of Learning

In order to perform in these departments, advisors had to find different sources of information and learning.  First, although the advisors mentioned learning directly from the students, they all felt the need to adjust their practice to certain students: “If I’m working with a student and something I’m trying to do isn’t working, I need to take that as feedback for me.  Instead of getting confrontational, it’s more like ‘okay, why is this student being resistant, and what do I need to do differently?’” (Participant 2).  Participant 3 recalled, “The first time I told someone their grades were not good enough for medical school or even for our program, she cried.  And that was the first time I had told anyone.  So, after that meeting, I felt horrible.  I didn’t think that I was rude, but I am quite blunt.  So I realized I needed to attack this in a different way.  So I [started] practicing different approaches and seeing what works and what doesn’t” (Participant 3).

The most prominent source of information was reliance on fellow advising colleagues.  For some participants, it was not only the collegial relationships themselves, but actively partnering on projects where learning took place:  “there was a lot going on with revising the major [checksheets]. . . . I worked on those collaboratively, so that helped me to know what the trajectory would be. Like ‘this is the order that the classes would go,’ especially in a program like dietetics, when some classes are literally once a year and if they miss that class, that’s a pre-req, now a student’s behind a whole year” (Participant 2).

Advisors also learned the curriculum by utilizing the course catalogue and constructing self-guides to learn the information: “I spent a lot of time studying our catalogue.  I made an excel spreadsheet with the information from the catalogue and I studied [vocal emphasis] it. . . . Building a tool that outlined it for me certainly helped.  The faculty advisors did give me a brief outline, but most of it was digging through the catalogue and studying on my own” (Participant 3).  In a different part of the interview, Participant 3 quipped, “the catalogue is the bible, as far as I’m concerned.  You can find almost every answer you need in there!” The catalogue was mentioned by each participant as an essential resource for advisors to do their work properly.

Theme III: Importance of Workplace Learning

The third major area the participants spoke about was the importance of continued workplace learning.  Each participant mentioned and reacted to a new professional development program for academic advisors that allowed them to create goals, work with a director to develop those goals, identity opportunities for growth, and reflect on the learning that will occur.  One participant said, “As someone who doesn’t feel they are done with their education, and as an advisor, there are a million things about continuing learning I have on the back burner right now. . . . Certainly being a better advisor, a more efficient advisor. . . . Finding a specialty would be attractive to me” (Participant 4). 

Building new learning from transferable skills was also mentioned by participants: “I’ve been working for a while, and I’ve been in positions where I’ve had to quickly learn and integrate lots of new skills and technical information to be able to do my job. . . . My view probably impacts my learning, . . . but I think that would be the case no matter which department I was in” (Participant 2).  The response exemplifies ‘meaningful learning’ (Ausubel, 1967) built on previous knowledge: “Learning is meaningful only when it can be related to concepts that already exist in a person’s cognitive structure” (Merriam et. al, 2007, p. 286).

Academic advising has yet to fully investigate and understand the learning habits and aspirations of its practitioners.  Are advisors more inclined to learn because they work in academia? How do they view their professional identity both as educators of adult learners and as learners themselves? More fundamentally, “What does it mean to be a professional?” (Jeris, 2010, p. 277).  Participant 4 said: “If I worked at a job that was less interested in me learning, that would be terrible. . . . Learning is pretty much what life’s about.”  There is much yet to glean about advisors’ workplace learning.   The Adult Education and Human Resource Development literature is an excellent foundation from which to build.

Craig M. McGill, M.M., M.S.
Senior Academic Advisor
Department of English
Florida International University
cmmcgill@fiu.edu

References

Ausubel, D. P. (1967). A cognitive structure theory of school learning. In L. Siegel (Ed.), Instruction: Some contemporary viewpoints (pp. 207-260). San Francisco: Chandler.

Bandura, A. (1976). Modeling theory. In W.S. Sahakian (Ed.), Learning: Systems, models, and theories, 2nd ed. (pp. 391-409). Skokie, IL: Rand McNally.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Collier Books.

Jeris, L. H. (2012). Continuing professional education. In C. E. Kasworm, A. D. Rose & J. M. Ross-Gordon (Eds.), Handbook of adult and continuing education (pp. 275-284). Los Angeles: SAGE.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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Reflections of a New Advisor

Jana Spitzer, University of Tennessee

Jana Spitzer.jpgI have worked as a full-time academic advisor for four and a half years.  Recently, I have spent some time reflecting on the things I have learned so far during my professional journey.  While I am certain that my views will evolve with time, I choose to reflect on my career now while I still remember exactly how it felt to be “new” in case my experiences can help someone just starting out in the profession.  To borrow from Oscar Wilde (1892), “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” Considering some of my previous misconceptions seems like a potential opportunity for learning and growth for others as well as myself. 

Please allow me to share a few of my early misconceptions:

I underestimated my potential impact.  As a new advisor, I understood that my role involved more than just advising students about their curriculum, but I did not fully grasp how greatly I could influence another person’s life—for better or for worse, hopefully always for better.  I actively sought information about career paths and resources on campus, but I had no idea the extent to which my words and actions could alter the course of events for another person.  Over the years, I have introduced students to majors they had not considered and provided information about new career options they did not know existed.  I have watched their faces light up with excitement at the prospect of a program which might be a good fit, and it is hard not to get lost in that enthusiasm as well.  Many students come to my office lost and seeking answers to lessen their anxiety about the future.  This may or may not be a service I can provide.  I am certainly not saying that there is something wrong with sharing in a student’s joy.  In fact, I think that is one of the kindest and simplest gifts I can give a student.  Rather, as time has passed, I have realized that I need to proceed cautiously as I present information and resources so as not to unduly disclose my preferences, for it is not my future that is so heavily impacted.  To me, the purpose of advising, especially as it relates to major and career selection, is to help students make an informed decision—their decision. 

I believed, especially in the very beginning, that I had little to contribute to my office.  In fact, I sometimes felt like a hindrance.  I remember my first few months as a full-time academic advisor well.  I felt like a fraud, and I was constantly worried that I would offer inaccurate or incomplete advice.  Looking back, I think I was mostly afraid of what I did not know.  Would following an earlier catalog year be more beneficial for the student?  I did not know!  I was still trying to grasp the caveats and exceptions of the current year’s curriculum.  I was constantly seeking help from other advisors and often felt like I was asking the same questions for clarification multiple times.  I now know that is completely normal, expected, and okay.  More importantly, I wish I would have recognized all that I brought to the table as a new advisor.  I have an academic background in sociology, a discipline which has taught me a lot about social interactions and looking at complex problems on both a micro and macro scale.  Furthermore, I had taught college-level courses, and while I touted my belief in teaching as an integral part of the advising process during my job interview, I somehow forgot that I had that asset to contribute in the beginning.  Now, having trained several new advisors in our office, I recognize just how much new team members have to offer, sometimes sooner than they realize their own benefit.  Even recent graduates from college student personnel programs whom we have hired with little formal experience in higher education bring an incredible and current understanding of student development theories.  Additionally, they offer new perspectives and question the old systems we have in place.

I thought I was pretty good at having “tough” conversations.  Sometimes as advisors we have to have incredibly difficult conversations.  I thought I was ready for that.  I had a little experience advising freshmen at orientation, but that experience led to few conversations which would lead to tears or life-altering choices.  In my previous career, banking, I had to have many seemingly negative conversations with customers about a variety of requests.  I now must admit, tough conversations in advising are completely different.  In some instances, it involves shaking a person’s future plans to the core and forcing them to reexamine their major and/or career plans.  In many ways, these conversations are more difficult than the ones I had in my previous career about people’s financial status because issues related to advising often affect people’s core sense of self in a very intimate way.  We cannot underestimate the importance of these conversations, and having a strategy is imperative.  One quote which I have found as a helpful departure point states, “Everybody is a genius.  But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”   Some attribute this quote to Albert Einstein, although I believe the origins are up for debate.  Regardless, I think this quote makes an important point.  Students, rather people in general, have to find what they are good at in order to increase their likeliness of success and to increase the likeliness of finding happiness in their career.  And, maybe in some ways the quote is wrong.  Maybe everyone is not a “genius,” per se.  And, perhaps people can force themselves or train themselves to be good at a thing that they do not naturally enjoy, but I do believe that people have inclinations toward certain subjects/fields and that people gravitate toward things they enjoy.  Helping students discover their passions and strengths sooner rather than later can be a great way to make tough conversations considerably easier.

I thought I needed to keep a distance from my students.  When I first started advising, I kept my guard up.  I wanted advising sessions to be about the student, and of course, it ultimately should be.  What I did not realize, was that the more I tried to avoid disclosing information about myself, the more I failed to build meaningful relationships with the students I advised.  A few months ago, I attended a presentation by NACADA Past President Jennifer Bloom.  During her presentation, Bloom stated on a couple of occasions, “It is okay to love your students.”  She truly made a point to emphasize this statement to let us know that it is okay to get personal with our students.  Advising is a personal field.  Obviously, it is crucial to remain professional as well, but that doesn’t mean that we, as advisors, cannot love our students, relate to our students, and share personal experiences with students when it is relevant to their current situations. 

With every semester that passes, I gain an even greater appreciation for academic advising as a profession.  This career path can be stressful and draining, but mostly it is joyous and rewarding.  I love leaving work every day knowing that I have done my best to positively influence the students I have encountered.  I hope others can learn from the mistakes I have made or at least relate to them in some way.  So, while the word “mistake” may have secured a negative connotation over the years, let us not forget the benefits of our inexperience and consider Oscar Wilde’s quote once more: “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”  At least I can now say with certainty that I have gained experience.

Jana Spitzer, Ph.D
Coordinator of Advising and Assessment
College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences
University of Tennessee
jspitzer@utk.edu

Reference

Wilde, O. (1893). Lady Windermere’s Fan: A play about a good woman. London: E. Mathews and J.Lane.

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 The Challenge of Changing Institutions

Amber Kargol, Iowa State University

Amber Kargol.jpgI have been an academic advisor for almost 11 years and in that time have only changed institutions once.  Even with this seemingly small change, I encountered some large challenges in my job search and new role which completely shifted my paradigm as an academic advisor.

In 2010, my husband and I decided to move to his home state of Iowa.  My previous job search had taken six months, so I had a general idea of what to expect in this next job search, or so I thought.

I sent my first resume in November, 2010 and did not receive a job offer until February, 2012.  Throughout that time, I had a total of nine campus interviews and two phone interviews.  I had enough experience to secure an interview but wasn’t the candidate chosen for the job.  This created a large amount of doubt in my abilities, career choice, and self-confidence.  I took time with each interview to do my research on the institution, came prepared with relevant questions, dressed professionally, and had my resume and cover letters reviewed by my trusted colleagues.  I had been on previous search committees and knew that institutional fit is a large factor in the process, but my confidence had started to wane.

I set up a meeting with some colleagues to brainstorm ideas on why I hadn’t been offered a position and to learn from their job search experiences.  I researched different types of positions and considered leaving advising altogether.  I also considered furthering my education, but what I really needed was perseverance.

My last and final interview was very perplexing.  I met with several people throughout the day but couldn’t get a sense of how my skills were perceived.  I was very interested in the position and the wide variety of tasks included.  The people I met with were wonderful, and it appeared to have everything I was looking for in a position.  It also happened to be at my husband’s alma mater.   Thankfully, the committee took a chance on an out-of-state candidate and offered me the job.  It was well worth the wait!  The match was perfect in both location and scope, but I had no idea the challenges that I would face.

The only thing that was similar in each position was that they were both large, public, land grant institutions.  I left the world of liberal arts education to join a science- and technology-focused school. I left a centralized advising center to be one of two departmental advisors.  I left 550 students behind to meet 150 brand new ones.  This was just the beginning. 

I started my new job two days before the registration period began.  I was shocked when students arrived at my door with very clear and concise course plans.  My new institution required students to meet with their advisor to obtain their registration access number.  I was pleasantly surprised by how prepared the students were for our meeting  and how knowledgeable the students were about their planned courses.  I had a large learning curve ahead of me in understanding all facets of the new curriculum in addition to navigating an accredited program.

I had been a more transactional advisor in my previous position due to a large number of students.  It had been mathematically impossible to see every one of my advisees every semester, so I attempted to do as much over email as I could to serve as many students as possible.  I took a more reactive than proactive approach.  I dealt with student issues when they arose, rather than trying to prevent them.  Our advising center had started a Walk-In Wednesday program in an attempt to reach more students since our calendars were so full.  My Walk-In Wednesday record was 34 students, yikes!

My new position required me to be a more transformational advisor.  I needed to take time with them, ask questions to be sure they were in the appropriate major for their career goals, and give them more direction regarding our accredited program, while attempting to learn all of these things myself.  I had a wonderful partner who provided me with great resources and feedback, but I felt like I was discovering a new land.

I had spent 7.5 years in my previous position and had to unlearn some habits.  I had to navigate a new office culture, new technologies, develop more relationships with faculty members, and try to learn as much about the career fields in my department as I could.  Because I had advising experience, I knew the general processes at a university but had to be educated on the institutional jargon and memorize all the names of the common forms utilized by students and staff. “What is the change of major process called here?  How do students drop and add a class?  Is there a process for . . . ?“  My co-advisor was wonderful during this process.   I also used the freshmen orientation materials as a cultural navigation tool so I could “talk the talk.” Did I mention I now had to teach a seminar course?!

Needless to say, I was a bit overwhelmed my first year.  I had relocated to a new state, had my third child, and started a new job all at the same time.   I made many mistakes but learned so much from my colleagues and students.  I still have to review the campus map from time to time, but I know where to find information and am familiar with the campus resources available for my students.

I can now say with confidence that I am thriving in my new environment.  I have built wonderful relationships with my colleagues, sit on a few campus-wide committees, am involved with learning communities, and have a supportive department chair who has allowed me to attend the Annual NACADA conference for the past two years.  I have the pleasure of working with transfer students and can empathize with them on starting over in a new place.  Although the process was long in obtaining this new position, I am thrilled to be a small part of the great things that are happening on my new campus.

Amber Kargol, M.Ed.
Academic Adviser
Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Iowa State University
akargol@iastate.edu  

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NACADA Summer Institute: Achieving Advising Excellence

Karen Hauschild, Wesley R. Habley NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient

Karen Hauschild.jpgI started my new position as Director of the Academic Advising and Planning Center at the College of Charleston in February 2013.  Soon after starting this position, I learned about the NACADA Summer Institute and thought, “this would be a great opportunity to develop additional skills and expertise to lead my advising center.”  Unfortunately, the weeks the Summer Institute was offered directly interfered with our New Student Orientation activities, and I just didn’t think it wise to leave my team during my first summer here.  Thankfully, the timing worked out perfectly in the summer of 2014 because the Summer Institute fell during an “off” week between orientation sessions. Not only was I able to participate, but I also had the honor and privilege to attend the NACADA Summer Institute in St. Petersburg, FL as a scholarship recipient.  Wow!  What a week!  Without a doubt, this is by far one of the most influential professional development experiences in which I have participated.  It was like being in an academic advising bubble for a week, talking and interacting with other advising professionals hungry to impact their campuses and learn from some of the most knowledgeable leaders in the field.

I knew before attending the Institute we would be expected to develop an Action Plan to take back to our campus and implement.  My advising team had finished working on our Strategic Plan in the spring semester, so discerning where to begin with that plan was my plan.  I was excited about it all, but I felt conflicted about where to start.  It was a little overwhelming.

It is difficult to identify one session that was the most impactful; they were all great!  I had “take-aways” from all of the sessions and many more as a result of our small group and lunch or dinner-time conversations.  There were a couple of sessions in particular in which I had not only a take-away but an AH-HA.  As the week moved on, each day I extracted an idea here and a tidbit there, adding layers upon layers to my thinking. 

My first AH-HA was from Blane Harding’s foundation session entitled, Academic Advising and the Campus Environment.  He discussed the idea of a coalition as a systematic approach involving academic departments, faculty, and advising services with mutually agreed upon goals.  I like the coalition idea much better than a task force, which tends to conquer a problem and then disband. 

Additional AH-HA’s came from Jennifer Joslin’s topical session, Crafting Successful Advisor Training and Development Programs; Rich Robbins’s, Assessment of Academic Advising:  An Overview; and Joanne Damminger’s, Initiating Change:  Leading from Your Position.

Klotz quote.jpgJennifer discussed the importance of being intentional in our advisor training and development efforts.  One of Jennifer’s slides (which she graciously shared), via Dr. Ann Marie Klotz of New York Institute of Technology, posits the question: “What if we invest in our people and they leave?” and the answer:  “What if we don’t and they stay?” A powerful response indeed! Professional development is critical to our success as a profession and as professionals.  As Jennifer said in her presentation, “We need to have the ‘best advisor in the seat.’”  I couldn’t agree more.

Rich Robbins says, “You don’t have to assess everything all at once.”  What a relief!  Assessment is about improvement.  We have to think about what we want students to know and do as a result of their interactions with our advising center.

Joanne Damminger shared John’s Maxwell’s (2011) Levels of Leadership.  While I had learned about these levels some years prior, this was a good reminder and pulse check for me to consider where I am in my leadership.  While by “position” I am my team’s leader, I aspire to the “pinnacle.” My job is to lead others to their personal greatness, using their strengths, abilities, and talents.  What an awesome and exciting responsibility.

I had several goals in mind as a part of my experience in the Summer Institute: 

  • Develop inter-institution relationships with other advising professionals and seek insight from the wisdom and experience of others who have served in the profession longer or in different roles than me.
    • Check!  What a fantastic small group I had, led by Jo Anne Huber from UT-Austin.  It was great to share stories, learn about and encourage each other, and foster relationships that are just a phone call or email away.
  • Examine our advising model under the lens of new information and consider how this new information can inform our current practice.
    • Check!  This was just the tip of the iceberg for me in thinking about our work at the College of Charleston.
  • Develop more specific action steps for implementing our Advising Center’s 2014-2017 Strategic Plan and discern the most appropriate method for delegating tasks and managing workloads.
    • Check!  I did walk away with a defined Action Plan born from my center’s strategic plan.  We recently had NACADA Executive Director Charlie Nutt visit our campus, and we opened the invitation to the campus to participate in an Advising Coalition during his visit.  I am excited to see what this group will generate on our campus.
  • Develop my knowledge base and administrative skillsets as they relate to the impact of advising on student success and retention.
    • Check!  I learned quite a bit while at the institute and keep my Institute Session Guide on my desk at all times for easy reference.  I know I could contact any of the Institute Faculty at any time for a refresher, insight, or feedback.  I know my administrative skills will develop further as we launch the Advising Coalition on campus.
  • Consider opportunities for next level thinking and involvement in the Association.
    • Check!  Thanks to an informal conversation with Joanne Damminger, NACADA President, one night at dinner I have some next steps in mind for my own professional development.
Karen Hauschild at SI.jpgThe week was exhausting, yet exhilarating!  Thanks to the Action Plan and the process involved, when I returned to campus I knew exactly what I needed to do next.  I shared my experience and my thinking with my staff and told them to “GET READY!”  Exciting times are ahead!

Karen Hauschild
Director, Academic Advising & Planning Center
College of Charleston
hauschildkb@cofc.edu

Maxwell, J. (2011). The five levels of leadership: Proven steps to maximize your potential. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group.

Hauschld & team at SI.jpg

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What Makes the NACADA Summer Institute Different from a Conference?

Becky Sanchez, Wesley R. Habley NACADA Summer Institute Scholarship Recipient

Becky Sanchez.jpgI am excited to write about my experience at the NACADA Summer Institute.  I was fortunate enough to be awarded the Wesley R Habley Summer Institute Scholarship, allowing me to attend the Summer Institute (SI).  I was not sure what to expect going into SI; I was not certain I understood the difference between a conference and an institute.  I only knew that people I respected, such as NACADA Associate Director (and Past President) Jennifer Joslin, said it was phenomenal and that I should try to do it. I tried it, and they were so right!

I have attended six NACADA regional conferences and found them all to be helpful and rejuvenating for me as a professional.  At the end of a three-day-long conference, I returned to my campus with many ideas gleaned from what others are doing, but more often than I care to admit, those PowerPoint slides and notes pages ended up going into a folder and getting filed in the “To-Do When I have Free Time” area on my desk.  I found that the way the Summer Institute was structured, it was necessary for me to take the information I was learning and apply it immediately to my Action Plan.

I was able to delve into improving an area of advising on my campus that needed work.  Every day, a component of the Action Plan was due when we met in small groups, so I was able to make steady progress on fleshing out a thorough Action Plan.  The improvement I worked on in my Action Plan was something I had needed to focus on for many months on my job, but due to the overwhelming number of emails and appointments I handled on a daily basis, I put off the work, day after day and week after week.

I walked away from the Summer Institute with a comprehensive Action Plan for developing a freshman retention program that adds a high touch experience for our students.  The guidance and encouragement I received from both our group leaders—Jayne Drake from Temple University and Karen Sullivan-Vance from Western Oregon University—really made a difference in my planning.  The suggestions, ideas, and collaboration from all the members of my Small Group was something I had not expected.  Advisors are such a great group of people because we are all so student focused that we are happy and willing to share our ideas across institutions.

I found Becky Ryan’s session on the First Year Experience very helpful to me as I began developing a freshman program to reach students.  There were some “ah-ha” moments for me in her session that informed all the planning I did from that day forward.  Marsha Miller’s special session on using NACADA resources (like the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources) was tremendously helpful to me as I gathered research to support my ideas.  Sonia Esquivel’s foundation session on assessment made me feel prepared to add the assessment piece into my programmatic plans.  However, Jo Anne Huber’s session on administration of academic advising was probably the most useful to me at the place I was in my career (a newly appointed director of an advising unit).

I am so appreciative that I had the opportunity to attend the Summer Institute.  For anyone who is considering attending, I highly recommend finding a way to do it.  I have a few tips:

  • If possible, bring the whole advising team.  I came on my own and daily wished I had the team to help me think through the ideas.
  • Plan to take advantage of the time at the conference to work on an Action Plan.  Come a few days early and/or stay a few days afterward to have time for sight-seeing.  The days and evenings during institute can be extremely productive if the time is well managed.
  • If possible, plan ahead to avoid dealing with the stress back at the office (checking emails or dealing with problems remotely).  I did not check out from the office, and I was answering email and dealing with issues between sessions when I wish I had taken that time to breathe and engage with colleagues from other schools.
  • Advice I heard at the beginning of SI was to try to sit with someone I didn’t know at every meal.  I did this and found so many colleagues who helped me with my ideas; I learned some great best practices that were happening across the country.

I plan to attend the Summer Institute with all the advisors from my unit in the next few years, so maybe I will see you there!  Until then, happy advising!

Becky Sanchez
Director, Undergraduate Programs Office
School of Business
Portland State University
beckys@pdx.edu

Cite this article using APA style as: Sanchez, B. (2015, March). What makes the NACADA summer institute different from a conference? Academic Advising Today, 38(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]

Posted in: 2015 March 38:1

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