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Voices of the Global Community

Todd Carter, Seward County Community College

Many advising programs strive to connect faculty, student advising, and learning in an effort to move from “advising as class scheduling” to “advising as teaching.” Likewise, many instructional development programs assist faculty with learner-centered instructional methods that better serve our under-prepared or under-served student populations. It would seem likely that the advising and teaching strategies that better serve these students would have significant overlap (Hemwall and Trachte, 2003).

The Seward County Community College restructuring project recently completed its first year. In evaluating our experiences, we found that there can be a disconnect between faculty approaches to student learning in the classroom and the approaches required to develop a learner-centered advising program. Therefore, steps should be taken early in any restructuring project to build the framework and common vocabulary needed for professional development activities that integrate learner-centered advising and teaching.

We recommend that a NACADA consultant evaluate what is happening to, and for, students. The unbiased nature of the evaluation process and resulting exit report helps establish an honest and open conversation between faculty, staff, administration, and students. After meeting separately with our Student Success Advisory Committee and Administrative Council, our NACADA consultant utilized the Miller (2004) restructuring format as a guide for framing recommendations. Based upon the mission of our college, the consultant recommended that we consider advising through the lens of “advising as teaching.”

It is important to note that our chief administrative officers have been involved from the project’s outset and support this advising restructure by including the project in the institution’s goals. In addition, our chief academic officer attended the NACADA Summer Institute with our Advising Team. As a result of our administration’s support of this faculty-driven effort, the first year of our restructuring project has been deeply reflective and rich in dialogue as we navigated an incredibly steep learning curve.

Our second recommendation: determine the state of teaching and learning at your institution. Your Teaching and Learning Center, Director of Instructional Development, or Professional Development Committee can assist in determining faculty location on a pedagogical continuum with “learner-centered” at one end and “information delivery” on the other. Sources of data can be surveys, course evaluations, faculty evaluations, and classroom observations. Many of the “Factors to Consider When Restructuring Academic Advising” (Miller, 2004) are readily applicable to classroom teaching. Appleby (2001), Davis (2003), and Lowenstein (2003) contend that an excellent teacher and an excellent advisor should be an engaging facilitator of learning. Thus our chief questions became: How could we expect a learner-centered approach to advising if learner-centered methodology is not practiced by faculty in their classrooms? What assumptions do faculty hold about learning behaviors and student capacities? How might these assumptions impact student learning from an advising AND teaching perspective?

As we move forward with our restructuring project we will continue to work with the staff of our Teaching and Learning Center to coordinate faculty development of  learner-centered approaches to advising and teaching. Initial benefits of this collaboration include:

  • modeling effective learner-centered teaching practices within our professional development workshops
  • utilizing a faculty learning community to develop a core of advisors for exploratory and part-time students
  • identifying central professional development themes, including diversity and critical thinking, that discuss issues in terms of both advising and teaching
  • connecting advising and teaching at the level of practice
  • modifying instructional development techniques, such as coaching and small group instructional feedback, to advising settings.

In the June issue of Academic Advising News,Maura Reynolds(2004) suggested that advising can assist students in becoming more complex in their view of the  interaction between education and their lives. Clearly, faculty intend their courses to do the same. In order for this to occur, faculty must be involved in institutional efforts to prepare the environment and provide the opportunities necessary for students to develop into life long learners. As we move forward with this restructuring project, we will continue the integration of our advising and teaching professional development themes to better assist faculty in making the connection between effective advising and effective teaching.

Todd Carter
Seward County Community College
TCARTER@SCCC.EDU

References

Appleby, D. (2001). The Teaching - Advising Connection: Part II. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal. Retrieved 05/20/2004 from Center for Excellence in Academic Advising Web site: www.psu.edu/dus/mentor/appleby0.htm

Appleby, D. (2001). The Teaching - Advising Connection: Part IV. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal. Retrieved 05/20/2004 from Center for Excellence in Academic Advising Web site: www.psu.edu/dus/mentor/appleby0.htm

Davis, K.J. (2003). Advisor Training: Exemplary Practices in the Development of Advisor Skills. Monograph Series Number 9. National Academic Advising Association: Manhattan, KS.

Hemwall, M.K. & Trachte, K.C. (2003). Advising and Learning: Academic Advising from the Perspective of Small Colleges and Universities. Monograph Series Number 8. National Academic Advising Association: Manhattan, KS.

Lowenstein, M. (2003). If Advising is Teaching, What do Advisors Teach? Outline for the presentation at the NACADA Regional Conference, Pittsburgh, PA. Retrieved from www.dickinson.edu/ departments/advising/AdvisingAsTeaching.htm

Miller, M.A. (2003). A Guide to Restructuring Advising Services. Retrieved 4/05/2004 from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Restructure.htm

Miller, M.A. (2004). Factors to Consider when Restructuring Academic Advising. Retrieved 12/22/2004 from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/factors.htm

NACADA Consultants Bureau. Information retrieved 1/6/05 from www.nacada.ksu.edu/ConsultantsBureau/index.htm

Reynolds, M. (2004). Faculty Advising in a Learner-Centered Environment: A Small College Perspective. Academic Advising News. Volume 27, Number 2, www.nacada.ksu.edu/Newsletter/ NW27_2.htm. National Academic Advising Association: Manhattan, KS.

Cite this article using APA style as: Carter, T. (2005, February). Team up with your teaching and learning center to restructure faculty advising. Academic Advising Today, 28(1). Retrieved from [insert url here]

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