Book Reviews

Book by Gordon, V. N., Habley, W. R., & Grites, T. J.
Review by Susan M. Anderson
Academic Counseling
University of St. Thomas (MN)

The second edition of Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook successfully builds upon the content of the first edition of the publication (Gordon & Habley, 2000).  The revised text includes independent chapters in which authors examine the advising opportunities that exist as students move into, through, and out of college; large and small scale strategies to develop and improve faculty advising; and new and potential advising applications that have evolved with the development of new technology. The Concept of Advising (NACADA, 2006) is also included.  Within the Preface, Gordon, Habley, and Grites state that the second edition of the Handbook is intended to “help those involved in advising either directly or indirectly and at every level not only to appreciate the importance for good advising in students’ lives but also to understand how it can contribute to the purpose of higher education” (p. x). The content within this book fully meets this objective. It provides a well-structured plan for all individuals who advise college students to put foundational advising concepts and principles into their daily advising practices.  Advising is teaching and the challenges and opportunities related to advising increasingly diverse college student populations are two common themes highlighted in the book.

Advising is Teaching

Over 30 authors contributed to the Handbook from the perspective of the learning-centered paradigm referred to as “advising is teaching” and repeatedly emphasized that advising programs must be aligned to the teaching and learning mission of the college or university.  In Advising as Teaching and Learning, Drew Appleby uses a comprehensive chart to compare the knowledge, skills, and characteristics of effective teachers and advisors and thus effectively illustrates how and why academic advising should be considered a legitimate educational process.  The teaching-learning paradigm is particularly evident within the chapters Vision, Mission, Goals and Program Objectives (Susan M. Campbell), Advising Delivery: Faculty Advising (Martha K. Hemwall), and Critical Concepts in Advisor Training and Development (Thomas Brown), all of which provide both the philosophical support for the paradigm as well as specific action steps to help advisors and administrators practically align all components of their advising practices to the mission of their institution.  The chapters Assessing Student Learning (John H. Schuh), Assessing Advisor Effectiveness (Joe Cuseo), and Assessing the Effectiveness of the Advising Program (Wendy G. Troxel) provide guiding principles and measures that will help advisors develop assessment plans. They are also consistent with the notion, originally espoused by Lynch (2000) and Creamer and Scott (2000), that “assessing student learning…is an expectation for virtually all dimensions of colleges and universities, including academic advising” (Schuh, p. 356). The case examples and recommended strategies within these chapters are particularly helpful.

The Concept of Advising (NACADA, 2006) is new to the second edition of the Handbook.  The increasingly accepted view that advising must be viewed within the context of the learning process was the impetus for the development of this document, which begins with the declaration, “Academic advising is integral to fulfilling the teaching and learning mission of higher education” (p. 523).  The Concept also claims that advising must consist of a curriculum (issues addressed by advising), pedagogy (the means by which advising is conducted), and student learning outcomes (the result of academic advising) (p. 523).

Diverse Student Populations  

The chapter The Changing College Student (Kirsten Kennedy and Jennifer Crissman Ishler) provides updated and insightful statistics related to the profile of today’s college student.  The authors outline changing demographics regarding students’ age, enrollment status, residence, gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnic groups, international students, and students with disabilities as well as the changing characteristics related to students’ attitude and values, family issues, mental and physical health, academic preparation, and academic misconduct.  This chapter provides foundational data that are expanded upon within three chapters that are new to the second edition:  Moving into College (Mary Stuart Hunter and Leah Kendall), Moving through College (George E. Steele and Melinda L McDonald), and Moving on from College (Jennifer Bloom), which highlight the primary issues students face during these transitional stages and the corresponding opportunities for and responsibilities of academic advisors.  New terminology is also introduced within these new chapters.  For example, Hunter and Kendall define students who are concurrently enrolled at multiple institutions or are frequently moving from campus to campus to be “swirling” (p. 145) and Steele and McDonald include Gordon’s (2007) terms and definitions related to advising the six types of major-changing students (“drifters, closet changers, externals, up-tighters, experts, systematic”) (p. 167).  Additionally, Bloom provides advisors with several practical tools that will help students transition out of college by engaging in the four stages of appreciative inquiry: discover, dream, design, and deliver (Bloom & Martin, 2002; Hutson, 2006) (p. 179).

Technology in Advising

The development of technology has and will continue to affect advisors’ work dramatically. Thus, in addition to the themes and chapters listed above, I found the chapter Advising Delivery:  Using Technology (Michael J. Leonard) to be particularly useful.  In addition to reviewing well-established forms of technology that support advising (e.g., the World Wide Web, degree audit programs, career guidance programs, etc.), Leonard includes a comprehensive chart of relatively new technologies (e.g., instant messaging, social networking sites, podcasts, etc.), their potential advising applications, and the pros, cons, and cautions that are associated with them (pp. 298–300).

Although most professional advisors, advising administrators, and faculty advisors will likely read and use independent chapters within the second edition of the Handbook, I found that reading the entire text was a significantly valuable exercise.  Within the Handbook’s Foreword, Charlie Nutt states:  “Short of saying that (this book) will change your life, I can honestly say it has the potential to change your professional practice and dramatically change the lives of the students on your campus” (p. xi).  Thus far, I can confirm that reading the entire second edition of Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook has provided me with the concepts, tools, and motivation to take action as well as apply new and insightful leadership to my department and institution.  I anticipate its continued positive influence on my academic advising and administration practices.


Bloom, J. L., & Martin, N. A. (2002, August 29).  Incorporating appreciative inquiry into academic advising.  The Mentor, 4(3). Retrieved January 17, 2009, from
Creamer, E. G., & Scott, D. W. (2000).  Assessing individual advisor effectiveness.  In V.N. Gordon, & W.R. Habley (Eds.), Academic advising:  A comprehensive handbook (pp. 339–48).  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gordon, V. N. (2007).  The undecided college student:  An academic and career advising challenge (3rd ed.).  Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.
Gordon, V. N., & Habley, W. R. (Eds.). (2000). Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (1st edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Hutson, B. L. (2006).  Monitoring for success: Implementing a proactive probation program for diverse, at-risk college students.  Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Lynch, M. L. (2000).  Assessing the effectiveness of the advising program.  In V. N. Gordon & W. R. Habley (Eds.), Academic advising:  A comprehensive handbook (pp. 324–38).  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
National Academic Advising Association. (2006). NACADA concept of academic advising. Retrieved January 17, 2009, from 

Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook (2nd ed.). (2008). Book by Gordon, V. N., Habley, W. R., & Grites, T. J. (Eds.). Review by Susan M. Anderson. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 568 pp., $55 (NACADA member), $65 (Nonmember) ISBN: 978-0-470-37170-1 
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |