Book by: Richard L. Miller and Jessica G. Irons (Eds.)
Review by: Laura Hauck-Vixie, M.Ed.
College of Arts and Sciences
Academic advising roles and responsibilities for faculty and staff vary greatly by institution and training for the advising role can be limited. Miller and Irons provide an extensive overview of academic advising models, student populations, advising topics, and issues in their free and easy-to-read eBook designed specifically for psychology advisors.
Overall, the handbook is easy to read, though the 250 pages seem daunting at first. Given the multiple and conflicting demands of advisors, some advisors will not have the time to read this handbook. Those who do read will benefit from the developmental advising information and encouragement to think beyond the “business only” approach (p. 59). The handbook discusses strategies for advisor professional development such as making connections across the institution, developing competencies in working with diverse student populations, and career information. This professional development encouragement is beneficial to even seasoned advisors. Advisors who tend toward prescriptive advising learn how to encourage their advisees to reflect on the covert curriculum, which includes the lifelong learning and professional development skills they learn as a result of the overt curriculum (p.144).
This volume of the handbook emphasizes the importance of academic advising to student success and degree completion. In addition, tailored advice for specific advising populations (first year students, transfer students, first generation students, etc.) and the case studies on page 165 provide helpful examples for applying learning and developing effective referrals. Miller and Irons also outline various models for advising and go beyond this by discussing how students can get the most out of each model of advising, a strength of this handbook. The generic title of the book is misleading in that it does not mention psychology advising. In the first chapter, the reader will realize it is written for psychology advisors, but advisors in other disciplines can gain insights from the handbook as well. Miller and Irons encourage the use of podcasts as supplemental advising, a unique idea for how to convey important information to a large number of students in a short amount of time.
A weakness of the handbook is the repetitive information, seemingly due to the handbook organization structure. For example, the authors outline phases of appreciative advising on at least six different pages using different language and to varying levels of detail throughout the handbook. The same repetition concern arises with describing the differences between developmental and prescriptive advising. An additional area for improvement relates to the advising as teaching concept. Given the likely reading audience for this handbook, it may be more effective to emphasize the advising as teaching concept throughout the handbook rather than focusing in one section.
I recommend this handbook as a top 10 resource for psychology advisors (new advisors and seasoned), those who oversee advising for psychology departments, and advisors in any liberal arts discipline who wish to develop their skills. Miller and Irons cover a wide range of relevant and important topics in the handbook. Supplemented with NACADA Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook (Gordon, Habley, Grites, et. al., 2008), an advisor will be well prepared to deliver effective advising.
Gordon, Habley, Grites, et. al. (2008). Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook (2nd ed.) Manhattan, KS: Jossey-Bass.
Academic Advising, A Handbook for Advisors and Students: Volume 1: Models, Students, Topics, and Issues. (2014). Book by Richard L. Miller & Jessica G. Irons (eds.). Review by Lauara Hauck-Vixie, M.Ed. Society for the Teaching of Psychology: Division 2, APA. 249 pp., $0.00 (eBook). ISBN 978-1-941804-32-2.