Book by Mary Stuart Hunter, Betsy McCalla-Wriggins & Eric R. White
Review by Michael J. Magee
Transfer Advisor, Pre-Education Advising
College of Education
University of South Florida
Hunter, McCalla-Wriggins, and White have compiled a thoughtful and informative monograph (featuring 23 authors!) regarding advising first-year college students. The book is divided into four sections; each section provides useful information that every professional in higher education can utilize during their interactions with first-year students. Each chapter is well written and provides an overview of the topic with advising strategies at the end.
The first section of the book sets the stage for future sections by providing an overview of the role of an advisor in the transition process of first-year students. The authors suggest using the “constructivist perspective of teaching and learning” to empower students to successfully complete the transition from high school to college. The latter half of the section discusses the characteristics of the incoming first-year class and informs the reader of the challenges the students encounter upon entering college.
The next section describes in great detail how the utilization of learning theories and an advisor’s ability to understand a student’s learning patterns can significantly enhance the teaching relationship between a student and advisor. In light of the current generation’s technology savvy, successful advising models using technology are discussed. Technology initiatives include podcasting, online information sessions/orientations for students, and the utilization of widgets that provide students with resources and information when they have access to the Internet. Some technologically advanced advising tools can be implemented at little to no cost to the departmental budget. Some institutions may even have a structure in place for the conversion of advising information to podcasts and other easily disseminated digital mediums.
The latter chapters of the second section discuss assessment, collaborating with departments outside of the advising office and reaching out to students prior to their transition to college. Assessment of services through student feedback, self-reflection, and supervisor evaluations are essential to the continuous enhancement of academic advising and teaching all students. In addition, several authors call for advisors to actively engage students in the academic process by having them develop academic goals and map their curriculum. Section three encompasses seven chapters of strategies for advising various first-year student populations. These groups include: non-traditional; honors; first generation; GLBT; undecided; students with disabilities; and students of color. Each chapter provides characteristics common to each student group and strategies to successfully advise them.
As institutions of higher education seek to improve retention and graduation rates, resources like this book can effectively enhance the overall impact of academic advising. The monograph will serve as a great resource to those advising first-year students for the first time. This book also will appeal to seasoned advisors who are seeking to enhance current services. The information is relevant and can be utilized with nearly every student interaction whether it is in the Freshman Seminar/University Experience classroom, during a one-on-one appointment, or in a group advising format. The editors and authors have done a masterful job of compiling chapters that will assist advisors with meeting the needs of first-year students.
Academic Advising: New Insights for Teaching and Learning in the First Year. (2007) Book by Mary Stuart Hunter, Betsy McCalla-Wriggins & Eric R. White (Eds.). Review by Michael J. Magee. Columbia, SC: National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience & NACADA, 250 pp., $40.00, (paperback), ISBN # 978-1-889-27155-2