Book Reviews

Book By: Mackey, David, and Thorne, Kaye
Review By: Mike Wood
Academic Advisor, University College
Southwest Missouri State University


Successful advisor training is essential to advisor effectiveness.  Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Training, although not specifically written for an academic audience, can nevertheless be successfully adapted for successful development of an advisor training program.   

Authors Mackey and Thorne suggest that “The training professional should continually want to develop.  Your role is a key one in the development of other people” (p. 12).  This is particularly true for academic advisors since the very nature of our job entails constant training and development to remain effective.      

This text provides practical step-by-step suggestions for designing a training program from start to finish through the setting of objectives using the acronym SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Timed (p.34). The authors caution against setting objectives that are not achievable and note that sometimes trainers set “over-ambitious objectives that come back to haunt them at the end of the program” (p. 34). Thus, when designing a training program, it is crucial that trainers identify outcomes that can be converted into aims and objectives i.e., “At the end of this training, what would you like people to be able to do that they cannot do now, or what would you like to be different?” (p. 30). 

The authors highlight the importance of employee personal development plans  (p.12).  A variety of excuses for a lack of personal development are discussed: no time, too busy developing others, too expensive, etc.  This is especially relevant for academic advisor improvement as many programs have no such staff plans beyond a rudimentary annual review.  Writing a personal development plan with each advisor could increase productivity and encourage individual responsibility for developing new skills.

The book is geared towards a business environment, therefore academic advisors and administrators may find some chapters irrelevant, e.g., Chapter 9, ‘Training as a Career’, and Chapter 10, ‘Training as a Business’. However, the text does contain useful ideas for the development of training programs.  Its detailed suggestions for design, delivery, and evaluation are easily adaptable to advisor training and development programs especially when paired with the summaries and comprehensive checklists at the end of each chapter.

However, since the intended audience for the text is business departments rather than educators, this would be best as a companion to Chapters 20 - 22 in Gordon and Habley’s Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook and Advisor Training: Exemplary Practices in the Development of Advisor Skills.

 

References

Farren, P.J. & Vowell, F. (2000). Model Training Programs.  In Gordon, V.N., & Habley, W.R. (Eds.). Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Higginson, L.C. (2000). A Framework for Training Program Content. In Gordon, V.N., & Habley, W.R. (Eds.). Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

King, M.C. (2000). Designing Effective Training for Academic Advisors. In Gordon, V.N., & Habley, W.R. (Eds.). Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

National Academic Advising Association. (2003). Advisor Training: Exemplary Practices in the Development of Advisor Skills.  Manhattan, KS: NACADA.




Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Training (3rd edition). (2003). Book by Mackey, David, and Thorne, Kaye. Review by Mike Wood. Stylus Publishing.  272 pp. $29.95.  ISBN 0-7494-4048-1. 

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