Book Reviews

Book by  Hughey, K. F., Nelson, D. B., Damminger, J. K., McCalla-Wriggins, B.
Review by Joan Pedersen 
University College 
Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis 


In its recent publication of The Handbook of Career Advising, NACADA powerfully shows responsiveness to its constituency. Over 80% of NACADA advisors surveyed in 2007 (p. 18) indicated that they wanted to know more about recognizing and responding to career issues when advising students. They now have a comprehensive resource that presents both sound theory and immediate applicability to the students they will see next week. Providing an excellent balance of hands-on strategies, case studies, and concrete examples along with big picture issues on both institutional and global levels, this handbook is comprehensive and practical. It appeals to everyone in the advising field regardless of their roles with students.

First,  practitioners looking for tools to apply immediately can go right to the lists of suggested questions to use with students, such as the “career advising questions for any session” (p. 41), which are found throughout the book. To get the flavor of in-the-moment career advising, they can read the three vignettes of everyday situations that require career advising skills (“Advising Competencies in Action” in Chapter 3). In addition, they will find that the realistic case examples showing the ways to use career information in advising sessions are incredibly instructive (Chapter 7). Finally, to gain greater sensitivity and insight as a career advisor, they can refer to the case examples related to the career advising needs of the specific student populations they serve (Chapter 11).

Second, educators wanting to encourage a paradigm shift and enhance the learning outcomes of career exploration courses can learn about connecting these outcomes to the energetic and compelling examination of success attributes needed in the evolving workplace (Chapter 2). Those aiming to expand students’ understanding of themselves as career decision makers can build on the complex nature of this process, which is impacted by individual and societal factors as well as the diversity inherent in the very construct of undecidedness. The authors of both sections on career and student development theories (Chapters 4 and 5) support such applications by avoiding an over-optimistic approach and moving quickly to the advising relevance of each theory, delineating and applying theories to specific case examples in an extremely helpful manner. Indeed, throughout the handbook, the plentiful and diverse ideas for curricular and program innovation (as well as links to related Web sites) can fire up the creative juices of even a seasoned career advisor or educator.

Third, administrators can benefit by turning immediately to the appendix, which includes rich descriptions of exemplary practices at nine centers that integrate academic and career advising. The diversity of the featured programs encourages expanded thinking about possible approaches to service delivery. Furthermore, wherever they are in the development of a career advising program, administrators should keep in mind the evaluation and assessment strategies as clearly and concisely delineated in Chapter 12; this chapter models the strength of the entire handbook by reinforcing big picture concepts while providing concrete and illuminating examples.

Regardless of their special interest or role in the career advising process, readers will want to return to Chapter 3 (“Career Advising Competencies”) to be inspired by the purpose and high level of competency that underlies the career advising process; as Eileen Mahoney says: “Advisors must be professionally nimble to weave the practical dissemination of information into the relational process of assessment, exploration, and empowerment” (p. 48). The contributors of this publication do an outstanding job of combining and synthesizing the diverse theories, competencies, and resources that all come together in the exciting field of career advising.

The handbook editors successfully organized, integrated, and illuminated a comprehensive body of knowledge and best practices such that the publication will potentially enhance the delivery of career advising services in higher education as well as inspire advisors to personally step up to the challenge of helping students make integrated and effective academic and career decisions. Indeed, as a model of how to take on a seemingly daunting task with competency, enthusiasm, and vision, the handbook sets the bar high for advisors. It is an essential resource in the training of all new academic advisors as well as in the staff development of seasoned advisors. I will put it up with my top 10 career-advising resources as I provide institutional leadership toward the successful integration of academic and career advising into a program that will empower students to reach their potential.


The handbook of career advising. (2009)  Book by  Hughey, K. F., Nelson, D. B., Damminger, J. K., McCalla-Wriggins, B. (Eds.). Review by Joan Pedersen. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass and the National Academic Advising Association. 371 pp., $65.00 (hardback). ISBN 978-0-470-37368-2
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