the variety of topics covered in an advising appointment depends
upon the purpose of the appointment, a certain structure or process
is common to all. Following is an overview of some techniques
that can be used in an advising session.
Opening-- Greet the student by name and in a relaxed
manner. The student may be nervous so a warm welcome and a low-key
question such as 'What can I help you with today?' can
be reassuring at the same time that it gets the session started.
Talking with the Student-- The student may find it
difficult to express himself. Resist the temptation to 'help'
by putting words in the student's mouth, finishing the sentence
yourself or otherwise taking over the conversation. Careful phrasing
of your questions and indicating that you are receptive to the
responses should facilitate good communication.
Silences in the Conversation-- Silences do not necessarily
mean a breakdown in communication or a lack of activity. The student
(or the advisor) may be searching for words or reflecting upon
something that has already been said.
Admitting your Ignorance -- If the student asks a
question regarding factual information to which you do not know
the answer, admit it. Get the information immediately, if possible,
or call the student back. While one person cannot be expected
to know everything, it is reasonable to expect the advisor to
get the information in question. Students have greater respect
for the advisor who does not hesitate to admit his ignorance.
5.Avoiding the Personal Pronoun -- Using the
word 'I' turns the focus of the advising session away
from the advisee, toward the advisor. Expressions like 'if
I were you, I would' and 'I think' express the
advisor's opinion or experiences and are inappropriate unless
they are explicitly requested. Most of the time, the advisor's
role is not to express his point of view, but rather, to help
the student to formulate his own opinion.
6.Bad News When the advisor must give the student
bad news, it is not helpful to minimize the gravity of the situation
or to be unrealistically optimistic about what the student can
do to handle it. However, it is very important that the advisor
continue to express an attitude that is receptive and non-judgmental.
She can demonstrate her support of the student by helping to put
the issue into proper perspective and focusing attention on the
positive actions that can be taken to resolve the problem. This
may require additional appointments.
7.Additional Problems -- Sometimes the student
will have unexpressed questions or problems beyond the one, which
appears to be the reason for the appointment. The advisor can
give the student an opening by asking, 'Is there something
else you would like to ask about?' or 'Do you have something
else on your mind?'
8. The Frequent Visitor -- One of the most
difficult advisees to work with will meet frequently with his
advisor. This student appears to be receptive to the advisor's
suggestions and will often say 'I feel so much better after
talking to you, ' but, in fact, never follows up on the information
and strategies discussed during the appointment. This student
seems to continue to hope that talking about something will make
it happen. Other frequent visitors are sympathy seekers, complainers
and the overly dependent. While it is true that their willingness
to keep appointments indicates some success on the part of the
advisor, they take up time that could be available to other students.
9.Setting Limits on the Appointment -- The appointment
is normally a fixed length of time. It is better if the advisor
and advisee realize this from the beginning. Follow-up appointments
can be made, if necessary. However, there are times when an advisor
sees a student in crisis and time constraints need to be set aside.
10.Ending the Appointment -- When the advising
session is finished, it is easy to get overly involved in casual
conversation. This can extend the appointment far beyond the allotted
time. A phrase such as, 'Do you think we have one all we
can for today?' or 'Let's make another appointment to
get into this further, 'effectively maintains a friendly
yet professional tone.
from Darley's Interview Techniques. Prepared by the University
of Delaware College of Arts and Science Advising Center.