Resource Links for working with students on probation via the Clearinghouse
Expectations and Reality Collide: Working with Students on Probation
students don't enter college with an educational plan that includes
being placed on academic probation but, as professionals who work
with students who find themselves having difficulty, we know it
happens all the time. While it is our hope that, with support,
students will be able to repair their academic situation, become
successful and persist to graduation, sometimes the situation
cannot successfully be repaired and results in being placed on
category of probation is an academic warning for students whose
academic performance falls below an institution's requirement
of good standing. If academic difficulty continues, it is possible
for a student to be suspended or dismissed. In support of the
student, advisors often work with them to develop a plan for success.
To do this they must work in partnership and understand the
causes of the current situation, identify what needs to change,
and implement the plan.
Complexity of Student Academic Success
know that students enter higher education with a variety of backgrounds
and educational experiences. Tinto, in Leaving College,
notes that one reason students depart from higher education is
due to academic difficulty. The factors that contribute to academic
difficulty are many and varied. Pascarella and Terenzini, in How College Affects Students, cite major factors contributing
to academic difficulty as peer culture, academic major, college
environment, faculty contact, work, career choice, personal motivation,
organization, study habits, quality of effort, self-efficacy and
perceived control. The dimensions of these factors can include
both positive and negative elements. For example, work can be
seen as a compliment to a student's academic and career interests
or it could be seen as a competitor for a student's time. A
student can have high self-efficacy (student controls the outcomes
of their actions/decisions), which can support his/her academic
achievements or can have low self-efficacy which can be detrimental
to their success. Students could have fine tuned study skills
or be challenged in this critical area. Each factor must be examined
in light of the characteristics of the individual student in order
to identify the appropriate type of support and assistance required.
transition into the institution can also affect students' academic
success especially during their first semester. Student retention
literature is clear that the first six weeks of a student's first
semester on campus is most critical, particularly with regard
to transition (Tinto, Upcraft & Gardner). This transition
can be difficult for students no matter if they are first year,or
seasoned students transferring to your campus. Both student types
are entering a new environment of learning that can cause transitional
For first-year students the higher educational environment can
be completely different from their secondary experience. Often
times these 'students find that the degree of self regulation
required at the college level is frequently not what students
are used to. First year students do not necessarily know how
to look at themselves as learners, to think about how they learn,
to set goals, to actively apply strategies and to monitor themselves
as they advance toward a goal.' (Thompson & Geren, p. 6
- 7) Transfer students 'have a better sense of purpose than
do freshman' (Frost, 1991) but can also have difficulty with transitioning
into a new environment. Although seasoned students, they still
must deal with new surroundings, policies, procedures, and academic
expectations, as well as begin building relationships within their
new academic setting. The reality of transition can challenge
their academic success at their new institution.
that Make a Difference
Kulik, Kulik, and Shwalb (as cited in Pascarella, Terenzini, 1991)
identified three types of interventions that have positive influences
on students' grade point averages. These interventions, not surprisingly,
included instruction in academic skills, advising and counseling
programs, and comprehensive support programs. With regard to
advising and counseling, the literature supports intrusive, developmental
advising as a significant way to promote and support student persistence
and success. In an intrusive relationship, an advisor personally
reaches out to students, meets with them, helps them identify
the issues and situations contributing to their academic difficulty,
helps them set short and long term goals, guides them through
the development of a plan to accomplish their goals which includes
advisor-student follow-up. Through the interactions brought on
by intrusive advising the student's relationship with the advisor,
institution and self grows.
and Terenzini (p. 389) suggest that 'influences of grades are
not beyond the influence of institutional intervention'. Frost
(p.69) also supports this notion in her work that indicates that
'the advising relationship is a shared responsibility' and 'can
be a valuable life-model for individual accountability.' If we
are to embrace these beliefs advisors must work with their students
and institutions to develop supportive programs that tailor student
success plans to the individual student. As with life itself developing
meaningful long lasting relationships with students is hard work
and time intensive. Creating and implementing successful programs
that help students move from probation to good standing to graduation
is both challenging and rewarding. As a profession, we need to
continue to work toward a more comprehensive understanding of
this at-risk population and share our findings as well as our
examples of good practice with each other.
Elizabeth M. Higgins
Director of Academic Advising & Enrollment Services
University of Southern Maine
More About It! References and Additional Reading
R. and Molina, A. (2001). Style and Substance Revisited: A Longitudinal
Analysis of Instrusive Intervention. The NACADA Journal,
M., Cherney, E., Crowner, J. and Hill, A. (1997). The Forum:
Intrusive Group Advising for the Probationary Student. The NACADA Journal, 17(2), 45-47.
C. A. (2002). Advising Students on Academic Probation. The
E. J. (2002). Don't Give up on Academically Dismissed Students. The Mentor, www.psu.edu/dus/mentor/020206ed.htm
S. H. (1991). Academic Advising for Student Success: A System
of Shared Responsibility. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report
No.3. Washington, DC: The George Washington University.
V. N. and Habley, W. R. (2000) Academic Advising: A Comprehensive
Handbook. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
D. L. and Parette, P. (2002). Advising At-Risk Students in College
and University Settings. College Student Journal, 36(1),
K. N. (1996). Causes, Reactions, and Consequences of Academic
Probation: A Theoretical Model. The NACADA Journal,
M. and Nishida, D. (2001). Effect of Low and High Advisor Involvement
on the Academic Performance of Probation Students. The NACADA
Journal, 21(1,2), 40-45.
D. C. and Tharp, T. J. (1996). Suspended students: An Analysis
of Suspension Length and Returning Semester GPA. The NACADA
Journal, 16(1), 35-37.
A. and Abelman, R. (2000). Style Over Substance in Interventions
for At-risk students: The Impact of Intrusiveness. The NACADA
Journal, 20(2), 5-15.
E. T. and Terenzini, P. T. ( 1991). How College Affects
Students. San Francisco, CA, Oxford, OX3: Jossey-Bass Inc.
B. R. and Geren, P. R. Classroom Strategies for Identifying
and Helping College Students at Risk for Academic Failure. www.aug.edu/~bthompson/transition31.htm
V. (1993). Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures
of Student Attrition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
M.L., Gardner J. N., and Associates (1989) The Freshman
Year Experience. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
M. I. (2003). An Epidemiologic Approach to Addressing Student
Attrition in Nursing Programs. Journal of Professional Nursing, 19(3), 230-236.
sites:Programs for Students on Probation
this resource using APA style as:
Higgins, E. M. (2003).
Advising students on probation. Retrieved
from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site: [Insert URL Here]