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Frequently Asked Questions from Academic Advising: Campus Collaborations to Foster Retention

  • Please offer suggestions on how a separate advising office can assist faculty advisors with professional development.
    The best thing that a separate advising office can do is offer viable advisor training for faculty.  To get them there, it will take support in higher administration.  The higher the better.  We found at SMSU that feeding faculty seems to get them there.  We also work diligently with departments to make our training attractive to faculty.  For example, we have a advisory committee of faculty who have been through the training program who make all decisions regarding the training content.  Many of them participate in training sessions.

    Beyond that, it would be helpful to encourage faculty to join a local advising forum where they can come together, say at lunch time with brown bags to discuss various issues in their advising.  We always provide soft drinks and dessert.  Sometimes a faculty member or staff advisor presents a short program, sometimes an administrator presents. 

    Don't forget about the NACADA Clearinghouse (available on NACADA’s web site) where much helpful information is housed, and, of course, encourage membership in NACADA or a NACADA affiliate organization.  The leading edge professional development for academic advisors is available there in the form of wonderful conferences, opportunities to serve, and so much information about advising that it boggles the mind.

    Harry Cook
    former NACADA South Central Region Representative

    Advising offices can be available for consultation, referral, advisor training and development program.  Advising offices might also sponsor a faculty member to attend a NACADA national or regional conference, perhaps by co-submitting a program.

    Eric White
    '04-05 NACADA President


  • What does research show about faculty putting advising as priority along with teaching and research?
  • I am not sure about the focus of this question, but I don't think there is definitive research on this topic.  A parting thought:  what gets rewarded gets done.  The rewards which accrue from teaching and research are much more measurable than those gained from advising.

    Wes Habley

    ACT, Inc.

    '86-87 NACADA President


  • What part should academic advising play in the expectations for a faculty member in a large research institution?

    Clearly the expectations for advising by faculty are different in a large research university than in other campus settings.  I always contend that even if faculty do not serve as advisors, their contact with students and their understanding of their own discipline places them in an important advisory role.  We do spend a lot of time decrying the disinterest of faculty in large research institutions when our efforts should be directed at developing the collaborative relationships with faculty which are necessary for quality advising.

    Wes Habley
    ACT, Inc.

    '86-87 NACADA President


  • Assuming that academic advising counts toward merit, promotion, or tenure, is it considered teaching or service activity at your institution?
  • It seems to vary from institution to institution. For those campuses that buy into the theory that developmental advising is an extension of classroom teaching, it would be another evidence of teaching effectiveness. Other schools count it more as a service activity. In either case, it is extremely important that the value of effective advising be recognized and rewarded.

     Nancy S. King

     Kennesaw State University

     '98-99 NACADA President


  • How do you suggest that we get faculty buy-in when advising is not specifically noted in the faculty contract?
  • If advising is not specifically included in a faculty member’s contract, it can be an option for those faculty who have a particular interest and ability in working with students individually. They should be able to opt for increased advising responsibilities in lieu of other non-instructional responsibilities such as committee work. If there are adequate rewards and recognitions for advising, faculty members’ willingness to advise definitely increases. 

     Nancy S. King

     Kennesaw State University

     '98-99 NACADA President


  • Does your research support the statement that “Relationships between faculty members in a major and students enhance retention even if the student changes major?”
  • To my knowledge, there is no research which studies the retention rates of students advised by faculty in their major as opposed to those advised by faculty outside their major.  Also, I am not aware of retention research which relates to changes of major.  We do know that students who REMAIN undecided are more likely to drop out and we intuitively feel that students who continually change majors are more likely to drop out.  Finally, I don't believe any research which would support the contention that students are more likely to be retained if they are advised by faculty 'in their major.'

    Wes Habley

    ACT, Inc.

    '86-87 NACADA President


  • Please address the problem of relating faculty advising activities to faculty teaching loads.
  • For those faculty in departments with large numbers of majors, carrying a much heavier advising load could translate into a course release time. If advisors can document that they are spending an equivalent amount of time meeting with advisees that they would spend in the preparation and teaching of a class, this seems to be reasonable.

     Nancy S. King

     Kennesaw State University

     '98-99 NACADA President


  • Can you recommend any strategies to convince reluctant faculty members that advising is teaching?
  • My first suggestion would be to hold workshops on the topic and to circulate articles that speak to the connection between advising and teaching. Another suggestion would be to include “testimonials” from veteran faculty advisors who can offer specific examples of the teaching and learning that occurs in advising sessions. In addition, it is helpful to hear from students who can also illustrate ways that they have grown and learned from the advising relationship. A vehicle one might use to circulate these faculty and student “testimonials” is an advisors’ newsletter. Articles in the newsletter can feature interviews and pictures of these faculty advisors and students who can attest to the value of advising for teaching and learning. Another excellent method for discussing the relationship between advising and teaching is a brown bag luncheon or an advising forum. 

     Nancy King

     Kennesaw State University

     '98-99 NACADA President


  • If  “the best teachers are usually the best advisors,”, would the inverse be true?  I think too many things in Higher Education are faculty centered.  I also think that since advising is a profession and teaching is a profession they are their own entities with some overlap!
  • The “best advisors” it seems to me are also excellent teachers by the very definition of what advisors do. Certainly there is a growing number of professional advisors who are not faculty. I think they can also be extremely effective teachers outside the classroom.

     Nancy S. King

     Kennesaw State University

     '98-99 NACADA President


  • When we hold faculty advising training workshops, we don’t get good attendance.   Can you suggest some means of encouraging more attendance?
  • The workshop should be billed as a faculty development activity and the objectives should be advertised in advance. It is also helpful to have key administrators participate in the workshop. For example, having a provost or dean to distribute certificates to faculty at the conclusion of the workshop is often an incentive. I also would suggest that you hold the workshop off campus if at all possible and that you feed the participants well! The more attractive the venue, usually the more willing folks are to participate

     Nancy S. King

     Kennesaw State University

     '98-99 NACADA President


  • The department has scheduled various activities for students and faculty but only a few students attend.  How can we increase student participation?
  • Timing, location, and topic for discussion should be taken into account.  Perhaps co-sponsoring the activity with a student organization might help. The activity is scheduled around dinner time, feed the students. See if the activity could be scheduled at the same time that students might be attending another activity in the general vicinity.

    Eric White

    Penn State University
    ' 05 NACADA President


  • How might campus administrators provide incentives to increase the number of faculty who will plan an active role in advising and mentoring students?
  • The most common incentives are consideration in the promotion and tenure process, release time, reduction in non-instructional load, and merit pay. If advising and mentoring activities that are documented are included in the annual performance review and are valued by the administration, faculty are generally more willing to participate.

     Nancy S. King

     Kennesaw State University

     '98-99 NACADA President


  • Our faculty, understandably, resist “schedule building” but they are willing to provide on-going developmental advising.  Can you suggest ways to engage faculty in the advising process?
  • If your faculty are willing to engage in on-going developmental advising instead of schedule building, you are fortunate. Giving them the clerical support that they need and assistance from peer and paraprofessional advisors is often an incentive for them to do more developmental advising. I also strongly suggest that advising be built into your institutional culture using such things as advising councils, newsletters, and awards programs for outstanding advisors. 

     Nancy S. King

     Kennesaw State University

     '98-99 NACADA President

 

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