Kathy Shearer, University of Central Missouri
Busy advisors look for avenues to improve their services to students while making the most of their time. Group advising is a popular way advisors can efficiently connect with students. Whether faculty invite advisors to address a class or advisors hold student workshops, advisors may only have short amounts of time to communicate with a group of students. It is important that advisors make the most of that time.
In situations where advisors are given 30 minutes or less to complete a group advising presentation, it is important that they effectively engage students in the advising process. The primary goals of a group advising session can be to connect students with the advisor and spark student interest in using advising services.
Often new students find the college-level advising system mysterious and confusing. Group advising can educate students about the substantial difference between their high school counselor and their college academic advisor. Delineating the similarities and differences can help students develop ideas and questions to discuss with their advisor in future individual appointments. Woolston & Ryan (2007) noted that group advising often opens communication and creates a more comfortable environment between advisors and advisees. This can, in turn, aid in increasing student participation in individual advisor conferences (p. 121).
A group advising session should help students increase their comfort levels with advisors; students attending group advising sessions may be more likely to seek out the advisor for additional assistance and referrals. Teitelbaum (2000) noted that classroom advising can be an efficient way to provide introductory and general information to students (p.398). Information that advisors think simple can frequently perplex students; they often are glad to have the information explained without having to risk feeling inadequate. Understanding this information can help students gain the confidence to inquire about other issues they may be facing. When students feel at ease with their advisor, they will pursue meeting with their advisor for advice ranging from course selection to life goals.
Jordan (2003) suggested that classroom advising should serve to integrate academic advising into the students' overall college experience. Incorporation of the advising component allows students the opportunity for a more well-rounded educational experience. King (2000) recommended that group advising sessions be used to address the broader purpose of advising and that students should be encouraged to meet with their advisor to establish appropriate and meaningful educational plans in conjunction with the advisor (p. 234). When students realize that their educational plans and future are within their control, crucial pieces of their overall college experience can be revealed in classroom advising sessions. Advisors who provide examples of the responsibilities of professional and faculty advisors help students recognize the ‘big picture’ of their collegiate experiences. This sharing of examples can prompt students to take control of their own educational processes.
In group sessions, information should be simple and straightforward; don’t bore the student with things such as a tedious degree audit explanation. Consider quick explanations of things that apply to all students such as general education, the advising syllabus, or campus resources. According to Woolston & Ryan (2007), handouts are crucial to a meaningful group advising session. Having tangible materials available for students to follow along with and review at home, as well as worksheets that are clear, concise and interesting to look at, can assist the advisor with frequently asked questions and clarity (p. 120). Students are receptive to brief explanations rather than monotonous and lengthy descriptions. If students find the advisor uninteresting and long-winded, it will lessen the chances of them seeking out the advisor for additional assistance and information. When preparing for a group advising session, it is vital to be prepared for a myriad of questions. Making up inaccurate answers to questions that may be difficult or confounding is not appropriate and can lead to student distrust in the advisor (Woolston & Ryan, 2007, p. 120).
Be sure to provide information specific to student groups such as non-traditional and transfer students. Students in these groups are typically in need of information about department contacts and referrals rather than the basic information lower level students seek. Sharing information that assists students adjusting to college life and learning university procedures is also very helpful. Information that can help students prepare for registration or information on special topics such as internships or preparing for graduation can be valuable tools for specific student groups (Woolston & Ryan, 2007, p. 119). It is important to communicate to these students the importance of developing their educational plans with their advisor, even though these students may think they have already heard, or are aware of, the information you have to offer.
Let students know that advisors can not only assist them with academic planning, but also explain available resources and answer the questions they may be afraid to ask. It is crucial that students realize that the advisor’s office is a safe place; here they can learn about resources, ask questions and get answers in a secure environment that is free from ridicule and judgment. Students also need to know that their advisor is accessible to them; advisors should make certain that they have time available to meet with students after extending the invitation in a group session. Students who are eager to speak with their advisor during a group session may lose their fervor after calling and learning that the advisor is unavailable for days (Woolston & Ryan, 2007, p. 121).
Group advising is an important and beneficial opportunity for advisors to reach out to their students; however, advising in a classroom situation is not an easy task and should not be approached without careful preparation and analysis of student groups. When attempting to address large and varying populations of undergraduate students, time and content planning are essential to success. Advisors should be conscientious regarding their presentation; demonstrating enthusiasm for the significance of advising is paramount to success.
University of Central Missouri
Jordan, P. (2003) College Café. Retrieved 1/19/2007 from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/College_Cafe.htm
King, N.S. (2000). Advising Students in Groups. In Gordon, V. N. & Habley, W. R. (Eds.). Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Teitelbaum, H. (2000). Anticipating, Implementing, and Adapting to Changes in Academic Advising. In Gordon, V. N. & Habley, W. R. (Eds.). Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Woolston, Donald & Ryan, Rebecca. Group Advising. (2007). In Folsom, Pat (Ed.). The New Advisor Guidebook: Mastering the Art of Academic Advising Through the First Year & Beyond (Monograph No. 16). Manhattan, KS: National Academic Advising Association.
Cite this article using APA style as: Shearer, K. (2007, June). Taking advising to the classroom: Maximum results in minimal time. Academic Advising Today, 30(2). Retrieved from [insert url here]