Book by: Lisa J. Hatfield and Vicki L. Wise
Review by: Craig M. McGill
Senior Academic Advisor
Department of English
Florida International University
Maura M. Reynolds,
Director of Academic Advising (retired)
For a profession or academic discipline to build and sustain a sufficient scholarly base, its practitioners must write and publish regularly, and, as advisors have often been reminded, lack of a sufficient literature base plagues the discipline of academic advising (Shaffer, Zalewski & Leveille, 2010). In their thin volume, A guide to becoming a scholarly practitioner in student affairs, Lisa J. Hatfield and Vicki L. Wise provide a useful guide to help SA practitioners develop scholarly habits as well as the courage to present and publish on topics about which they are passionate. The book’s premise is compelling:
If you could give voice to those who are marginalized, if you could change the field of student affairs through your voice, if you could create better collaborations across campus with our academic colleagues, and if you could share your insights with parents, students, and other invested stakeholders so that they know what we contribute to student learning and development, why would you not? (p. 8)
Their challenge is explored and addressed in eight short chapters.
In the first chapter, the authors delve into reasons practitioners may not pursue research/scholarship: they may not read professional literature and may not be adequately prepared for scholarship, they may not feel encouraged to write and may lack motivation, or they may feel inferior to faculty. In the second chapter, Hatfield and Wise focus on feedback. That this topic is explored so early indicates perhaps how often poor feedback discourages scholarship. The authors’ discussion of rubrics is especially helpful. Because many SA professionals begin to pursue scholarship through presenting, chapter three offers pointers for effective presentations. Chapters four through seven focus on writing: deciding on a publication venue, making time to write, staying motivated, crafting a support system, setting achievable goals, finding a scholarly voice, avoiding pitfalls, and dealing with feedback. The final chapter begins with a pep talk and concludes with the thoughts of senior SA professionals who have leadership responsibilities and are active in publishing and presenting. These leaders explore the current state of scholarship, qualities needed to produce scholarship, and methods leaders can use to encourage their staff to be scholarly practitioners.
The book offers practical and helpful advice. The authors’ approach is informal, honest, and applicable. This is a well-resourced self-help book with strategies to implement whether the reader has colleagues to collaborate with or is a one-person operation.
The book challenges the notion that scholarship and practice are separate entities; rather scholarship is needed to undergird practice and practice is needed to undergird scholarship. NACADA’s Board of Directors has responded to this challenge by approving the Center for Research and Excellence in Academic Advising and Student Success. The new center may want to explore the NASPA Research and Scholarship Agenda for the Student Affairs Profession (referenced by Hatfield and Wise) especially in its insistence on tightening and aligning the connections among theory, research, and practice.
The authors also challenge graduate programs in SA to foster research and scholarship so that practitioners are involved at the very beginning of their careers, and the book encourages graduate programs to consider the coursework students need to support the practice and expectation of scholarship. Hatfield and Wise provide food for thought for those at all levels, from the beginning professional to the senior administrator.
The book is not without shortcomings. Large-print quotations throughout the chapters are distracting and pad the book, as do many blank pages. Additionally, in several sections, Hatfield and Wise draw too heavily on scholars (e.g., Gregory in chapter three and Silvia in chapter four), which overpowers the authors’ own voices. For a book helping novice writers to develop a scholarly voice, this is a drawback.
However, this book does a fine job of demystifying the processes of presenting and publishing and is well worth its cost.
As a final challenge, the authors remind us that unless academic advisors write and publish, they “will continue to be viewed as service providers rather than educators, and their work considered superfluous to the academic experience” (p. 73). How will we respond? Let this book be a beginning.
Shaffer, L. S., Zalewski, J. M., & Leveille, J. (2010). The professionalization of academic advising: Where are we in 2010?. NACADA Journal, 30(1), 66-77.
A Guide to Becoming a Scholarly Practitioner in Student Affairs. (2015). Book by Lisa J. Hatfield and Vicki L. Wise. Review by Craig M. McGill and Maura M. Reynolds. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. 112 pp., $19.95 (Paperback). ISBN 978-1-62036-152-8