NACADA’s strategic goals (2 of 8)

In our ongoing discussion of NACADA’s recently approved strategic plan, this month’s blog entry looks at  the Association’s goal to “expand and communicate the scholarship of academic advising.”  To achieve that goal, we first need to understand the nature of “scholarship in academic advising.”  In his landmark and seminal book, Scholarship Reconsidered:  Priorities of the Professoriate, Ernest Boyer laid out a very useful taxonomy for understanding scholarship.  He explained that scholarship can be divided into four broad types:

  • Scholarship of discovery.  When most folks think of research, they immediately think about this type of scholarship; in discovery scholarship, we create brand new knowledge about a topic.  Although very important in the grander scheme of things, relatively few researchers create such new knowledge.  The scholarship of discovery requires extensive training in research methods and (often) in statistics.  And, it rarely produces results of “life changing” significance.  An emphasis on the scholarship of discovery ignores other “ways of knowing” and deters many folks from engaging in research at all.
  • Scholarship of integration.  Academic advising research is very amenable to the scholarship of integration.  In this form of scholarship, we often integrate knowledge from various disciplines.  Since academic advising is an interdisciplinary field by nature, the scholarship of integration is a good model for academic advising research and scholarship.
  • Scholarship of application.  In this form of scholarship, researchers take previously discovered information and apply it in new contexts.  Consider, for example, the current emphasis many campuses place on educating veterans.  A scholarship of application project might examine how various forms of advising (prescriptive, developmental, intrusive) “work” with that important population.
  • Scholarship of teaching and learning.  Since advising is a form of teaching, the scholarship of teaching & learning also provides fertile ground for academic advising researchers.  You may hear the phrase “teacher / scholar” on your campus in connection with this form of scholarship.

The category a specific research endeavor fits into isn’t really the most important thing; the Boyer taxonomy is useful because it expands our view of scholarship in general.  NACADA’s Research Committee has developed a research agenda that provides a good starting place for thinking about academic advising research.  Through its various publication venues, such as the NACADA Journal and Academic Advising Today, the Association also provides lots of opportunity to communicate the scholarship of academic advising.  Discipline-based journals are increasingly open to sound academic advising research, too.

If you have an interest in exploring the scholarship of academic advising, please consider one or more of the following resources:

Don’t hesitate to contact me via email if you’d like to dialogue more specifically about the scholarship of academic advising.  Next month’s entry will look at NACADA’s strategic goal to “provide professional development opportunities that are responsive to the needs of advisors and advising administrators.”  Meanwhile, happy holidays to everyone!

NACADA’s strategic goals (1 of 8)

For the next few months, our commission blog posts will focus on NACADA’s newly adopted strategic goals.  Like strategic plans in many other organizations, NACADA’s plan is designed to guide the Association in the coming years; in other words, it provides direction for critically important decisions like resource allocation, evaluation & assessment and programs & activities.

I’ve worked with and for NACADA for many years, in many different capacities and roles. Like you, I believe in the importance of academic advising in higher education–the difference we, as advisors, can make in the lives of students.   I’m therefore very optimistic that NACADA’s leadership will indeed use the strategic plan for its intended purpose–not merely as an ‘exercise to complete’ every five years.

Michael Porter, of the Harvard Business School, wrote that businesses compete in two fundamental ways:  cost / price leadership and product differentiation. Although not a business, NACADA follows the latter approach; folks with a passion for academic advising, who seek to learn more about the field from both conceptual and applied perspectives and who want to advance knowledge that will inform practice for years to come would be hard pressed to find a better source than NACADA.

If you have comments or perspectives to share on the NACADA strategic plan as a whole, I hope you’ll take a few moments to share them in the comments to this post. And, I hope you’ll return to this blog next month, when we’ll take a look at expanding and communicating the scholarship of academic advising.

Disability 101: A Guide for Faculty Advisors

Colleagues, please check out the attached document from the Advising Students with Disabilities commission; it offers a lot of good information about working with students with various kinds of disabilities.  My thanks to Rebecca Cofer, chair of the ASD commission, for putting it together.

Disability 101 commissionfinal

College rating system

A recent article by Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed laid out President Obama’s proposed plan for (among other things) tying various rewards to specific performance metrics.  The article, titled Obama’s Ratings for Higher Ed appeared in the 22 August 2013 edition, and can be accessed via this link.

In business, we say that ‘what gets measured gets managed.’  From an organizational culture perspective, the president’s proposal is attempting to change behavior, presumably hoping that values and assumptions will change as a result. Although the proposal has some good ideas, some of which have been around in higher ed for decades, it doesn’t address the organizational forces that have led to our current situation. Some of those forces include faculty unions determined to maintain the status quo, system and campus administrators seeking a ‘magic bullet,’ and some (not all) poorly prepared students with weak fundamental skills and attitudes of entitlement springing from the erroneous belief that they are customers.

How does advising fit into the accountability picture painted by the president’s proposal?  What comments do you have on the pros and cons of what he’s suggesting?  Please share your thoughts in the comments to this post and / or on the Commission listserv.  If you’re not already a subscriber to the list, you’ll find directions for doing so here; you can expect about one post a month from me on the list updating you on Commission and NACADA matters.

You’re also most welcome to register your opinion on the viability of the president’s proposal here; your responses will be completely anonymous.

Competency-based transcripts

Greetings, colleagues. . .

Competency-based education has been around for decades; the idea that we should specify learning outcomes for class meetings, courses and programs has become part of our mental model in higher education, particularly when it comes to assessment.  But, Northern Arizona University has taken the idea one step further in the development of competency-based transcripts.  Please check out this Inside Higher Ed article by Paul Fain, which appeared on 9 August 2013 (the article is simply titled “Competency-Based Transcripts.”)  NAU’s idea is intriguing, and has some merits; but, like most educational innovations, it will likely be discussed and adopted slowly over time.

What do you see as the pros and cons of a competency-based transcript?  How could a similar tool be developed and used in academic advising?  Please share your thoughts in the comments here on the blog and / or on the Commission listserv.  If you’re not a subscriber to the list, you’ll find directions for doing so here.

 

Teaching and students: with them or for them?

Commission member Kristan Venegas of the University of Southern California sent me a link to an interesting article from the Teaching Professor blog.  Authored by Maryellen Weimer, the article is titled “Learning with Students vs. Doing for Students.”  In it, Professor Weimer is commenting on a quote she heard from a colleague:  ““I see myself as a learner first, thus I create my classes with learners, not for them.”  Interesting idea, right?  We hear a lot in higher education about focusing our classes on “learning,” rather than “teaching.”  Of course, it’s not a dichotomy, but a continuum.

Professor Weimer’s exploration of the idea is realistic and balanced.  She recognizes that, while some courses may allow us to determine content, assessment tools and classroom activities, we’re often constrained as educators with respect to all three.  Thinking about my own discipline (accounting), there are just some things that must be included in courses, whether I / my students find them interesting & compelling or not.  And, the same is true in other fields.  Nevertheless, designing courses with students in mind is a sound and common practice; each time I deliver a course, I make changes to it based on “what worked” and “what didn’t work” with students.

Since advising is a form of teaching, the same ideas hold true in our interactions with the students we advise.  In those cases, however, it’s a bit simpler to co-create based on an individual student’s concerns.  I invite you, either in the comments below or on the Faculty Advising commission listserv, to comment on the ideas in the article.  For example, what steps do you take, either in your classes and / or in your advising interactions, to co-create with students?  For students?  If you’re not already subscribed to the listserv, you’ll find directions for doing so here.

The role of incentives in motivation

Greetings, colleagues. . .

As advisors, we’re frequently called upon to motivate people, whether those people are students, colleagues, administrators or others.  And, for as long as organizations have existed, scholars have been advancing theories about what motivates people.  Since motivation is part and parcel of the work we do, I thought you might be interested in this article on the subject:  How Incentives Demoralize Us by Barry Schwartz, Professor of Psychology at Swarthmore College.  Although Prof. Schwartz is examining the role of monetary incentives in motivation, I think it raises some interesting questions in advising contexts.

We’d all be happier if our students would take our advice simply because it’s the “right thing to do” with respect to matters like major and course selection, study habits, co-curricular activities, relationships and the like.  Sadly, students sometimes have to be externally motivated to act in their own best interest.  On my campus, for example, we’ve begun charging students extra fees when they accumulate too many units.  If Prof. Schwartz is correct, that practice may be counterproductive vis-a-vis its intended purpose (getting students to graduate more quickly).

I invite you to consider the following questions, and to share your thoughts in the comments to this post and / or on our Faculty Advising commission listserv:

  1. What external incentives does your campus employ to motivate students?  How are those incentives working?
  2. If you could design a system to motivate students to take your advice, what would it look like?

Directions for subscribing to the listserv can be found here.

Faculty Advising sessions in Salt Lake City

Greetings, colleagues. . .

Please join me in congratulating all the folks listed below, who have confirmed their participation in the NACADA annual conference in Salt Lake City this October!  As you can see, we’ll have a lot of variety in topics and institutional types representing the Commission.

In addition to the sessions listed below, we will of course be having our annual commission meeting.  Through its amazing and hard working volunteers, we’ve accomplished quite a bit since we last met in Nashville.  I encourage you to consider getting involved in the Commission in the 2013 – 2014 academic year, whether as part of Commission governance, through suggesting Commission-based projects or working on focused initiatives.

Jennifer Jones Columbia College Chicago Academic Coordinators: Elevating the Success of Faculty & Departmental Advising
Becky Harlow Columbia College Chicago Academic Coordinators: Elevating the Success of Faculty & Departmental Advising
Theresa Fadden Broome Community College An Online Advising Training and Development Tool to Clean Up Your Campus: No More Advising in a Vacuum
Joanne Conlon West Chester University Elevating Faculty Advising to Greater Heights:  Energizing Faculty Advising on Your Campus
Michelle White Millersville University Elevating Faculty Advising to Greater Heights:  Energizing Faculty Advising on Your Campus
Terry Forge Rockhurst University Faculty Advising Handbook on Blackboard
Beth Noreus Bay de Noc Community College Shift Happens: Changing the Culture of Academic Advising
Annette Johnson Bay de Noc Community College Shift Happens: Changing the Culture of Academic Advising
Rebecca Olive-Taylor Elon University Elevating Advising to Leverage Student Engagement
Barbara Cobb Murray State University Success in the Three-Ring Circus: Keeping Everyone Connected in a Blended/Decentralized Advising Program
Peggy Whaley Murray State University Success in the Three-Ring Circus: Keeping Everyone Connected in a Blended/Decentralized Advising Program
Olympia Stewart Murray State University Success in the Three-Ring Circus: Keeping Everyone Connected in a Blended/Decentralized Advising Program
Kristan Venegas University of Southern California Hot Topic: How Faculty Use Discipline Related Theory in Advising
Jeanne Westgard Salt Lake Community College Hot Topic: How Faculty Use Discipline Related Theory in Advising
Alicia Cobb Florida State University You Say Tomato . . .  Advising/Personal Tutoring in the US and the UK
Penny Robinson University of Leeds You Say Tomato . . .  Advising/Personal Tutoring in the US and the UK
Jennifer Jones Columbia College Chicago Academic Coordinators: Elevating the Success of Faculty & Departmental Advising
Becky Harlow Columbia College Chicago Academic Coordinators: Elevating the Success of Faculty & Departmental Advising

College Reality Check

Greetings, colleagues. . .

I recently ran across the following information:

College costs can vary widely and the numbers may surprise you.  Selecting a college is a major decision, and paying for it can impact you for years to come.  College Reality Check helps you get a get the information you need to make informed decisions. For any school within the US, find out the average of:

– How much you can expect to pay given your family’s income level
– How many years it takes students to graduate
– How much income students make in their first year after graduation and how likely they are to default on their student loans

Get started comparing the colleges you’re most interested in and see how they stack up: http://collegerealitycheck.com/

We’ve seen a lot of attention paid recently to college rankings, “value for the money,” and the like.  And, while fiscal issues certainly don’t constitute the sum total of college selection criteria, they are definitely a key component in today’s economy.  What role do you think advising plays in helping prospective students select colleges and universities?  Does your campus employ any particularly effective advising-related strategies for student recruitment and retention?  Please share your thoughts in the comments and / or post them to our Commission listserve.  If you haven’t subscribed to the listserve, you can find directions for doing so here.

Only Four Jobs in the World

Greetings, colleagues. . .

A few days ago, I ran across this entry via my LinkedIn account:

Untitled

In the accompanying post, Mr. Adler wrote:

Everything starts with an idea. This is the first of the four jobs – the Thinkers.  Builders convert these ideas into reality. This the second job. Improvers make this reality better. This is the third job. Producers do the work over and over again, delivering quality goods and services to the company’s customers in a repeatable manner. This is the fourth job. And then the process begins again with new ideas and new ways of doing business being developed as the old ones become stale.

So I started thinking. . .where does good academic advising fit into that taxonomy?  I think it has elements of all four!  Advisors, in collaboration with the students we serve, generate ideas every day about how to promote their success, recover from academic difficulty, explore new horizons–so, we’re thinkers.  Over time, we build new mental models for advising, drawing not only on our experiences but also on theories and ideas from our disciplines and colleagues.  We also work hard to improve our advising systems and our students’ lives.  And we certainly produce when we interact with multitudes of students every term.

How do you see your role as an advisor fitting into Mr. Adler’s taxonomy?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below and / or on the Commission list!