4.) Methods Used to Assess Advising Effectiveness
5.) Examples of Student Experiences
Advising is the active relationship between a student and me, the adviser. My goal is to make sure that it is a shared responsibility to develop a clear four-year educational plan, incorporating personal, social, academic, and career factors. My goal, also, is to focus on helping students identify their life goals, acquire skills and attitudes that promote intellectual growth, and become academically successful while fulfilling their major or minor in dance.
When mentoring students, I tried to develop practices that support student success by creating an atmosphere of support and providing quality up-to-date information. I assisted students in decision-making and independent thinking as many explored personal, academic, and career goals. I led them through a developmental guide of exploring life goals, values, abilities, interests, limitations as well as the exploration of career goals. Advisees and I have discussed the dance major, the emphasis of study, courses, course-loads, and scheduling classes. We discussed other majors or minors that interested them. I also tried to incorporate a broader context of exploration, including self-knowledge, goal setting and monitoring progress, decision making, and planning for a career and lifelong learning. I established effective working relationships with other faculty, staff, and administration in support of the total experience for student advisement. I encouraged students to stick out hard classes by discussing difficulties with the professor and seeking out a tutor. I also encouraged them to maintain the trajectory to graduate within the projected 4-year timeline.
Throughout the school year, I advised students on an as-needed basis. I targeted a condensed appointment session twice a year with my advisees approximately 3-d weeks before early registration. In the past, I always had an open-door policy throughout the year, and during advising season, I posted sign-up sheets on my office door. With the rapid shift to remote learning, academic advising shifted, as well. I communicated with my advisees via email, Zoom, or chat sessions to make sure they were doing well, both personally and academically, and I tried to detect and discuss any challenges they may have been facing. In cases where students had questions outside of the regular advisement sessions, I had an online appointment book, where they could schedule meetings with me quickly and easily. After experiencing virtual advising, the benefit was students could, to a degree, schedule appointments and see me quickly. However, the main challenge included issues of connectivity, and both students and I agreed that virtual advising would not successfully replicate the ‘encouragement factor’ found in face-to-face advising. I will continue to use the tools for setting up appointments as well as occasional virtual advisement when necessary, but most students and I have appreciated returning to face-to-face advising.
4.) Methods Used to Assess Advising Effectiveness
My goal has been to offer guidance to students toward success in their academic careers. I was finding myself being there for students not only to explore academic goals but, also, to help them through difficult personal times. For example, they also asked for real human-needs help. To assist students transition and thrive during this very difficult academic period, I researched on-campus services and connected them to the variety of resources within Student Affairs, the Student Success Center, the Writer's Block, the Center for Diversity, the Counseling Center, the Bridges program, the Lougheed Center for Applied Learning, and Career Services.
Two strategies that I have kept in mind are advising is a 50/50 partnership and it should be a continual process. In focusing on creating an inclusive view of student advising, I sought to build an understanding and trusting relationship with my advisees. As students tend to make lots of choices that directly affect their academic career path, many challenges of the year made those choices difficult to navigate. Students particularly needed guidance with decision-making skills, and I paid close attention to the development and identification of student goals and objectives related to their career path as well as their end-of-semester outcomes. In so doing, I made it a point to support their needs for planning out a clear outline, reaching those goals, and completing the semester, successfully.
I felt my work with my advisees could be more of a collaboration rather than just prescribing course schedules to them. I gave them the responsibility to reflect on their strengths, goals, and dreams, which allowed us to share responsibilities for getting tasks done. I asked positive, open-ended questions during our appointments with the intention to discuss academic and career goals and develop an academic plan to meet those goals, especially during this time of the pandemic. I feel that this taught them to become more independent thinkers, to problem-solve on their own, and to transition into taking more responsibility for their own course scheduling and goal setting. It also provided opportunities to learn how to better navigate through the college course selection and registration process. As students gained more confidence in the process, they gained more motivation and maturity, and I even noticed more success. It was my hope that students and I could also see the whole picture of advising. I have felt confident in my role of providing guidance and direction so students could be successful during these times and beyond. Equally, I am pleased with all the work of the students including:
keeping all scheduled appointments,
informing me of any issues they had in their classes or personal lives that impacted their academic progress,
keeping track of their program outline and following their degree requirements,
being responsible and accountable for making their own final decisions based on the advice received,
contacting me with questions about majors, minors, and the registration process,
and most importantly, attending classes, studying hard, and doing regular check-ins with me.
Overall, advising students for success has always been an important but challenging task for me because every student is unique and program requirements vary depending on the catalog year in which a student is enrolled. I have learned that advising is not specific to a major or a department. Rather, it requires an advisor to have a broader knowledge of all departments and majors, as well as campus resources in an effort to assist students with whatever needs and goals they may have. Also, I found it important to build advising strategies that support early intervention, which then equips students with the tools to succeed in their academic experience, particularly nowadays and as we transition forward.
5.) Examples of Student Experiences
In researching and gaining a more thorough knowledge of policies, procedures, services, as well as departmental requirements for our degree programs, I found myself better assisting students and referring them to more appropriate resources. I have outlined below three examples of my experiences as an advisor since 2020.
Example 1: Advising a First-year Student
Starting college can be overwhelming and for me to understand the challenges that students face is crucial toward increasing student retention. At the beginning of the year, when students were transitioning from studying online toward in-person, a first-year advisee and student of mine met with me to discuss her trouble adjusting to the college environment. She had never been away from home before and was very homesick. She wanted to see her family more, but COVID-19 restrictions prevented her from going home to visit them. Students dancing in the studio together again has been such a positive healer for many students, where they have received in-person interaction and collaboration as well as hands-on experimentation components. I knew that if my advisee could come to class and get to know the others, many of whom were in the same scenario, she would begin to feel better. She took that leap toward getting to know her peers and found herself among new friends in no time at all. I also began noticing her thriving in class. I even observed her leaving with the others on some occasions to go to Starbucks after class. In the end, she appeared happy with her choices, was successful in class, and, with her new friends, she was no longer homesick.
Example 2: Advising an Undecided Student
Over the past three years, I have been working with an advisee who originally applied to the college as a Business major but has since decided that was not something she wanted. By the end of her sophomore year, she had not yet decided what major she wanted to pursue; however, she loved to dance and was considering opening a dance-related business as a career goal. My original prescription was for her to complete all of her general education courses that could apply to all majors. When we met for advising in the summer before the Fall 2019 semester, I told her about classes in the dance major she could take that would be interesting and beneficial if she decided to go into dance and/or fulfill her remaining general education requirements. I also introduced her to the Arts Management Coordinator, Josh Vink to help her consider such a degree. She browsed through the course schedule and undergraduate catalog for a while. She finally decided to take one of each type of class to get a better feel for each major and to hopefully decide which next steps to take. She did take the next steps and decided. She will be going into her senior year in Fall 2021 as a Dance and Arts Management double major – with 91% completion and plans to graduate on time in 2022.
Example 3: Advising a Disgruntled Student
A new advisee contacted me during the second week of classes with a complaint about one of her professors. It turned out that she registered for a couple of classes back-to-back, with one online and the other on campus. The campus common areas were closed, and she did not have enough time to walk from her home to campus during the break between classes. She learned that the professor of her second class collected the homework at the beginning of class and did not accept it after that time. She tried to turn in her homework, but the professor did not accept the late work. Therefore, she received a zero for the assignment. The disgruntled student contacted me requesting the proper chain of command so that she could go over the professor’s head to try and resolve the issue. Dropping the class was not an option due to the minimum number of hours required to keep her financial aid. I let the student know that I understood her concern and frustration and that I was there to help her. I let her know that each professor has the discretion of declaring their own classroom policies, including whether or not they will accept late homework. I also let her know that if this was the professor’s policy, it should be clearly stated in the course syllabus. Rather than going over the professor’s head, I suggested that she talk to the professor and let her know about the situation, asking if they could work out some type of arrangement. A suggestion that I offered was to see if she could turn in her homework early. Alternatively, I said to talk with the professor of the first class about the feasibility of leaving class early, and if that would cause any repercussions. In the end, it was the first professor who agreed to allow the student to leave a few minutes early to arrive at the next class on time. I encouraged her to look at this as a learning experience, and in the future, be sure to make a schedule that was more conscious of commute time between classes. I was glad that this student was able to work this out.
My intended outcome is that through advising, students will learn to frame questions about the future and seek information needed to formulate answers. As a result, they will practice decision-making strategies and self-leadership skills that they will use throughout their lives. Students will also be able to put the college experience into perspective, especially with regard to understanding the value of the learning and creative process, whether it is independent or collaborative. They will also be encouraged to recognize opportunities to structure their college experiences and maximize their abilities as independent thinkers.