Dr. Doris Carroll Develops E-book for Graduate Course

By Patrice Scott

2014 College of Engineering students.

A College of Education faculty member created an e-book that is saving graduate students the cost of two textbooks.

Doris Wright Carroll, associate professor of special education, counseling and student affairs, developed an e-book for multiple sections of the course “Multicultural Aspects of Academic Advising.” Carroll received a $5,000 award from the university’s Open/Alternative Textbook Initiative to develop the resource. Over the course of the academic year, the e-book is saving approximately 120 students $13,500.

“Because I teach graduate-level distance courses, my motivation for doing this was to help the students who are taking this course around the world,” Carroll said. “I routinely have students enrolled who are in Canada, South Africa, Europe and on Army bases around the world. This population of students experiences a number of challenges when ordering textbooks and very often would not get their books until week four of the course or would incur additional costs.”

Carroll earned her doctorate degree in counseling psychology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She has been on faculty at K-State since 1999 and conducts applied research in student affairs practice and higher education administration, with special focus on online graduate education. Carroll’s current research focus is on cultural competency development.

The Student Becomes the Master – Advisor

By Jaimie (Engle) Newby

JaimieI’m from a town of 150 people, on a peninsula surrounded by the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Neither of my parents completed more than 3 college semesters. When I went to Illinois College (IC) in Jacksonville, IL, my life was immediately transformed. Although I felt behind my classmates, due to the various limitations of my high school (enrollment of 60), I did what I had to to catch up and feel not only capable but worthy of higher education.

At IC, I had a fantastic faculty advisor, Dr. Winston Wells, who helped me become the first ever International Studies major to concentrate in World Religions, although I wasn’t sure what I’d do with this major. I have always pictured myself as a teacher, and had experience teaching Sunday school and vacation bible school at my church. However, I didn’t enjoy teaching younger students, but preferred to work with older students wanting to better themselves.

I really don’t recall when I decided that advising would be the way to fulfill my desire to teach, but toward the end of my junior year at IC, I got a job as an academic mentor for at-risk youth at a local child welfare agency, as a way to gain advising experience. A month later, I met some professors from Maryland on a BreakAway (2-week study abroad trip) to Cuernavaca, Mexico. They recommended that I look into NACADA, for more info on becoming an academic advisor. I did this as soon as I returned home.

Shortly after this I was promoted to coordinator of the mentoring program, a challenge I was more than excited to take on. My senior year began, and I also took on a 2-semester internship in the Office of Study Abroad and BreakAways at IC, in order to gain experience in college administration. With recommendations from professors, I applied and was accepted to K-State’s Distance Education Academic Advising Masters program, which I began in fall 2012, and completed this past May, 2014.

I hadn’t considered graduate school before I was introduced to NACADA, but it was an obvious next step for someone as passionate about learning and bettering one’s self as I am. This was an amazing experience, to have professionals in the field as my classmates, and some of the top sources in the field as my professors. I also did substitute teaching while completing grad school, which only reaffirmed my decision to work in higher education rather than elementary or secondary education.

Just before completion of my M.S., I finally got my foot in the higher education door as an Admissions Counselor at MacMurray College. I consider myself to be a visionary. Whether consciously or subconsciously, I somehow manage to make my visions into reality. When the admissions team was asked to meet individually with the new provost, I immediately pictured myself telling the provost about my qualifications and desire for academic advising even though MacMurray employs faculty advisors and had no central administrative unit for advising. I looked at this meeting as an interview for what my future at the college could behold. The provost quickly became intrigued, as he places a lot of value in advising. Two months later, along with restructuring the Admissions Office, he informed me that I’d be moving from Admissions to the newly created position (for me!) of Director of Academic Advising. Yet another challenge I was thrilled to take on.

Now 3 months into my new position, I’m overseeing all faculty advising, as well as single-handedly advising all incoming students until they declare a major. I was immediately charged with developing a comprehensive advising model, to include advising processes, evaluation and assessment, and development activities for both students and faculty. Although I skipped a step in my career plan, going straight into advising administration without first holding an advising position, I am incredibly fortunate that I so recently finished graduate school at K-State. Not only do I benefit from having my education fresh in my mind, but my papers and projects are still relevant and often applicable resources in my new position.

I also had the opportunity to attend my first NACADA national conference in 2014 and refresh myself on best practices in the field. And, I finally got to meet some of my K-state professors! It was like meeting celebrities, having read all their publications and having only communicated with them online. They were so easy to talk to in person! Dan Wilcox even asked how my wedding went, having remembered me from his Career Advising course the previous year. I was incredibly flattered!

I couldn’t be more satisfied with my blossoming career, and my decision to pursue my M.S. in Academic Advising with K-State. I am looking forward to many more years of advising/teaching students, continuous professional development, and meeting like-minded professionals at future NACADA conferences!

Jaimie (Engle) Newby
 2014, Kansas State University
MacMurray College
Jacksonville, IL

This is one in a series of student profiles. To read more Academic Advising Success Stories please visit the Global Campus website: http://global.k-state.edu/education/academic-advising/masters/success-stories. Submit your story to acadad@ksu.edu.

Dr. Bimper Looks at Black Student Athletes’ Experiences in College Sports, Improving Graduation Rates

For many student athletes, life off the field may be the tougher opponent.

Albert Bimper Jr., assistant professor of special education, counseling and student affairs at Kansas State University, researches race and diversity issues in sports as well as the experiences of student athletes in higher education. His goal is to find how the experiences of student athletes, particularly nonwhite student athletes, can be enhanced to improve their education and increase graduation rates.

Bimper played football at Colorado State University and in the National Football League as a center for the Indianapolis Colts. He said the topic is meaningful to him not only as an educator, but also as a former player who has friends and teammates who are unsure what to do since their athletics career ended.

“Some scholars have looked at and characterized the black student athlete experience as being very unique,” Bimper said. “In Division I athletics, black student athletes make up 61 percent of the basketball player base and 46 percent of the football player base. Yet they represent a very small portion of the overall student population and have a lower graduation rate than nonblack student athletes.”

Football and basketball are the highest-grossing college sports. Of the 70 college teams that competed in 2012 bowl games, 51 percent of those teams had at least a 20 percentage point difference between the graduation rate of black student athletes and white student athletes, Bimper said. Additionally, a quarter of those 70 teams had a 30 percentage point difference in graduation success rates.

For an ongoing research project, Bimper interviewed black student athletes at various universities in the Midwest about their experiences in academia and in the context of race. Student responses were analyzed through critical race theory, an academic discipline that combines race, law and power in a critical examination of society and sociocultural influences, in an effort to illuminate a greater understanding of black student athlete experience and the causes of students falling short.

Bimper recently presented his research at the university’s inaugural 2013 Faculty Showcase with the lecture “Is There an Elephant on the Roster? Race, Racism and High Profile Intercollegiate Sport.” He is currently preparing his findings for several academic journals.

In his research, Bimper found that the black student athletes have a complex relationship with sport culture and academics, which may lead to lowered academic performance and degree completion. Often the athletes felt as if their accomplishments on the field were highly celebrated while those in the classroom were not, creating a skewed sense of priorities and expectations, Bimper said.

Many stated they experienced lowered academic expectations because they were athletes and black.

“There are beliefs and perspectives that student athletes are ‘dumb jocks,’ and that burden is greater for black student athletes,” Bimper said. “But what does it mean to be a dumb jock? Based on the data, we could say that dumb jocks are not born, but rather they are being systematically created and institutionalized by the culture of sport that is creating this disparity we see between academic performance and graduation rates.”

Some athletes said they felt as if their options for an academic major were limited because of influences, pressures and lack of knowledge about available disciplines. Several student athletes reported enrolling in a major because they had seen advertisements for it at sporting events or it was simply the major of an athlete they admire.

According to Bimper, universities could capitalize on the increasing trend of high school student athletes graduating in December and beginning college in January. Programs could be offered in the summer that showcase science, technology, engineering and mathematics — or STEM — majors as well as critical majors such as ethnic studies. Similarly, programs could offer opportunities for young students athletes to get involved in research.

“It takes advantage of that shortened time frame and bridges what they did in the summer to their first semester,” Bimper said. “When they enroll for classes, they can talk to their adviser or whomever about this really exciting program and how they can keep doing that thing. They have an investment in a subject they care about and will want to see it through.”

Finding time to take advantage of such programs is a considerable challenge faced by student athletes and those working with athletes at a collegiate level. The goal, however, should be to not only graduate, but to educate student athletes, Bimper said.

Additionally, universities could look at offering more STEM-oriented classes and labs before afternoon practice sessions; integrate a multicultural program in athletics programs, similar to those integrated in academic arenas; and introduce a transition program that helps student athletes prepare for the rigors of academia while living in a new city.

“We can’t assume that student athletes have been on a college campus before and that they’ll easily adjust to the new environment they are in, especially if they’re coming from a largely multicultural area to a predominantly white area,” Bimper said.

Bimper said athletics offers numerous opportunities for many black student athletes, though many improvements can be made to enhance their experiences and potential for success beyond sport.

“Sports are one aspect of our society that many believe dismantles race,” Bimper said. “Black student athletes have a complex sense of equal opportunity in the context of sport. It offers them a unique place where they see themselves as equal, though they still recognize that racism exists in the culture of sport. Practicing and playing together helps navigate race, but it doesn’t transcend it.”

This article originally appeared in K-State Today, April 25, 2013. Dr. Albert Bimper, Jr. teaches in the academic advising graduate program.

Negotiating Civil Discourse in Academic Advising

This article originally appeared in Academic Advising Today (Vol. 34, No. 4) December 2011. Shannon Burton completed a Master’s in Academic Advising from Kansas State University in 2009.

Shannon Burton, Michigan State University

Higher education professionals have come to recognize that our students are an amalgamation of their family structures, race and ethnicity, gender, religions, and educational experiences. As students converge upon our campuses, they are challenged to confront their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in new ways through coursework, the people they meet, and the extra-curricular opportunities in which they engage. Advisors hope to create environments where students feel safe sharing their views on coursework and their activities, but we realize that the comments students make can be positive, negative, or sometimes even inappropriate.

How should advisors engage students in deeper discussions when we hear comments about an experience that borders on incivility? What can we do to help students begin to develop healthy means to discuss experiences?  Academic advisors can help students put their views and experiences into perspective when we teach students to maintain discussions that support, rather than undermine, societal good in the academic environment. While it may be difficult even for advisors to reflect upon controversial topics, there are strategies we can use to manage civil discourse. To facilitate appropriately, advisors must examine our perspectives on societal issues first.

Understanding Ourselves

  1. Advisors should have an understanding of our views on issues so that biases can be checked.  The key is to engage students and allow them to reflect upon what they are saying versus imposing our beliefs upon students.
  2. Advisors should be aware of the ways in which we may respond to comments we consider “uncivil” and determine how we may mitigate our initial reactions. Remember, students should continue to feel that advisors’ offices are safe and secure places to talk about themselves and issues that may affect their academic success. Reacting, however instinctively, in a negative way may have reverberating repercussions for continued relationships. Additionally, as professionals and as representatives of the institution, we are role models for appropriate behavior and how to express views within the institutional culture.
  3. Advisors should be aware of our communication styles and how these styles affect our interactions with students.  We may need to offer other means for communication or ask for space to reflect so that appropriate responses may be given.
  4. Advisors should encourage students to use the advising time to discuss ideas. We should let students know that regardless of their opinions, advisors will respect them and guide them towards academic success.

Once advisors set the above parameters, we can use the following strategies to help engage students.

Civil Discourse Strategies(Landis, 2008):

1. The Five Minute Rule (Landis, p. 109):

Ask students to consider opposing viewpoints for a few moments. Have them reflect on the following questions:

  • What is interesting or helpful about this view?
  • What are some intriguing features that others may not have noticed?
  • What would be different if they believed this view, if they accepted it as true?
  • In what sense and under what conditions might this idea be true?

Students should only think positively about the opposing viewpoint at this time. This strategy allows students to try on a less popular view and entertain it respectfully for a short time.

2. Reframe the Discussion (Landis, p. 154):

This strategy provides a means to uncover the hidden historical, social, and political aspects of a position.   Advisors should help students identify the experiences informing their perspective and help them reflect upon the following questions:

Option One:

  • From what discourse or discourse community does this view originate?
  • In what social or political structures is this view most at home?
  • How does this discourse relate to different power structures in which believers might find themselves?
  • What does holding and voicing this opinion do to shape individuals and their different roles or relationships?

Option Two:

  • What kind of cultural work does this view promote?  Are proponents trying to get individuals to believe in something, act in specific ways, or change their minds about something?
  • Who loses?  Who gains? Which groups benefit and who is penalized?
  • What ideas gain traction because of this perspective, and which ideas are minimized?
  • What perspectives are mobilized if this view becomes accepted, and which are constrained, limited or eliminated?

3. Shared Writing (Landis, p. 199):

Personal journals are effective and safe spaces for students to consider and develop their ideas about controversial topics before engaging in dialogue with others.  Encourage students who have difficulty expressing themselves to write in their journals every day.  Ask students if they are willing to share their journals so we can help them think through issues in constructive ways.


These are three ways to engage students in deeper discussions about their thoughts. These strategies offer examples of how advisors can help students reframe discussions in healthy ways and engage in dialogues on controversial topics both inside and outside the classroom. Other strategies exist for classrooms and group environments.

Whichever strategies are used, advisors should make certain that we have prepared carefully. We should know what we think and why we think that way. We should be prepared for our instinctive reactions and know how to control for them. As advisors we must have the courage to make mistakes. We must be humble enough to stand corrected and apologize when necessary. Engaging students in deeper conversations is not easy, but our efforts can move students forward to lifelong learning.

Shannon Lynn Burton
School of Criminal Justice
Michigan State University


Landis, K. (Ed.) (2008). Start talking: A handbook for engaging difficult dialogues in higher education.  Anchorage, AK: University Press.


Teaching Tolerance. Founded in 1991 by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children.  www.tolerance.org

National Issues Forum. This non-partisan network of educational and community organizations promotes the debate of current issues.  www.nifi.org

Choices for the 21st Century. Choices is a project of the Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Institute for International Studies at Brown University that has created 15 units on contemporary and historical U.S. foreign policy issues.  www.choices.edu

Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center. This center is dedicated to promoting civic engagement, academic freedom and pluralism in higher education. www.difficultdialogues.org

For Further Reading

Andrews, R. (1994). Democracy and the teaching of argument. The English Journal, 83(6), 62-69.

Barber, B.R. (1989). Public talk and civic action: Education for participation in a strong democracy. Social Education, 53(6).355-370.

Evans, R. W. and Saxe, D.W. (Eds.). (1996). On teaching social issues. National Council for the Social Studies Bulletin 93. Washington, D.C.: National Council for the Social Studies.

Parker, W. C. (Ed.). (2002). Education for democracy, contexts, curricula, assessments. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Peripatetic Advising: How Socrates, Advising, and Running Shoes Influence Student Success

This article originally appeared in Academic Advising Today (Vol. 34, No. 2) June 2011

Christina M. McIntyre, Virginia Tech

Advising is about relationships. Relationships are important. Relationships take time.

I recently discovered that my inherent advising philosophy is founded in the Socratic method. While not well versed in Greek philosophy, my influences have been others who were. George Sheehan, dubbed “Mark Twain in running shoes” and the author of Running and Being (1978) and Personal Best (1989), emphasized the connection between the intellectual life and the physical life. I first encountered Socrates’ phrase “the unexamined life is not worth living” in Sheehan’s writings. The challenge to examine one’s life is a difficult one. It requires a balance between solitary thought and intentional dialog with others. Socratic advising involves a series of questions asked not only to discover individual answers, but to encourage insight into who we are, what motivates us, what is the basis for our decisions. In this way, advising is teaching and teaching is advising. We must continually remind ourselves that students don’t know what they don’t know. They are limited by the awareness — or lack of awareness — of their own ignorance.

While advising frequently takes place in the office, other opportunities for advising present themselves throughout the day: walking across campus, at the grocery store, eating lunch or riding the bus. Aristotle was known as a “peripatetic” lecturer – he taught as he walked about the peripatoi of the Lyceum gymnasium in Athens.  Strikwerda (2007) presented the image of “students jostling to get close to the teacher, some rushing to keep pace while asking questions or taking notes and others distracted by a bird flying overhead” (p. 99). While this complication may be viewed as a drawback, it is actually a strength.  As students turn towards one another to ask What did she just say?, they begin to learn from one another. Troop (2010) discusses many in academia who use running as a way to “help create that classic ‘Eureka!’ moment, an experience common to runners and other athletes who work their bodies and let their minds wander” (6).

My peripatos is the Virginia Tech Drill Field, the Huckleberry Trail, or the cross-country course.  I have put out a call on the Honors listserv for “peripatetic conversations” and students have responded. They have googled the word, and curiosity has attracted those students who don’t often “need” advice. Whether one or ten students heed the call, the first five minutes entail a debate regarding the definition of the word and how it applies to what we are doing. The pace of the walk or jog is one that can sustain discussion.

In customary conversation, eye contact is often encouraged; however, eye contact can be the barrier to addressing an uncomfortable topic.  Having a conversation where eye contact is not practical (while walking or jogging side-by-side) allows for a unique openness and flow to the conversation. Awkward topics, such as struggling with a course and the consequences of dropping, become less awkward. The terrain can allow for gaps in the conversation. When I ask a question at the bottom of “chicken hill,” a quarter mile steep hill on campus, the physical struggle to reach the top allows the student time to also struggle with her thoughts on that difficult question.

Christina walking with students Ed Coe and Cameron Sumpter on the Virginia Tech campus,jpg
Christina walking with students Ed Coe and Cameron Sumpter on the Virginia Tech campus

In considering advising as teaching, Lowenstein (2005) challenges academic advisors to make advising an interactive process in which the student plays an active role. The field of neuroscience supports the theory that exercise increases the production of neurochemicals associated with self-control and cognitive function. The mechanisms and specific type of learning affected is up for debate. Ironically most research studies on the effect of exercise on the brain involve walking or running trials (Chodzko-Zajko W., 2009).  Walking or running with another requires an awareness of the other person. Is the pace too fast or too slow? Pace dictates the rhythm or tempo of the conversation. Culture can influence pace – a colleague from Nigeria prefers the pace of a slow stroll. When walking with Biko, I find a calmness I don’t normally have. These peripatetic walks often lead to follow-up meetings or emails: an exchange of more information, an application to a scholarship or program, a campus resource that would be helpful, an article that seemed appropriate to the student and our conversation.

Academia often touts the virtues of life-long learning; but what about life-long living? Emulating a simple but healthy lifestyle behavior such as walking can complement the goal of life-long learning. We can easily isolate ourselves in our little sector of campus. Striking out on a journey across campus or into the surrounding neighborhood helps students discover areas and community that may otherwise remain unknown to them. The National Collegiate Honors Council offers a program called City as Text™ that encourages applications of this approach to active learning in various settings. “Small teams investigate contested areas and issues in urban environments, or competing forces in natural ones, these exercises foster critical inquiry and integrative learning across disciplines” (“National Collegiate Honors Council: Honors Seminars and Faculty Institutes,” 2011, 4) Therefore, City as Text™ refers to structured explorations of places – campuses, towns, cities, communities, etc. (Strikwerda, 2007).  Most campuses and their surrounding communities make great locations for this activity. The questions are limitless. Why is the campus located where it is? How has the community been affected by the growth of the college? In discussing these questions we learn more about ourselves and each other.

It is my hope that students’ memory of me is not as an advisor sitting behind a desk, poring over Banner reports and paper files. I hope the image in their mind’s eye is of me walking, or running, somewhere on campus. I hope they remember me conversing with others and having an open door, because there is no door. I hope my example challenges them as professionals to be as accessible to their clients, patients, or students as I have tried to be for them.

Advising is about relationships. Relationships are important. Relationships take time.

Christina M. McIntyre
Associate Director
University Honors
Virginia Tech

Chodzko-Zajko W., Kramer, A.F., Poon L.W. (Ed.). (2009). Enhancing Cognitive Functioning and Brain Plasticity (Vol. 3). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Lowenstein, Marc. (2005). If advising is teaching, what do advisors teach? NACADA Journal, 25(2), 65-73.

Machonis, Peter. (2010). City as text™, jungle as text:  Iquitos and the Amazon.  Retrieved from www.nchchonors.org/honors-semesters-2010-Jungle-as-Text.htm

National Collegiate Honors Council: Honors Seminars and Faculty Institutes. (2011).Retrieved from www.nchchonors.org/faculty_institutes.shtml

Selecting and effectively using a pedometer. (2005). In American College of Sports Medicine(Ed.).

Sheehan, G. (Ed.). (1978). Running and Being. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Sheehan, G. (Ed.). (1989). Personal Best. Emmaus: Rodale Press.Strikwerda, R. (2007). Experiential learning and city as text: Reflections on Kolb and Kolb. Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council – Online Archive, Spring/Summer, 99- 105.

Troop, D. (2010, August 29). Eureka! Running jogs the academic mind. Chronicle of Higher Education.  Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Eureka-Running-Jogs-the/124164/

Tudor-Locke, C., & Bassett, D. R., Jr. (2004). How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health. Sports Medicine, 34(1), 1-8.

Nota Bene

The American College of Sports Medicine(“Selecting and Effectively Using A Pedometer,” 2005) endorses the following guidelines (Tudor-Locke & Bassett, 2004) regarding number of steps per day for health and physical activity.

<5,000 Sedentary
5,000-7,499 Low Active
7,500-9,999 Somewhat Active
10,000-12,500 Active
>12,500 Highly Active

Rich Robbins, Academic Advising Faculty Member, Receives NACADA Service Award

Richard L. Robbins, Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Bucknell University and a Kansas State University academic advising program faculty member, is the 2011 recipient of the Service to NACADA Award. This award recognizes a NACADA member for outstanding service to the association.

Dr. Robbins involvement in NACADA has extended far beyond mere membership. In his various leadership roles, Dr. Robbins has demonstrated not only his expertise in all areas of student affairs and higher education but also his exemplary instructional and curriculum development skills. He received the NACADA/ACT Outstanding Institutional Advising Award in 1998 while at Washburn University and the NACADA Research Grant Award in 1999. He has served as Chair of the Kansas Academic Advising Network, Chair of the NACADA Research Committee, Chair of the NACADA Summer Institute Advisory Board, Chair of the NACADA Assessment Institute Advisory Board, and has been a member of numerous NACADA task forces, advisory boards, and committees including the NACADA Council and NACADA Board of Directors.

One nominator wrote, “There is no question that Rich Robbins is especially deserving of this award. He continually advocates for NACADA and all that it represents. Not only does he promote the association, but he is always an active participant in its functions. He is a quality representative of NACADA, its leadership, and this award.”

Congratulations to Dr. Robbins!

Helping Students Help Themselves: Advising as Empowerment

Charlie Nutt visits Maastricht University in the Netherlands

This article is from Academic Advising Today, Volume 34, Number 3, September 2011. It is an adapted version of an article which first appeared in De Observant (May 19th, 2011), Maastricht University’s weekly newsletter.

One of the most important tasks of an academic advisor, according to Charlie Nutt, Executive Director of NACADA: the Global Community for Academic Advising, is to teach students appropriate strategies with regard to learning. “We need to focus more on student learning as opposed to helping students,” he says. Charlie is a charming, energetic, and seemingly tireless American with a true passion for academic advising and improving students’ college experience, and he recently spent four days in Maastricht on the invitation of Nicolai Manie and Oscar van den Wijngaard (both members of NACADA and academic advisors at University College Maastricht – see Oscar’s recent AAT contribution). Charlie gave several inspiring workshops, sharing his insights and strategies on increasing study success and improving student retention with the academic advisors and administrators of Maastricht University. In addition, he reserved time for individual meetings with the deans of the various departments.

Academic advising is gradually gaining a stronger foothold at Maastricht University, reflecting a growing awareness of its importance for student success, and aided by a recent Dutch policy that can result in significant cost to both university and students when the allotted time to complete a study program is exceeded.

At University College Maastricht (UCM), students can choose from more than 130 courses, with the guidance of academic advisors, and Charlie’s visit to Maastricht couldn’t have come at a better time, says Nicolai Manie, coordinator of UCM’s Academic Advising Office. “At the moment,” Nicolai explains, “UCM is re-evaluating its advising system, planning to make some significant changes to it.” Other faculties are also implementing new advising strategies this year: the psychology faculty introduced a new mentoring program, and the Department of Knowledge Engineering is piloting a faculty-based academic advising system for first year students, which most likely will be adopted by other departments of the university as well.

With the development of new program structures, many important questions arise within Maastricht University’s academic advising community, such as what is the role of an academic advisor and in what way is it different from a study advisor? Charlie Nutt cautions that it is very important that each faculty defines these roles for themselves, making clear distinctions between the tasks of study and academic advisors. One word that is crucial to academic advising was heard repeatedly in Charlie’s workshops: connection. Making sure that the students can identify with their studies, that they can relate to the philosophy of the faculty and the university, is key for a pleasant and successful college experience.

What is the most important factor for students during their studies, and what distinguishes students with a successful career from those who are less successful? The quality of teaching? Having a rich social life? Richard Light, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, conducted a survey with 1800 Harvard graduates and found the answer: the relationship with the academic advisor is the key to success. Or as Light put it (2001): Good advising may be the single most underestimated characteristic of a successful college experience (p.81).

“Think about your own time as a student,” Charlie Nutt urges. “Perchance you met a professor who was truly inspiring and gave you guidance. But such an encounter should not be left to chance. We need to build a relationship between the students and the advisor before the students realize they need someone to help them out. Because once they realize they are in trouble, they’re already in so much trouble that they have difficulties getting out by themselves.” However, Charlie says, it is not the task of the academic staff to hold the students’ hands and solve all their problems for them. Rather, advisors should help students learn from their mistakes and “provide them with strategies and techniques to take success into their own hands, which is the student’s responsibility.” Advisors should help the students feel empowered.

What do we need to teach students? According to Charlie Nutt, without a doubt, we need to “teach them how to make choices because they don’t know how to do that. Up until they enter university, decisions have been made for them. We need to teach students the important difference between choosing a certain study program and choosing a career. When asked: why do you want to study a particular subject? And how did you arrive to this conclusion? students’ most cited answers are: ‘I thought this subject was interesting in high school,’ ‘my friends study the same,’ ‘my parents wanted me to,’ and ‘I didn’t like anything else better.’ It’s not about helping, it’s about teaching: teaching to think, teaching to make the right choices.” Some students have no idea what courses to choose in their first year. It takes time to get used to being a university student. Charlie adds, “Don’t forget that these young people are standing on their own feet for the first time; it’s often the first time they leave their parent’s place. They need time to get used to this.”

To many freshmen the university is a different world. Many have a hard time adjusting to it; some of the students who had high grades in high school are now barely passing their classes, panicking that they might fail. “It is important that they realize that it is normal, that they can relax” Charlie says. “I share my own story with them,” says someone in the audience. “I too had good grades in high school, but was not doing so well in my first year of college. It helps sharing these stories with students; they instantly open up to you, they can relate.”

At the end of one of his workshops, Charlie provides a list of helpful tips for future advisors: “Know your students! Who are they, what are they telling you? Are they ready to study at university? Have high expectations. If they are too low, students will only make very slow progress. Set up a team of professionals and staff members with different skills; jointly take up the responsibility of ensuring study success. Motivate students to reflect. Give valuable information. Integrate academic advising in the first year and focus on university culture sooner than later. If we don’t, students will assume that we are not interested in them and their stories, which is just the opposite of what a good academic advisor should be.”

Nicolai Manie
Coordinator Academic Advising
Faculty of Humanities & Sciences
University College Maastricht
Maastricht University

Vera Bossel
Educational Researcher
University College Maastricht
Maastricht University

Oscar van den Wijngaard
Coordinator Academic Advising
University College Maastricht
Maastricht University

Light, Richard. (2001). Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh, My! Identity in Crisis: Student Finding Their Way in Life

Christine Chmielewski, Indiana University South Bend

This article was originally published in Academic Advising Today Volume 34, Number 2, June 2011. Christine recently completed the NACADA-Kansas State University Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising. This article was adapted from a paper written for the Multicultural Aspects of Academic Advising course and recommended for publication consideration by her professor, Doris Carroll.

Christime Chmielewski.jpgJust like the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, students often feel lost; they need guidance and reassurance to succeed in college. The critical component to academic success, other than student will, is advising. Without the support of an experienced navigator, the institution can generate obstacles; with the help of a “Wizard,” students can discover and develop their natural gifts.  Moving forward in spite of fear to confront challenges is part of the journey. It is easier to navigate through an unknown and magical world with a support structure in place.

I make choices
The Scarecrow was poised atop a pole in the field. He longed to be anywhere else, but had been placed on a post to “work” a job he had not selected. He believed he had no brain and was therefore incapable of learning or experiencing happiness. Of course, after some self-pity he figured out how to get down from the pole: “Well, I may not be very smart about things, but if you bend down the nail in the back, I may fall off.” This is exactly what Dorothy did, and it worked!  The Scarecrow’s ability to reason was made clear with that statement. Although he walked through life as a victim of circumstances, the Scarecrow eventually found happiness when he defined his own path. When the Wizard presented him with a diploma he said, “Every pusillanimous creature has a brain. But what you don’t have is a diploma.” The Wizard points out that while the Scarecrow reasoned his own path, he had not done the work to face his perceived inadequacies, conquer his fear, and claim his domain.

Students often make statements not unlike those of the Scarecrow. They doubt themselves, make excuses, have poor study habits, and procrastinate until they sit on a pole in a field alone and uncertain how to succeed in class. They need advisors to listen and help unveil options while they learn how to comply with the coursework expectations and discover ways to stay motivated. Managing time and juggling multiple deadlines simultaneously is often as important as information retention and application – all brand new territory, just like the quest to the Emerald City.

I become connected
The Tin Man was doing the work he was designed to do, but had frozen stiff. He was so focused on his “job” that he forgot to take care of his long-term needs. He felt insecure and questioned his values (because he had no heart), so rather than planning his future he stayed occupied with his daily tasks. Without belonging to something bigger and with no sense of connection, he resigned himself to the way it was and eventually rusted. Only after Dorothy and her companions arrived did the Tin Man rally and discover that fulfillment comes in relationships with others.

Students often are in a similar place. They come with earlier successes defined, an established social network, and set priorities. Then everything changes, and that can be unsettling. Doing day-to-day tasks might seem overwhelming and developing connections ambiguous, but without creating community and forging a way to their future, students only stay occupied. As was the case with the Tin Man, students can have an identity crisis. They must discover a passion for knowledge and figure out how to promote their strengths through faculty engagement and professional opportunities. Being connected beyond the academic realm through volunteerism, a part-time job, study abroad, and service-learning provides context and application for learning, rounds out the college experience, and helps define humanity. Often making these connections requires assistance. Just like the Wizard gifted the Tin Man with a heart, advisors gift students with bridges to opportunity.

I create my future
The Cowardly Lion put up a front when he met the group in the forest saying, “Put ‘em up, put ‘em up!  Which one of you first?”  His false rhetoric was born of fear and was exacerbated by heightened anxiety. He acted strong to cover his insecurities and the loneliness he felt, but these actions only reinforced his solitude. Peeling back the masks that students present can be exhausting. They come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, often making it difficult for us to understand and recognize their motivation. The one certainty is that they are here to increase their opportunities.

A good advisor recognizes that presenting clear expectations and boundaries, providing positive reinforcement, and unveiling options provides the safety and security students need to lessen vulnerability. The Lion was able to face his fears and confront the Wicked Witch while defending his safety net, Dorothy. The journey of self-discovery is scary and it is difficult to make alone. Students often wonder if they are good enough to succeed. Thoughtful, intentional advising, coupled with honest communication and compassion, help students see their merit and figure out appropriate ways in which they can move forward.

I define my character
The Wicked Witch is the biggest obstacle that can stop student progress. She can be killed or managed.  Students who are intrinsically motivated overcome obstacles through fortitude, determination, intelligence, and ingenuity. Others need guidance to find their way and create their destinies. As the Good Witch tells Dorothy, an advisor begins with simple instructions: follow the Yellow Brick Road.

Through practice and repetition, patterns emerge and confidence grows. Personal strengths, clear identity, thoughtful community, and meaningful contributions are often discovered through a robust and well-rounded college experience. Advisors serve as a road map that guides students through this process. With the support of talented “Wizards,” students persevere and succeed in finding their way to the Emerald City.

Christine Chmielewski
Sr. Academic Advisor
CLAS Advising Center
Indiana University South Bend

Fleming, V. (Director). (1939). The Wizard of Oz [on DVD, 2009, 70th anniversary ed. Warner Brothers, Burbank, CA.]

Caring for the Caregivers: Strategies to Overcome the Effects of Job Burnout

Chris Huebner
University of South Carolina

As each academic term moves toward its end advisors can be heard to say “I cannot wait until this term is over!” Although this may be a declaratory statement, it is a feeling some advisors have had most of the term. Whether caused by student volume, seemingly endless voicemails, or answering those who demand accountability, the time between academic terms can provide a short band aid for those suffering job stress and burnout.

Maslach and Goldberg (1998) noted that it is important that caregivers monitor and change destructive modes of thinking. As academic caregivers, advisors should develop personal strategies to strengthen our connectedness to work and our effectiveness with students. Advisors must foster positive relationships with students. Jackson & Shuler (1985) pointed to evidence that we must create an atmosphere conducive to skills development.

The sources and outcomes of job stress and burnout are well documented in the literature. Advisors can take the disconnect we feel when stress is introduced and look at it not as an ailment to correct, but as an opportunity to create new meaning and engagement. This article addresses how we can promote positive responses to stress when we outline the various disconnects that can occur when burnout is felt. Additionally this article offers three easy- to- implement interventions for advisors.

The complete article can be found on the NACADA’s Clearinghouse for Academic Advising Resources.

Posted in Articles. Comments Off on Caring for the Caregivers: Strategies to Overcome the Effects of Job Burnout

Freedom to Choose: Advisor Classifications and Internal Identities

David Freitag, Pima Community College
This article is reposted from Academic Advising Today.

David Freitag.jpgAcademic advisors are free to choose their own level of professionalism and scholarship. While we may be organizationally classified by “who” we are (e.g., faculty advisors, staff advisors, or student peer advisors), “where” we work (e.g., centralized advising office, satellite offices, or faculty offices), and “who” we advise (e.g., student-athletes, international students, honors students, or freshmen), I propose that advisors have the freedom to choose to be at one of four levels within our discipline: advising practitioner, emerging professional, advising professional, or advising scholar. Advising administrators can build the advising team best suited to their institution by being aware of the choices we, as advisors, make and where we are in our journey towards academic advising professionalism and scholarship.

The Academic Advising Practitioner
When individuals are hired to advise full-time or take on advising as part of their faculty role, we are typically expected to communicate information accurately to these students, help students problem solve, and make referrals when necessary. New advising practitioners frequently need close supervision and someone who can guide them. Advising for these individuals is just part of an 8 to 5 job and many advisors happily remain advising practitioners during their entire careers.

Advising practitioners may be aware of NACADA, but often are not members. They may be aware of the larger discipline of academic advising, but do not feel connected to it despite their position. They might attend an advising conference when paid for by the institution, but would not consider paying their own way. Advising, to the advising practitioner, is just their job or a part of their job.

Despite a low level of personal commitment, academic advising practitioners are the backbone of many advising systems. There are several organizational influences that encourage administrators to maintain a system with only advising practitioners: low entry requirements and expectations for staff advisors, a desire to keep advisor pay low (on par with administrative personnel for staff advisors and no pay at all for faculty advisors), or a fundamental lack of understanding of the scope and complexity of academic advising in today’s institutions of higher learning. Because of these factors, it is entirely possible that the institution expects every advisor to remain an academic advisor practitioner.

The Academic Advising Emerging Professional
An academic advising emerging professional is not satisfied with the view that they should just do a job – they want to be a professional and to be treated as such. Such advisors are moving towards becoming a full-fledged academic advising professional by joining their international association, NACADA, and by working to improve their advising practice as they learn from others in the field through publications, webinars, and conferences. The advising emerging professional works to improve the practice of advising during work hours, but rarely takes advising work home.

Most advising administrators welcome the increased competence of an advising emerging professional since such an advisor not only is beginning to self-identify as an advising professional but is starting to ask for, and take on, more advising responsibilities. Advising emerging professionals are doing things to take charge of their careers; they no longer are satisfied to be supervised, but instead want to be managed in a more collegial manner. They wish to be led rather than be closely supervised. In return for more freedom, these advisors strive to improve their advising work not just for themselves and their students but also for other advisors at their institution. Emerging professionals without post-graduate work in an area applicable to advising start to feel their lack of credentials and make plans for improving their educational standing.

The Academic Advising Professional
Academic advising professionals view academic advising as a profession and treat it as such. Advising professionals are highly qualified and actively seek further educational opportunities to enhance their advising credentials. They are members of NACADA and are active participants in its growth and governance. They attend local, state, and national conferences even if their institution does not pay their way. They are advocates for the academic advising discipline.

Certifications and credentials are as important to the advising professional as they are to other professionals in fields such as teaching, law, and medicine. Academic advising professionals have earned a degree on par with other campus professionals and graduate hours in academic advising, higher education, counseling, or another related discipline.

Advising administrators can expect advising professionals to perform their responsibilities without close supervision. Professionals, such as the academic advising professional, do not need to be supervised since they take pride in their work ethic and knowledge within the field. These advisors invest a number of hours outside the office in studying advising or working to improve their advising knowledge and skills by keeping up with academic advising literature such as the NACADA Journal and Academic Advising Today. Their workday often does not end at 5 p.m. An academic advising professional’s goal is to better serve their students and institution by improving their own proficiency and the proficiency of other advisors at their institution.

The Academic Advising Scholar
Academic advising scholars have post-graduate degrees and are recognized for their expertise in the advising field. The focus of advising scholars is not on their own competence, which is a given, but on the larger issues of advising administration, advising program assessment, or advancing the discipline of academic advising through scholarly inquiry. Academic advising scholars in a staff position should also be called academic professionals since they are academics in the true sense of the word.

Academic advising scholars are experts in academic advising. They keep up with, and add to, the current body of literature in the field; they are active participants in their association. Academic advising scholars identify with the field of academic advising more than their current position (which may or may not be working full-time advising students). Advising is not just a job for the advising scholar – it is a passion and a calling.

Being academic professionals, academic advising scholars’ work hours are comparable to other academic professionals, including faculty and administrators. It is not unusual for an advising scholar to work more than 50 hours a week with the hours beyond the standard 40 dedicated to service or research within the academic advising field.

Academic advising scholars create new knowledge through their research and scholarship. They publish and share their discoveries and thoughts at conferences and seminars. An academic advising scholar does not experience office down-time because their life’s work will never be complete. They are constantly thinking about ways to improve and promote the field of academic advising. Academic administrators should use the knowledge and experience of academic advising scholars in improving not only their institution’s advising services, but also to be leaders in the field of academic advising.

All academic advisors are full members of the academe and have the freedom and opportunity to choose to be advising professionals and scholars of academic advising. Choosing to become an advising professional or a scholar requires not only a shift of attitude, but also a change in action and behavior. Becoming an advising professional or scholar requires accepting individual responsibility for professional development, mentoring and learning from fellow advisors, working effectively with the advising administration of the institution, and working for the professional advancement of the field of academic advising. This is a challenging path to choose, but it is a path with many unexpected rewards, both professionally and personally.

David Freitag
IT Development Services
Pima Community College
Tucson, AZ

Schulenberg, J. K., & Lindhorst, M. J. (2008). Academic advising: Toward defining the practice and scholarship of academic advising. NACADA Journal, 28(1), 43-53.

Posted in Articles. Comments Off on Freedom to Choose: Advisor Classifications and Internal Identities