Administration of Academic Advising Case Studies
Choose one case study below. The other two cases studies should be from Academic Advising Case Studies.
Case of the Smallville Liberal Arts Advising Center
The Smallville Liberal Arts College Academic Advising Center is having their weekly staff meeting. Alex, the director, brings up the idea of adding a Twitter feed and a blog to their website in an effort to update their advising services as well as appeal to today’s students. The majority of students at Smallville are traditional-aged college students, though there are more non-traditional students enrolling, particularly in the new online General Studies program. A student services survey of students over the past year revealed student interest in Tweets, text messages, and other media sources for getting information. The survey also revealed that only 40% of students read their campus emails, making Alex feel it is time for a change.
Lynda, who has been an advisor in the center since its inception in 1990 is opposed to using social media to reach students. “Students need a person that they connect with. Technology cannot take the place of advisors.”
Steve thinks this idea has possibilities. His own children currently attend the large land grant institution in the state. They have described the text alerts and Tweets they receive from their advisors, reminding them of deadlines and events on campus. “They find it very helpful, ” he tells the group.
“Students can now select their classes online, they enroll online, and now we have online classes. We are just losing touch with our students. I don’t think we need any more technology. We need to find ways to assure that they do come in to see us,” Lynda says emphatically.
Courtney, a recent graduate of a program in academic advising speaks up, “I understand the concerns about veering away from direct contact with students. But I also think that technology can actually help us to stay in closer touch with students and may draw in students who don’t understand the importance of seeing their advisor. “
Steve agrees with Courtney, while Lynda is still against adding more technology in their work with students. Alex has been listening to the thoughts and concerns of each staff member, and would like to make a decision soon, but time for the staff meeting has run out for today.
“I see we’re out of time,” Alex interrupted. “I appreciate all of your input and will give this some more thought.”
Alex now has to consider the attitudes and feelings of the staff before deciding how to proceed with any additions to the Advising Center’s tool box. Alex believes the results of the student survey indicate a need for change, but how is the best way to proceed? Alex wants to find the best way to serve the students and to keep the advising staff empowered and happy in their positions.
Case of the Explore Advising Center
Juan is in his first year as Director of the Explore Advising Center at a public university located in a large metropolitan area. The Explore Center advises students who have not yet declared a major – which is about 60% of all incoming students. In addition, the center advises students who are considering health careers and students who were denied admission or continuation of a major based on poor academic performance. His first day on the job, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs – to whom Juan reports directly – told him that over the past six years the institution has experienced rapid growth in the numbers of minority students, particularly from Latino/a and Asian American Pacific Island (AAPI) groups as well as a rapid growth in returning adult students. He was also shown the retention rates for all university students broken down by race and ethnicity. The rate for white students is 67%, AAPI students 57%, Latino/a students 45% and African American students 42%. The current university administration has made retention its number one priority and Juan has been encouraged to make any changes within the Explore Center that he feels necessary to increase these retention rates.
In the time Juan has been at the university he has identified two changes in particular he would like to make. First, students are currently seen on a walk-in, first-come, first-serve basis. Juan would like students assigned to an advisor who could then build a relationship with them. Second, families are discouraged – in fact, not allowed – in the advising sessions during New Student Orientation. Juan feels that this may send a negative message to some students and their families.
The current group of six advisors – two pre-health and four general advisors – has worked together for three years now. One is close to retirement and Juan almost expects her to announce her retirement before the end of the fiscal year. If the current staff remains intact, not only do they have years of consistency within the office, collectively the staff has been advising for twenty-six years. They are committed to serving students and are knowledgeable about university requirements. However, it does appear that they like things the way they are and may be somewhat resistant to change.
As summer approaches, Juan begins to gather data that will help him make revisions to the advising programs which he believes will be effective in increasing retention for all university students. He plans a two-day staff retreat for late summer. Juan wants to recommend the two changes described above and to seek input on other improvements from the staff. Juan believes when they understand how the student demographics are changing, they will understand the need to change their approach to match the current students. During this retreat he hopes to get his staff on board with new approaches to advising within the department, and he hopes they will be excited and invigorated by the new challenges. In his view, this is almost like developing an entirely new advising center. All aspects of their work are subject to changes and improvements. He begins to make a list of factors he needs to consider as he seeks to create effective changes and implement them in a way that will benefit students and his staff of advisors in the advising center. He also wants to be able to show the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs the results of his innovations at the end of the next year.
Put yourself in Juan’s shoes and describe the factors and strategies he should consider to update the Explore Advising Center to better serve their current population of students and increase retention rates.
Case of Jon
Lynn, Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, is preparing for an appointment with Jon who has asked to appeal his academic suspension. To prepare for the meeting, Lynn talked with Jon’s academic advisor, Melissa, who recommends not granting his appeal. Jon is in his third year at the public land-grant institution. He initially declared business as his major, but was dismissed from the College of Business at the end of his freshman year due to his 2.0 GPA. The following year Jon withdrew from his first semester classes after the final drop date, stating that there was a death in his family and he had to go home, which is in a neighboring state. The second semester of his sophomore year he finished with a 1.9 cumulative GPA. Because his GPA fell below a 2.0, Jon was placed on academic probation. Melissa documented in the online advising notes that she informed Jon of the academic probation and dismissal policy. Additionally, all probationary students receive a letter from the university stating the policy. This letter is mailed to whatever mailing address the student lists as primary. According to the student information system, Lynn noted that Jon lists a local address as his primary address. Jon finished the fall term with F’s in each of his five classes and was academically dismissed from the university. In Lynn’s discussion with Melissa she indicated Jon’s general lack of interest in college:
“When he was placed on probation last semester, I asked him why he was in college. He told me it was just ‘something to do.’ In previous conversations he has indicated that his parents are both alums of the university. I get the impression that he has always known he would go to college here, but has not given much thought as to what it means to be a college student. He seems to believe that he will get back into the College of Business and is not willing to discuss other majors.”
In reading through Jon’s record with the university, Lynn also noticed that his initial academic advisor in the College of Business made notes regarding working with Jon at New Student Orientation. The note read:
“Jon’s father called asking for permission for Jon to be advised first, since they had such a ‘long drive back home. I explained our system for scheduling advising appointments, telling him that we do take distance from campus into account, but that we do not schedule specific appointments because we never know how many students to expect. Jon’s father stated that both he and his wife were graduates of the college and that surely we could do this favor for them. He said, ’That’s how it works, isn’t it?’ I indicated to him that this is not how it works and that we will do our best to see Jon in a timely manner.”
There was no mention of any difficulty with Jon or his family during new Student Orientation. And there was no mention of any contact with Jon’s father after that initial phone call. Lynn is developing a picture of the type of student Jon is, and the issues that he would like to address in their meeting.
Case of Anissa
State College has undergone some budget cuts that have resulted in organizational restructuring. In the budget for the next fiscal year, the campus Career Services Center has been moved from Academic Affairs to Student Affairs; three counselor positions were cut; and the center will now focus solely on providing internship information and job or graduate school search information. The Campus Advising Center has been charged with providing career exploration activities.
Anissa, the director of the Campus Advising Center for the past eight years, receives this news in her weekly meeting with her supervisor, the Vice President for Academic Affairs. She is relieved to hear that her budget received no cuts and is pleased when the VP commended her for the detailed report showing how critical her office is to the retention of students at State College. The Advising Center is responsible for advising all undecided students at the mid-sized public institution – typically 6,000 students per year with a staff of eight full-time professional advisors resulting in a 750-to-1 student-advisor ratio. Her staff feels the ratio is too high and now they will be responsible for providing career advising, with no additional staff members. Anissa is grateful for the $5,000 provided to the center during this transition.
Returning to her office, she immediately begins to make a list of all the issues she needs to consider to make this transition a smooth one. Her staff already feels overworked and underappreciated; she wants them to understand that the administration realizes their value to some extent because budget cuts wer made to the Advising Center. She also knows they will need some training on career advising since their focus has been solely on providing quality academic advising to students who are working to enter a major field, or are still exploring classes to find an appropriate field of study. Anissa has one full week before the next staff meeting and would like to have a plan in place to give her staff the news, while showing them that she values their hard work. She expects some opposition to these new responsibilities from her newest staff member, Ruby, a former school teacher turned academic advisor. Since being hired two years ago Ruby has been very vocal about feeling overworked. There might also be opposition from another vocal staff member, Jordan, a six-year veteran of the center, who has been lobbying for some type of advisor ladder within the office. While Anissa agrees with this idea in theory, it could be way to show value and appreciation to the staff in a merit-based way; her supervisor has been less than enthusiastic. Anissa believes this transition must be presented to her staff in just the right way; she wants them to understand that these new responsibilities were given to them because they are valued and that they can get through this transition by pulling together and meeting this challenge.
What are the various personnel, training, technology needs that Anissa needs to consider? How could the additional funds be put to good use? What might the transition plan look like? What other influences or factors should Anissa consider?
Questions to Guide the Conceptualization and Development of Case Studies
The questions presented below are intended to serve as a guide and help with ideas in preparing your discussion of the case. The case study is to be presented in paragraph form; the questions are not to be answered individually in your presentation.
- What does the information given tell you about the issues for the student and the type of help he or she might need?
- What are possible issues that need to be addressed by the student?
- What are goals that might apply to the student?
- What decisions might need to be made (either by the advisor or the student)?
- What theory or theories could be used to help understand the student’s situation and how do these help in developing advising interventions or strategies with the student?
- What research could be used to inform your advising with the student? How does this apply to working with the student?
- How would you go about helping or advising the student? What type of advising approach would you take with the student and why?
- What resources would you recommend for the student?
- What additional information would be helpful to know?
- To what extent do diversity or multicultural issues need to be considered with the student? What are considerations related to this?
- What are key considerations that would guide your advising with the student?
- Should a referral be considered? If so, provide a recommendation and a rationale for the recommendation?
- What university policies might need to be explained to the student?
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