Presented at The 48th Annual Conference of the Western Social Science Association: Phoenix, AZ, April 21, 2006.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Douglas Swanson was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
Effective academic advising is recognized as key to college student success and academic retention (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991; Mastrodicasa, 2001). There are at least seven different structural models for academic advising; each depends to a greater or lesser degree on a level of engagement by faculty in the process (Kramer, 2003). Despite devoting large amounts of resources toward improving academic advising, many institutions find a less than adequate level of engagement is achieved. Based on a review of recent studies, including data from a national study of faculty recently completed, the author identifies six key threats to engagement. These include: institutional role competitiveness, increasing faculty workloads, inadequate advisor training and preparation, legal concerns, technological barriers, and escalating levels of challenge presented by students and their parents. As a whole, these threats add up to a system of institutional disincentives that prevent full participation by faculty in academic advising in many higher education settings. The author shows how to turn these challenges into opportunities, by illustrating the recent success story of one higher education institution whose students took the lead to demand – and receive – significant institutional improvements in academic advising.
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