Assessing Advising Style: Student Perceptions of Academic Advisors

Article excerpt

The purpose of this preliminary study was to compare student perceptions of their academic advisor where some advisors are full-time faculty, some advisors are full-time residence life professional staff, and some are full-time academic advisors. Full-time professional advisors were viewed as more developmental in their work with undergraduates than were faculty or residence life staff serving in similar roles. Implications for those designing advising systems on college campuses are discussed.

Academic advising is an important component of the college experience. King (1993) asserts, "academic advising is the only structured service on college campuses that guarantees students interactions with concerned representatives of the institution" (p. 1). Academic advising has "the capacity to become a primary integrating factor that brings students, faculty, student affairs staff, academic disciplines, and curriculum together into a truly meaningful educational whole" (Greenwood, 1984, p. 64). King (1993) also described academic advising as "the hub of the wheel" (p. 22) in which students can be referred to many other student services areas including financial aid, career services, counseling, and additional academic support services as well. Further, Astin (1984) notes that academic advising is a major contributor to student involvement on campus.

Research from the past 20 years has identified various approaches to academic advising (Crookston, 1972), conditions of the developmental advising process (Ender, Winston, & Miller, 1984), and important connections between academic advising and retention (Beal & Noel, 1980; Carstensen & Silberhorn, 1979; Glennen & Bexley, 1985). However, many questions still linger about the most effective means of organizing and delivering academic advising services.

Organization of Advising Services

Academic advising is typically organized into one of seven models (or delivery systems) first introduced by Habley (1983). These organizational models or delivery systems include Faculty-Only Model, Supplementary Model, Split Model, Dual Model, Total-Intake Model, Satellite Model, and SelfContained Model (Habley, 1983).

In the Faculty-Only Model, a student is assigned one faculty advisor, typically in the student's academic program. Advisors are coordinated and supervised through the academic department. Undecided students are usually advised by faculty in the liberal arts. In the Supplementary Model, faculty also serve as the academic advisors for students while a central advising office exists and supplements this advising structure as a resource and referral office. Such an advising office might have its own staff; however, advisor supervision is done within the academic departments. The Split Model is organized such that advising of students is shared between faculty and full-time staff in an advising office. Usually undecided students, under-prepared students, and other special populations (athletes, honors students, etc.) are advised in a central office. Upon declaring a major, students are then referred to the academic department for an advisor in their chosen field of study. The Dual Model is structured so that students enjoy the benefit of having two advisors. The faculty advisor focuses on issues relating to the student's course of study while the advising center staff advises students on registration and general academic issues. The Total Intake Model is structured so that the advising office staff takes the responsibility to advise students for a set time period or until the students meet certain conditions (minimum number of hours completed, declaration of major, etc.). The Satellite Model is a decentralized model in which advising offices are located throughout the campus and in various academic areas such as the college or school. Undecided students are advised by a satellite office that has more general, overall academic advising responsibilities. …