FACULTY PERCEPTIONS OF ACADEMIC ADVISING: "I Don't Get No Respect"

Article excerpt

NURSING EDUCATION RESEARCH

ABSTRACT

Best practices in teaching and learning may begin with effective academic advising. Nursing research and scholarship in the area of advising, however, is virtually non-existent. The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine nurse faculty perceptions of the characteristics and functions of an effective academic adviser. The study was conducted at a comprehensive state university in southeastern Minnesota. Content analysis of 17 completed questionnaires was consistent with extant education and pedagogical research. Authenticity and accountability were unique characteristics of an effective adviser identified by participants in this study. The findings will facilitate faculty development in the area of academic advising and help improve services to students. Further, the results have helped identify areas for continuing scholarship in nursing.

Key Words Academic Advising - Perceptions of Advising - Adviser Characteristics - Adviser-Advisee Relationship

THE LATE COMEDIAN RODNEY DANGERFIELD'S FAMOUS LINE, "I DON'T GET NO RESPECT," COULD HAVE BEEN SPOKEN BY AN ACADEMIC ADVISER. Among the responsibilities associated with faculty positions in academe, student advising is likely to be given short shrift compared to teaching, research, and service. For example, Johnson and Zlotnik (2005) found that only 7-5 percent of ads for academic jobs included advising as a job requirement, and that just one of 636 ads reviewed requested evidence of effectiveness as an adviser. From a nursing perspective, research and scholarship in the area of academic advising, not to mention general recognition and attention to advising, are virtually nonexistent. * The lack of respect and attention given to advising responsibilities is not new. In 1979 Walsh wrote, "Academic advisement has been neither a highly desirable academic responsibility nor a highly rewarded one" (p. 446). Walsh summarized the role of the adviser as largely a bureaucratic activity involving record keeping and ensuring that students fulfill college and major requirements prior to graduation; he called for a revitalization and redefinition of academic advisement as well as the application of developmental theory to the process of advising. * It is safe to say that the revitalization and redefinition called for by Walsh have not seen fruition. While an accurate evaluation of the changes in academic advising over time is a difficult task, it is likely that the process of academic advising remains largely bureaucratic. This may be particularly true in departments of nursing because of the high adviser/advisee ratio and the particular rigors of the nursing major.

Background The role of faculty in academic advising dates to 1841, when Kenyon College stipulated that each student must select a faculty member to be an adviser. Faculty provided students with information about courses needed to graduate, transmitting or translating information found in the college catalogue (Kramer, 1995). According to Habley (1995), "the only historical constant in academic advising is that members of the faculty have always played a prominent role in the delivery of those services" (p. 11).

The advent of student development theory in the late 1960s marked a milestone in the history of academic advising. Chickering's model of seven vectors (1969) is among the more well-known and utilized theories of student development. Based on the psychosocial theories of Erickson, Levinson, and others, it provided impetus for the developmental advising theories of Crookston, O'Banion, and many other academic advising theorists.

Contemporary theorists are challenging the reliance on developmental theory. According to Smith and Allen (2006), the 30year-old developmental approach does not represent recent changes in higher education and may not have utility for advising students in the 21st century. Aune's application of the interaction model of disability (2000), Propp and Rhodes's model of adviser behavioral constructs (2006), Schultz's modeling and role-modeling nursing theory (1998), and Kadar's counseling liaison model (2001) are examples of current advising theories that reflect the needs of today's student. …