Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Improving Retention among College Students: Investigating the Utilization of Virtualized Advising

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Improving Retention among College Students: Investigating the Utilization of Virtualized Advising

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The success of any college depends on its ability to retain its students (Archer & Cooper, 1999). There are many factors external to the university which may cause the disruption of a student's education such as serious illness, financial problems or family issues. However, an important factor which can significantly influence retention is effective advising. Jones and Williams (2006) indicate that effective advising leads to improved retention of students during their four year educational process. Most universities conduct academic advising by having students report to faculty members in the area of their discipline to be advised. However, it is disconcerting to note that that despite the crucial role that advising plays in the successful matriculation of students, most universities provide little or no incentives for the provision of high quality advising (Hossler, Ziskin, & Gross, 2009). Although this concern is widespread among college administrators, substantial incentives are not provided to professors nor are professional advisors hired because of the cost involved with the implementation of these measures.

The solution to the problem of inconsistent advising quality would be to outsource this task to a convenient, easy to use, 24/7 access virtualized advising system. Many universities utilize virtualized advising. For example, Fitchburg State Colleges uses virtualized advising which allows students to view videos of individuals answering frequently asked questions. While Texas Tech University has developed a software program called ECOACH (Electronic College Optimum Advisor & Career Helper) which is an innovative web-based tool to aid students and advisors. James Gregory, director of ECOACH, says that the tools have provided assessment and information that makes the advising process more objective and more efficient and has allowed professors to use time which was previously used for mapping courses to dealing with personal issues (National Academic Advising Association, 2008). Other universities which utilize similar advising programs include Indiana Wesleyan University, Michigan State University, and the University of Kentucky. This indicates that virtualized advising is a feasible concept. However, the issue this paper seeks to address is not the possibility of implementation but does virtualized advising provide comparable quality to that of face-to-face advising? Or are the differences between the two means of advising negligible? To answer these questions this paper will investigate the various components of the advisor satisfaction construct. Then these factors will be examined to determine if virtualized advising can imitate these elements. Furthermore the paper will analyze the influence advising has on motivation and student satisfaction. Additional consideration will be given to the means by which financial strain affects students' motivation.

ADVISOR SATISFACTION

A student's relationship with their advisor is one of the most important factors which influences their success, and thus satisfaction of their university environment (Rice, et al., 2009). Satisfied advisees reported that there existed a positive alliance with their advisors, continual improvements over time and they were more comfortable disclosing professional information. Unsatisfied students described their relationships as "shallow, businesslike, or negative" (Schlosser, Knox, Moskovitz, & Hill, 2003). Perceptions of poor advisement and interpersonal relationship issues were also found to be key causes of advisor dissatisfaction (Rice, et al., 2009). These poor perceptions of advisement were caused by factors such as inaccessibility or lack of guidance. Interpersonal relationship issues were mostly caused by the frustration experienced by students who felt an "absence of support from their advisor" (Rice, et al., 2009). This same study found that 25% of the advisees would change advisors if it were possible. …

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