2009 Advising Summit: Major Advising Models — Summary

The topic for this year’s Summit was “Major Advising Models.” In his opening remarks, Dean McDonald emphasized the College’s continuing commitment to Undergraduate Education. He also briefly touched on the ABC, and even D’s of advising: 

Accuracy in relaying information to students about where they stood in relation to completing their degree, 
Boldness in the form of pushing students to move and think outside of their box (whatever box it is with which they arrive), 
Connecting students to the full range of resources and opportunities at the University, and making use of 
Data such as the NSSE survey on student engagement, in improving students’ experiences with advising.

We had an excellent panel of pairs of students and advisors from a range of departments and representing in a variety of advising models. Kalli Federhofer (advisor) and Cassandra Ballert (student) represented the German department, which has all advising done by two lecturers. German has intentionally chosen to have lecturers do advising for the purposes of giving students continuity in their advising rather than have them work with ever-changing faculty.  German has around 270 majors and academic minors and does advising primarily in individual advising appointments.  Kalli devotes around 16 hours/week to these appointments, and his colleague, Andrew Mills holds 8 hours/week.

Kristi MacKenzie (advisor) and Melissa Taubitz (student) represented the Psychology department. As the department with the largest numbers of majors in the College with 1800-1900 students across its three majors, Psychology has gone to a tiered advising structure that includes peer advisors, graduate student and staff advisors, as well as faculty. Psychology also runs group advising sessions, one of which is a required orientation for the major, so that they can answer frequently asked questions all at once and triage student issues to the appropriate advising resource, whether human, paper, or web.  Each of the different tiers of advisors handle different kinds of questions and students are referred out as appropriate.  Peer advisors have walk-in hours every day between 11am and 4pm (and receive academic credit for their training through PSYCH 308).  There are 3-4 graduate students, 1-2 faculty, 1 full-time, and 2 part-time staff advisors, as well as 30-40 faculty who (by referral) serve as resources for students with questions about research, careers, graduate school, etc.  For a more detailed overview of their advising program, click here.

Chris Luebbe, masquerading as Elise Harper (advisor), who was out with the flu, and Elizabeth Johnston (student) represented the Sociology department. In Sociology, all advising for the department’s 500 majors is done by Elise, who is a staff advisor.  For questions dealing with teaching issues, transfer course evaluation, ombuds’ issues, or research, Elise refers students to faculty or to the Undergraduate Program Director as appropriate.  As with German, most of the advising is done through individual appointments—to which she devotes 10-12 hours/week, though Elise is considering the development of group and peer advising programs.  She does not officially see walk-ins, but unofficially will meet with any student who comes in the door.  For the present she deals with meeting student demand by proactively trying to spread it out across the term with timely and/or preemptive email reminders to students to come in to discuss course selection, major releases, etc.

During the subsequent discussion, a number of issues and challenges were raised including dealing with large and/or increasing numbers of students (and the effect of this on the quality of advising conversations); career counseling and co-advising with Career Center advisors; advising about cognates; faculty resistance to advising and/or advising technology; helping students make connections between and among courses and experiences.

Participants were invited to fill out index cards responding to any or all of the following questions:

  1. What are the biggest challenges to advising in your department or for you individually?
  2. How has your department or you tried to meet these challenges?
  3. What can the Newnan LSA Academic Advising Center do to assist or support you in this endeavor?
  4. What can the LSA Dean’s Office do to assist or support you in this endeavor?

If you were unable to attend or did attend but did not fill out a card, you are welcome to email your responses to these questions to Chris Luebbe (auster@umich.edu).

Psychology Department — Advising Structure (Word document)

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