Supporting Student Success through Proactive Advising

A group of advisers sit in a classroom.
By Dorcia Chaison, PhD, Director of Academic Advising and Undergraduate Programs, College of Ag. & Nat. Resources, Deb Dotterer, Assistant Dean, University Advisingm Kristy Dumont, Assistant Director for Student Affairs, College of Education, Charles Jackson, Academic Specialist, Student Success Initiative, Sadiq Mohammed, Academic Advisor, Honors College, and Breana Yaklin, Instructional Designer, Academic Technology and Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology
The Proactive Advising Project is a Student Success Initiative that has made a lot of progress since January 2017 and has big plans for Fall 2017 and Spring 2018.

Proactive Advising is a part of the Student Success Initiative and focuses on assessing student experiences with advisors, improving the quality of tools and collaboration amongst advisors, and offering more targeted professional development to advisors to improve students’ experiences with academic advising. A team of advisors have been hard at work to improve the student experience with advising since January 2017, and they have some big plans for the 2017-2018 academic year to continue this work.

To begin the project, the Academic Advising Leadership developed 

a mission statement and the Academic Advising Core Expectations, which guide the work of the three Proactive Advising Working Groups: Tools & Collaboration, Professional Development, and Assessment & Metrics. Each working group is led by an Advising Fellow, who has had a portion of their time funded for this project from the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education. The working groups are made up of diverse representation from the Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative (NSSC) and the undergraduate colleges. Read on to learn more about what each working group has accomplished and what they plan to focus on next.


Advising for Student Success Framework poster

Tools & Collaboration Group

By Kristy Dumont

What we’ve accomplished: The Tools and Collaboration Group assessed the existing tools and collaboration efforts among advisors. We surveyed the advising community regarding the use of tools and surveyed sister institutions regarding their efforts to streamline processes. To promote collaboration amongst advisors, we created and distributed an online advisor directory and resources to be used solely by academic advisors. To continue our efforts towards collaboration, we investigated platforms to support an academic advisor portal. Finally, Charles Jackson partnered to lead us through a major change process mapping workshop so we can streamline our processes and better support students through this change.

What’s next: To streamline the major change process, we will create a website template for major change information that each college will use. This will ensure consistent information is easily accessible to all students. We will also focus on developing and launching an academic advisor portal, with a goal of improving communication amongst advisors. Finally, we will work to coordinate the campaign efforts conducted through the Student Success Dashboard. Campaigns are targeted messaging for specific groups of students, and coordinating campaigns across the university should make the communication more consistent.


Professional Development Group

By Dorcia Chaison

What we’ve accomplished: The Professional Development Group assessed the existing professional development activities for advisors. We partnered with the Tools & Collaboration Group to deploy a survey to the advising community to ascertain needs and wants for professional development opportunities. We initiated our action plans to include ongoing professional development and training sessions for 2017-2018, incorporate a universal onboarding tool for new advisors, and host an Advisor Recognition and Awards ceremony that involved awards for Outstanding New Advisor, Outstanding Established Advisor, Outstanding Faculty Advisor, and Outstanding Advising Administrator.

What’s next: We will work to develop and launch a universal onboarding tool for advisors. We plan to collaborate with the Office of Academic Human Resources and the Academic Specialists Advisory Council to combine our efforts of providing future Professional Development and Training sessions. We also will investigate an Advisor Career Ladder to better support advisors through their career path. Finally, we will continue to support the other two working groups to triangulate advisor core competencies with proactive advising strategies.

Assessment & Metrics Group

By Sadiq Mohammed

What we’ve accomplished: The Assessment & Metrics Group reviewed current advising assessments conducted on a college level to identify gaps in assessment across the university. We coordinated with a National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) consultant to develop an advising assessment plan to inform our work for 2017-2018. We created student and advisor learning outcomes to direct our work measuring the student experience with academic advising. Finally, we developed a student survey in alignment with the student learning outcomes, and asked a small group of students to review this survey to test clarity and accuracy.

What’s next: We will execute our advising assessment plan by identifying and gathering data from existing resources to assess the student learning outcomes and establish our baseline data.
We will launch the survey with undergraduate students to assess the student experiences with academic advising, and further build on our baseline data. Finally, we plan to conduct focus groups with targeted groups in follow-up to the student survey to further assess the student experiences with academic advising.

The three Advising Fellows will lead their respective working groups through the 2017-2018 academic year, with a goal to conclude this project in May 2018. In addition to sharing out their work across campus, the Fellows will also be presenting their work at the upcoming NACADA conference in St. Louis, MO October 13. Stay tuned to learn more about the progress each working group makes towards their goals in May!