Improving Faculty Advising

Academic advising: Image of an advisor and a student in conversation
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Over the past nine months, Academic Impressions has conducted several surveys of academic deans, department chairs, and directors of advising to investigate current trends in developing and assessing both faculty advisors and professional advisors. Among the key findings:

  • In a March 2012 survey, we learned that less than one-fifth of those institutions surveyed devote "sufficient resources" toward improving faculty advising -- even though one-half of those surveyed cite improving faculty advising as a key priority for the next year
  • In an earlier survey (October 2011), less than one-fourth of academic deans and advising directors surveyed indicated that data from assessment of academic advising is used effectively to inform future training and development of faculty advisors

Yet we also confirmed that over three-quarters of institutions surveyed rely heavily on faculty advisors (even if they also employ some professional advising staff). While there are many resources available for training and developing professional advising staff, faculty advisors often receive little or no training -- yet they provide most of the advising services at colleges and universities in the US. Improving faculty advising is thus a critical and often neglected step toward improving student retention and supporting students' academic success.

This week, we asked Tom Grites, past president of NACADA and assistant to the provost at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, for his advice on the subject.

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