Academic Advising

academic advising

Handbook - Introduction

On the national scene, academic advising has evolved from a single-purpose, faculty activity to a comprehensive process that focuses on the academic, career, and personal development of students. This evolution has resulted to a great extent, from the focus on developmental advising. The theoretical framework set forth by Perry, Chickering, Kohlberg, Gilligan. et al., as well as the vocational theories of Donald Super and John Holland, were adapted to personalize advising through an approach that went far beyond the traditional advising agenda of course selection and registration. Students were seen as individuals with unique needs and concerns. Therefore, advising practices were broadened to include educational and vocational goal setting, as well as the traditional scheduling of classes. Winton, Miller, Ender and Grites in their book "Developmental Academic Advising" (1984) profile a more refined definition of the developmental advising process, describing it as:

"a systematic process based on a close student-advisor relationship intended to aid students in achieving educational, career, and personal goals through the utilization of the full range of institutional and community resources. It both stimulates and supports students in their quest for an enriched quality of life. Developmental advising relationships focus on identifying and accomplishing life goals, acquiring skills and attitudes that promote intellectual and personal growth, and sharing concerns for each other and for the academic community. Developmental academic advising reflects the institution's mission of total student development and is most likely to be realized when the academic affairs and student affairs divisions collaborate in its implementation." (p.19)

Viterbo has been well in line with national trends regarding academic advising. In 1980 and 1981 Viterbo redefined and reorganized its advising system and process. The focus of advising shifted from being merely a helper in the registration process to a relationship building experience between an advisor and an advisee. The advisor became the facilitator for the students integration of their academic goals with their personal, social and career goals. The advising process became an opportunity to affect positive growth and development in our students.

In the late 1980's and 90's we emphasized the nature and importance of developmental academic advising. The good advisor helps advisees to grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually; and the advisee who is well served by the academic advisor will in probability be a better learner and a better person.

Today academic advising at Viterbo and elsewhere is a decision making process during which students clear up certain confusions and realize their maximum educational potential through communication and information exchanges with an advisor; it is ongoing, multifaceted, and a shared responsibility between the student and advisor.

Thus, our major goals for advising should be: a) growth in the self-awareness of the relationship of education and life, b) growth in the ability to identify realistic academic and career goals as well as a program to achieve them, c) growth in the awareness of life as extending beyond the college years. This is all accomplished through an ongoing relationship building experience between an advisor and an advisee.

Viterbo University's strategic plan for 2007-2012, University of Opportunity: Hope & Help, supports and encourages a developmental advising model. This plan calls us as faculty, staff and administration to work cooperatively and interactively in the growth and development of the whole student. Student learning and personal development are Viterbo's highest priorities and academic advising needs to be a means to that end.

As we interact with our students in our advising role, we all need to do so with high ethical/moral standards.  To this end the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) has formulated a Statement of Core Values of Academic Advising which is found following this introduction. All of us who have contact with students should subscribe to these core values as the philosophical basis for our relationship with our students.

The Core values document states that each of us "is ultimately guided in our work by what we perceive as important, what we value, and what we believe about those we serve."  Understanding and acceptance of these beliefs and the other core values spelled out in the document are crucial to an ethical understanding of our relationships with students in our role as advisors and in implementing University of Opportunity: Hope & Help.