Reality Based Academic Advising
One of the basic concepts in Reality Based Academic Advising is that of "success" and "failure" identity. People with a positive self concept--people who feel loved and able to do worthwhile things--can be classified as "success identifiers." The "success identifier" may have a bad day now and then but expects tomorrow to be better. On the other hand, if people have a poor self concept--people who feel generally unlovable or unable to do much that is worthwhile--may be classified as "failure identifiers." A "failure identifier" expects things to go poorly and will usually live up to that expectation.
Reality Based Academic Advising is a model that an advisor can follow to carry out his or her role and help advisees gain or maintain "success identities." This model is an organized, systematic process that encourages the advisee to take responsibility for his or her behavior, and yet be aware that he or she will not be alone.
Involvement is the medium through which change or growth can take place. Involvement generates motivation, and this cannot happen unless the advisor is perceived as a friend who is honestly concerned about his or her advisee's welfare. Learning how to become involved is perhaps the most difficult task for the advisor, and yet it is also the most important. Dr. William Glasser's eight principles of Reality Therapy can serve as the framework for the Reality Based Academic Advising Model. Practicing these principles with sensitivity and discipline can help many advisors create the environment that will foster an increase in success identity and personal responsibility for an advisee.
Principle 1: Make Friends with your Advisees
- Active interest in and concern for the other.
- Be personal, warm, and friendly.
- Utilize active listening skills.
- Mutual sharing of self to become involved with the other.
- Use first person pronouns.
Principle 2: Focus on Advisee's Present Behavior
- Help advisee intellectualize his or her behavior and the consequences thereof.
- Concentrate on behavior, affirm feelings but do not focus on them.
- Ask "what" not "why," for "why" breeds excuses and reinforces failure.
- Use open ended questions in order to get advisee to think about his or her behavior.
Principle 3: Help the Advisee Evaluate His or Her Behavior
- Key question: "Is what you're doing helping you? Getting you what you want?"
- If advisee's behavior is not helping him or her achieve his or her goals ask, "What might you do in order for it to be helpful?"
Principle 4: Help Advisee Make a Plan to do Better
- Plan must be compatible with advisee's goals and objectives.
- Help the advisee generate alternatives--"What else could you do?"
- Plan should be both specific and short-ranged.
Principle 5: Guide the Advisee to Make a Commitment to the Plan
- Verbal or written (See sample plan for an academic behavior change).
- Check the commitment with "What if" questions.
- Modifications in the plan likely needed if there is a reluctance to give up prior commitments.
- Always follow up, being specific about time and place.
Principle 6: Accept no Excuses in the Place of Performance
- Explore what went wrong with the plan.
- Never ask "Why," but rather, "What are you going to do now?"
- Help advisee continually evaluate behavior in order to achieve goals and objectives.
Principle 7: Never Punish
- Natural consequences are enough punishment and appropriate.
- Punishment breaks involvement and re-enforces failure identity.
Principle 8: Never Give Up on an Advisee
- Try again.
- If you can't help him or her, get the advisees involved with someone who can.