Academic advising is integral to fulfilling the teaching and learning mission of higher education. Through academic advising, students learn to become members of their higher education community, to think critically about their roles and responsibilities as students, and to prepare to be educated citizens of a democratic society and a global community. Academic advising engages students beyond their own world views, while acknowledging their individual characteristics, values, and motivations as they enter, move through, and exit the institution. Regardless of the diversity of our institutions, our students, our advisors, and our organizational structures, academic advising has three components: curriculum (what advising deals with), pedagogy (how advising does what it does), and student learning outcomes (the result of academic advising).1
Academic advising draws primarily from theories in the social sciences, humanities, and education. The curriculum of academic advising ranges from the ideals of higher education to the pragmatics of enrollment. This curriculum includes, but is not limited to, the institution’s mission, culture and expectations; the meaning, value, and interrelationship of the institution’s curriculum and co-curriculum; modes of thinking, learning, and decision-making; the selection of academic programs and courses; the development of life and career goals; campus/community resources, policies, and procedures; and the transferability of skills and knowledge.2
Academic advising, as a teaching and learning process, requires a pedagogy that incorporates the preparation, facilitation, documentation, and assessment of advising interactions. Although the specific methods, strategies, and techniques may vary, the relationship between advisors and students is fundamental and is characterized by mutual respect, trust, and ethical behavior.3
The student learning outcomes of academic advising are guided by an institution’s mission, goals, curriculum and co-curriculum. These outcomes, defined in an advising curriculum, articulate what students will demonstrate, know, value, and do as a result of participating in academic advising. Each institution must develop its own set of student learning outcomes and the methods to assess them. The following is a representative sample.
- craft a coherent educational plan based on assessment of abilities, aspirations, interests, and values
- use complex information from various sources to set goals, reach decisions, and achieve those goals
- assume responsibility for meeting academic program requirements
- articulate the meaning of higher education and the intent of the institution’s curriculum
- cultivate the intellectual habits that lead to a lifetime of learning
- behave as citizens who engage in the wider world around them
Academic advising, based in the teaching and learning mission of higher education, is a series of intentional interactions with a curriculum, a pedagogy, and a set of student learning outcomes. Academic advising synthesizes and contextualizes students’ educational experiences within the frameworks of their aspirations, abilities and lives to extend learning beyond campus boundaries and timeframes.
National: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2006). NACADA concept of academic advising. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources.5
NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising (NACADA) is comprised of professional and faculty advisors, administrators, students, and others with a primary interest in the practice of academic advising. With diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences, NACADA members advise in a variety of settings and work to promote quality academic advising within their institutions.
NACADA recognizes and celebrates the contributions of professional, faculty, para-professional, and peer advisors to the advising profession. NACADA acknowledges the complex nature of higher education institutions and the role academic advising plays within them, the wide variety of settings and responsibilities of academic advisors, and advisors' diverse backgrounds and experiences. NACADA provides a Statement of Core Values to affirm the importance of advising within the academy and acknowledge the impact that advising interactions can have on individuals, institutions and society.
The Statement of Core Values consists of three parts: 1) Introduction, 2) Declaration, and 3) Exposition, a descriptive section expanding on each of the Core Values. While each part stands alone, the document's richness and fullness of meaning lies in its totality.
The Statement of Core Values provides a framework to guide professional practice and reminds advisors of their responsibilities to students, colleagues, institutions, society, and themselves. Those charged with advising responsibilities are expected to reflect the values of the advising profession in their daily interactions at their institutions.
The Statement of Core Values does not attempt to dictate the manner in or process through which academic advising takes place, nor does it advocate one particular advising philosophy or model over another. Instead, these Core Values are the reference points advisors use to consider their individual philosophies, strengths, and opportunities for professional growth. Furthermore, the Core Values do not carry equal weight. Advisors will find some Core Values more applicable or valuable to their situations than others. Advisors should consider each Core Value with regard to their own values and those of their institutions.
Advising constituents, and especially students, deserve dependable, accurate, timely, respectful, and honest responses. Through this Statement of Core Values, NACADA communicates the expectations that others should hold for advisors in their advising roles. Advisors' responsibilities to their many constituents form the foundation upon which the Core Values rest.
1) Advisors are responsible to the individuals they advise.
have diverse backgrounds that can include different ethnic, racial, domestic, and international communities; sexual orientations; ages; gender and gender identities; physical, emotional, and psychological abilities; political, religious, and educational beliefs
hold their own beliefs and opinions
responsible for their own behaviors and the outcomes for those behaviors
can be successful based on their individual goals and efforts
have a desire to learn
have learning needs that vary based upon individual skills, goals, responsibilities, and experiences
use a variety of techniques and technologies to navigate their world.
In support of these beliefs, the cooperative efforts of all who advise include, but are not limited to, providing accurate and timely information, communicating in useful and efficient ways, maintaining regular office hours, and offering varied contact modes.
Academic advisors work to strengthen the importance, dignity, potential, and unique nature of each individual within the academic setting. Advisors' work is guided by their beliefs that students:
Advising, as part of the educational process, involves helping students develop a realistic self-perception and successfully transition to the postsecondary institution. Advisors encourage, respect, and assist students in establishing their goals and objectives. Advisors seek to gain the trust of their students and strive to honor students' expectations of academic advising and its importance in their lives.
2) Advisors are responsible for involving others, when appropriate, in the advising process.
Effective advising requires a holistic approach. At many institutions, a network of people and resources is available to students. Advisors serve as mediators and facilitators who effectively use their specialized knowledge and experience for student benefit. Advisors recognize their limitations and make referrals to qualified persons when appropriate. To connect academic advising to students' lives, advisors actively seek resources and inform students of specialists who can further assess student needs and provide access to appropriate programs and services. Advisors help students integrate information so they can make well-informed academic decisions.
3) Advisors are responsible to their institutions.
Advisors nurture collegial relationships. They uphold the specific policies, procedures, and values of their departments and institutions. Advisors maintain clear lines of communication with those not directly involved in the advising process but who have responsibility and authority for decisions regarding academic advising at the institution. Advisors recognize their individual roles in the success of their institutions.
4) Advisors are responsible to higher education.
Academic advisors honor academic freedom. They realize that academic advising is not limited to any one theoretical perspective and that practice is informed by a variety of theories from the fields of social sciences, the humanities, and education. They are free to base their work with students on the most relevant theories and on optimal models for the delivery of academic advising programs. Advisors advocate for student educational achievement to the highest attainable standard, support student goals, and uphold the educational mission of the institution.
5) Advisors are responsible to their educational community.
Academic advisors interpret their institution's mission as well as its goals and values. They convey institutional information and characteristics of student success to the local, state, regional, national, and global communities that support the student body. Advisors are sensitive to the values and mores of the surrounding community. They are familiar with community programs and services that may provide students with additional educational opportunities and resources. Advisors may become models for students by participating in community activities.
6) Advisors are responsible for their professional practices and for themselves personally.
Advisors participate in professional development opportunities, establish appropriate relationships and boundaries with advisees, and create environments that promote physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Advisors maintain a healthy balance in their lives and articulate personal and professional needs when appropriate. They consider continued professional growth and development to be the responsibility of both themselves and their institutions.
Core Value 1: Advisors are responsible to the individuals they advise.
- Academic advising is an integral part of the educational process and affects students in numerous ways. As advisors enhance student learning and development, advisees have the opportunity to become participants in and contributors to their own education. In one of the most important potential outcomes of this process, academic advising fosters individual potential.
- Regular student contact through in-person appointments, mail, telephone, E-mail, or other computer-mediated systems helps advisors gain meaningful insights into students' diverse academic, social, and personal experiences and needs. Advisors use these insights to assist students as they transition to new academic and social communities, develop sound academic and career goals, and ultimately, become successful learners.
- Advisors recognize and respect that students' diverse backgrounds are comprised of their ethnic and racial heritage, age, gender, sexual orientation, and religion, as well as their physical, learning, and psychological abilities. Advisors help students develop and reinforce realistic self-perceptions and help them use this information in mapping out their futures.
- Advisors introduce and assist students with their transitions to the academic world by helping them see value in the learning process, gain perspective on the college experience, become more responsible and accountable, set priorities and evaluate their progress, and uphold honesty with themselves and others about their successes and limitations.
- Advisors encourage self-reliance and support students as they strive to make informed and responsible decisions, set realistic goals, and develop lifelong learning and self-management skills.
- Advisors respect students' rights to their individual beliefs and opinions.
- Advisors guide and teach students to understand and apply classroom concepts to everyday life.
- Advisors help students establish realistic goals and objectives and encourage them to be responsible for their own progress and success.
- Advisors seek to understand and modify barriers to student progress, identify ineffective and inefficient policies and procedures, and work to affect change. When the needs of students and the institution are in conflict, advisors seek a resolution that is in the best interest of both parties. In cases where the student finds the resolution unsatisfactory, they inform students regarding appropriate grievance procedures.
- Advisors recognize the changing nature of the college and university environment and diversity within the student body. They acknowledge the changing communication technologies used by students and the resulting new learning environments. They are sensitive to the responsibilities and pressures placed on students to balance course loads, financial and family issues, and interpersonal demands.
- Advisors are knowledgeable and sensitive regarding national, regional, local, and institutional policies and procedures, particularly those governing matters that address harassment, use of technology, personal relationships with students, privacy of student information, and equal opportunity.
- Advisors are encouraged to investigate all available avenues to help students explore academic opportunities.
- Advisors respect student confidentiality rights regarding personal information. Advisors practice with an understanding of the institution's interpretation of applicable laws such as the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
- Advisors seek access to and use student information only when the information is relevant to the advising process. Advisors enter or change information on students' records only with appropriate institutional authorization to do so.
- Advisors document advising contacts adequately to meet institutional disclosure guidelines and aid in subsequent advising interactions.
Core Value 2: Advisors are responsible for involving others, when appropriate, in the advising process.
- Academic advisors must develop relationships with personnel critical to student success including those in such diverse areas as admissions, orientation, instruction, financial aid, housing, health services, athletics, academic departments, and the registrar's office. They also must establish relationships with those who can attend to specific physical and educational needs of students, such as personnel in disability services, tutoring, psychological counseling, international study, and career development. Advisors must also direct students, as needed, to experts who specialize in credit transfers, co-curricular programs, and graduation clearance.
- Because of the nature of academic advising, advisors often develop a broad understanding of an institution and a detailed understanding of student needs and the resources available to help students meet those needs. Based upon this understanding:
Students involved in the advising process (such as peer advisors or graduate assistants) must be adequately trained and supervised for adherence to the same policies and practices required of the professional and faculty advisors and other specially trained staff advising in the unit/institution.
- advisors can have an interpretative role with students regarding their interactions with faculty, staff, administrators, and fellow students, and
- advisors can help the institution's administrators gain a greater understanding of students' needs.
Core Value 3: Advisors are responsible to their institutions.
- Advisors work in many types of higher education institutions and abide by the specific policies, procedures, and values of the department and institution in which they work. When circumstances interfere with students' learning and development, advisors advocate for change on the advisees' behalf with the institution's administration, faculty, and staff.
- Advisors keep those not directly involved in the advising process informed and aware of the importance of academic advising in students' lives. They articulate the need for administrative support of advising and related activities.
- Advisors increase their collective professional strength by constructively and respectfully sharing their advising philosophies and techniques with colleagues.
- Advisors respect the opinions of their colleagues; remain neutral when students make comments or express opinions about other faculty or staff; are nonjudgmental about academic programs; and do not impose their personal agendas on students.
- Advisors encourage the use of models for the optimal delivery of academic advising programs within their institutions.
- Advisors recognize their individual roles in the success of their institutions and accept and participate in institutional commitments that can include, but are not limited to, administrative and committee service, teaching, research, and writing.
Core Value 4: Advisors are responsible to higher education in general.
Advisors accept that one goal of education is to introduce students to the world of ideas in an environment of academic freedom. Advisors demonstrate appreciation for academic freedom.
Advisors base their work with students on the most relevant theoretical perspectives and practices drawn from the fields of social sciences, the humanities, and education.
One goal of advising is to establish, between students and advisors, a partnership that will guide students through their academic programs. Advisors help students understand that learning can be used in day-to-day application through exploration, trial and error, challenge, and decision making.
Advisors advocate for student educational achievement to the highest attainable standards and support student goals as they uphold the educational mission of the institution.
Advisors advocate for the creation, enhancement, and strengthening of programs and services that recognize and meet student academic needs.
Core Value 5: Advisors are responsible to their educational community.
Many institutions recognize the importance of integrating classroom learning with community experience, study abroad, and programs that bridge the gap between the academic and off-campus environments. Where such programs exist, advisors help students understand the relationship between the institution and local, regional, national, and international communities.
Advisors advocate for students who desire to include study abroad or community service learning into their co-curricular college experience, and they make appropriate referrals to enable students to achieve these goals.
Advisors understand the intricacies of transfer between institutions and make appropriate referrals to enable students to achieve their goals.
Core Value 6: Advisors are responsible for their professional practices and for themselves personally.
- Advisors use the Statement of Core Values to guide their professional actions.
- Advisors seek opportunities to grow professionally. They identify appropriate workshops, classes, literature, research publications, and groups, both inside and outside the institution, that can keep their interest high, hone professional skills, and advance expertise within specific areas of interest.
- Advisors seek cross cultural opportunities to interact with and learn more about ethnic communities, racial groups, religions, sexual preferences, genders, and age levels, as well as physical, learning, and psychological abilities and disabilities found among the general student population.
- Advisors recognize that research topics are embedded in academic advising practice and theory. Advisors engage in research and publication related to advising as well as in areas allied with their training and disciplinary backgrounds. Advisors' research agendas safeguard privacy and provide for the humane treatment of subjects.
- Advisors are alert to the demands surrounding their work with students and the necessity of taking care of themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually to best respond to high level demands. They learn how to maintain listen and provide sensitive, timely responses that teach students to accept their responsibilities. Advisors establish and maintain appropriate boundaries, nurture others