Understanding Academic Advising at Institutions with a First-Year Engineering Program
McGlothlin Lester, Marlena Brooke
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Academic advising has been a part of United States (U.S.) colleges and universities since their inception, yet academic advising as we know it today is a relatively new profession. Over the last several decades, many colleges and universities have employed professional advisors, rather than teaching and learning faculty, to carry out the academic advising functions however little is known about the structures of these advising programs. Academic advisors often serve on the front lines (i.e., high student contact hours) and advocate for student success by supporting students in learning about their institutions, uncovering their personal and professional goals, and encouraging them to pursue life goals. However, the responsibility of academic advising and advisors varies at institutions of higher education across the country and this variation is not well understood. The purpose of this research was to better understand the structures of engineering academic advising at large four-year, primarily residential institutions with a first-year engineering program. To accomplish this purpose, the following overarching research question guided my study: How do first-year engineering programs structure academic advising, and what services, programs, and support are in place for academic advisors and students? To answer this question, I used a qualitative multi-case study design to understand the landscape of advising in first-year engineering programs and the organizational structures of their advising programs. I used Habley's Organizational Models for Academic Advising (1983) as a way to categorize the structures of academic advising and Frank's (1993) Integrated Model of Academic Advising Program Development as a conceptual framework for understanding how academic advising programs develop, the services provided, programming available, and how to enable the advisors to better support the student population. My findings include identifying: 1) several similarities between case sites' organizational structures of advising, 2) new student orientation and major exploration as main services offered at all sites, 3) a lack of formalized planning across all case sites, and 4) the prominence of advisor training with a desire to have more formal advisor recognition programs. Recommendations for future research, practice, and policy are provided along with a proposal for a new model for First-Year Engineering Advising Programs.
General Audience Abstract
Academic advising is a function within higher education that serves students by providing guidance to navigate the higher education system. Academic advisors often serve on the front lines of the higher education environment and advocate for student success by supporting students in learning about their institutions of higher education, uncovering their personal and professional goals, and encouraging them in their academic pursuit. Academic advising has been a part of the United States (U.S.) higher education system at colleges and universities since their inception, yet academic advising, as we know it today is a relatively new profession. Over the last several decades, many colleges and universities have employed individuals to serve as professional academic advisors. These individuals spend the majority of their time and availability on the sole function of academic advising. However, the responsibility of academic advising and advisors varies at institutions of higher education across the country and this variation is not well understood. The purpose of this research was to gain a better understanding of the responsibilities and organizations of first-year engineering academic advising programs at large four-year, primarily residential institutions with a first-year engineering program. I interviewed individuals at universities and analyzed relevant advising program documents to understand the evolution of their advising programs, the services they provide, their program goals, and professional development available to them. My research uncovered 1) several similarities among the organization of the advising programs, 2) key academic services such the onboarding process for students known as new student orientation and methods to help student select an academic major, 3) a need to develop program planning initiatives and 4) the existence of training and lack of advising awards. Recommendations for future research, practice, and policy are provided along with a proposal for a new model for First-Year Engineering Advising Programs.
- Doctoral Dissertations 
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