Developmental Advising: A Definition

The academic advising literature now offers many definitions of the advising process that are grounded in a developmental perspective (Crookston, 1972; Crockett, 1978; Marsh, 1978; Grites, 1979; Walsh, 1979; Ender, Winston, and Miller, 1982). Developmental academic advising is defined 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.

The definition will be most difficult to implement if assigned exclusively to the faculty, given the present status of relationships between students and faculty. To be successful, it must be a collaborative effort between academic affairs and student affairs.

Seven conditions or principles that are essential in the advising process if the goal of developmental advising is to be achieved have been proposed by Ender, Winston, and Miller (1982). They have proven utility within the context of developmental advising (Ender, 1983).

Condition 1

1. Academic advising is a continuous process with an accumulation of personal contacts between advisor and student–these contacts have both direction and purpose.Whether in the context of the group format or a series of individual appointments between advisor and student, the process must be one that is purposeful. Both participants should be aware of the purpose the institution ascribes to the advising process. Out-come objectives of “quality” advising must be established and communicated to administrators, faculty, staff, and students. Each participant in the advising process should have an understanding of what advising can and cannot deliver. Responsibilities of each partner in the process need to be discussed until mutual agreement is reached.

Condition 2

2. Advising must concern itself with quality-of-life issues, and the advisor has a responsibility to attend to the quality of the student’s experience in college.This condition is directly related to the mission of the institution. Are student outcome goals established by the institution and do they reflect intellectual, personal, physical, and moral/ethical concerns? If so, are advisors aware of and do they communicate to students the resources and services available on campus and in the community that are designed to enhance the quality of the student’s educational experience? Are students aware of the objectives of the institution as they relate to student outcomes as a result of college participation? Do advisors understand their critical roles as institutional representatives? These are important coions that need affirmative responses if the goal of developmental advising is to be achieved.

Condition 3

3. Advising is goal related.The goals should be established and owned by the student and should encompass academic, career, and personal development areas. The formation of student goals and objectives must be one outcome of the advising process. The advisor should assist in the goal-setting process and challenge students to consider the outcomes they are seeking as a result of their interaction with the higher-education environment. The articulation and recording of goals lend direction to the student’s matriculation and assist in the clarification of both student and advisor roles in the process.

Condition 4

4. Advising requires the establishment of a caring human relationship—one in which the advisor must take primary responsibility for its initial development.All institutions of higher education must communicate to students their regard for them as individuals in the learning process. The strength of this relationship will illustrate the institution’s willingness to work with students as individuals striving to take full advantage of the resources available to enhance their educational success.

Condition 5

5. Advisors should be models for students to emulate, specifically demonstrating behaviors that lead to self-responsibility and self-direction.Perhaps the greatest impact a faculty or types of outcome behaviors the college is attempting to foster helping students learn basic skills necessary to live and fulfills these roles, are models–whether they like it or not. All advisors need to consider the impact they are having on students as a result of the interactions that take place between them and the behaviors they demonstrate in and out of the classroom and advising office.

Condition 6

6. Advising should seek to integrate the services and expertise of both academic and student affairs professionals.One strength of any advising system is the attention paid to the area of faculty-staff collaboration. Scarce resources, as well as practical considerations, mandate a symbiotic relationship between student affairs and academic affairs. There is no place within the present-day realities of higher education for either the duplication of services. Collaboration is essential to the overall success of an advising system concerned with the students’ total development.

Condition 7

7. This definition and seven conditions challenge the advisor and institution to engage with students in ways that stretch them.

Reference: Winston, R.B, Miller, T.K, Erder, S.C, Grites, T.J, (1984) Developmental Academic Advising. San Francisco: Jossey Bass