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The Theory  Behind our Advising

There are many theories of Advising. A review of many of them can be found at the NACADA (Global Community for Academic Advising).

Academic advising is most often done from one of two different perspectives: Prescriptive and Developmental. While some combination of the two is necessary at times, the Student Success Center utilizes the developmental approach. Below is a brief discussion and comparison of the two approaches.

Developmental and Prescriptive Advising

Prescriptive advising: This model of advising holds that the academic advisor tells the student what to do, and the student does it. Prescriptive advising is linear communication from the advisor to the advisee and places most of the responsibility not on the student, but the advisor. The advisor is required to have the answers.

Developmental advising: The developmental advising model holds that the academic advisor and the advisee are partners in educational discovery in which responsibility is shared between the participants. As in all endeavors that are primarily human relations, there are numerous discussions that attempt to define developmental advising in the literature. Here is one definition developed by David S. Crockett (1995):

Advising is a developmental process that assists students in the clarification of their life/career goals and in the development of educational plans for the realization of these goals. It is a decision-making process which assists students in realizing their maximum educational potential through communication and information exchanges with an advisor; it is ongoing, multi-faceted, and the responsibility of both student and advisor. The advisor serves as a facilitator of communication, a coordinator of learning experiences through course and career planning and program progress review, and an agent of referral to other campus services as necessary.

Prescriptive advising tends to be the "do it for them" model. Developmental advising is the "help them do it for themselves" model.

Developmental Advising Is/Is Not

Perhaps an easy way to understand the concept of developmental advising is to compare prescriptive and developmental advising techniques using this chart developed by Burns B. Crookston (1972).

Prescriptive Advising

Developmental Advising

Advisor tells student what he/she needs to know about programs and courses.

Advisor helps student learn about courses and programs for self.

Advisor knows college policies and tells student what to do.

Advisor tells student where to learn about policies and helps in understanding how they apply to him/her

Advisor informs about deadlines and follows up behind student.

Advisor informs about deadlines, then lets student follow up.

Advisor tells student which classes to take.

Advisor presents class options; student makes own selections.

Advisor keeps informed about academic progress through files and records.

Advisor keeps informed about academic progress through records and talking to student about academic experiences.

Advisor tells student what to do in order to get advised.

Advisor and student reach agreement about nature of advising relationship.

Advisor uses grades and test results to determine courses most appropriate for student.

Advisor and student use grades, test results and self-determined interests and abilities to determine most appropriate courses.

Advisor specifies alternatives and indicates best choice when student faces difficult decisions.

Advisor assists student in identifying alternatives and weighing consequences when facing difficult decisions.

Advisor suggests what student should major in.

Advisor suggests steps students can take to help decide on major.

Advisor identifies realistic academic goals based on grades and test results.

Advisor assists student in identifying realistic academic goals based on grades, test results and self-understanding.

Advisor is concerned mainly about academic life of student.

Advisor is concerned about personal, social and academic life of student.

Advisor provides information mainly about courses and class schedules.

Advisor provides information about workshops and seminars in areas such as career planning and study skills, in addition to courses and class schedules.


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