Who is responsible for my graduation?

Christian, T. Y. (Appalachian S. U., & Sprinkle, J. (Appalachian S. U. (2013). College Student Perceptions and Ideals of Advising: An Exploratory Analysis. College Student Journal, 47(2), 271–292. Retrieved from http://essential.metapress.com/content/7781552X33313470

“Advising is viewed as a teaching function based on a negotiated agreement between the student and the teacher in which varying degrees of learning by both parties to the transaction are the product” (Crookston 1972)

This article sought to assess advisor performance as a function of students’ expectations of the advising experience and the student’s own sense of responsibility. The researchers developed a questionnaire intended to identify the appropriate type of advising based upon the students’ needs, perceptions, and level of Locus of Control. The researchers deployed a questionnaire and evaluated the responses. Multiple hypotheses were presented and evaluated. The article concluded with recommendations for future study.

Literature Review
The researchers described two execution styles for advising, prescriptive and developmental (or collaborative). The developmental approach is a collaborative relationship in which the responsibilities of advisor and student are clear. If one has an internal locus of control one will “take responsibility for their actions, achievements, and consequences”. Those with an external locus will not take that internal responsibility, instead focusing on external factors influencing success. The researchers suggest a correlation exists between locus of control and preferred advising approach. “Viewed through this lens, college students with an internal locus of control are likely to prefer collaborative ad- vising while those with an external locus will prefer prescriptive advising as it places the burden of responsibility firmly on the advisor.” The researchers further suggested a correlation that as we age, our internal locus of control becomes more developed and we instead have a preference for collaborative advising.

Minimal literature was provided. Student development theory, as introduced by Crookston, 1972, is presented, but not fully explained. For example, student development theory uses alternative terms (not just responsibility) to describe this process of internalizing responsibility and it is often viewed a continuum. While Crookston (1972) does support the integration of a sense of self-responsibility and ownership, the advising relationship is much more complex. “Historically, the primary focus of both the academic advisor and the vocational counselor has been concerned with helping the student choose a major or an occupation as a central decision around which to begin organizing his life. The emergence of the student development philosophy in recent years necessitates a critical reexamination of this traditional helping function as well as the assumptions which undergird it” (Crookston, 1972). Essentially one factor of developmental advising was considered. However, the responses by the students could have been much more a function of the other factors introduced by Crookston (1972).

The rationale for assessment in advising is lacking in the literature review. Only one factor, time to graduation, is presented. Current research suggests drivers for assessment also include student retention, academic performance, and advising performance management (Teasley and Buchanan, 2013).

The researchers developed and deployed a questionnaire. The purpose of the questionnaire was to investigate which type of advising was being utilized (prescriptive or developmental) and capture the students’ ideals of advising. The analysis was intended to discuss the relationship, if any, which exists between those two factors. The researchers developed several hypotheses: students are currently receiving developmental advising and that as they age it becomes more prescriptive, gender and ethnicity do not influence student perception of advising interactions, GPA correlates to a tendency towards prescriptive advising, students will use their ideals of advising as a foundation for their own assessment.

A 50-question questionnaire was administered to students in multiple courses within the same department. 125 completed questionnaire were provided to the researchers. Class time was provided to complete the questionnaire but it was not mandatory.

There were two sub-scales considered with the analysis, student perceptions and student ideals. Factor analysis was used to evaluate the data obtained. The researchers explained how they employed the factor analysis. Used factors that had a load higher than their preferred level. Any questions with loads lower than those minimums were removed. After analyzing the results, each hypothesis was discussed in terms of the findings.

Limitations. The researchers proposed two limitations; a relatively small sample size was used and all students were from the same academic department. However, other limitations could be considered that no differential was made between faculty advisors or professional advisors. An extension of that limitation is advisor training and development. Finally, multiple factors, as described by Crookston (1927) influence the advising relationship, not just a student’s locus of control.

The source of the questions was not included. The article by Teasley & Buchanan (2013) included that detail and also highlighted the refinements made to the survey with each round of analysis. This research presented conclusions and a tool that has been tested much less than the tool introduced by Teasley & Buchanan. Duplication of these findings or enhancement of the assessment questionnaire is much more challenging based upon this research.

The questionnaire was only administered to 125 students across three courses within the same department.  Researchers included conclusions based upon the hypotheses. A larger sample size and additional classes could further support the application of the findings.  The researchers identified these factors as a limitation themselves.

Future research opportunities. An advising syllabus has become a key piece of advising execution (Trabant, 2006). An advising syllabus is a tool in which advisors convey their responsibilities and highlight the students’ individual responsibilities. I appreciated the concept of what the researchers were trying to capture in terms of the students’ perceptions of their own level of responsibility. The syllabus is intended to convey responsibility and establish a foundation for the advising relationship. A new idea to consider is how an advising team establishes the syllabus and what is intended by it. From there, is it appropriate to also consider assessing correlation between what is written in the syllabus and what is executed by the advisor?

It was interesting to include a psychological perspective in the assessment of advising. Typical advising literature considers assessment based upon generally accepted advising development theories (Williams, 2011). This could be an expansion of that consideration. McClellan, 2011 suggested the use of widely accepted business assessment models. These different approaches add a new lens by which to evaluate student expectations and development, along with advisor performance.


Crookston, B. B. (1972). A Developmental View of Academic Advising as Teaching. Journal of College Student Personnel. US: ACPA Executive Office.

McClellan, J. L. (2011). Beyond Student Learning Outcomes: Developing Comprehensive, Strategic Assessment Plans for Advising Programmes. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 33(6), 641–652. doi:10.1080/1360080X.2011.621190

Teasley, M. L., & Buchanan, E. M. (2013). Capturing the Student Perspective: A New Instrument for Measuring Advising Satisfaction. NACADA Journal, 33(2), 4–15. doi:10.12930/NACADA-12-132

Trabant, T.D. (2006). Advising Syllabus 101. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:

Williams, S. (2007).From Theory to Practice: The Application of Theories of Development to Academic Advising Philosophy and Practice. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:


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