We begin this issue of the NACADA Journal with a Letter to the Editor from Dr. Eric White. Somewhat atypical for Letters to the Editor, Dr. White does not critique or take issue with Craig McGill's 2018 NACADA Journal article, “Leaders' Perceptions of the Professionalization of Academic Advising: A Phenomenography.” Rather, entering the conversation, he suggests that academic advisors might benefit from embracing a faculty mindset. In so doing, White argues, the debate about this topic may become moot. His narrative chronicles the development of the field of academic advising, including the emergence of NACADA and its integral role in advancing academic advising research, policy, and practice in support of student learning success, while also tracking his own personal journey into the field. Dr. White's historical and insightful perspectives serve as a backdrop for the research articles in this NACADA Journal issue as each manuscript contributes to the growing literature base about academic advising theory, practice, and the profession as a whole.
How faculty academic advisors experience and describe their roles and responsibilities as advisors is the subject of Hart-Baldridge's phenomenological study. In an effort to capture advisors' experiences and perceptions of support from their institutions or departments, interviews were conducted with faculty advisors at a midwestern teaching-focused university. Hart-Baldridge's research offers important insight into the development of the faculty-advisor role.
He, Hutson, Bloom, and Cuevas illuminate another aspect of advisor development. Their mixed methods study explores advisors' beliefs, practices, and perceptions of well-being using their advisor self-evaluation instrument. Their findings illustrate the importance of individual advisor self-reflection with regard to advisor career satisfaction. Results indicate that advisors who were less satisfied often attributed those feelings to conditions within the workplace rather than to the advisor role. The researchers link support of advisor well-being to professional capital as a function of human, social, and decisional capital. As they suggest, “Individual advisor's well-being, in this sense, is also situated within the overall well-being of the institution and advising as a field in general as we explore advising theories and practices that promote thriving experiences for both students and staff on campus” (p. 22).
In their qualitative research, Kyte, Collins, and Deil-Amen study student responses to micro-messages developed from two distinct perspectives. In focus groups and interviews, students were asked to interpret email messages about a typical question a student might ask an advisor—in this case, dropping a challenging course. The emails were embedded with micro-messages that emphasized a growth mindset or tenets central to appreciative advising. This research has implications for how advisors communicate with students. More importantly, the findings reveal how those messages impact student perceptions of advisor support while also illustrating students' self-reported academic confidence.
Hayes, Lindeman, and Lukszo's work supports a growing body of literature about the transfer student adjustment process from a resilience model—that is, the development of Transfer Student Capital (TSC). This qualitative case study focused on students who transferred from a community college to a four-year university. Their study identifies sources of TSC, highlights the role of advisors, and suggests new implications for developing students' self-efficacy in the transfer process.
In “Advising Adult Learners During the Transition to College,” Karmelita examines the impact and effectiveness of transition programs for adults entering or re-entering higher education. This narrative's theoretical framework draws from Schlossberg's Transition Theory and Cross's identification of barriers typically experienced by adults as they transition into higher education. The combined models offered the researcher a way to think generally about transition (Schlossberg's 4-S) and specifically about the internal and external circumstances (Cross' barriers) that impact a successful transition to college.
In a large-scale quantitative study, Akos and James used student-level data from nine public universities, participating as members of the Predictive Analytics Reporting (PAR) Framework division of Hobson's, Inc. to explore the demographic and contextual factors that may predict student withdrawal from a course. The study was also designed to show the impact withdrawal has on first-to-second year retention. In an effort to understand behavioral nuances with regard to retention, students earning grades of D or F in a set of the same courses were compared to those who withdrew. Their findings offer important insight into the content of these critical conversations between students and academic advisors when discussing the implications of withdrawing from courses.
In another large-scale quantitative study, Spight used Astin's I-E-O framework to examine the relationship between early declaration of a major and persistence. The regression analysis did not reveal a difference in persistence between students who matriculated with a major and those who entered without a declared major. His work, however, did identify differences, some of which were significant, when other input (Astin's I) and environmental (Astin's E) variables were considered.
Martinez and Elue employed a mixed-methods approach in their study of the ways in which offering baccalaureate degrees at community colleges has impacted academic advising at these institutions. Their research questions sought to understand the academic advising policy, practice, and organizational changes that emerged as institutions assimilated a different student body. They developed and piloted a survey instrument drawn from the existing literature and supplemented the resulting quantitative data with semi-structured interviews with individuals who completed the survey instrument. Their findings and discussion highlight the myriad challenges community college advisors face in addressing the diverse curricular, personal, and career needs of baccalaureate students.
As is usually the case, there is much to consider in this issue of the NACADA Journal. We thank our colleagues for their contributions, and we appreciate their commitment to our shared goal of improving the academic advising experience for all of our students. Contributing to the scholarship about academic advising advances the field.