A cursory review of scholarly articles concerning community colleges will undoubtedly result in references to the “cooling out” function of academic advising. This theory remains among one of the most cited critiques of these institutions to date. Many scholars have debated the accuracy of the assertion, arguing that community college advisors warmed up rather than cooled out their student aspirations. Interestingly, despite the prevalence of references in community college literature, few studies have considered the roots of this debate. This study explores the historical origins of this dichotomy by examining two foundational discourses that inspired the controversy (Provost, 2023).
Regarding community college advising practices, the phrase “cooling out” originated in 1960 when sociologist Burton Clark (1960a) suggested that academic advisors purposefully diverted, or cooled down, community college students' aspirations. He defined “cooling out” as a “sequence of procedures” advisors undertook to convince marginal students to alter their educational pathway from the university-transfer track to a terminal degree (Clark, 1960a, p. 574). Clark suggested that community college advising programs adopted multiple practices that encouraged certain students to modify their goals by letting “down hopes gently and unexplosively” (Clark, 1960a, p. 574). The argument remains one of the most cited critiques of these institutions to date. A recent Google Scholar query of the paired terms “advising,” “cooling out,” and “community colleges” resulting in 1,130 articles, 141 of which were written since 2020. Interestingly, despite the prevalence of this reference, few studies have considered the historical context of this critique. While most researchers credit the term appropriately to Clark, they fail to account for economic, social, and political conditions that gave rise to Clark's theory (Provost, 2023).
Interpretations of the “cooling out” theory have far exceeded Clark's original intention. As scholars have embedded the term in community college literature, their rhetoric has also distanced the concept from its original purpose. Michel Foucault (1972) argued that commentary provides an “opportunity to say something other than the text itself,” in essence altering the reference so far from its origin, and repeated “ad infinitum,” until these references no longer reflect their origins (p. 221). “The open multiplicity, the fortuitousness, is transferred, by the principle of commentary, from what is liable to be said,” Foucault proposed, “to the number, the form, the masks and the circumstances of repetition. The novelty lies no longer in what is said, but in its reappearance,” (Foucault, 1972, p. 221). The pervasiveness of the cooling out commentary is indicative of what Foucault described. It has become an overextended staple of the community college historiography.
Many scholars have debated the accuracy of the theory, arguing that community college advisors warmed up rather than cooled out their students' aspirations. Rosenbaum et al. (2006) documented that students attending a community college were nearly as likely to increase their educational aspirations as lower them. Other authors have suggested that students changed their degree pathways out of personal decisions based on increased information (Manski & Wise, 1983; Zafar, 2011) or financial considerations (Goldrick-Rab, 2016; Goldrick-Rab et al., 2009). One preeminent community college scholar, Terry O'Banion, endorses the warming up function of community college advisors. In 1972, O'Banion's article “An Academic Advising Model” appeared in the Junior College Journal, later republished in the NACADA Journal (1994). This work remains one of the most cited advising models for practitioners and offers one historical counterpoint to Clark's theory (Grites, 2013). Ever since, many scholars have looked to O'Banion's work as an exemplar for the warming up function of advising.
Given the prevalence of references in the literature, it became necessary to examine the historical origins of the cooling out/warming up debate. This study asks:
What were Clark and O'Banion's mid-20th century ideological assumptions?
What were the authors' purposes for their foundational discourses?
Utilizing discourse-tracing methodology, this article provides a side-by-side discursive examination of two primary texts that established the cooling out and warming up debate (Provost, 2023).
The mid-20th century was a time of rapid growth for community colleges. As enrollment surged and new institutions emerged, many community college leaders struggled to define the purpose of their institutions. During this era, two pioneering scientists, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, introduced humanistic psychology, a theory based on individuals' limitless potentiality (Maslow, 1979; Rogers, 1995). This new breed of psychology broke from the conventional theory of behavioralism, transforming the landscape of counseling in the mid-20th century.
Their theories were increasingly adapted to educational settings in the 1960s through the 1980s. Termed humanistic education, higher education advising programs widely adopted this model. Terry O'Banion, a devoted humanist, championed humanistic education practices, embedding the tenets into his model of academic advising. A discursive examination of his foundational 1972 publication, “An Academic Advising Model,” reveals O'Banion's ideological assumptions regarding the purpose and function of community college advising programs. His assertions, when compared to Clark's, demonstrate dichotomous accounts of the role community college advisors played at these fledgling institutions. To account for the origin of the cooling out/warming up theory of advising, a more comprehensive understanding of the discursive choices made by these authors is warranted (Provost, 2023).
Discourse tracing invites researchers to explore language and root out shifts, variations, and transformations of connotative value over time (LeGreco & Tracy, 2009). This method provides an exceptional lens for examining the ways particular policies or practices compare at micro, meso, and macro levels of social discourse. The theory of relativism holds that language represents values and viewpoints contingent upon context and authorship (Shi-xu, 2005). What is meant by a word or phrase, uttered by one author or at one chronological point, may dramatically differ from the meaning implied by another. Connotative meaning in language, therefore, is not universal. My findings throughout my research suggest that one longstanding critique of the community college may have failed to account for linguistic connotation and ideological variance in community college programmatic conception and design.
Clark's “Cooling-Out” Theory
In 1960 Clark published The Open Door College: A Case Study and an article in The American Journal of Sociology; both argued that community colleges were complicit in social stratification efforts through a covert system of advising and counseling that purposefully funneled marginal students away from transfer degree programs and toward two-year terminal degrees. Clark (1960b) conducted an in-depth case study at one junior college offering an “intensive observation” to understand the “ways” junior colleges were organized and transformed by “internal and external pressures” (p. 7). Clark strove to understand the characteristics of the junior college at the organizational level. His study was widely based on informal conversations with staff, reviews of records, survey results, and interview summaries. His findings suggested that the community college, rather than offering an open door to opportunity, functioned as a sorting mechanism in higher education.
While most students entered community college intending to transfer to a university, few students completed that goal. Clark (1960a) also indicated that students with “little academic ability” were encouraged in society to attend college, yet they faced academic challenges in college they were ultimately incapable of overcoming (p. 571). To attend to this issue, Clark (1960a) observed, community college advising and counseling programs purposefully “structured” a “soft” response to a student's failure by redirecting these students into more accessible terminal degree tracks (pp. 571–572). Clark defined this process as “cooling-out,” or diverting the student's aspirations away from university transfer toward short-term vocational degree programs. Clark emphasized that this process was not transparent but intentionally concealed. For the community college to function, the cooling out process was purposefully “kept reasonably away from public scrutiny,” as to reveal this function would “render” the community college “superfluous” in the realm of higher education (Clark, 1960b, p. 575). Clark insisted that the covert nature of advising and counseling was essential to the longevity and success of the community college (Provost, 2023).
Clark's cooling-out theory ignited a wave of community college criticism, and his 1960s-era article has over two thousand references to date. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, well-cited researchers repeatedly built upon his cooling-out critique.
Side-by-Side Discursive Analysis
Discourse tracing at the micro-level of analysis demonstrates an ideological divide in the language used to describe counseling and advising processes in community college. While Clark described community colleges' cooling-out process in 1961, O'Banion's advising and counseling processes represented more of a warming up of student aspirations. His model encouraged students to explore educational opportunities by engaging in deep, meaningful reflections of their life and career goals. Opposed to Clark's observations, O'Banion's advising framework encouraged and uplifted student ambitions. To understand the dichotomy between these two models, we must first explore the connotative differences in a side-by-side comparison of the assumptions outlined in O'Banion and Clark's discourse.
The divergence in meaning between Clark and O'Banion's descriptions of counseling and advising practices in community colleges is significant. Clark (1960a) detailed a “reorientating” process orchestrated by community college counselors and administrators that shifted students' transfer goals toward vocational programs (p. 572). However, neither Clark nor later scholars accounted for humanistic education in their reviews of advising and counseling processes in the community college. Given this omission, critics of community colleges may have neglected to account for humanistically-oriented community college advising and counseling models.
O'Banion's and Clark's models share commonalities at first glance, but a deeper dive into the discourse reveals deep ideological divides. Both authors provide three key themes that serve to orient this discussion: the processes involved in counseling and advising, the individuals responsible for decision making, and the intended purpose and outcomes of advising and counseling processes. To investigate these claims, I turn to a selection of O'Banion's prominent publications addressing community college counseling and advising (see O'Banion, 1971a, 1971b, 1972). These articles serve as a point of comparison for the cooling-out critique.
Clark described three steps in the community college advising and counseling process: pre-entrance testing, counseling interviews, and new student orientation. He then detailed a sorting process where marginal students are identified and nudged away from transfer education tracks. In Clark's (1960a) description, at each step of the process documentation is gathered in a student “counseling folder” to provide “accumulating evidence” to the marginal student in order “to heighten [student] self-awareness of capacity in relation to choice and hence to strike particularly at the latent terminal student” (p. 573). Counselors utilized these folders as covert tools to remind students of their deficiencies until they lost confidence in their academic plans. The process, as Clark details, is formalized to repeat until the student self-selects a vocational pathway.
Alternatively, O'Banion's model utilized five steps, including exploration of life and vocational goals, program choice, course choice, and the scheduling of courses. O'Banion (2009) argued that the academic advising and counseling sequence was complex but necessary to ensure students achieved “their maximum potential” (p. 83). Contrary to the arguments suggested by Clark, O'Banion's model was not intended to divert student ambitions but rather to explore them. O'Banion (2009) argued that the primary goal for advisors and counselors was to help students answer the question, “How do I want to live my life?” (p. 83). He considered this question a primary concern and insisted that students needed to have “opportunities to explore this question” in an “intensive and meaningful way.”
Comparing O'Banion's advising model with Clark's highlights a prominent alternative to Clark's cooling-out theory. In addition, this discursive examination revealed a connotative difference between Clark and O'Banion's descriptions of the advising process that potentially contributed to future misinterpretations by community college critics (Provost, 2023).
For humanists, the word vocation was a concept removed from labor and economics; vocation was a spiritual pursuit, a calling. In his influential text Toward a Psychology of Being, Abraham Maslow outlined the relationship between vocation and self-actualization. Self-actualization was the pinnacle of Maslow's theory of the hierarchy of basic needs. Self-actualization, Maslow (1999) argued, was to realize the “potentials, capacities and talents, as fulfillment of mission (or call, fate, destiny, or vocation), as a fuller knowledge of, and acceptance of, the person's intrinsic nature, as an unceasing trend toward unity, integration or synergy within the person,” (p. 31). The term vocation, for humanists, evoked concepts associated with higher purpose life goals rather than workforce or economic goals. As one scholar noted, a hallmark of a humanistic education was an increasingly optimistic view of “human potentiality” (Nash, 1975, p. 17). The belief in extraordinary human potential had significant implications for how educators understood the term vocation and the purpose of education.
As scholars have noted, vocation's connotation has varied dramatically across educational contexts (Dawson, 2005). In part, the term's ambiguity derives from its long linguistic history. One scholar noted that during the Middle Ages, the term reflected a religious “call away from the world of productive activity to dedicate one's life to prayer and contemplation,” (Dawson, 2005, p. 223). In that sense, vocation's original meaning was the exact opposite of its contemporary definition. The term shifted toward labor during the 15th and 16th centuries but retained its religious overtones (Dawson, 2005, p. 224). In the 18th and 19th centuries, vocation turned inward, from religion to personal dignity and fulfillment (Dawson, 2005, p. 224). Work during this period was the manifestation of liberty and autonomy. As one scholar noted, it was the turn toward “technical economies” in the 20th century when the term vocation began to align with ideas of the workforce and capitalism demonstrated in the statistical portrait, (Fig. 1). While a topic of interest to economic and social critics, workforce considerations were not a mainstay of the higher education canon until the mid-1970s. For humanists, however, vocation remained a spiritual pursuit more aligned with self-actualization than social stratification (Provost, 2023).
In the mid-20th century, many leading humanists defined vocation as akin to spiritualism. While opposed to organized religion, Maslow remained deeply committed to spiritual pursuits (Elkins et al., 1988). Entwined in Maslow's concept of spirituality was the more significant idea of meaning and purpose in life. Humanists such as Maslow considered vocation a profound mission or “quest” that drove individuals toward a “destiny” they were driven to fulfill (Elkins et al., 1988, pp. 10–11). As an ideology derived from Maslow's theories, humanistic education in the mid to late 20th century retained the secular concept of vocation. When O'Banion spoke of exploring vocational goals, he was not writing about labor but rather of life's purpose and mission.
Eminent cultural critic Raymond Williams (2014) argued that language was value laden. Williams posited that different groups within society essentially spoke different languages, especially when considering terms that concerned ideological or discipline-specific concepts. The term vocation exemplifies Williams' assertion. The connotative mismatch between Clark and O'Banion's usage of the word is evident across an account of the process, person, and purpose of advising and counseling programs. This dichotomy also highlights the varying ideological assumptions held by the authors.
O'Banion piloted his advising model during his tenure as Dean of Students at Santa Fe College. In coordination with the founding president of Santa Fe College, Joseph Fordyce, he developed an orientation seminar, Behavioral Science 100 (BE-100), titled “The Individual in a Changing Environment,” (O'Banion, 1971a, p. 272) required of every student in their first or second term. This course entailed the same objectives as those O'Banion later outlined as steps one and two of his advising model: an exploration of life and vocational goals. It is important to note that, for O'Banion, life goals and vocational goals were intimately linked. “Vocational goals,” O'Banion (2009) postulated, “are life goals extended into the world of work. What a person is and wants to be (life goals) determines what he does (vocational goals)” (p. 83). The course at Santa Fe College provided students with coursework specifically designed to explore this relationship. The overall objective of this course was for students to develop a “philosophy of life” established by the intersection of students' lives and vocational aspirations (O'Banion, 1971a, p. 272). This link between life and work goals is a primary concept held by humanistic educators and potentially a reason why some critics misunderstood the intentions of community college advising and counseling specialists.
Clark's idea of vocation, by contrast, provided an economic exchange to measure the degree of investment in education compared to the monetary outcomes a student could anticipate in the workforce (Clark & Trow, 1960). As was true for many sociologists and economists, Clark considered vocation a synonym for the broader concept of career (Metcalfe, 2013). Recounting a vocational advising mechanism, Clark (1960b) summarized that the primary goals of the advisor were to provide career information “duties and responsibilities” while covertly convincing “latent terminal students” to “accept their limitations” and “the problem of unrealistic vocational goals,” (p. 73). Clark emphasized that the furtive nature of reorientation was necessary by design and an essential component of the community college advising model (Provost, 2023).
O'Banion's model presents a starkly different approach. He argued that the role of advising and counseling personnel was to help students “achieve their maximum potential” through “humanization of the educational process,” (O'Banion, 1972, pp. 271–272). Vocational advising was a step within O'Banion's blueprint, but student-identified life goals guided the advising framework. O'Banion's design promoted ideas of “self-fulfillment” and human potentiality (1972, p. 271). Contrary to the clandestine reorientation steps Clark outlined, O'Banion described an advising and counseling design centered on student aspirations. The model called on counselors to enlist students in humanizing education by recognizing their “strength and potential as persons” shifting “from weaknesses to strengths, from what can't be done to what can be done, from what is wrong [with them] to what is right,” (O'Banion, 1971b, p. 667). Rather than knocking down student aspirations, O'Banion's model looked to build students up.
Clark identified pre-entrance testing as the first step of the cooling-out process. The system placed students with low test scores in remedial courses. Clark (1960b) concluded that participation in remedial coursework “casts doubt and slows the student's movement into bona fide transfer courses,” (p. 71). Remedial courses formed a “sub college” system (Clark, 1960a, p. 572). This process, Clark explained, directed students through a cycle of studies that claimed to provide them with necessary foundational skills but actually served to remind students that they were unsuited for university transfer. Testing, as Clark indicated, was designed to identify and sideline marginal students' aspirations and direct them toward vocational degree attainment.
It is important to note that this system of testing, as Clark outlined, was not a universal function at all junior colleges in the mid-20th century. Many humanistic leaders, including O'Banion, advocated for a different approach to pre-college examinations. O'Banion (1971b) viewed testing as a deleterious device in higher education that needed to be redesigned: “Many testing programs are built on the antilife philosophy that there are zeros in human nature,” (p. 663). “A testing program that attempts to discover what is right with students so that the college can provide programs to support and develop that rightness,” he countered, “might be a yeasty and welcome development in education,” (O'Banion, 1971b, p. 663). In O'Banion's advising model, counseling was the first step for the incoming college student, not testing. The junior college, he insisted, needed to take a different advising approach from that of the university. O'Banion (2009) believed that the university model of “faculty advising” did not provide the expertise required to guide students through community college course and program selection (p. 84).
Alternatively, O'Banion called for an advising specialist trained in counseling to assist students in exploring life and vocational goals. This specialist would understand “student characteristics and development” as well as display “knowledge of psychology and sociology” and skills in “counseling techniques,” (O'Banion, 2009, p. 84). O'Banion (2009) emphasized that these advising specialists must maintain two core beliefs: “belief in the worth and dignity of all men” and the “belief that all have potential” (p. 84). Rather than testing students upon their college entrance, O'Banion (2009) argued that the college needed to provide students with opportunities to explore their goals through “special courses in personal development, occupational exploration, value seminars, [and] encounter groups with counselors to allow for a more thorough and meaningful exploration before choosing specific programs” (p. 85). In O'Banion's advising model, testing was not a part of the community college entrance experience.
According to Clark, students were required to attend counseling interviews at the onset of the first and all subsequent academic semesters. During these meetings, counselors provided marginal students increasingly “severe” commentary on their “probability of success” in college coursework (Clark, 1960a, p. 572). While counselors, Clark (1960a) admitted, did not directly “countermand” student course selections, their dire predictions escalated during subsequent student meetings to “edge” students toward “proper courses” that most often included “terminal program[s],” (p. 572). Counselors would succeed in shifting marginal students toward vocational degrees by providing a series of persistent nudges without necessarily revealing their intentions. The goal was for counselors to create enough opportunities for students to see evidence of their shortcomings, an action that would encourage students to change their educational direction and ensure that these reconsiderations appeared self-directed.
The intentionally covert system Clark chronicled ran counter to the model O'Banion outlined and the orientation program he enacted as a new community college leader in 1965. In the pilot advising model O'Banion established at Santa Fe Junior College (BE-100), grading, testing, and assessment were “self-determined” by students. Advisors encouraged students to explore vocational goals only as they related to their overall personal philosophies of life. O'Banion (1971b) argued that counselors needed to believe “that every student [was] a gifted person, that every student [had] untapped potentialities, and that every human [could] live a much fuller life than he [was] currently experiencing” (p. 667). Vocation was not a skill-based consideration in O'Banion's model but rather a step toward self-actualization that ultimately framed the student's philosophy of life. The values O'Banion attached to vocation tied to his humanistic ideology, and therefore, the term's connotation marked a stark contrast to Clark's conception.
The mismatch between Clark and O'Banion's connotative understanding of vocation raises the possibility that critics of community college advising and counseling programs may have misinterpreted some program services. While Clark and O'Banion outlined similar advising steps, a side-by-side comparison of the discourse reveals highly divergent connotative meanings. It stands to reason that critics, unfamiliar with the tenets of humanistic education, may have inadvertently overlooked the nuances of community college advising and counseling programs, leaving a significant dimension of these institutions' histories obscured (Provost, 2023).
Person and Purpose
Another potential source of connotative difference between Clark and O'Banion's descriptions of advising and counseling programs concerns the individuals tasked with providing these services to students. Before the 1970s, scholars used “counseling” and “advising” relatively interchangeably (Cook, 2001). Differentiation of the two terms emerged in response to criticism by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education that argued faculty advising was ineffective for community college students (McConnell & Others, 1965). As indicated in Figure Two, the terms advising and counseling, when paired with the term community college, remained fairly consistent in the literature until the mid-1970s. From 1971 to 1981, counseling received increased interest among community college administrators. O'Banion (1972) was among the community college leaders to address concerns the Carnegie Commission had raised, urging others to devise humanistic models of advising conducted by trained counseling staff. The terms “advisor” and “advising programs” began to appear independently from “counseling” and “faculty” following O'Banion's publication of his advising model in 1972. Researchers have credited the work of two scholars, O'Banion and Burns Crookston, for the origin and specialization of modern academic advising departments (Cook, 2001; Grites, 2013; Hendey, 1999).
O'Banion (2009) and Crookston (2009) called for programs and staff specially trained to support whole-student needs—even needs extending beyond academic and career-related advising. Student personnel, O'Banion (1972) reasoned, were “considerably more knowledgeable” about the “learning process” than faculty because student personnel training focused on student development rather than academic specialization (p. 275). Faculty departments, he explained, often lacked formalized staff development devoted to pedagogy and learning theory. By contrast, student personnel staff's background in education and psychology prepared them to assist faculty in devising appropriate student development and instruction techniques (O'Banion, 1972). In short, O'Banion's framework called for counselors to serve in a broad context within the institution.
O'Banion's counseling model was not limited to assisting students with course and program selection. Counselors would create dynamic opportunities for both students and staff to establish a “philosophy and purpose” to guide the humanization of the learning process (O'Banion, 1972, p. 271). Counseling created the humanistic framework, and advising tasks responded to students' self-developed statements of lifelong aspirations. The students' goals were the fundamental concern in O'Banion's model. “The student,” O'Banion (1971b) instructed, “should always be the central concern of education regardless of the subject matter,” (p. 662). In the humanistic education model, student self-actualization was the ultimate purpose for higher education.
O'Banion's concept departs from the description of counseling activities outlined in Clark's cooling-out theory. At San Jose City College, the subject of Clark's (1960b) analysis, administrators tasked faculty advisors with “part-time counseling” duties (p. 72). Counseling was a responsibility added to faculty teaching loads, a method that may have contributed to the Carnegie Commission's criticism of community college counseling departments. The report concluded that many students felt “advisors were merely carrying out their assigned duties” during sessions, and that these advisors “were not interested at all” in students' needs (McConnell & Others, 1965, p. 18). Students may have also perceived a lack of interest on the part of their faculty advisors because these staff were focused on the “sorting and winnowing out process” by “identifying… latent terminal students” and subsequently “pressuring [them] to recognize their status (Clark, 1960b, p. 123). Student goals were not central to the advising model. Rather, Clark argued, advisors engaged in a covert reorientation method. In a side-by-side comparison of the staff members responsible for advising between Clark's and O'Banion's description of community college counseling, it is clear that the very concept of advising and counseling meant starkly different things performed by two distinctly different groups of people (Provost, 2023).
Analyzing key terms in Clark and O'Banion's descriptions of advising demonstrates divergent linguistic connotations. While the discourse provides similar steps in the advising process, understanding the meaning behind the words is essential. As Raymond Williams (2014) argued, “words which seem to have been there for centuries, with continuous general meanings, have come in fact to express radically different or radically variable, yet sometimes hardly noticed, meanings and implications of meaning” (p. xxix). Advising and counseling are terms ingrained in higher education; however, the intended message of these terms differed dramatically depending upon the values, beliefs, and ideologies that guided the author.
In 1980, Clark revisited his “cooling-out” theory in an article penned for the practitioner journal New Directions for Community Colleges. He recognized that in the twenty years that had transpired since his original publication, his theory had been widely used and sometimes “abused” by academic scholars (Clark, 1980, pp. 24–29). Among the abuses Clark detailed was how his cooling-out theory had been later adopted by researchers who implicated community colleges as complicit in intentional social engineering structures. Citing noted scholars Jerome Karabel and Steven Zwerling, he argued that these authors added “a little suspiciousness” and “a strong suggestion of a conspiracy” to conclude that “capitalists [had] construct[ed] community colleges to serve their interests,” (Clark, 1980, pp. 24–29). Clark contended that these authors “distorted” his cooling-out theory, hastily villainizing the community college by employing selectivity and narrowness in their analysis. He admitted that a potential reason future scholars appropriated his theory was due to his methodological approach. “I was doing an organizational analysis,” Clark explained, “I concentrated on the effort side. I had a less clear grasp on the effects” (p. 29). He focused on administrative tasks without investigating how these policies impacted students. Clark acknowledged that student agency was not a consideration of his research or alternative ideological approaches to counseling, and concluded that a significant weakness in his study was the lack of regard for community college design and administrative diversity (pp. 29–30). Clark's investigation only considered the administration of the counseling program at San Jose College. Yet, despite this narrow focus, his conclusions became a cornerstone for future critics of the community college (Provost, 2023).
Conclusion and Implications
Clark and O'Banion's discourses reveal starkly oppositional ideological assumptions about the purpose of community college advising programs. Clark viewed advisors as institutional cogs in a workforce-mediated production wheel of education. O'Banion framed the role of advisors as facilitators, encouraging and supporting student aspirations. Community colleges, in O'Banion's view, provided opportunities for students to work toward self-actualization and find life's purpose. Further, while Clark's study aimed to illustrate the organizational structure of one community college, O'Banion wrote to prescribe a model of humanistic advising. While O'Banion's model remains a foundational text for practitioners, it is absent from the community college historiography.
Clark's study, however, is well-established in the literature. His theory has endured the test of time despite its limited scope. As an array of community college critics turned to the cooling out theory, many overlooked the relative singularity of Clark's research. O'Banion's discourse offers an opportunity for scholars to consider an alternative and more nuanced account of advising programs in the United States.
Hundreds of colleges adopted O'Banion's (2019) advising model over the decades. His model remains one of two of the most cited advising frameworks in the United States (Grites, 2013). NACADA conducted a recent historical account of advising and counseling programs, referencing two prevailing models, including O'Banion's (Grites, 2013). O'Banion's work has undoubtedly left a legacy of humanism in advising practices. Recent trends such as mindset interventions and appreciative advising models reflect many of humanistic education's central tenets. Future opportunities for study should include a discursive examination of current advising practices to trace the threads of humanism woven in the tapestry of the field.
This study highlights the potential precarity of scholarly commentary. As researchers build upon the literature in their field, it is important that they consider the origin of existing narratives. Such an investigation should extend to practitioner-focused journals. It is essential to look beyond what is being said about a discipline by also considering what is actually being done. Without such diligence, it is possible to further a faulty premise or extend a theory beyond its intentions. Foucault (1972) warned that commentary has the potential to “repeat tirelessly” what was essentially “never said,” (p. 212). As scholars, we must resolve to investigate our assumptions. Without such diligence, we leave potential alternative narratives out in the cold (Provost, 2023).
I would like to thank Terry O'Banion for his thoughtful commentary and review of the initial draft of this article.
The article includes portions of the author's dissertation (see Provost, 2023).
Adrienne Provost is the Director of TRIO Programs at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. As a TRIO professional, she has a proven track record for enhancing program outcomes through technology including the use of video and digital learning environments. Provost holds a B.S. in Education, a M.A. in American Literature, and a PhD from the University of Florida's College of Teaching and Learning with a specialization in the history of community colleges in the United States. Dr. Provost may be reached at email@example.com