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1975 Advising Policy

The 1974-1975 task force on academic advising defined the "central hub of the UMM advising program..." as "the relationship between each UMM student and his/her faculty adviser." The committee recommended goals to achieve optimal advising and asked the Campus Assembly to make changes in existing policy to "reward good advising, to allocate a portion of faculty time to advising, and to involve all faculty in the advising process."

Official UMM Policy approved by the Campus Assembly June 11, 1975

For action: Recommendations of the Task Force on Academic Advising .

At its May 20 meeting, the Scholastic Committee accepted the report and approved for forwarding to the Assembly for action the recommendations contained in the report of its Task Force on Academic Advising. The Scholastic Committee asks the UMM Assembly to approve a series of specific changes in policy and practice which in essence are aimed at rewarding good advising, allocating portions of faculty time to advising, and involving all faculty in the advising process, enhancing the advising skills of individual faculty members and approving the role of certain Student Services in implementing an advising program. The committee recommends retaining the emphasis of the current advising policy on student responsibility for academic planning. While the recommendations occur throughout the report, they may be briefly summarized as follows.

1. At the time of employment, the role of advising should be presented as a substantial teaching responsibility and it should be made clear that decisions to retain, promote, and grant tenure will take into account advising effectiveness.

2. The Office of the Academic Dean and academic divisions should develop methods of evaluating advising effectiveness.

3. The Assembly should acknowledge a time commitment of the magnitude of three hours per week as a part of the faculty member's regular responsibilities.

4. Advisers should schedule at least one office hour before or after the high class schedule times which occur between 10 a. m. and 2 p. m. in an effort to increase advisers' accessibility.

5. All new faculty members should be assigned a small number of advisees during the first year of their teaching at UMM.

6. The Student Counseling Service should be charged with coordinating workshops for faculty advisers before the beginning of Freshman Orientation each year.

7. The career planning emphasis in advising should be increased and the Career Planning and Placement Service and the Student Counseling Service should coordinate programs to assist advisers in obtaining and utilizing accurate information regarding education preparation, occupational trends and career planning skills.

8. The Career Planning and Placement Service should expand its current program of career opportunities and planning information directly to students.

9. The Student Counseling Service will continue to emphasize vocational and educational assessment and occupational information directly to students and upon request of the advisees will make this information available to the faculty advisers.

10. The peer advising staff which exists for orientation, in housing, and in counseling should become more well known to faculty advisers, and the peer advising staff should make referrals to faculty advisers when appropriate.

11. The Orientation Coordinator should increase communication with faculty advisers regarding the orientation activities; each discipline should become more active in providing information about curricular changes; and, with respect to the orientation activities, the faculty members should participate in the social and extracurricular activities as well as the advising functions related to freshman orientation.

12. Given a distinct lack of enthusiasm for mandatory adviser's signatures among the student body, those signature should remain mandatory for freshmen and first quarter transfer students only.

13. The process by which students may freely transfer from one adviser to another should be more clearly made known and, further, the importance of identifying an appropriate adviser should be stressed.

14. Finally, the importance of advising should be stressed in all publications directed toward the community, prospective students, and the faculty with special efforts directed toward incoming freshmen and transfer students explaining in some detail the advising resources offered by UMM.

Report and Recommendations of the Task Force on Academic Advising 1974-1975

Introduction

In its report to the UMM Assembly of May 10, 1974, the Morris Campus Planning Committee asked the Scholastic Committee to study present advising policy and to make recommendations concerning the possible changes in the program. The Planning Committee asserted that "every student should have a relationship with a professional person which is sustained over a long period of time." Present advising policy, the Planning Committee argued, did not meet this standard. The planning committee said:

Time and again, faculty responded that something is wrong with UMM's advising system. We do not recommend a return to the system of perfunctory registration slip-signing, but our present policy needs to be given special attention by the Scholastic Committee.

Acting in response to the Planning Committee's report, the Scholastic Committee in January, 1975, appointed a task force of faculty and students to systematically study campus-wide attitudes toward the present advising system and to suggest changes in it. The following report and recommendations are based upon two surveys of select populations of UMM students (in 1971-72 and 1974-75), a survey of all UMM faculty (in 1974-75), the narrative portions of the Planning Committee's questionnaire of selected faculty (in 1973-74), and an open forum held in spring, 1975.

Goals and Objectives for Academic Advising at UMM

Academic advising is an integral part of UMM's central mission to cultivate critical intellect, creative expression, and humane sensibility in a context which affirms their immediacy and their integral importance to successful life and work. UMM affirms the importance of an advising system which recognizes differing needs and interests of individual students and which contributes to an undergraduate's increasing self-awareness and autonomy as well as to his/her increasing academic sophistication. To these ends a variety of service and opportunities are made available to each student: a Freshman Orientation Program, informal student-to-student advising, a resident adviser system in the dormitories, a "peer advising" office (Third Ear), special advising services offered by some academic disciplines, a Career Planning and Placement Service, professionally trained members of the Student Counseling Service, and the skills of various administrators and student personnel officials. The committee expects that different students will find different elements of the advising system to be most appropriate to the pursuit of their goals. The central hub of the UMM academic advising program, however, remains the relationship between each UMM student and his/her faculty adviser. To achieve optimal results in academic advising, the institution requires that faculty advisers be available and well-informed, and also open and receptive to the diverse academic purposes of undergraduate students.

Among the goals which the committee finds to be appropriate to faculty participation in a successful advising program at UMM are the following:

1. Faculty should help the student assess existing strengths and weaknesses. In what areas is a student's preparation less than adequate for satisfactory college performance?

2. Faculty should help the student clarify educational goals. Begun during the freshman year, this effort should be a continuing process throughout the student's stay at UMM. Faculty should attempt to identify appropriate education experiences to meet needs of the undergraduates.

3. Faculty should inform the student of the range and scope of academic experiences available at UMM and encourage the student to experiment.

4. Faculty should familiarize the students with policies and regulations which might influence his/her program. Among others this would include the ABC-NR/S-NR grading system, the Two-Option curriculum, the CLEP examinations and examinations for proficiency.

5. Faculty should communicate to the student what decisions he/she will have to make at what stages of an academic career. For the student with clearly defined occupational goals interested in preprofessional programs this may be especially important. The student needs to understand how today's decisions may limit possible alternatives later on.

6. Faculty should initiate a continuing evaluation of the adviser-advisee relationship. A student's first adviser, in many instances, will not be the final one. As an undergraduate develops more clearly defined educational and occupational goals, he/she may change advisers, perhaps several times. Thus the student and the adviser must assess the extent to which the advising relationships is meeting the students needs and goals.

The committee believes that these goals may be better achieved at UMM if the following recommendations are adopted. The recommendations cover several aspects of the advising program, but they concentrate on the role of the faculty adviser. The committee hopes, like the Morris Campus Planning Committee before it, that these changes may assist in the development of stronger faculty-student relationships at UMM. By asking the UMM Assembly to make specific changes in existing policy to reward good advising, to allocate a special portion of faculty time to advising, and to involve all faculty in the advising process the committee wishes to reaffirm the college's commitment to the faculty's place in the overall process. By proposing means to improve communication between faculty, the Student Counseling Service, Career Planning and Placement Service, the Freshman Orientation Coordinator and various "peer advising" agencies the committee intends to enhance faculty advising skills at minimum cost in time and energy to the individual faculty member. The committee seeks to retain the emphasis of the current advising policy on student responsibility for academic planning by choosing not to re-impose mandatory adviser signatures and by urging that free adviser transfers be continued.

The faculty member's role as an academic adviser has traditionally been held as an important one at UMM. Results from the advising questionnaire indicate that this view is still held by the faculty and that substantial amounts of time should be devoted to it. It follows then that some system should be provided by which advising effectiveness can be emphasized, recognized, evaluated and rewarded on the UMM campus. There are three specific areas of concern which the committee feels should receive attention:

In hiring of new faculty, emphasis should be placed on the advising role to be expected. A commitment to advising as a substantial part of one's teaching duties should be evident in all new faculty appointments.

Decisions to retain, promote and/or grant tenure should take into account advising effectiveness. This should be made in abundantly clear to all faculty members as well as newly recruited instructors.

Salary adjustments based on merit should include advising effectiveness as a part of the merit factor.

In order to do these things, it is important that methods for evaluating advising effectiveness be developed. The committee realizes that such development will be difficult and that there may well be significant differences in the expectations of the various academic units at UMM. Each academic division should develop methods by which advising effectiveness can be assessed and evaluated.

The committee is also aware of the court-imposed cease and desist order currently in effect which precludes any changes in salary procedures and policies within the University. It is the Committee's opinion that pursuant to the resolution of that problem in the courts, appropriate steps should be taken to insure that the above items are made known and implemented where possible. Specifically, a system for evaluating advising effectiveness should be developed now in order that it may be available at such time that the courts will allow such policy changes to be made.

In summary, the Committee recommends that:

1. The Office of the Dean as well as the Academic Divisions at UMM develop methods of evaluation which include student assessments of advising effectiveness.

2. The importance of our advising system be strongly emphasized during the recruitment of new faculty.

3. Pursuant to the resolution of the cease and desist order, the Provost, the Academic Dean and the Division Chairmen should take whatever steps are necessary to insure that advising effectiveness be included as an integral part of all decisions to retain, promote, grant tenure and distribute merit salary increases.

Increasing Adviser Availability

Among the student respondents to the advising questionnaire, a substantial majority (70%) indicated that an increase in faculty office hours would be a moderately or very important change in the advising system. Since a large number of students apparently feel that adviser accountability is less than optimal, any proposal to improve advising relationships at UMM should seriously consider this suggestion.

The most obvious way to increase adviser accessibility, of course, would be for the faculty to simply increase their number of office hours. Such a proposal, however, does not seem highly favored among the faculty respondents to the 1974-75 advising questionnaire (33% viewed this as moderately or very important). Moreover, given the multiple demands of teaching, scholarship, research, grading, administrative chores, etc., the committee would be extremely reluctant to propose any significant overall increase in time commitment to advising. If increased adviser accessibility is a desirable goal, then this should be accomplished with out a significant increase in time commitment by the faculty. The committee proposes two possible ways in which this might be accomplished.

Examination of faculty responses to the advising questionnaire reveal that there is considerable variation in both the number of advisees assigned to faculty (0-45), and in the percentage of time that faculty believe should be devoted to advising. Thus there would appear to be considerable variation in the advising "workload" of the faculty. If it were possible to more equally distribute advisees among the faculty and to agree on guidelines for faculty time commitment to this function, it seems probable that the net effect would be an increase in adviser accessibility to students. First, the committee urges the Student Counseling Service to continue its efforts to distribute advisees as equally as possible among the faculty. Although it is realized that this may not always be possible (or desirable) nevertheless it is important to affirm this principle. Generally, faculty members should be assigned more than 30 advisees only under unusual circumstances. It should be pointed out, however, that the committee in no way wishes to inhibit the freedom of advisees to transfer to alternative advisers. Secondly, the committee recommends that the UMM Assembly establish general guidelines for faculty time commitment to advising. Faculty respondents to the advising questionnaire indicated that approximately 7% of a faculty member's time should be devoted to advising. This represents an average time commitment of approximately three hours per week. With an average of 22 advisees per faculty member, this time commitment would provide slightly more than one hour of adviser availability per advisee per quarter. This does not seem an unreasonable expectation. The committee recommends that the UMM Assembly acknowledge a time commitment of this order of magnitude as a regular part of teaching duties. If, as seems possible, considerable variation in advisee loads continues at UMM, faculty should generally allow at least one hour of availability per advisee per quarter. Faculty who may have large number of advisees should be encouraged to consider reducing their participation in other non-teaching activities such as committee participation, task forces, etc. The committee also realizes, of course, that time commitment to advising will not be uniformly distributed throughout the academic quarter. Demands for adviser time will be most intense during the initial 1-2 weeks of the quarter and during registration for the following quarter. The committee recommends that faculty members make particular efforts to increase their availability to their advisees during these periods. For a faculty member with an "average" advising load of 22 students, for example, the committee suggests a minimum of 8 hours of availability during each of these periods). Although demands on the adviser's time are likely to be less intense during the remainder of the quarter, advisers should make themselves available to their advisees for at least two hours per week. Finally, since classes at UMM are most frequently scheduled between 10AM and 2PM, office hours scheduled during this period are most likely to conflict with the schedules of their advisees. The committee also strongly urges that at least one office hour be scheduled before or after these heavily scheduled times. This should also have the net effect of increasing adviser accessibility.

Advising Responsibilities For New Faculty

At the present time efforts are made to assign no advisees to new faculty during their first year of teaching. Presumably this is motivated by a desire to allow the faculty member to familiarize him/herself with our campus before assuming advising responsibility. If, however, academic advising is viewed as an integral part of teaching and if adequate resources (e.g., workshops, counseling services) are available, there appears to be no reason why new faculty cannot begin advising during their first year of service. To the extent that experience improves academic advising (as several respondents indicate), it would seem that limited and carefully supported advising during their first year on our campus would facilitate the development of advising skills. The committee therefore recommends that all new faculty be assigned small number (5-6) advisees during their first year of teaching at UMM. To aid in the development of these skills, it is suggested that the efforts of new faculty members be extensively supported by workshops, access to counseling service resources, advice of colleagues, etc.

Workshops for Faculty Advisers

It is critical to the development of a good advising system that faculty advisers be well-informed about curricula, policies, and programs. Questionnaire results suggest that providing faculty with a mechanism to improve their expertise in this area would be advantageous. Members of the faculty sampled clearly agreed that the provision of information about courses is a moderately or very important part of advising (98%) and a substantial minority (40%) suggested that workshops for advisers would be a moderately or very important change.

The committee recommends that the Assembly charge the Student Counseling Service to conduct and coordinate workshops for faculty advisers before the beginning of freshman orientation each year. It further recommends that these workshops consist of two types: (1) a general information session, especially for new faculty, to provide an overview of the advising system at UMM. This workshop should draw on the resources of Counseling, the Freshman Orientation Program, Third Ear, CPPS and each academic division. (2) A catch-up session for returning faculty to provide a summary of recent important changes in curricula, programs, or policies which are relevant to the advising relationship. It is expected that discipline faculty will be an important source of information about significant changes in introductory course sequences.

The committee recommends that for first year faculty, attendance at the general session be mandatory, and, for other faculty, attendance at the catch-up session be strongly encouraged.

Faculty Advising and Career Planning

A majority of student (65.7%) and faculty (63.8%) respondents indicated that career planning activities should be a very important part of the advising program. However, a substantially smaller percentage of respondents (students - 15.7%, faculty - 10.6%) felt that this function was carried out "very effectively" at UMM.

The Committee recognizes that:

Faculty advisers possess considerable knowledge of graduate and/or professional careers in their own area of study; it is assumed that this is a dynamic, working knowledge, and thereby useful to the advisee.

Pre-professional advising programs pose a unique challenge to both the faculty adviser and the student advisee. The array of requirements, sequences, and scheduling problems found in most preprofessional programs demand considerable attention and effort on the part of the adviser and the advisee. The adviser may require special skills, and help in obtaining these skills, to adequately advise the student.

The Student Counseling and the Career Planning and Placement services provide educational, vocational and career planning information to students and faculty. The Student Counseling Service provides expertise in education and vocational testing, occupational information and problems which interfere with students' efforts to achieve their educational goals. The Career Planning and Placement Service provides expertise for assistance with current career opportunities and career planning information(i.e., new job fields, job openings, etc.) The Committee recommends:

(1) All faculty members continue to acquaint themselves with current career and post-graduate opportunities in their particular field. To aid faculty with keeping abreast of new and changing trends in their particular fields, the Career Planning and Placement Service and the Student Counseling Service will coordinate programs to assist advisers with information about educational preparation, occupational trends, career planning and basic guidance skills in career planning. When the need arises, faculty members may seek individual assistance with particular advising problems in the area of career planning.

(2) All faculty members continue to acquaint themselves with preprofessional programs outlined in the UMM Bulletin, particularly in the areas of their disciplines. The format of the preprofessional programs in the bulletin may be used to help advisees recognize the liberal arts basis to their future professional program. The Student Counseling Service will provide workshops and/or assist individual advisers with special problems in preprofessional planning.

(3) All faculty members continue to take advantage of the Office of Career Planning and Placement Service in obtaining information about career opportunities and basic guidance skills in career planning.

(4) The Office of Career Planning and Placement Services continue to expand its current program of providing career opportunities and planning information directly to the students, and to special interests (i.e., Mathematics Club, Economics Club, etc.) groups.

(5) The Student Counseling Services continue to provide vocational and educational testing and occupational information directly to students who wish to use this type of information for clarifying their future educational and vocational objectives. Upon request by the advisee, the vocational and educational testing results will be made available to the faculty adviser.

(6) The faculty adviser, when faced with career questions, in which one lacks expertise, should refer the advisee to an appropriate source of help, e.g., Career Planning and Placement Services, Student Counseling Services, or to a qualified faculty member.

Faculty Advising and Peer Advising

At the present time UMM provides a number of formal channels for peer advising (e.g., orientation student advisers, resident advisers, and Third Ear advisers). A majority of both student (70%) and faculty (54%) respondents to the 1974-75 advising questionnaire consider this source of advice to be either moderately or very important. The committee believes that a systematic peer advising system can provide a different perspective on a number of advising problems and can provide specific information (e.g., difficulty level and workload in specific courses, pedagogical "style" of a particular instructor, etc.) which is not readily available to faculty members and which may be an important part of a student's educational experience. The Committee therefore factors the continuation of existing formal peer advising systems at UMM. Both faculty and peer advising should be viewed as mutually supportive advising resources and student use of both should be encouraged.

The Committee recommends that peer-advising staffs (coordinator of Freshman Orientation, Director of Student Housing, Student Counseling Service, etc.) clearly explain their services to students and faculty advisers and refer students to faculty advisers when appropriate. This information should form a regular part of Faculty Advising Workshops. In addition, suggestions and information from faculty advisers should be solicited by peer advising staffs.

Faculty Advising and Freshman Orientation

A substantial majority of both faculty (82%) and students (65%) indicated that improvement of Freshman Orientation activities is important or very important. In recent years, a paid coordinator and the Freshman Year Experience committee have worked to plan a week of academic and social activities to accompany the registration of new students for Fall Quarter courses. This committee believes that much of that program belongs more to the concerns of the coordinator and committee than to faculty advising but that faculty members can contribute significantly to the success of the orientation program. Since a student's initial contact with his/her faculty adviser may substantially influence future attitudes toward academic advising it is especially important that faculty advisers be well-informed and available during orientation week. The committee also recommends that:

(1) the coordinator seek faculty suggestions in planning orientation activities

(2) each discipline distribute information relating to any curricular changes (in introductory-level courses, major programs, prerequisites, etc.) to all advisers.

(3) faculty members participate in the social and extracurricular activities planned to introduce Freshmen to the campus.

In addition, the committee urges that where possible funds should be appropriated for the support of a paid coordinator of the Freshman Orientation Program on a continuing basis.

Student Responsibility and Adviser Signatures

At the present time an adviser's signature is required for registration during the freshman year only. This policy is designed to require advisee-adviser contact during transition to university education in the first academic year while encouraging independent and responsible decision -making for the remainder of the student's academic year at UMM. The results of the faculty advising questionnaire reveal a substantial sentiment for an extension of required adviser signatures to all students(53% of our respondents considered this to be moderately or very important.) The most common reason given by faculty for re-imposing the adviser's signature as a prerequisite registration is that it would insure more frequent contact between adviser and advisee and provide the occasion for more effective advising relationships. It is important to note that no respondent suggested that this requirement by itself would insure improved advising. Rather, this requirement was commonly seen as a part of an overall program (including, e.g., faculty workshops, improved publicity of the the advising system, etc.) to increase emphasis on academic advising. Undoubtedly such a policy would increase the frequency of adviser-advisee contacts. There is reason to doubt, however, that the net effect of such a requirement would materially improve the advising relationship. First, the implementation of such a requirement would represent a partial retreat from UMM's current policies which are intended to encourage the growth of independent and responsible decision-making among our students. The original abolition of mandatory adviser signatures after the freshman year, implementation of a two-option liberal arts curriculum, independent study options, and the present grading systems are all designed to contribute to the development of independent and self-motivated scholarship in which the adviser plays a truly advisery role. Reimposition of mandatory adviser signatures for all students would partially undermine these efforts.

In addition, there was little sentiment among our student respondents for such a change. Only 27% of student respondents to the advising questionnaire rated this as moderately or very important. Moreover, the percent of student respondents favoring (moderately or very important) such a regulation declined from 31% among freshmen to 4% among seniors. Given the distinct lack of enthusiasm for mandatory adviser signatures among our students and less than overwhelming support among faculty, it seems clear that the imposition of such a requirement would meet considerable resistance. It is probable that the negative attitudes engendered by such a policy would at least partially offset any positive effects.

The committee therefore recommends only one change to existing policy. Since students transferring to UMM from another or university may find adviser contact particularly useful, the committee recommends that adviser signatures be required for registration during the first academic quarter only.

Transfer Among Advisers

Student expectations for advisers vary widely on the UMM campus ranging from no perceived need to the development of personal as well as academic relationships. Similarly, faculty attitudes toward advising vary widely. Given this diversity, it becomes clear that the identification of the most appropriate adviser by a student may involve considerable experimentation. The process of transferring from one adviser to another is quite simple at UMM but this is not well publicized. The committee recommends that the process by which students may transfer from one adviser to another be clearly described during freshman orientation, that the importance of identifying an appropriate adviser be stressed, and that student be urged to transfer advisers until the one who meets the student's needs is identified. It is also quite important that the individual faculty adviser also clearly explain the procedures for adviser transfers to their advisees and encourage such transfer when it is desired by an advisee.

Publicizing UMM's Academic Advising Opportunities

Since it is agreed among the members of the UMM community that academic advising is an integral part of education at UMM, this attitude should be mirrored in our public statements to the surrounding community, prospective students and potential faculty members. The committee recommends that the importance of advising be stressed in all publications directed toward the community and prospective students and faculty. A special effort should be made to inform incoming freshmen and transfer students in some detail about the advising resources offered by UMM. This would include the UMM Bulletin as well as literature prepared by the Admissions Office or by University Relations.