University of Minnesota Morris
 

 
 

 
UMM Home > Academic Advising > Advisers > Advising Defined > 1980 Advising Policy

1980 Advising Policy

The 1980 advising policy addressed the need for systematic and regularized opportunities for adviser - advisee relationships: prior to their first quarter of registration; prior to registration for the second year, and in the spring of the sophomore year to plan for the junior and senior years.

Verification that annual planning has been completed is shown through the adviser signature on the registration form.

 

A Regulation Requiring Annual Long-Range Academic Planning by Students and their advisers

Official UMM Policy approved by the Campus Assembly March 21, 1980

 

During the 1979-80 academic year, the Scholastic Committee, after a study of the academic advising process at UMM, concluded that a major shortcoming of the system could be overcome in a manner acceptable to most students and faculty if annual advising could be required of new freshmen, during the summer prior to registration for the freshman year; for freshmen, during the spring quarter of the freshman year so that they might plan their sophomore year; and for sophomores, during their sophomore year so that they might plan their junior and senior years. The Scholastic Committee now recommends that the Assembly institute a regulation that would require that such annual academic planning take place as a condition of continued registration for the freshman and sophomore students.

Background

In 1975, the Campus Assembly approved a set of 14 specific recommendations derived from an extensive study of academic advising carried out by a Task Force which aimed at rewarding good advising, allocating specific portions of faculty time to advising, involving all faculty in the advising process, enhancing the skills of advisers, and approving the role of certain student services in implementing an advising program.

Since 1975, these recommendations endorsed by the Assembly have been implemented in varying degrees. Some have led to considerable activity; others have been largely ignored. The Counseling Service, for example, has significantly increased the amount of accurate information to faculty and students regarding preprofessional programs and requirements. Both Counseling and Placement have upgraded career counseling activity and Placement has substantially increased especially to those in the liberal arts, and engaged those students in job-seeking activity. The Scholastic Committee continues to believe that these recommendations provide a sound basis for improving academic advising at UMM. The committee would like the 1975 report reviewed again by appropriate administrative units involved to determine what further actions might be taken to reinforce the spirit of these recommendations.

Enough dissatisfaction with the advising program remained among faculty and staff so that in the spring of 1977, the Scholastic Committee undertook an additional study of the advising program. An elaborate survey of faculty and senior students regarding their attitudes and opinions toward various aspects of academic advising supplied the information for a protracted discussion during the 1978-79 academic year by the Scholastic Committee. While other generalizations can be drawn from the survey data, the eight statements listed below are those which the Scholastic Committee regarded as being the most significant. (A brief comment regarding the current state of affairs follows.)

1. A very large majority of UMM faculty (75% or more) are willing to serve as academic advisers and find such work satisfying.

2. A large majority of the faculty (almost two-thirds) believe that effective advising should be more widely recognized and rewarded at UMM. Based upon numbers 1, 2, and 7, it appears that the faculty are, by and large, willing to serve as advisers and find advising a considerable source of satisfaction. Yet, their advisees consult them infrequently. This situation constitutes a central factor resulting in an overall sense of dissatisfaction with the advising program. A second fact which seems to produce frustration among the faculty is that while they are generally willing to serve as advisers and find the work satisfying, they believe that advising should be more widely recognized and rewarded. With respect to rewarding advising, the increased emphasis on effective teaching and research as criteria for promotion, tenure, and salary increases have diminished the importance of advising and service activities. In addition effective advising is difficult to verify except in extreme forms. Dean Blake has initiated a study of rewarding effective advising, however.

3. While the seniors were generally satisfied with the advising assistance they had received, a sizable minority (one-fourth to one-third) indicated dissatisfaction with the manner in which many advising functions had been carried out in their experience. (Written comments suggested that while most seniors are ultimately satisfied with advising, there was a period for many, especially during the early years, when advising was less helpful. Early in their careers, they were assigned advisers whose interests they did not share, chose not to consult their advisers, or received advice which did not seem to meet their needs. After a time, often including one or more shifts in advisers and particularly when they had identified a major, they reported a more satisfying relationship. It may be typical of the current state of affairs at UMM that juniors and seniors, for a variety of reasons, have a more constructive and satisfying relationship with the faculty. The undecided and lower division students are more difficult to advise, less responsible in the use of their advisers, and more uncertain regarding the objectives of a college education.)

4. Half of the faculty expressed the opinion that "too many" students at UMM received inaccurate advice which resulted in program difficulties for them. (This statement should not be interpreted to mean that large numbers of students are provided with inaccurate or misleading advice. It may suggest, however, that a number of faculty believe that at least some students seem to have been misled and that some faculty, at least, are not equally confident about the advising expertise of all of their colleagues. This unfortunate state of affairs may be the result of a lack of organized sharing among faculty regarding their advising activity.)

5. Over three-fourths of the senior students indicated a desire to feel comfortable to talk with their advisers about non-academic matters, and a majority endorsed the value of establishing some type of group activity during the year which would help students become acquainted with their advisers. (Proposals for some form of group activity--freshman seminars--are being studied by the Freshman Year Experience Committee at this time. Orientation activities have repeatedly aimed at the preparation of students and advisers for a continuation of the group activity of Orientation into the fall quarter, but these efforts have been almost totally ineffective in the absence of an organized and faculty-approved set of freshman year activities.)

6. Senior students and faculty agree that it is preferable to assign advisers based on students' interests and intended majors. (For the last four years, students have been assigned to faculty members on the basis of interests and intended majors. Difficulties, of course, occur. Information on the educational objectives of freshmen is based on inaccurate information; there are large numbers of undecided freshmen; and the number of freshmen with interests in certain majors is exceedingly uneven. Continued efforts to deal with the desire of both students and faculty to work with individuals with common interests are being pursued still further.)

7. A large majority of both senior students and faculty believe that UMM students do not often enough consult with their advisers. (Sixty-one percent of senior students and 85 percent of faculty believe this to be true. Some students do not need their advisers every quarter, of course. Some are reticent to contact their advisers for a variety of reasons. Perhaps that somewhat diminished sense of "community" at UMM makes this interaction more difficult. The current proposal aims to increase these opportunities by two over the four-year period.

8. While the senior students and faculty disagree significantly about the value of requiring the adviser's signature on all registration cards, a majority of both groups agree that students should be required to prepare a tentative course plan for graduation at least two years before their intended graduation date. (Fifty-six percent of the seniors and 62 percent of the faculty seem to be in favor of a "two-year program." The current proposal would make the end of the sophomore year planning session a two-year program outlining the completion of the GER and the major.)

The results of the survey are available in Division Offices or from the Scholastic Committee secretary.

Since 1972, when required adviser signatures were dropped for all but freshmen, contact between students and advisers has diminished and, more importantly, so have the occasions for meaningful interaction between the adviser and the advisee regarding not only the mechanics of course planning, but the quality of the advisee's liberal education.

The Scholastic Committee considered the wisdom of reinstituting required signatures by the adviser for each quarterly registration, but discarded the idea as unnecessary and sufficiently unpopular (only 51 percent of the faculty and 16 percent of the students agree) so as to be counterproductive. However, the notion of requiring an annual planning session seemed to offer a more realistic and perhaps constructive compromise. Annual planning would provide an opportunity for technical questions regarding general education requirements, required sequence courses, or preprofessional requirements to be discussed and would also allow for a general review of the quality of the student's liberal education. Decisions regarding the student's educational objectives, the major and the student's career objectives could be more easily discussed in the context of such a planning session. The committee believes that annual advising may make a contribution toward improving retention, especially among the first and second year students who are undecided regarding their educational goals or dissatisfied with the collegiate experience.

The committee knows that simply requiring an annual planning sessions will not by itself improve the quality of advising. Improvement in the quality of advising will take place only as additional consideration can be given to adviser assignments, more tangible rewards for advising effectiveness, better accessibility to more useful information, etc. The Dean, Student Services, the Division Chairs, Orientation, and the Freshman Year Experience Committee are already searching for additional means of improving the quality of advising.

The committee is convinced, however, that the lack of systematic and regularized opportunity of adviser-advisee planning sessions has proved to be a shortcoming of the current UMM advising program. The Scholastic Committee therefore recommends that the Assembly adopt a plan of required adviser-assisted program planning. Because a requirement for annual planning sessions may not be effective--or, indeed, if effective, may not need the force of a requirement to sustain the practice--the Scholastic Committee proposes a "sundown" provision. If the Assembly approves the required annual planning sessions, then the regulation should remain in force for only three academic years and then expire without further Assembly action. If approved, the committee suggests that the planning session be instituted this current spring quarter for freshmen and sophomores on a voluntary basis, and then instituted for the 1980-81 academic year, to end, if not reinstated by the Assembly, in the spring of 1983.

For Action by the Assembly

To provide a more consistent opportunity for adviser-assisted educational planning, the UMM Campus Assembly supports the requirement that an annual program planning session will be provided for new freshmen prior to their first quarter of registration and again prior to their registration for the first quarter of their sophomore year so that they might plan their junior and senior years. Policies guiding the annual planning sessions will be the responsibility of the Scholastic Committee; implementation will be guided by the Office of the Academic Dean. The regulation will remain in force for three academic years and will expire after that time unless reinstated by Assembly action.

Further Notes of Clarification

The requirement for annual planning is not intended as a substitute for other student-adviser planning sessions which should occur as needed throughout the student's education. The annual plan is not intended to be unduly restrictive and the quarter-by-quarter registrations can be altered at any time.

The requirement for annual planning is not intended to force a course-by-course plan upon the student in an artificial or untimely fashion; if the adviser and the advisee agree that there is sound educational reason to delay longer range planning for a quarter or even longer, the adviser should simply so indicate and the matter can be taken up again when the timing is more appropriate.

An University-wide modification of the registration process is in the final planning stages and is scheduled to be implemented in the fall of 1981. This new system of registration will provide students with the opportunity to register on an annual basis if they choose and will be compatible with the annual program cycle.

Verification that annual planning has been completed will occur in the following manner. For entering freshmen, the adviser's signature on the fall quarter registration will suffice to verify that an annual program has been outlined. A copy of the plan will be kept in the "advisee's folder." During the spring quarter when the majority of students register for the subsequent fall, a copy of the plan will be retained in the "adviser's folder"; but the third copy will be presented to the Records Office at the time of registration. Especially for those students beginning their junior year when it is intended that the plan will cover a substantial portion of the remaining two years of course work, it may provide a valuable aid to the Records Office in understanding the pattern of courses that the student is likely to use to complete degree requirements and may assist the Records Office in its preliminary audit of the student's progress toward the degree.

The Academic Dean will be responsible for directing the Records Office and the Student Counseling Service in developing procedures for the curriculum planning required of students for producing the forms necessary to facilitate the planning session, for keeping the advisers and students informed of the requirements and procedures, and for working closely with the Division Chairs in carrying out the required planning system.