Introduction to Research Topic
The United States of America is one of the countries that pays much attention to the sphere of education and tries to make a number of improvements in a short period of time. However, the presence of such issues as racial inequalities, low incomes, or unstable employment situations may be regarded as serious challenges that influence education and academic advising in particular. Though many reforms have already been offered and approved, the question of the educational opportunities among African American students remains open in the United States (Allen, Jewell, Griffin, & Wolf, 2007). There are many African American students who have a promising academic potential but can hardly use it because of the existing racial misunderstandings. However, the situation is different in special colleges and universities that are based on racial diversity.
In the United States, there are many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the mission of which is to provide African American students with the quality higher education and to make their further employment possible regarding the level of knowledge and preparation they can get (Ezeala-Harrison, 2014). There are many differences between ordinary American colleges and universities and HBCUs. These differences are reflected in the relations that are developed between students, tutors, and advisors, the quality of knowledge that can be offered, and even the time that has to be spent in the chosen academic institutions. There are more than 100 HBCUs in the southern region of the country (Riess, 2015). These institutions play a very important role in the lives of ordinary African Americans because tutors and advisors try not only to provide students with some portion of education that can be applied in their further occupations but also to explain application of their knowledge and develop high-quality relations that can help students in difficult situations (Wilson, 2011).
Academic advising in HBCUs is an old initiative that is used to increase the level of students’ involvement in the educational process, to improve the development of students, and to help students choose their future occupational paths and make decisions. Academic advising is closely connected with such terms as academic success, student satisfaction, recruitment, and retention. An academic advisor is not a strict instructor who follows a list of rules and clarifies them to the students. In HBCUs, academic advisors are people who are assigned to the students to provide them with the required academic assistance that can be used during their academic preparation. An advisor should have a burning desire to share their energy and enthusiasm with the students.
Besides, it is necessary to be aware of the peculiarities of the course. There are two main types of advising: developmental and prescriptive (Hale, Graham, & Johnson, 2009). Developmental advising is an opportunity for students to show what they know or want to know, how they can use the gained material, and analyze if the required information is enough for them. The authoritative relations that have to be developed between students and their advisors characterize prescriptive advising. Students are involved in the advising process: still, their roles are passive, and all their actions have to be controlled by advisors. However, it is not enough to consider the main characteristics of advisors and their readiness to fulfill their duties. More attention should be paid to students and their roles in an advising process.
Students have to understand that academic advising is directed to facilitate their educational process. Students should know how to ask for help and even how to make the effective corrections or offer the adjustments in a case some misunderstandings take place. In other words, students have to know how they can perceive and evaluate academic advising and people who offer that practice. It does not matter what kind of advising is practiced; students should have access to share their opinions and the perceptions of their advisors. The evaluation of these properties can help to understand what kind of assistance students may get from their advisors and if the offered advising covers their needs and expectations. Sometimes, students are not confident enough to share their doubts or dissatisfaction. Still, despite all those doubts and challenges, students have to follow the suggestions of their advisors and make numerous attempts to promote their confidence (Drake, 2011; Cuseo, 2007).
Students do not understand that they have to be responsible for the results of academic advising. They have to analyze the practices, and Harrison’s questionnaire is one of the possible forms use to analyze advising. Harrison is a sophisticated researcher who discusses the peculiarities of academic advising and developed the test called the Faculty Advisor Evaluation Questionnaire (FAEQ) in order to understand what types of academic perspectives, cultural factors, and personal attitudes could influence an educational process (Harrison, 2012). In this test, four factors are investigated on the basis of nine, twelve, five, and four questions. Harrison (2012) divided the questionnaire form into four main sections naming them a Factor 1, Factor 2, Factor 3, and Factor 4. Each factor has a number of statements under it. For example, the participant should tell if an advisor is kind, honest, makes a student feel welcome, etc. Besides, it is necessary to share personal experience and tell if an advisor helps to develop educational goals or plan the career goals. To achieve effective results, students should give clear and true answers. The aim of this project is to understand what students think about their advisors, and how advisors can use this material in order to improve their advising practices. Therefore, academic advising requires both student and advisor to build relations on trust and clear communication.
Academic advising has been established in the literature as essential to undergraduate students’ development, academic success, satisfaction, recruitment, and retention (Allen, Smith, & Muehleck, 2013; Habley & McClanahan, 2004; Harrison, 2012). Moreover, of the two most common styles of academic advising, research indicates that most undergraduate students (95.5%) prefer developmental advising to the prescriptive style of advising (Hale et al., 2009). Whereas the prescriptive form of academic advising is akin to the authoritative relationship between a doctor and her patient (the doctor diagnoses and prescribes a treatment protocol for the patient to follow), developmental academic advising is likened to a collaborative teaching-learning relationship between a teacher and his/her student that involves developmental growth for both. Developmental academic advising is grounded in educational developmental theories, and adherents practicing this style of advising are student-centered in their approach and concerned with cognitive processes, environmental and interpersonal interactions, and behavioral awareness (Crookston, 1972, 1994).
The practice of “tailoring advising encounters to student circumstances, characteristics, and education level” is well established in the academic advising literature (Allen et al., 2013, p. 3), including gender-related issues. For example, Eagan et al. (2014) reported a gender gap in how male and female academic advisors engage their undergraduate advisees, and Ezeala-Harison (2014) did a comparative analysis of male-female retention rates among Black students enrolled at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Yet, no research literature compared the practices of male academic advisors and female academic advisors from the perspective of undergraduate students. Given research findings show the positive relationship between academic advising and student success/retention. Findings indicated the importance of congruence between students’ preferred developmental academic advising style and their advisors’ actual style of academic advising (Hale et al., 2009), it is important to address this gap in the literature.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this project is to investigate the concept of students’ perceptions of academic advisors and the ways of how these perceptions could be developed and improved. It is necessary to analyze the conditions under which students and academic advisors could develop their relations and how the development of relations could influence academic performance and social interactions of students. On the one hand, the case study analysis is used to examine different domains of academic advising and compare various perceptions of undergraduate students that could be assigned to academic advisors at Historically Black Colleges and Universities located in a Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. On the other hand, it is expected to use the Interactionalist Theory of College Student Departure developed by Tinto and explain how students’ interactions may be influenced by tutors, students’ attitudes, and students’ peers. Finally, the purpose of the study includes the necessity to investigate gender issues in academic advising and the way of how students’ perceptions could be changed in regards to the gender differences (the opinions of female and male students as well as the work of female and male advisors are investigated).
Significance of the Study
This proposed study that aims to examine the four domains of academic advising by comparing the perceptions of students assigned to female academic advisors with students assigned to male academic advisors at HBCUs is significant to the existing body of literature in educational leadership, specifically the academic advising literature. Research shows a positive relationship between academic advising and undergraduate students’ development, academic success, satisfaction, recruitment, and retention (Allen et al., 2013: Habley & McClanahan, 2004; Harrison, 2012). Additionally, the academic advising literature shows the importance of achieving congruence between students’ preferred developmental academic advising style and their advisors’ actual style of academic advising (Hale et al., 2009). More specifically, studies that examined gender-related issues found differences in how male and female academic advisors engage students (Eagan et al., 2014) as well as differences between male and female student retention rates (Ezeala-Harrison, 2014).
Although findings indicated gender may be a factor in achieving congruence between students’ preferences and advisors’ academic advising style, no research compared the advising practices of male advisors and female advisors from the perspectives of undergraduate students. Findings from this proposed study may contribute to an understanding of how students perceive male academic advisors and female advisors relative to the academic advising relationship according to four domains: the advising session, advocacy/accountability for student welfare, knowledge, and availability (Harrison, 2014).
These findings can benefit college students, particularly those enrolled at HBCUs, by improving their academic advising experience, which ultimately impacts their academic success and satisfaction (Allen et al., 2013; Habley & McClanahan, 2004; Harrison, 2012). These findings can also benefit the HBCUs by contributing to a fuller understanding of how the gender of academic advisors affects students’ perceptions of the advising experience, which may, in turn, positively impact student retention (Allen et al., 2013; Habley & McClanahan, 2004; Harrison, 2012).
Background on Gender Work
In this project, much attention should be paid to gender issues and the impact of gender differences on academic advising and students’ perceptions of academic advising. There are the opinions that male and female advisors could demonstrate different attitudes to their work and develop various types of professional academic relations with students (Allen et al., 2013; Habley & McClanahan, 2004; Harrison, 2012). At the same time, as soon as understand the differences between academic advising approaches based on their genders, the quality of students’ perceptions could be improved considerably.
At the same time, it is necessary to understand that gender issues should not be connected with the quality of academic advising only. The gender of students influence the way of how students’ perceptions could be created. There is an opinion that female students and male students could develop different perceptions, demonstrate different attitudes to academic advising, and explain their opinions in different ways. This project is based on several case studies with the help of which it is possible to consider the importance of gender issues and the quality of gender work done by other researchers.
Finally, the essence of gender work in this project is to explain if it is correct or even ethically appropriate to define gender as the factor that could influence academic advising practice and students’ perceptions of academic advisors. The investigations of Eagan et al., (2014) show that male and female academic advisor could demonstrate various approaches on how to promote the development of interactions with students. The study developed Ezeala-Harrison (2014) explains that gender issues have a certain impact on retention rates. Taking into consideration the suggestions and opinions of different people, a certain portion of gender work has to be done in the project in order to explain how gender issues influence students’ perceptions of academic advisors.
Relevance to Educational Leadership
Research shows that academic advising impacts student motivation and degree completion and, therefore, is relevant to educational leaders, especially those serving as academic advisors (Smith & Allen, 2014). For more than 30 years, postsecondary leaders have attributed improvements in academic advising to student retention (Habley, Valiga, McClanahan, & Burkum, 2010; Smith & Allen, 2014). The relationship between academic advisors and students is crucial to student retention (Young-Jones, Burt, Dixon, & Hawthorne, 2013; Swecker, Fiflot, & Searby, 2013). Young-Jones et al. (2013) found relationships between advising and retention factors, specifically student self-efficacy, study skills, and engagement in educational activities. Moreover, Smith and Allen (2014) identified learning outcomes (five cognitive and three affective) that were positively associated with students’ frequent contact with an academic advisor. Students who met with advisors in a formal advising system had significantly high scores on all eight learning outcomes than students who did not meet with advisors. Students with higher learning outcome scores reported more knowledge and attitudes consistent with persistence and degree completion.
Implications of this proposed study for leaders at HBCUs concerned with undergraduate students’ success are numerous. For example, study results may provide a fuller understanding of how academic advising, overall, positively impacts undergraduate students’ development, academic success, satisfaction, and retention (Allen et al., 2013; Habley & McClanahan, 2004; Harrison, 2012). More specifically, study findings could yield new knowledge relative to how the gender of academic advisors affects students’ perceptions of the advising experience. Valuable knowledge about students’ interactions with male and female advisors according to the four domains of the advising session, advocacy/accountability for student welfare, knowledge, and availability may be gained.
This new knowledge could empower HBCU leaders to respond to students’ perceptions of how the gender of academic advisors can improve or hinder their academic advising experiences, which the literature reported ultimately it impacts their academic success and satisfaction (Allen et al., 2013; Habley & McClanahan, 2004; Harrison, 2012). Academic advising leaders could utilize the findings of this study to achieve congruence between students’ preferred developmental academic advising style and their advisors’ academic advising styles. Although the literature examining gender-related issues shows differences in how male and female academic advisors engage students (Eagan et al., 2014) and differences between male and female student retention rates (Ezeala-Harrison, 2014), educational leaders at HBCUs could benefit from undergraduate students’ perspectives when planning improvements to the formal academic advising system.
Leadership can be developed by individuals to influence groups’ achievement of shared goals (Pargett, 2011). It is suggested to find the connection between higher education and various theoretical approaches to the evaluation of the existing theoretical frameworks and the analysis of behaviors that are developed by students and academic advisors. There are many theories that could be offered to investigate students’ behaviors and decisions. In this project, the attention to the Interactionalist Theory of College Student Departure developed by Tinto is paid. In this case, students and academic advisors are defined as the main doers of actions, who have to develop the required portion of relations so that these interrelations could be discussed from different perspectives. The description of personal ambitions and such crucial traits as self-confidence, honesty, and intelligence is important in the project as well because it helps to clarify if it is possible to improve education and advising and increase the number of students and advisors, who are eager to be involved in academic advising. Gender differences and the establishment of goals are also crucial aspects for consideration because they make it possible to clarify the reasons and perceptions of students.
Need for Study and Theoretical Framework
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are the places where most African American students are able to get the necessary quality higher education, improve their knowledge, and make their employment possible in the future. For a long period of time, HBCUs were the center of numerous struggles for equality and dignity of Black people (Allen et al., 2007). The success of such academic institutions depends on the abilities of tutors and advisors to analyze the needs and goals of their students and make use of students’ skills and abilities in order to turn ordinary Black Colleges and Universities’ students into experts in different spheres of life.
At the same time, it is important to understand what students think about their academic advisors, how they accept the information offered by tutors, and if they enjoy the impact their academic advisors could have on them. One of the possible ways to gather the required portion of the material on the chosen topic is to rely on case studies and read how other researchers describe the experience of students and their perceptions of academic advisors. Case study analysis is effective in the situations when the author of the project cannot manipulate the behavior of people of the chosen institutions. However, it has to cover the contextual conditions and explain how the information gathered from HBCUs’ students could help to discuss such topics as the quality of academic advisors’ help and compare their perceptions of academic advising in a particular context defined by the authors of case studies.
There are three main concepts that play a central role in this study: HBCUs’ students, academic advising, and students’ perception of advising. HBCUs’ students differ from ordinary students from local schools by their respect and perpetuation of culture and the intentions to improve the quality of Black community lives for their next generations (Allen et al., 2007). HBCUs help students to understand the worth of their social capital and achieve the required success by means of deep peer interactions, stimulating the environments, and the development of student-faculty contact. Though a number of HBCUs face some financial and social challenges, the ways the relations between students and advisors are developed help students discover and use their best qualities.
Therefore, academic advising plays an important role in the lives of many students. First, students can choose the activities they find the most attractive and be sure that they could find additional help, explanations, and support in cases of emergency. There is no need to wait until a critical time comes to ask for help. Students at HBCUs are free to ask for help and develop the required professional relations with the faculty as soon as they require assistance. Young-Jones et al. (2013) admit that the concept of academic advising cannot be ignored because it could influence the level of student satisfaction and their desire to stay in the same academic institution. The evaluation of academic advisors should be based on several important factors such as the selection of advisors, the process of advising that include training and development, and the recognition of the rewards that could be observed after the implementation of certain advising practices. Case studies could help to observe what students think about different advisors’ approaches if they are satisfied with the support and help offered by advisors, and if the results of cooperation between students and advisors are positive.
At the core of the differentiation between prescriptive and development academic advising, there is the purpose of academic advising and the methods of how the information could be exchanged between advisors and students (Holmes, White, & Cooley-Doles, 2014). Both types have certain advising characteristics, and students take into consideration their own needs and expectations to comprehend what style of academic advising is more appropriate for them. Prescriptive advising is appropriate for new students who cannot understand what kind of work to begin with and what results they have to expect. Developmental advising is focused on student self-actualization and the necessity to promote personal development (Holmes et al., 2014).
The main challenge is that there is no certain theory of academic advising that could be applied to this study. It is possible to take some concepts from educational or social science theories and find some explanation in the chosen case studies. The achievement of Creamer and Creamer (1994) and their colleague Crookston (1994) in the middle of the 1990s could be used to introduce a theoretical basis of the study under consideration. Prescriptive and developmental approaches of academic advising and such factors as student satisfaction, college retention, moral development and career development should be taken into consideration in order to understand the main theoretical framework.
Interactionalist Theory of College Student Departure and Theoretical Framework
Students’ perceptions of academic advising at HBCUs determine the way of how the information could be presented to and described by students. There are many ways on how to interpret students’ perceptions and explain the importance of academic advising. Tinto developed the Interactional Theory of College Student Departure in the middle of the 1987 and continued describing its impact on education in the 1990s and the 2000s. Tinto offered a unique interactional perspective within the frames of a powerful Model of Institutional Departure (Aljohani, 2016). The theory explains the idea of longitudinal interactions that could happen between human attributes, societies, and their academic institutions. Tinto believed that it was crucial for theorists to understand the nature of interactions between different people with the same social and academic system and evaluate the development of the communities that made people change their characteristics and achieve the highest degrees of completion (Aljohani, 2016).
The essence of the theory lies in the possibility to focus on students’ thoughts, goals, intentions, and relations with different people as the main contributors to a decision-making process. The chosen theory could describe the process of change a majority of students experience from time to time when they have to interact with different people. Patterson (2013) admits that Tinto’s theory includes the possibility to consider colleges and universities as microcosms of a huge society that could establish certain demands on students and influence their decision-making processes. In this theory, student departure is the outcome of the interactions between students and other members of the system or several systems. As soon as students are engaged with doing something, they could achieve the required results using the interactions available. In this project, the interactions with academic advisors could be the core of the analysis.
There are several reasons for why the Interactional Theory of College Student Departure is chosen as the main theoretical framework of the study. First, this theory helps to focus on the nature of the relations students could develop with academic advisors. Second, Tinto concludes that students’ skills, knowledge, and abilities could be developed and influenced by the way of how various academic and social interactions are developed. Such connection could be used to explain students’ perceptions of academic advisors. Finally, the model could be developed in a variety of ways regarding the types of relations students want to develop in order to succeed in their academic performance.
Major Theoretical Frameworks (Leadership and Educational)
In their study of 429 undergraduate students, Hale et al. (2009) found that the majority (95.5%) of study participants preferred developmental academic advising. Unlike the authoritative nature of the traditional “prescriptive” relationship between an academic advisor and student in which the advisor advises, and the student acts on the advice, developmental academic advising is based on educational development theories, including those related to cognitive processes, environmental and interpersonal interactions, and behavioral awareness, as well as problem solving, decision-making, and evaluation skills (Crookston, 1972,1994). According to Crookston (1994), developmental advising is 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” (p. 9). Creamer and Creamer (1994) explained that in developmental advising, academic advisors employ teaching strategies “mostly, though not exclusively, in out-of-classroom settings and concentrate principally on student-as-subject-matter” (p. 19).
Limitations and Delimitations
Regarding the purposes, frameworks, and theories identified for this study, it is possible to say that the project has a number of strengths and a good plan to be followed. However, the case study analysis could have certain limitations that cannot be neglected in the project. For example, it is necessary to admit that this project is based on the case study that has been already developed by a person with a number of conclusions made. Therefore, prejudice and subjectivity are the possible characteristics that could influence the study. The authors of the case studies could demonstrate their personal attitudes to the cases and rely on their personal evaluations. Besides, it is important to understand the time frames defined in the chosen case studies could be different with the time frames chosen for the current study.
In order to solve the possible challenges and present a good portion of the analysis, it is necessary to consider the possible delimitations that could help to limit the scope and identify the boundaries clearly. The choice of the problem in the analysis is one of the main delimitations offered to the study. In addition, the identification of the academic institutions is another important factor for consideration. HBCUs have their limits, and the case studies help to make the boundaries narrower. Finally, the identification of the factors and the explanation of their importance could help to understand why academic advising is chosen as the main topic for the analysis.
Definition of Terms
This study will be based on a thorough review of the literature on academic advising and structures that support retention at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Mid-Atlantic metropolitan region of the United States. Therefore, the following terms are defined to assist with clarification and understanding of the study.
These terms will be used throughout the study:
- Academic Advisors. These professional advisors are employed by the college to help students develop a plan of study that will allow them to reach their goal. An advisor also helps students make choices and be responsible for the choices they make.
- HBCUs. Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
- Student involvement. This term refers to the quantity and quality of the physical and psychological energy that students invest in the college experience.
- Student persistence. This term refers to students continuing their education until degree attainment.
- Student retention rate. This term indicates the measure of first-time students who enroll in the both two- and four-year colleges during the fall semester and return the following spring semester.
- Advising characteristics. Standards and guidelines developed by the Council for the Advancement of Standards (CAS) in Higher Education with states that academic advising must be guided by a set of written goals.
- Prescriptive Advising. Student-advisor relationship based on the authority of the advisor and the limitation of the student (Crookston, 1972).
- Developmental Advising. A relationship in which the academic advisor and the student engage in a series of developmental tasks such as reaching an agreement on who takes the initiative, who takes responsibility, who supplies knowledge and skill, and how they are obtained and applied, that result in varying degrees of learning by both parties.
- Advising session. Students sit with their Academic Advisor and discuss their best options for the next semester that match their interests and are aware of their limitations.
- Academic Advising Inventory (AAI). A survey used to evaluate academic advising practices.
- Academic success/achievement. a GPA of 2.00 and above.
- Advisement frequency. The number of times per semester a student meets with an adviser.
- Attrition/retention. Student persistence or lack of persistence in the college of first-time college students (Titus, 2006).
- Limitations. The shortcomings, conditions or influences that cannot be controlled by the researcher that place restrictions on your methodology and conclusions.
- Delimitations. Choices made by the researcher which should be mentioned describe the boundaries that the researcher has set for the study.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Americans pay much attention to the issue of education and the importance of personal achievements and development (Allen et al., 2007). Each member of American society should have a chance to get an education and choose a career that corresponds with existing degrees. However, these opportunities and expectations did not touch upon African Americans for a long period of time (Allen et al., 2007). Despite the intentions to diminish misunderstandings between Black and White societies, the United States of America is one of the countries where the question of the racial inequality touches upon almost each family. Though the majority of the Americans define themselves as a racially blind nation because they “don’t see any color, just people” (Bonilla-Silva, 2013, p. 1), many researchers underline the fact that discrimination remains a problem and challenge for many people who live in the United States (Bonilla-Silva, 2013; Oliver & Shapiro, 2006).
The factor of race determines human possibilities, future perspectives, and working demands. A number of challenges based on the racial inequality can be observed in the sphere of education. The United States spends a great amount of money on education in comparison to other Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) countries (Cook, 2015). However, even the financial improvements and attempts do not solve the question of the inequalities and poor student abilities. American education suffers from a number of problems caused by the color of students, the necessity to consider different traditions or even the importance to respect gender differences. Color differences turn out to be more important as their effects are discussed in social, economic, or even political terms. African Americans are a group of people with lower wealth, bigger health problems, low parental care, and more problems with the law. As a result, educational expectations for black students are lower.
Evident inequality between the races of students in American colleges and universities led to the creation of special institutions and organizations that could take care of racially diverse students, define the quality of their relations, and clarify the standards according to which students may or may not get an opportunity and be educated (Orfield, 2015). Nowadays, there are many schools, colleges, and universities where Black, Hispanic, Asian, and White students are free to study together. Still, the presence of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) plays a more important role than the fact that many current educational institutions try to solve the above-mentioned problems.
In America, there are several HBCUs that were established before the Civil War, the war against slavery and inequalities people suffered from. Many African Americans believed that an opportunity to get a higher education is the sign of social progress and even the essence of citizenship that is important for the Americans (Allen et al., 2007). The Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia was the first HBCU as an opportunity to promote a teacher training college (Kuhn, 2011). On the one hand, the attempt to provide African Americans with higher education was made. On the other hand, this kind of education was virtually nonexistent (Thelin, 2012). After the proclamation of the Higher Education Act in 1965, Historically Black Colleges and Universities were defined as “institutions of higher learning… whose principal mission was then, as is now, the [higher] education of black Americans” (Wilson, 2011, p. 5).
Today, the Americans can make use of more than 100 HBCUs that can be found in the South of the country (Riess, 2015). Such institutions play an important role in the lives of many Americans due to the possibility to reduce the gaps in education and work and the provision of the opportunities for the African-American students and their families. Wilson (2011) investigated the worth of HBCUs to determine the outcomes of the opportunities and clarify if the quality and conditions of an educating process are better in such institutions. He came to the conclusion that African American students enjoyed the conditions in HBCUs due to the existing supportive environment, nurturing, and personal satisfaction of students in terms of their main studies. As soon as students get the equal opportunity for education, the question of racial inequality in education and even workplace can be minimized considerably.
Many changes and evaluations of the role of HBCUs in America took place after the Brown case. The essence of the case was connected with the intentions to create separate schools for children depending on their colors. Due to the fact that many Black families did not have chances to get a higher education, children of such families had to visit public schools and suffered from low self-esteem and poor learning abilities. The question of racial segregation touched upon many American families. The decision made at the end of the case discussions improved the conditions under which Black students could visit White colleges. Still, the importance of HBCUs was under question. Many Black students wanted to have the same opportunities as White students had. That is why they chose ordinary schools. HBCUs continued opening their doors to all students regardless their social status, ethnic backgrounds, and the levels of education. There was no need to create some rules and make students follow the requirements. It was enough to wish to study. The importance of such colleges could be proved by the number of talented Black scholars and leaders who earned their master’s and professional degrees at HBCUs (Allen et al., 2007).
The historical overview of HBCUs offered by Allen et al. (2007) explains why such institutions are full of diverse attitudes and impacts on human lives. First, one of the important facts about HBCUs that is their openness to all students in need turned out to be one of the main challenges because many diverse students in terms of their academic abilities and socioeconomic classes had to be gathered at the same places. The majority of students were former slaves or the children of slaves. Much attention should be paid to the emotional and psychological changes among students. Tutors at HBCUs became the first academic advisors for their students without even knowing this term. Allen et al. (2007) mentioned that HBCUs helped Black students meet their broad educational needs and overcome the challenges of public schooling by discovering their talents and opportunities. Such intention to promote student development and provide support was a part of developmental advising Crookston would describe as early as 1972.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities became a new chance to solve old problems and identify new opportunities. Nowadays, these institutions continue providing students with a quality education for all students in need (Allen et al., 2007). Not all students are able to get the education they want; therefore, they have to address the organizations that can accept nontraditional students and help them to be educated. HBCUs are open to students from low-income families, raised by one parent, both working parents who work multiple jobs at night- or daytime. Besides, Allen et al. (2007) discussed the idea of the gender gap that exists between Black students and prove that their investigations show that female students are more interested in attending schools and meeting their professional and personal needs in comparison to male students.
However, in addition to the outcomes and the results of this research (Allen et al., 2007; Orfield, 2015), the researchers have to comprehend how HBCUs can be challenged from the academic advisors’ factor, and if a gender gap bothers the students of such educational organizations. Such facts as the increased enrollment of African American students in colleges and universities, the possibilities to develop racial communication with ease, and the presence and roles of particular African Americans in social, economic, political, etc. spheres prove the worth of the development of HBCUs in America (Wilson, 2011). The level and quality of academic advising in HBCUs seems to be higher due to the necessity to pay more attention to racial issues, social inequalities, and other problems that may challenge ordinary students and their educators.
The majority of tutors at HBCUs found it necessary to cooperate with students and help them achieve their personal needs and career goals. Such intentions presupposed the necessity to develop tutor-student relations with students as the core of any activities. It means that HBCUs, as well as any American institution, had to promote the idea of academic advising. Researchers identify academic advising as a crucial part of an educational process and the undergraduate student development. With the establishment of HBCUs, academic advising became more diverse and standardized because people had to focus on ethical, organizational, and legal aspects of education.
Academic advising is an old initiative that could be observed in the middle of the 19th century. During a long period of time, the researchers tried to formulate its definition, identify its qualities and peculiar features, and clarify the stages according to which academic advising can be improved (Allen et al., 2007; Habley & McClanahan, 2004). The results of the researchers’ work help to comprehend that academic advising may influence students’ development, their academic success, personal and academic satisfaction, recruitment challenges, and even the retention conditions (Allen et al., 2013; Habley & McClanahan, 2004; Harrison, 2014). However, the essence of academic advising continues to be based on the works of Crookston started in 1972 and continued in 1994.
The evaluations offered by Kuhn (2011) introduce academic advising as a type of activity in which “an institutional representative gives insight or direction to a college student about an academic, social, or personal matter” (p. 3). As a rule, academic advising is defined as a chance to inform a person, to suggest the ideas that can be used, to counsel a student in need, or even to coach how to behave and react to the things and activities around. Different epochs introduce different challenges and expectations. People have to understand that advisors define the level of education and the possibilities of students. As a rule, such responsibility cannot be neglected. That is why tutors’ and students’ perceptions of academic advising have to be properly evaluated. Tutors have to understand that their main task is to advise students but never impose their personal opinions. According to Crookston (1994), advisors should do everything possible to help students “find satisfaction in work accomplishment, stemming from a natural striving toward self-enhancement that is goal-related” (p. 5).
There are three main periods according to which academic advising can be divided and investigated. The first signs of academic advising could be observed in the middle of the 17th century when students and tutors had to live under the same roof and create a large family in order to develop moral training, fast exchange of the experience, and the abilities to control and correct students’ decisions (Kuhn, 2011). Still, this kind of education was not as professional and credible as it had to be. People needed more expert support and explanations to realize what they could do to become a significant part of society. That period ended at the beginning of the 1870s and served as the example of how students could live without academic advising and explanations offered by professional tutors.
The second period was between the 1870s and the 1970s. It was associated with the attempts to introduce the importance of academic advising and the challenges connected with a number of unexamined activities (Kuhn, 2011). That period showed that people understood that the sphere of education could be changed and improved. However, the absence of definite instructions and suggestions and legal explanations of the activities deprived people of the possibility to promote academic advising in all colleges and universities.
Finally, after the Act of 1965 that was reauthorized eight times during the last decades, academic advising was clearly identified and explained (Kuhn, 2011). In 1965, the Higher Education Act was signed in order to strengthen the educational ideas and resources that could be used. This act helps students to identify their possibilities and achieve their goals in higher education. Examined activities and standards were introduced. From that period, there was no necessity to explain the role of the activity. There was a necessity to elaborate and improve the activities that should be taken to explain different theories, expectations, and educational standards to students. Advisors had to comprehend their responsibilities quickly. In a short period of time, academic advising became an examined activity because students and tutors wanted to know if they were successful at conducting advising, comparing the results, and changing the outcomes of an educational process.
In the 1970s, Crookston (1994) started developing his theories and explanations of academic advising and the peculiarities of the relations between tutors, students, and their expectations. He re-evaluated his visions and introduced advising as a chance to understand the worth of personal decisions that can be made by students under the control of their advisors in order to improve interpersonal interactions, environmental conditions, and behavioral awareness. Crookston focused on academic advising as the possibility to help students choose their majors and make decisions on how to organize a personal life. Relying on personal experience and the theoretical background, the author improved the idea of advising and the necessity to develop tutor-student relations.
Many researchers believe that academic advising is a developmental type of advising that has a number of goals addressed to tutors and students (Campbell, 2011). On the one hand, advising is a chance for students to realize their educational potential and analyze their skills in regards to the expectations and standards set by an organization. On the other hand, tutors learn how to provide students with the instructions and communicate with them properly. Regarding the goals and intentions that are inherent to academic advising, Campbell (2011) introduced the mission statement according to which advising was defined as the road map to be followed.
Advising is also the process of the exchange of information. This process has to be properly organized because all information that can be available to students has to be credible and clear. Tutors have to comprehend what they give to students and why they need to do it correctly, and students should analyze the material offered and develop their judgments based on a number of grounds. Young-Jones, Burt, Dixon, & Hawthorne (2013) paid much attention to the necessity to analyze academic advising and consider students’ needs, ratings, success, the level of comprehension of information, etc. Advising should be properly structured so that students can comprehend the material offered by advisors, and tutors evaluate the level of their responsibility and choose the most appropriate methods to deliver the required portion of information. Despite the fact that advising is a student-centered activity, the establishment of strong and clear student-teacher relations remains to be the core activity (Crookston, 1994). The level of student satisfaction and tutor maturity can explain the appropriateness of academic advising.
Literature Evidence and Four Factors
The significance of the study and theoretical framework is divided into seven sections. The first section presents the literature on students’ perceptions of the academic advising process. The second section addresses the literature relating academic advising to student retention, followed by a section relating academic advising to student success. The last section discusses academic advising styles described in the research literature. Fianlly, this section concludes with a brief review of the literature addressing the academic advising. The fourth section presents literature specific to academic advising as HBCUs. Next, the four domains of academic advising that are the variables of focal points for this present study are challenges and gender factors at HBCUs.
Students’ perceptions of the academic advising process
Students are the important participants in the educational process, and their opinions should not be neglected. Research literature that views students and advisors as equal participants in the advising process is limited. Yet this limitation hinders a fuller understanding of students’ perceptions of different aspects of the advising process (e.g. the quality of advising offered by male and female advisors). Harrison (2014) introduced the student as the subject matter of research and defined academic advisors as the major facilitators of students’ search for identity and academic purposes. Moreover, “it appears probable that different advising perspectives and approaches are more likely to be evaluated accurately by discipline-specific instruments, which also enables faculty development and improved advising outcome” (Harrison, 2012, p. 170). Students’ perceptions should be integrated into research aimed at contributing to improvements of the conditions under which academic advising is offered. Furthermore, students’ perceptions and opinions can help advisors identify their weak and strong points and share their experiences with other advisors. At the same time, there should be a certain criterion according to which students’ opinions can be generated.
Academic advising and student retention
According to Reynolds, Fisher, & Cavil (2012), research is an example of how a quantitative study can be designed to examine a particular group of people bounded by demographic variables such as gender or socio-economic status, race, and personal interests (in this case, athletes were chosen for analysis). The authors discussed the importance of utilizing academic advising centers to assist student athletes with homework preparation and other tasks requiring additional explanations and evaluations. Academic performance is of central importance in higher education, and students, regardless of their personal interests or extracurricular involvement, should avail themselves of support mechanisms that will help them succeed academically.
For example, student athletes often require support from subject-matter tutors, academic advisors, and family members. They need to develop ability to balance the rigorous demands of physical training with educational pursuits. As such, oftentimes student athletes require additional guidance and support from various experts. In addition to students developing necessary understanding and abilities to balance physical training with academic requirements in order to be successful in postsecondary education, advisors can positively impact the retention of students. Reynolds et al.’s (2012) findings were applicable to a particular group—student athletes. Yet, the results of their study may be helpful to college students in general, contributing to an understanding of the importance of clarifying students’ tasks and duties in the academic advising process.
Swecker et al. (2013) found a strong links between academic advising and student retention. Their findings emphasized the significance of academic advising as an effective process for engaging, involving, and interacting with students in the most captivating and effective way. Although this present proposed study is not focused on student retention per se, the importance of academic advising as a process that may lead to improvements in student retention should not be neglected (Craig, 2011). Retention is the result of successful cooperation that exists between an advisor and a student. Moreover, academic advising is the practice that connects students to their academic institution (Swecker et al., 2013), and this type of connection should not be neglected. Swecker et al. (2013) described the required connection between institutional leadership and academic advising as the potential to increase the number of personnel that can take responsibility for meeting students, formatting information delivery, and coping with academic challenges and needs of students. Furthermore, Swecker et al. recommended that institutional stakeholders engage in proactive advising in order to establish professional relationships between advisors and advisees.
Academic advising should play a central role in administrators, advisors, and students’ efforts to develop guidelines for integrating interventions into established programs and activities (Wilson, 2011). The point is that current global changes in such spheres as economics, politics, and education reveal weaknesses in developed systems and the inabilities to address these weaknesses within a short period of time. Wilson (2011) recommended that institutions of higher education re-evaluate existing educational practices and methods of academic advising in order to help stakeholders understand basic processes and make valuable contributions to different spheres of life. Therefore, academic advising ought to be regarded as an effective means of helping students to appreciate the importance of their academic pursuits as well as understand the overall impact of education on their futures.
Student retention is one indication that an educational system is functioning properly, and academic advising is considered one of the crucial factors that may influence student retention (Wilson, 2011). When contributing factors such as self-image or financial support are investigated and improved to the required extent, the worth of academic advising can be better understood and developed. For example, Kendricks, Nedunuri, and Arment (2012) showed the connection between academic advising and student retention in that some students may need more time and support efforts to encourage their involvement in the educational process. However, the role of advisors should not be limited to interacting with students on required instructional material. Advisors need to develop an underlying understanding of why students may need additional help and the proper timing and facilitating of necessary advising support. Moreover, advisors should improve advising processes in order to create appropriate educational conditions for their advisees (Drake, 2011; Kendricks et al., 2012; Wilson, 2011). Advising helps students realize their roles, comprehend their duties, and identify their abilities in regards to the tasks that they have to complete in particular institutions, including HBCUs (Craig, 2011).
Academic advising and student success
Recent research relating academic advising to student success includes studies by Young-Jones et al. (2013) and Smith and Allen (2014). The aim of Young-Jones et al.’s study was to examine academic advising as it relates to student needs, expectations, and success. Findings from their survey of 611 student participants revealed six factors that significantly related academic advising to student success: advisor accountability, advisor empowerment, student responsibility, student self-efficacy, student study skills, and perceived support. Additionally, Young-Jones et al. found differences in the advisement of demographically diverse students, which has significance for this proposed study of students enrolled at HBCUs relative to their perceptions of academic advising provided by male and female advisors.
In their web-based survey of 22,305 students of two community colleges and seven universities, Smith and Allen (2014) evaluated five cognitive and three affective outcome measures of students’ judgments and attitudes resulting from quality academic advising encounters. Using a six-point Likert-type scale, student participants indicated their agreement with statements related to the eight outcome measures: (a) knows requirements, (b) understands how things work, (c) knows resources, (d) understands connections, (e) has educational plan, (f) values advisor-advisee relationship, (g) supports mandatory advising, and (h) has significant relationship with advisor. Smith and Allen (2014) found that “scores on all eight learning outcomes were significantly higher for students who had met with an advisor in the formal advising system than for those who had not” (p. 56). Student participants reported that initiative in contacting an advisor and frequency of contact contributed to their success. Based on their findings, Smith and Allen (2014) recommended that institutions of higher education take steps to ensure that students receive advising from official sources even using mandatory advising requirements if necessary.
Academic advising in historically black colleges and universities
When considering academic advising available for students enrolled at HBCUs, a number of external and internal factors may influence student learning and educational outcomes. During the last several years, the focus and purpose of academic advising have been re-evaluated (Holmes et al., 2014). Much attention has been given to prescriptive and developmental approaches of advising. Holmes et al. (2014) introduced prescriptive advising as an option for advisors to provide new HBCU students with the proper information for education and cooperation. Advisors have to demonstrate their proficiency and responsibility in helping students cope with all academic assignments and activities while considering the importance of their racial diversity. A demographic factor should be considered by students, but advisors have to help students understand the importance of their education regardless their race.
African-American students should be confident that a wide variety of advising options are offered to support their academic activities while promoting high academic achievement and student personal development. Developmental advising is based on such concepts like student self-actualization and the development of abilities needed work successfully with instructional materials. This type of advising promotes the personal and professional growth with a focus on empowering students to make independent decisions and solve their problems. In addition to helping students develop requisite personal skills and abilities needed for problem solving, academic advisors learn how to cooperate with students and encourage them in making independent and proper decisions. Equally important is the role of advisors in being attentive to HBCU students’ progress while expressing appreciation for their efforts, which can involve a system of rewards. Holmes et al. (2014) described academic advising as involving the interplay of such activities as teaching, learning, and advising. Furthermore, they stressed the importance of the practice of helping students to acquire the necessary knowledge, use it, and understand how it can be used in different situations.
Teaching is the core of academic advising programs at HBCUs because students need to learn how to take an active role in different aspects of their professional and personal development while respecting advisors’ efforts to assist them (Young-Jones et al., 2013). Kendricks et al. (2012) stated that the academic advising process depends equally on students and advisors because the latter introduce the options, and the former has to understand what is more appropriate for them. Like many students worldwide, HBCU students are challenged by such factors as the cost of education, campus environments, lack of peer engagement, and poorly developed relations with advisors and tutors (Craig, 2011). However, the outcomes of these factors differ among the HBCU students because a considerable number of African-American students lack persistence and dropout after the first two years of attending an institution of higher education. One of the causes attributed to this student instability is poor advising techniques (Pargett, 2011). According to Craig (2011), Pargett (2011), and Young-Jones et al. (2013), many students are not provided with opportunities to share their personal attitudes about their academic work with tutors and advisors. Dealing with personal discontent and struggling to solve the problems, students at HBCUs are often poorly prepared for meetings with their advisors. An outcome of students’ negative advising experiences is low retention ratings at HBCUs (Drake, 2011; Ezeala-Harrison, 2014). Therefore, it is imperative for HBCU leaders to develop new academic advising strategies that meet students’ needs (Habley et al., 2010).
Academic advising styles
Due to the fact that academic advising has considerably progressed during the last decades, a number of theories that help to analyze the peculiarities of academic advising have been offered by different researchers (Crookston, 1994; Drake, 2011; Hale et al., 2009; Harrison, 2012, 2014). Young-Jones et al. (2013) state that faculty-student interactions have to be related to academic goals and the abilities to promote student development. Advisors have to consider the abilities of their students and analyze the environment under which students have to study in order to choose an appropriate academic advising style. Besides, Holmes et al. (2014) introduce the requirement according to which students should voice their opinions and possible improvements that can be done in the sphere of academic advising. Holmes et al. also underlined that a properly chosen advising style indicates the level of the advisor’s proficiency. The choice of the academic advising style should be based on the abilities of students to search the material, to ask and answer questions, to investigate the offered field, and to set and understand the goals that should be achieved during an advising and learning processes.
Pargett (2011) proves that the quality of student involvement in meeting the requirements set by their advisors motivates student’s work harder and demonstrates their best academic qualities. The current investigations show that not all HBCUs introduce successful academic performance because of poor teaching styles, poor academic advising, and inabilities to combine personal, academic, and career goals (Craig, 2011). Recent research developed by Hale et al. (2009) introduces two main types of academic advising that can be offered to educators. Holmes et al. (2014) developed another powerful study within the frames of which the authors criticize the positive and negative aspects of two different academic advising styles. On one hand, students and advisors can benefit with a developmental academic advising style within the frames of which students are able to develop strong personal and professional relationship with their advisors and integrate their academic, careers, and several personal goals in an advising process (Hale et al., 2009). In their turn, advisors should participate in the life of their advisees, learn the changes that may take place in their lives, and analyze if the changes can influence the academic performance of a student (Holmes et al., 2014).
On the other hand, there is a prescriptive academic advising that is defined as an authority-based type of relations between students and advisors that lacks of individual development and the possibility to ask questions that may involve students in a learning process (Hale et al., 2009). Findings of the project developed by Hale et al. introduced 429 undergraduate students, who are eager to share their opinions and attitudes to different academic advising styles. The majority of answers are given in favor of the development advising style: many advisors prefer the developmental style of advising because students are eager to participate in their educational processes, understand the worth of each step taken, and be sure that it is possible to influence the development of the events in the offered advising program. Only 1.8% of the participants admit that they prefer to cooperate with a prescriptive advisor and choose the prescriptive advising style as the most appropriate solution in their cases.
In this research, the authors also focus on the differences between the current advisor’s style and the preferred advisor’s style and conclude that the students, who cooperate with developmental advisors, are more satisfied with the working process in comparison to the students, who choose a prescriptive advisor but follow the development academic advising style. The investigations of these researchers indicate that the advising academic style and the level of student satisfaction are interrelated and cannot be ignored in the analysis of the student work, the quality of performance, and the outcomes of academic advising. Holmes et al. (2014) contribute the prescriptive academic advising by means of explaining that prescriptive advisors can help students find immediate and accurate information. The prescriptive academic advising style has a kind of monopolized nature because advisors try to support novices and explain the backgrounds that should be used in an educational process.
Two different styles offer two different approaches on how the relations can be developed between an advisor and an advisee. At HBCUs, students are always free to choose the advising style they want to follow in order to promote their development and demonstrate high levels of graduation (Pargett, 2011). Still, to be able to make a decision, students should take into consideration six crucial factors such as the existing recruitment, the level of flexible admission requirement, sound financial aid, an appropriate institutional climate, a variety of mentoring programs, and the attitudes towards African-American students in a chosen institution. As soon as these factors are discussed and clarified, the peculiarities of the styles are evaluated. If students want to develop their skills and believe in the importance of their self-actualization, they are welcome to focus on the development academic advising style. If students have to deal with a number of new tasks but fail to comprehend the essence of the work that should be completed, they can benefit with the prescriptive type of advising within the frames of which the student development does not play a crucial role (Holmes et al., 2014).
The main goal of this style is to provide students in need with the required portion of help and explanations. Though advisors in this kind of academic advising perform the main role, students can benefit a lot with the opportunities and knowledge obtained during a working process with a prescriptive advisor. Though students do not know how to pose questions and promote their self-actualization, they can trust their academic performance in the hands of their advisors and learn the achievements they can gain in the field (Hale et al., 2009). Prescriptive advisors help students to choose their majors, improve their experiences with college, and understand what they can do to be properly involved in their academics (Daly & Sidell, 2013). Developmental advisors do not just help but motivate students to think and identify their strong and weak qualities and rely on them when they make the decisions about their future careers, establish their professional and personal goals, and realize what skills and knowledge they should gain and develop in order to meet the objectives set (Smith & Allen, 2014). Therefore, the choice of academic advising styles is a crucial step that has been discussed by a number of researchers to create a solid background for further investigations in different colleges and universities with different attitudes to an educational process.
Besides, in addition to two completely different styles of academic advising, in 1975, Glennan offered a new type of cooperation and called it intrusive academic advising. Intrusive advising occurs when students are able to develop their skills and knowledge in terms of the instructions offered by their advisors as well as tutors can participate in the activities taken by their students (Smart, 2010). The investigations introduced by Smart in his book are based on the works developed by Glennan. The researchers underlined that there is a chance when advisors are eager to take the first steps and involve students in academic advising. Such style of cooperation is beneficial for students, who do not know how to use their financials and institutional resources. In such style, advisors do not guide students but do not make them follow the rules that have been already established. The intrusive academic advising style is the tool that has not been practiced in all-academic institutions due to the existing contradictions and the inabilities to create the same standards for all advisors (Smart, 2010).
Academic advising challenges and gender factors at HBCUs
The educational experience of students may be predetermined by the quality of the relations that students can develop with the faculty, and the level of satisfaction students have in regards to the conditions under which they have to study (Braun & Zolfagharian, 2016). However, higher education literature does not cover the topic of the relations between student satisfaction and participation in its full extent. The absence of clear and justified studies on the chosen topic is one of the main challenges in academic advising and gender factors. There are many factors that may influence the quality of academic performance, and the investigation of the students from HBCUs show that such factors as background characteristics, nonacademic college experience, admission selectivity, and even student population may play an important role in an educational process (Reeder & Schmitt, 2013).
As well as Chen, Ingram, and Davis (2014), Reeder and Schmitt (2013) underlined the fact that he gender factor is as crucial as the racial difference exists between students in ordinary colleges and universities. In HBCUs, the gender factor remains to be a crucial point for consideration because students and teachers are free from racial judgments and inequalities and focus on the quality of education and academic performance students have to demonstrate. Sex differences turn out to be evident in the experiences of Blacks at HBCUs and promote the discussions of the challenges that are related to such issues as academic under preparation, financial resources, family environment, and help-seeking development (Strayhorn, Williams, Tillman-Kelly, & Suddeth, 2012). The academic advising literature addressing gender difference is sparse. Craig (2011) investigates female and male students and their levels of retention in higher education. The investigations of this author are based on the analysis of several academic articles and studies with the help of which Craig introduces the challenges that can be identified for effective retention, the factors that may affect the retention rates, and the reasons for why student retention is important and remains to be a crucial aspect in academic advising. Craig concludes that African-American male students have lower retention rates then female students of the same institutions.
Wilson (2011) found that female students in the STEM disciplines have faced serious challenges in achieving recognition and rewards in comparison to male students. With the help of the already developed Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professors Program at Louisiana State University, the authors of this study indicate several key factors that influence student attrition and the desire to work in classrooms and with advisors. The challenge is based on the necessity to take into consideration a number of personal factors that may predetermine the quality of a student’s life and their readiness to cooperate with advisors. At the same time, although these studies examined gender as a factor in student retention and academic recognition, they did not address the gender of academic advisors who interacted with the students. Academic advising has been connected with the concept of student retention and investigated thoroughly by such researchers as Smith and Allen (2014), Young-Jones et al. (2013), and Braun and Zolfagharian (2016); however, not much attention has been paid to the differences of female and male advising, and there is a burning need to assess if the students get a chance to experience different attitudes and gain different knowledge regarding the gender of a person, who advises them.
Students’ perception of academic advising
Academic advising is the process that is based on a particular system with the help of which students and advisors are able to develop professional and effective relations, identify resources that are crucial for advising and educational processes, solve the problems that may occur between students and their tutors or because of misunderstanding of the instructions, etc. (Swecker et al., 2013). Smith and Allen (2014) properly discussed the relations between students and advisors. Research developed by Smith and Allen (2014) consists of several logical sections with the help of which they discuss the main characteristics of academic advising and the possible worth of a properly chosen academic advising style. The authors measure the duration and periods of academic advising and determine the style according to which students can get the required portion of information. The results of two one-way ANCOVAs results show that the students who are able to cooperate with advisors regularly according to a certain scheme developed beforehand have higher academic performance levels than the students who lack academic advising or are the members of an advised occasionally group.
The relations between advisors and students play a crucial role in academic performance, and students have to understand that their perception of academic advising should be not less important in the educating process. Still, not much research is conducted on the connection that could be observed between student academic and personal development and academic advising. Student preferences have to be investigated properly. It is not enough to consider the opinions of students. It is more important to comprehend how students’ preferences may influence their relations with advisors. It has been already proved that the developmental academic advising is a preferable type of relations between advisors and their advisees (Hale et al., 2009). Significant limitations of Hale et al.’s research evoke the necessity to focus on HBCU students and their relations with advisors regarding the sex differences of advisors. Craig (2011) proves that sex difference among students may predetermine the quality of relations that students develop with their advisors, and the quality of academic performance students can demonstrate. However, research literature fails to introduce if there is a possibility that sex differences between academic advisors can predetermine the quality of knowledge students can gain, and the relations students can develop in the chosen academic institution.
Academic Advising and Its Impact
Academic advising is an activity that could define the quality of an educational process. Teachers evaluate the needs of their students and focus on the conditions under which advising activities can be developed. Each institution creates its own standards for advising, and tutors are obliged to follow them. The researchers admit that academic advising can determine the quality of the following aspects that should be taken into consideration: students’ development, academic success, students’ and tutors’ satisfaction, recruitment, and retention.
Students’ development is one of the main goals that are defined in advising. There are many ways students could demonstrate their abilities and knowledge that could be used to develop and analyze the material they get from their advisors. It is important for students to know how to make the right choice and understand what kind of work is expected from them. This approach is defined as developmental advising. Tutors should perform the role of advisors who are able to guide students through the current educational system and make the solutions that are correct and justified.
Students’ development may take a number of forms. For example, students may be directed on how to explain the material they learn, students may want to know how to analyze the already found information, and students should comprehend how they can understand the requirements and follow them precisely. In other words, students should be able to develop a plan by which they can succeed in an educational process (Hinchliffe & Wong, 2012). The promotion of students’ development is not an easy task because it has many sides and many outcomes to expect. Students’ development may touch upon the development of professional skills and abilities to meet the requirements set. The necessity to learn how to control emotions and develop appropriate reactions can be discussed. Finally, open and playful communication and active participation are usually encouraged to avoid passive reception of information, following orders, and performing tasks without emotions or even understanding the essence of the work. Students’ development is a general notion, and students of all colleges, as well as the representatives of Historical Black Colleges and Universities, are able to benefit from academic advising as a chance to develop their skills and understand their academic need and personal preferences.
According to Allen et al. (2013), academic advising helps to enhance the success of students; still, the level and worth of success depend on the types of advising chosen by advisors. The investigations of Young-Jones et al. (2013) have shown that the educational success may depend on students’ characteristics and be measured by student GPA (Grade Point Average). The evaluation of this factor also depends on the type of success achieved by students. Usually, success may take such forms as the improvement of student skills (when students are good at performing their tasks and using the material in practice), student self-efficacy (when students are able to understand what kind of work they can perform or what actions they should take to achieve the best results), and even student self-confidence (when students are ready to support their points of view and rely on some practical achievements to provide the required explanations) (Allen et al., 2013).
Much attention is also paid to the peculiarities of student retention since the researchers try to relate advising and retention as frequently as possible (Cuseo, 2007; Drake, 2011). Besides, the connection between such concepts and student retention and success is evident. When retention of students can be observed, the success of such evidence cannot be neglected. The power of advising in success and retention is the core of the discussions developed by Drake (2011) in order to promote the development of relationships between students and tutors, identify the place where challenges or disconnections take place and show the ways to get recommendations. Drake also relied on the article written by Cuseo (2007). This author focused on defining the quality of academic advising as “if we cannot define it, we cannot recognize it when we do not see it, nor can we can assess it or improve” (p. 11). He also introduced such factors as close student-advisor relationship, the possibility to achieve personal, educational, and career goals, and the intention to enrich the quality of life. As soon as students are able to admit that they achieve all these factors and observe the results of the work done, the quality of advising may be regarded as positive. In their turn, tutors have to perform the functions of specialized agents, mentors, and instructors to promote student retention in their colleges and universities.
Finally, student recruitment is a very important part of work that has to be performed by tutors at their work places. Tutors should understand what kind of work and information they could provide students with in order to attract their attention (Peterson & Kem, 2011). Student recruitment is the activity that helps to define what should be said, whom tutors should talk to, and how they should develop communications. Advising and recruitment seem to be interchangeable because as soon as the goal to provide students with academic help takes place, the basics of recruitment should be considered. When people start discussing recruitment strategies and their importance, one of the goals, advising, can be identified. Still, such connection between the terms and their interchangeability should not confuse people. Academic advising is a type of action educators should know how to take in order to succeed in completing their goals and promoting students’ development, retention, and recruitment.
The impact of academic advising is considerable indeed, and many researchers find it necessary to continue investigating advising approaches and theories and introducing new ideas on how the relations between students and tutors should be developed (Allen et al., 2007; Hagen & Jordan, 2011). Advising is the way to satisfy students and make them believe in their skills and knowledge. Tutors learn how to motivate students (Crookson, 1994) and promote their growth (Pargett, 2011). However, the impact of academic advising can spread far beyond classrooms. Students learn how to communicate, ask for help, and choose careers that are more appropriate for them. Advising is also an access to past research and achievements, and tutors may rely on their experience as well as the experience of other students and tutors in a particular sphere of life. Students learn how to overcome the challenges and solve problems using the examples of other people. Finally, advising defines the quality of how new material is comprehended and used. Students may follow the instructions given in a written form and make mistakes. Academic advising may take different forms, and the possibility to talk directly to tutors who help students understand all points better.
Developmental Advising vs. Prescriptive Advising vs. Intrusive Advising
The success of advising also depends on the style chosen by tutors. Hale et al. (2009) mentioned that undergraduate students were able to give clear reasons why they wanted their tutors to choose their preferred type of advising: students graduated with a positive impact, understood the economic benefits of an educational process, and shared their personal needs and expectations in a clear way. However, as a rule, tutors should evaluate the situation under which academic help can be given and choose the academic advising approach that is more appropriate for a particular student. There are three main types of academic advising developed at different periods of time: developmental, intrusive, and prescriptive. Each type has its own characteristics and the steps to be taken by students and tutors. Both parties have to realize what kind of work is expected from them and clarify what kind of advising is more appropriate for a particular educational organization.
Research developed by Hale et al. (2009) showed that more than 95% of students named the developmental advising style as the preferable approach. There was also a prescriptive style of advising that should help students to succeed. However, the choice of students was evident, and the choice of the developmental type should be explained. The theorists pay attention to the intrusive form of advising. However, the fact that the role of an advisor is crucial, and students’ opportunities are diminished in this type of advising makes a few people choose this form of advising.
During the last decade, much research has been conducted discussing three types of advising. Different writers and theorists offered their visions and explanations of why their preferable style is a better option. Crookston (1994) introduced the developmental academic advising in 1972 as an approach that helps students understand their goals, develop their analytical skills, and solve problems using collective and individual thinking abilities. He was an innovator with his intentions to explain how tutors and students can develop their relations to exchange information and experience and gain an understanding of what can be done with the resources chosen. Students have to be motivated to succeed in their education, and tutors should be ready to provide them with the instructions on how to accept new material, new institutions, and new opportunities.
According to Crookston (1994), developmental advising is an effective educative tool since it “is concerned not only with a specific personal or vocational decision but also with facilitating the student’s rational processes” (p. 5). Higher education is an opportunity for students to develop a plan that helps to meet educational purposes, personal goals, and career success. Advisors are welcome to share any kind of experience in a case that can be proved as a good contribution to the student’s growth. Students should also take responsibility for the development of the relations that may happen between them and their advisors and choose the directions that are more successful and appropriate for them. The nature of advising relations predetermines the outcomes that may be expected and the quality of lives available to students.
Crookston (1994) was one of the first authors who compared the essences of prescriptive and developmental styles of advising. Sometimes, students want to have advisors, who can provide students with the required portion of help without any additional involvement in the academic work. In such situation, students want to benefit with the prescriptive type of advising. They address their tutors, pose definite questions, and get certain answers. Tutors have to explain the material according to the students’ requests and consider the peculiarities of the chosen academic program. There are specific requirements for the course that should be considered. Crookston compared the prescriptive type of relations that could be developed between a student and a tutor with the relations that could be developed between a doctor and a patient. As soon as a student faces a problem, he/she addresses an expert for help, gets the necessary explanations and instructions, and follows them to achieve success. If the recommendations are neglected, the outcomes may disappoint. Crookston informed that many institutions found prescriptive advising more desirable because there were few threats that something could go wrong. Advisors know what they suggest and can take responsibility for the outcomes. However, students’ involvement in such types of activities is not as desirable as the advisors’. Students understand that they have to follow certain rules and do not have a chance to consider their points of view and attitudes to particular situations. Students do not have a feeling of responsibility for the decisions they make and the actions they choose.
Prescriptive advising helps to underline the power of tutors in the system of education and diminish the importance of the roles that have to be performed by students. Students become simple doers of the actions prescribed by tutors. They are free from analyzing situations, considering personal ideas and preferences, and making their decisions. They get the answers and instructions that should be followed. On the one hand, the idea of prescriptive advising is clear and good for education because students learn new material and comprehend how to follow the instructions. On the other hand, higher education should be more than a simple consideration of the instructions. Higher education is a chance for students to use their knowledge and experience and solve particular problems. Prescriptive advising is appropriate for people who are young to develop their creative thinking and introduce their personal vision of situations or too dependent on the situations the requirements of which should be met.
Developmental and prescriptive types of advising have a number of positive and negative aspects that have to be considered individually. However, according to Drake, Jordan, and Miller (2013), there is also one more type of advising that utilizes several good qualities of the above-mentioned approaches. This type of advising is called intrusive. It was developed by Glennen in 1975 in order to explain the intentions of tutors to be involved in the activities of their students (Smart, 2010). A number of contradictions and misunderstandings took place around this approach due to the inabilities to comprehend a true nature of the intentions of tutors to participate in student’s life. According to Glennen (1975), intrusive advising takes place when tutors want to take the first step and develop contacts with their students instead of providing students with an opportunity to take the initiative. There are the situations when new students do not know what to do or who can help in solving problems or searching for options. Such students want to find out special programs or college communities to discuss their problems and find the answers to the questions but cannot succeed because of some personal reasons, doubts, or poor level of knowledge (Sutton, 2015).
Tutors try to direct students in need to the necessary resources and give some directions to be followed. The positive aspects of such initiative are the possibility to save time and efforts, the provision of correct instructions at once, and the ability for tutors to analyze the potential of students. There is one unclear aspect of intrusive advising that was discussed in Drake et al.’s work. It is connected with the inability to comprehend the reasons for why tutors try to become involved with students and clarify where the academic goals end and the holistic perspectives begin (Drake et al., 2013). Intrusive advising is characterized by a harsh control from a tutor’s side and the inabilities for students to make their decisions and share their ideas on how to conduct their research. To avoid misunderstandings or troubles in defining the quality of the intrusive approach, the National Academic Advising Association offered to define this approach as proactive and add such characteristics as an academic adjustment that involves the ability of a student to self-refer and take responsibility for academic performance based on tutor’s instructions. In fact, intrusive advising seems to be similar to the developmental approach. However, there is one distinctive feature that cannot be neglected: intrusive advising is always a tutor’s initiative to help students. Developmental and prescriptive types are based on the student’s initiative.
Due to the fact that many students want to get access to developmental academic advising (Hale et al., 2009), researchers continue investigating this approach as the main alternative to the educational theories. It means that even if students address tutors for help, they want to use this help for self-development and self-improvement. Students have one purpose – to receive a guide from an expert in a particular sphere and rely on a plan. A plan should correspond with students’ goals and possibilities. To meet such requirements, a tutor has to evaluate the student’s level of knowledge and the abilities to use the already offered material. Crookston (1994) described a developmental relationship as a set of activities in which tutors and students could be involved.
They have to complete a number of tasks and achieve success in case the instructions, suggestions, and details are considered properly. The author also focused on the abilities of students to comprehend new information and tutors to identify the main aspects of the work that should be done, the ideas that could motivate students and inform tutors about students’ potential, and the rewards that could be offered to students for a proper completion of the work and tutors for a successful explanation of the material. Besides, developmental advising is characterized by the initiative that comes from students and supported by tutors. This type of advising involves the development of both students and tutors. Though the initiative is focused on students’ intention to find help, much attention is paid to tutors and their abilities to help students and explain new material in a clear way.
Developmental advising plays an important role in connecting students with their tutors, who can help to promote the understanding of opportunities and sources available (Campbell & Nutt, 2008). Tutors try to set high expectations and make students complete much work using their best qualities. Past research conducted by Campbell and Nutt (2008) introduced several key concepts that were connected with academic advising and could be used for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. First, the concept of learning has been framed to explain that students have to use their knowledge to understand what kind of work is expected from them. Second, the concept of experience proves the fact that advising is intentional and is based on the experience students can gain with time. The concept of cooperation between students and tutors has been discussed a lot to prove that partnership is a crucial part of advising. Finally, the concept of planning is mentioned to help tutors and students overcome challenges and misunderstandings that can take place in a learning process (Campbell & Nutt, 2008). Students may solve problems and introduce interesting arguments. Still, they have to be motivated and guided. Advisors should complete this function and give hints without being too strict, definite, or principled. Not only students should learn how to use academic advising. Tutors have to train and realize what they can do to promote successful academic advising.
In general, researchers inform us that the main competition takes place between the developmental and prescriptive advising approaches (Crookston, 1994; Hale et al., 2009). Students may cooperate with advisors because of different reasons, and tutors are free to choose how to organize their communication with students. Tutor-student relations are prescriptive in that tutors focus on limiting students’ abilities, promote rewards in the form of grades or credits, take initiative, and control the relationship to follow the requirements (Crookston, 1994). Descriptive advising is characterized by student potentialities, activities, and desire to fulfill tasks and develop mastery. Students try to cooperate with developmental advisors and negotiate such items as control, responsibilities, and the evaluation of the work to be done. This type of relation is based on trust and the nature of the task. Students demonstrate their intentions to succeed in completing their academic work and take initiative on cooperating with tutors.
Developmental advising is a chance for students to understand what they can do and how helpful their tutors can be (Hale et al., 2009). Still, the outcomes of descriptive advising are not always easy to predict. That is why many tutors who do not find it necessary and justified to experiment and rely on good luck prefer prescriptive advising and the guarantees that their work is organized and corresponds with the instructions. Prescriptive advising is an opportunity for tutors to try new strategies of work with students and teach to follow the instructions in order to succeed in the study. Prescriptive advisors share their experience and knowledge with students to prove that their methods and ideas are effective. Descriptive advisors want their students to take initiative and recognize their weaknesses not because advisors are lazy or unwilling to cooperate with students but because advisors want to promote student activity and desire to work. Students have to realize that they are responsible for their education and the ways it can be developed. Tutors’ work is only to give material and explain how to use it. Students should be capable of self-direction and ready to make mistakes that can be corrected.
Educational Development Theories and Academic Advising
There are no clearly established theories that could be used to analyze the worth and essence of academic advising. Still, there are many educational and social theories that can be used as a considerable foundation for the changes students and tutors could have choosing academic advising (Hagen & Jordan, 2011). Developmental academic advising is grounded on educational development theories, and adherents to who practice this style of advising, find a student-centered approach the best alternative to comprehend cognitive processes that can be observed in the relations that are developed between students and tutors (Crookston, 1994). Advising is an educational activity that can be analyzed and defined with the help of various theoretical approaches. Therefore, advisors have to comprehend as many theories as possible to have the required theoretical basis and direct students properly.
The analysis of practical perspectives shows that students and teachers should be ready to take various actions and make decisions. However, there is also a theoretical aspect that discloses the essence of academic advising. Crookston (1994) addressed student development theory and defined it as a framework according to which academic advising could be developed. Student development theory aims at disclosing the ways through which students can grow, achieve progress, and increase their capabilities being involved in an educational institution (Strayhorn, 2015). Students can develop new abilities, improve the already gained qualities, and change themselves in regards to the requirements set by a particular institution. There are several categories according to which development theories can be divided in. They are cognitive, psychological, and typology (Hubbard, 2012).
Cognitive theories help to focus on the changes people undergo during their attempts to consider the requirements set by new organizations and comprehend how to make decisions. The theory of cognitive development introduced by Piaget in 1952 and Perry’s cognitive theory of student development offered at the beginning of the 1970s are the representatives of cognitive development theories (Hubbard, 2012). Piaget offered to use mental maps to understand physical experience of students and respond in regards to the environment students and tutors find themselves. According to this theory, advisors have to underline the importance of practice and personal experience in student learning. Tutors should try to focus on some cognitive structures to explain how to use the already gained knowledge under new conditions. Hagen and Jordan (2011) defined Piaget’s theory as a solid foundation on developmental advising because this theory focused on development as a process that could not be ignored or neglected. Learning does not play an important role in child development because many things depend on the process by means of which a child can become an individual. The same happens with students who experience developmental advising.
They are able to construct an understanding of what is happening around them, consider their skills and abilities, and make the solutions based on their attitudes. Advising turns out to be a chance to discover what has been already known on a subject and what can be discovered in the environment with the help of a tutor’s hints. Perry offered to combine cognitive and ethical development and introduced several stages according to which students learn how to perceive new material, analyze it, and use it in practice. The worth of this theory is the possibility to divide student actions. Tutors who believe that descriptive advising deprives them of the possibility to control student actions and decisions may rely on the stages developed by Perry and apply them in an advising process. Hagen and Jordan (2011) explained that Perry’s theory could be identified in the process when students chose majors or searched for solutions.
For example, the first stage is dualism according to which students have a tendency to believe that each problem can be solved and explained in case the instructions are followed and the authorities are respected. The second stage is multiplicity when students come to the conclusion that some problems may not have solutions at the moment, and some kind of work should be done to find the answer. At the third stage, relativism, students learn that all problems and doubts have reasons. It is necessary to evaluate a context before trying to understand if there is an answer to a question. The final stage, commitment, is the period when students comprehend that uncertainty is a part of a human life, and students cannot overcome or solve some problems independently. They have to address their tutors and ask for help in a proper way. These two cognitive theories depict the nature of academic advising and serve as a guide for tutors to be followed to comprehend and predict students’ actions, thoughts, and intentions (Hubbard, 2012).
Psychological theories aim at developing interpersonal relations and helping students understand themselves better. The identity of students is crucial in advising because students cannot use the material offered by students without understanding themselves and their needs. Constructivism and behaviorism are the psychological theories that disclose the essence of advising and students’ reactions to the requirements and expectations. Constructivism helps to explain that learning is a chance to find out the meaning, and behaviorists offer the ideas on how to reward students and explain the reasons of the chosen behavior. In his theory of stages of psychosocial development, it is important to understand what kind of behavior may be expected from ordinary students in colleges and universities (Hubbard, 2012). There are eight psychological stages that can be interpreted as eight challenges students and tutors should be ready for in an educational process. In the beginning, there is an infant with its basic instincts and the necessity to comprehend where trust and mistrust can be found. In their turn, students try to develop optimism and confidence.
The second stage is based on a will and the possibility to build autonomy. The next stage is characterized by the creation of a purpose. Academic advising is based on tutors or students’ initiative, and it is necessary to understand who is an initiator of advising. The fourth stage is the development of competence and the possibility to develop new skills and knowledge. The fifth stage, fidelity, helps to develop attitudes to a certain object, person, or event and explain the reasons for the choice.. The sixth stage is the period of love. In advising, this stage may be compared with the attraction to people who are involved in a process. As soon as positive outcomes are observed, tutors and students are satisfied with the relations they have developed. Another stage defines the level of care that can be used in a process. Advising is the process full of trust, and students should learn to trust people. Finally, the stage of wisdom should be considered. It is the period of evaluation, understanding, and observations of what has been done. Students should be satisfied with the help offered by tutors, and tutors should enjoy the fact that their advising turns out to be helpful.
Typological theories are less connected with academic advising because they are not of a developmental type. Such theories usually help to evaluate the already existed differences and analyze how the diversities can be used. Hughes (2015) admits that the best representatives of such theories are such researchers as Myer, Briggs, and Holland. As soon as students learn how to compare their differences and changes in regards to a particular situation, they can succeed in advising and choosing the best solutions. The understanding of all these theories is an important stage in academic advising and students should not neglect the opportunity to learn better what they can do with the help offered by tutors, and tutors should comprehend how they should treat students and offer new material.
Importance of Gender-Related Issues in Advising
In addition to the theoretical background offered by Hubbard (2012) and the necessity to understand human reaction to the hints and guidance offered, a certain attention should be paid to such issues as culture, gender, and even social status of a person to avoid various biases and prejudices. Academic advising is the practice available to students of different colleges. The students of HBCUs understand the role of disparities as any other students because they are challenged by the necessity to choose an educational institution regarding the level of their families’ incomes, the color of skin, or even the time that can be spent on education. There are many students who cannot allow themselves to think of studying at any colleges or universities of their dreams. However, academic advising can be used to evaluate the circumstances and rely on academic interests, personal goals, career prospects, and intellectual skills. A number of student circumstances can define the quality of advising offered to students. In addition to the question of different race, many researchers deal with gender-related issues because of several reasons.
As a rule, males are the developers of cognitive or psychological theories. A female aspect is frequently neglected. Therefore, academic advisors should understand educational theories in order to identify the peculiarities of development that can be associated with class or gender. Tailoring advising is the activity that aims at focusing on students’ definite circumstances, characteristics, and even their educational level (Allen et al., 2013). To introduce successful academic advising, all issues have to be clearly identified and explained by and for students and tutors.
Students’ circumstances imply all those conditions under which students have to study and search for a new material and the reasons for why they may need additional help offered by tutors. Tutors may ask specific questions with the help of which they can identify the issues that are necessary for working with students. The answers given by students provide tutors with an opportunity to learn more about the needs and possibilities of students. The investigations by Harper, Carini, Bridges, and Hayek (2004) introduced a simple system according to which the demands of students could be analyzed with the help of self-ratings given by the representatives of students from different colleges and universities. It is offered to focus on such issues as psychosocial wellness, academic self-efficacy, and achievement orientation and prove that the students from one college could have different ratings compared with students of the same gender and race from another college. It means that the circumstances under which students have to study should play an important role. Still, it is necessary to pay more attention to the demands set by male and female students. Harper et al. (2004) proved that male students interacted with tutors more frequently, and female students could not demonstrate the same level of involvement in college or university activities.
Such gender-related issues may be based on the necessity to meet different requirements set by society and personal attitudes to the expectations of getting a higher education. Male students have faced fewer problems in comparison to female students in history (Clabaugh, 2010). During many centuries, women had to prove their rights to have education on the same level as men had. They were regarded as the representatives of an inferior level with a minimum of opportunities and without a possibility to comprehend the worth of a higher education and other perspectives that could be available to them. Male and female needs differ considerably. However, the conditions under which they can achieve the goals should be the same because the gender factor plays an important role in education. There are societies, like Afghanistan, where the role of women is still diminished (Clabaugh, 2010). Women are deprived of an opportunity to study or develop her interests. At the same time, more fathers want to see their daughters properly educated and provided with good opportunities. Therefore, talking about gender issues in education, it is necessary to remind the importance of age and the period when females can get their education and academic advising.
People of any gender, any race, and age are free to get the necessary portion of education today and forget the prejudices that existed a long time ago (Clabaugh, 2010). The investigations by Clabaugh (2010) and Ezeala-Harrison (2014) proved the fact that students could not ignore the gender-related factors in the evaluation of academic advising and the perception of this concept. Still, gender disparities between students have been already discussed a lot during different centuries (Clabaugh, 2010; Harper et al., 2004; Eagan et al., 2014).
Gender Gap: Engagement of Undergraduate Advisees
A gender gap in academic advising is not a rare issue. Many colleges started paying more attention to the methods used by male and female tutors in educating people. For example, Eagan et al. (2014) discussed the ways chosen by female academic advisors for interaction with students. The results showed that female and male approaches differed from each other, and female academic advising was more thorough, identified, and determined. For example, more than half of female advisors tried to inform students about the important decisions they would make, and only 45% of male tutors followed the same way. Women also tried to inform students about their options to support and develop their academic skills, address disability resources centers, or consider the financial aid opportunities.
There was only a huge difference in how female advisors took action to help their students with their personal and academic difficulties. Both female and male advisors found it necessary to focus on personal problems of students. One of the main goals of advising is to improve the academic instabilities and challenges students could face. Female and male advisors wanted to improve the options concerning the opportunities to study abroad, conduct undergraduate research, and choose internship as the way to find a practical application to their theoretical knowledge and gain a better understanding of the theories offered at classes. Tutors also define advising as the necessity to provide students with information about courses, major/minor, future careers, and possible post-graduated goals. However, this research focused on tutors’ intentions to provide students with help. There was no attention to the varieties of students’ opinions on how they evaluate their tutors’ help and the worth of advising in general.
Male-Female Retention among Black Students
HBCUs have been the core of the struggle for personal dignity and racial equality for a long period of time (Allen et al., 2007). Black students were challenged to get a higher education on their intentions. The American culture created the barriers that were hard to overcome. After the Civil War, a number of African Americans got a chance to study due to the funding from White missionaries and philanthropists, who made it possible to keep the doors of colleges and universities open. Still, there was a limited curriculum focused on the development of basic skills, the improvement of religious knowledge, the basics of manual trades, and the understanding of African Americans social responsibilities in terms of etiquette and dressing. With time, Black teachers could share their experience and attitudes to higher education with students. A certain shift in educational methods could be observed, as African Americans knew how to share their personal ideas and impose the importance of Black culture on people. African Americans were eager to study and use their earned degrees to improve their current lives.
During the past two decades, Black students’ enrollments have been changed considerably in the United States (Allen et al., 2007; Ezeala-Harrison, 2014). A number of Black students demonstrated their intentions to get a higher education and earn college degrees for their life careers. However, only 43% of Black students (and 36% of this sum were black males) were able to graduate from colleges and universities. The reasons for why not all students could have a chance to graduate varied from personal doubts to poor academic advising. There was a necessity to comprehend what could influence students’ decision-making processes and how crucial the role of advisors could be.
Ezeala-Harrison (2014) also conducted a comparative analysis of male and female retention rates among Black students. The researcher considered students’ personal attributes, family circumstances, financial factors, some background events, and the current institution’s system that has to be respected. Female and male students may undergo the same factors; still, their reactions and solutions differ considerably. Though this research did not cover the topic of students’ perceptions of academic advising, the evaluation of students’ retention and the reasons for concerns can be helpful in the investigations of students’ thoughts and attitudes to education under the conditions they have to live and study.
For example, male students were defined as the group of people who do not pay much attention to their personal problems in their college retention (Ezeala-Harrison, 2014). However, such problems like childcare, marriages, love affairs, and broken families do not influence the quantity of students in HBCUs. Almost the same results were observed while analyzing future careers of students. More than 90% of male and female students believed that higher education is a chance to overcome their occupational uncertainty and find a good job. Almost all female students and a little less of male students understand the level of importance of the institutional commitment to them. It means that female students focus on the regulations prescribed by an institution, and male students are able to consider other factors to make their personal and academic decisions.
Ezeala-Harrison (2014) identified several variables according to which students of both genders are compared. It has been proved that almost all students were confident in their possibilities and the necessity to complete their academic programs, as higher education was a chance to have good life careers and achieve their professional goals. However, female students seemed to be more flexible in relation to retention; male students preferred to make choices and adhere to them as long as possible.
Much attention was paid to the behavioral aspects of higher education. The 87% of females and 81% of males found academic behavior important in their education. Still, there were people who disrespected the idea of academic behavior and were in need of academic advising within the frames of which it was possible to explain the basics of academic behavior. There was also a division of students in regards to their intentions to interact with faculty members. Ezeala-Harrison’s research (2014) showed that there were more male students who were ready to interact with faculty members. Still, females were more interested in getting academic help, advising, and general counseling on how to improve their education, and male students liked to develop relations with their peers and discuss the achievements made by students but not imposed by tutors. It means that male students want to pay more attention to their possibilities to study and comprehend the material independently, and female students are eager to follow the orders and meet the requirements that have been already set.
Nowadays, African Americans have almost similar opportunities as Whites. Still, they face a number of challenges in education and the inabilities to continue studying because of some personal doubts, the necessity to live, study and work at the same time, or the inability to get the required help in a short period of time (Orfield, 2015). Besides, Black students continue facing problems because of poor academic programs that are available to them. Orfield (2015) underlined the importance to develop a plan to diminish the level of racial inequality and replicate the mistakes made in the past. Today is the era of Civil Rights that are available to all citizens of the United States. Black students are as crucial as White students, and teachers have to understand how to deal with the question of racial diversity and address the consequences that could be observed in tensions between different groups of people. The sphere of education has been changed due to a high level of immigration, the creation of gangs, and other issues that make the teaching staff using different methods to control students and provide them with the necessary portion of help. Academic advising should be free from racial or gender prejudices, and tutors have to learn how to overcome them.
Relations between Academic Advising and Student Success/Retention
Regarding the identified investigations and research in the sphere of academic advising and its impact on students of different gender and race, no credible literature about the comparison of male and female advising approach from the undergraduate students’ perspective can be found. It is necessary to comprehend how students can treat the help offered by their tutors and what students think about different approaches demonstrated by female and male tutors. The findings introduced in research by Hale et al. (2009), Pargett (2011), and Young-Jones et al. (2013) proved the positive relationship between academic advising and student success. The researchers offer their comparative and descriptive studies to explain how academic advising could be organized and offered to students, and if all types of academic help could be appropriate for students. At the same time, the work by Ezeala-Harrison (2014) proved the necessity to pay more attention to the gender of students and the factors that could influence the level of retention in HBCUs.
Hale et al. (2009) wanted to clarify what may predetermine the level of student satisfaction with academic advising. The authors investigated the conditions when students could be satisfied with academic advising. They evaluated the differences between prescriptive and developmental types of advising and explained what determined the choice of students. As soon as students are satisfied with advising they get, they can work harder to achieve the required portion of success. However, the weak point of the current study was the inability to touch upon other factors that could affect student success. Besides, there was a poor explanation of the reasons of why students preferred development advising but not prescriptive advising except the fact that the developmental type was the possibility to think and act individually.
Young-Jones et al. (2013) aimed at evaluating academic advising in terms of student needs and success. Six main factors were chosen to identify how tutors could meet the expectations of students and if the offered material and approaches could help students succeed in education and future life careers. The authors relied on the existing literature to clarify if the level of advisor accountability, empowerment, and support was high enough to promote student success, and how such factors like responsibility, self-efficacy, and study skills should be developed by students of different genders and races. Habley and McClanahan (2004) underlined the necessity to provide students with an opportunity to develop high-quality interactions with a representative of a faculty and defined academic advising as one of the key contributors to college and university retention. However, Habley and McClanahan paid more attention to the level of student satisfaction with the help offered. Young-Jones et al. (2013) offered to focus on the conditions under which student success could be observed. The authors did not want to neglect the efforts made before. It was more important to combine the already achieved results with the factors developed in their project. Young-Jones et al. proved that advisor-student relations should be based on students’ goals and the outcomes that had to be achieved and were actually achieved. Besides, there were more additional elements that could influence the academic experience of students and the reasons for why students might need academic advising.
Several instruments were chosen to gather the material for the evaluation of student success. First, student self-assessment was offered to students so that they could overlook and evaluate their behaviors and thoughts concerning their future plans, decision-making attempts, and even their habits that predetermined their studies. The second instrument was the assessment of advising expectations developed by students. Students have to give clear answers concerning what they want to get from their advisors and the advising process and what they expect from themselves at the end of the advising process. Finally, the third instrument helped to gather demographic information about students and their advising experience. In the offered demographic form, students were asked to inform about the frequency of meetings, current and expected GPA, gender, etc. With the help of such methods and the analysis of the information received, the authors came to the conclusion that academic advising could impact students’ academic experience and improve the practical application of study skills (Young-Jones et al., 2013).
Another important achievement of research was connected with a gender variety. Young-Jones et al. (2013) concluded that female students took more responsibility for their academic success that helped them earn the required degrees more frequently than male students. The level of responsibility that had been developed by students of both genders may be used as the basis for the hypotheses that male and female advisors could have different roles and duties in an educational process, and students can have different expectations from tutors of different genders. Therefore, the quality and methods of academic advising offered by female and male tutors can also be different. Students may perceive academic advising in a variety of ways because of the quality of advising offered, the attitudes of tutors to students and their duties, and even the time spent on advising. Young-Jones et al. proved that the attempt to expand the assessment of academic advising and consider student success and expectations in addition to student satisfaction helped to broaden academic communication and improve the relations between tutors and students.
Though there was no direct impact on student success, the evaluation of such factors as student skills, expectations, etc. could contribute student success considerably. Higher education institutions may benefit with academic advising programs because they help students comprehend better their duties and possibilities, and tutors are free to improve their practices, develop relations with students, and explain what is expected from students clearly. Young-Jones et al. offered to consider academic advising as a significant element of an academic journey that is organized by a student and supported by a tutor. Such journeys help to achieve the necessary career goals and explain educational missions. That is why there should be congruence between the advising styles that are preferred by students, and that can be actually offered. If the difference between the styles is minimal, student success and satisfaction with education and available opportunities can be observed. Young-Jones et al. (2013) also offered to continue investigating academic advising and its impact on personal aspects of student success and institutional aspects that can improve the work of tutors and success of students.
Pargett (2011) developed a thesis within the frames of which the effects of academic advising on student development were analyzed. The author offered to consider the possibility of student development as a part of student success that was necessary to achieve. Pargett’s suggestion was to focus on such factors as students’ gender, age, ethnicity, GPA, and academic year to clarify the conditions under which student success could reach its high points and to understand the roles of tutors and students in academic advising. The author explained that academic advising should not be regarded as the method to increase students’ ratings or promote retention. Pargett explained that academic advising aimed at creating strong tutor-student relations with the help of which students could achieve success in high education. Academic advising is an activity with a number of goals and roles distributed among its participants.
It is not enough for students to ask for help and make use of suggestions, as well as it is not enough for tutors to share their knowledge and facilitate an educational process (Riess, 2015). Advisors should have one primary goal that is to see their students graduating from a college or university. Students should comprehend that their role in such tutor-student relations is as vital as the tutor’s. Students have to be ready to initiate the relations, give clear reasons for why they may need advising, and what they want to get from their tutors. It is wrong to ask for some general suggestions or intentions to graduate a college or university. Students’ goals should be definite and depend on the situations. Student development is a mutual goal for students and tutors, and academic advising is a chance to promote the required development. However, not all students know how to share their personal perception of academic advisors at colleges and universities. Besides, African Americans remain a group of people that could not get access to the possibilities available to White students. The students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities should have a chance to share their opinions, and the demographic factor should be clearly identified in the study.
Importance of Congruence between Students’ Preferred Developmental Academic Advising Styles and Actual Advising Styles
Though the project developed by Hale and the team (2009) was characterized by a number of limitations, its main positive aspect was the intention to prove that student role in academic advising should be taken into consideration under any circumstances. When a student is satisfied, the results of all activities may be better than they are expected. The majority of students preferred to choose developmental advising as this type provided students with options and the possibilities to grow personally and professionally (Crookston, 1994). Hale et al. (2009) informed that student satisfaction related to personal satisfaction, retention, and the desire to work and ask for help in cases of emergency. Though some tutors wanted to use the prescriptive type of advising at the beginning of their work with students, and students even expected to get prescriptive help from their tutors, the desire to experience developmental advising prevailed.
The authors discussed the level of congruence between the current academic advising style and the preferred advising style. It turned out that more than 20% of students did not experience congruence under analysis, and 90% had to experience prescriptive advising even if their preferable style is developmental. It means that even if students know about their perspectives, they cannot follow their interests and preferences only. They depend on the requirements set by universities and colleges. Students want to develop professionally close relations with tutors and get more than simple course explanations. Academic advising should cover the needs of students and the opportunities for tutors. Prescriptive advising aims at considering the past experience and records on the basis of which the cooperation between tutors and students can be developed and initiated by tutors. Developmental advising is the activity when tutors try to motivate students and discover their potential with the help of which main academic goals can be met (Crookston, 1994).
Importance of Research
Research findings and analysis of the past experience show that academic advising is an important part of an educational process. However, a number of challenges and misunderstanding still remain solved. Students and tutors are the main participants in the process and have to solve the problems caused by racial, gender, and social disparities. The students of HBCUs have already faced a number of academic challenges and expectations. They have to make decisions that contradict their personal and professional interests. Academic advising that is offered to the students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities should be of a high quality.
A gender comparative descriptive study is a chance to understand how students cooperate with tutors, if they are satisfied with the conditions under which advising is offered, and if they are more interested in prescriptive or developmental advising. In addition to the need of academic help, tutors have to provide students with emotional support and understanding so that students can feel their worth and stay motivated to succeed in the study and get more from the opportunities available to them. The peculiar feature of academic advising at HBCUs is the necessity to combine a number of circumstances, differences, personal discontents, and expectations. Tutors have to learn how to help students, and students should understand what they could expect from their tutors.
Importance of Research and Theoretical Framework
Any educational process is the collection of activities that have their own order and impact on students. Academic advisors should take responsibility for an educating process and analyze the current achievements and possible improvements. For example, research developed by Holmes et al. (2014) informs about the necessity for students to choose what kind of academic advising they prefer and clarify the reasons for their choices. Prescriptive advising is for new students who should have and rely on comprehensive guidelines offered by their academic advisors. From a theoretical point of view, the goal of this approach is to teach students, identify their needs and clarify the expectations of student-faculty cooperation. Developmental advising is another type of academic work that could be offered to HBCUs’ students. Developmental advising is a chance for students to demonstrate their skills, understanding of the tasks, and personal abilities to organize their work, complete their functions as the students of HBCUs, and cooperate with tutors and advisors effectively.
The major topics of research that should be examined could be divided into three main groups: preparation, advising process, and rewards. Students’ perceptions of academic advising from the case studies could vary depending on the attitudes of students to their educational process and the abilities of advisors to meet their responsibilities. First, it is necessary to understand what academic advisors do in order to get ready for cooperation with students. Students’ perceptions could depend on the level of advisors’ education, their past experience, and awareness of current needs of their students (Young-Jones et al., 2013).
Then, students’ perceptions should touch upon the advising process itself. It is necessary to investigate how the advising process is organized, what students’ roles are, how advisors identify their own roles, and what expectations are established. As soon as the advising process is analyzed, students and advisors should compare their expectations and achievements and conclude if there are some differences and similarities. The more similarities that could be observed, the better results could be achieved. Students have to understand that their perceptions and their understanding of what advisors could do to promote their educational development influence, their future in a variety of ways. If students gain certain rewards after the process of academic advising, they could use them in their future, learn how to use their communicative skills, and improve their social situation and employment opportunities (Allen et al., 2007).
In general, the review of the theories (prescriptive and developmental theories of advising), the analysis of academic advising, and the role of students’ perceptions help to clarify the worth of educational processes at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The behavior of students described in case studies becomes the main sources of information. The quality and academic advising methods serve as the main criterion according to which students’ perceptions could be classified. The study should help to underline the importance of advisors in the lives of their students and to clarify the opportunities students could get. HBCUs may serve as successful examples of how academic advising should be organized. Two different ways of advising have their own characteristics and outcomes that could be observed. Students’ academic and professional lives and advisors should realize that their attitudes and abilities define the quality of knowledge offered to students. With the help of reviews provided, it is possible to reexamine the purposes of academic advising and choose the activities that meet the needs of students in the most effective ways.
Case study methodology is one of the most frequently used types of qualitative research methodologies in the field of education. A case study does not have a certain legitimate status as a part of a social science research strategy (Yazan, 2015). Still, a number of methodologists and researchers make numerous attempts to use this approach and cover the topics they choose for the evaluation. In this project, three case studies are selected for the analysis. The evaluation of their methodologies and the data available in those three case studies will help to comprehend the essence of the current investigation about students’ perceptions of academic advisors at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and be used for the purpose of the study.
Three different case studies will be evaluated to review how the researchers with various backgrounds investigate the theme of academic advising and use their own methods. Hill developed the first case study in 2004. Its focus is the student academic support system that is offered in the state of Florida. Ayon is the author of the second case study developed in 2015. Ayon explains students’ perceptions of academic advising in a Lebanese University and investigates the impact of these perceptions of such issues as student retention, academic success, and student satisfaction. Patterson (2013) is the author of the third case study about academic advising experiences and the conditions under which retention of first-generation students at HBCUs occurred. All three studies have their own purposes. Their authors demonstrate different approaches to understanding the worth of students’ perceptions and the power of academic advising. Therefore, it is necessary to describe each case study, examine their methodologies, and explain their significances in regards to the purpose of the current analysis.
Description of Case Study
Hill (2004) conducted a case study on student academic support system in The Florida State University System (SUS) generated by a Task Force. The goal of this work was to investigate the theme of academic advisement, identify the problems connected with undergraduate advisement in the state universities, and review the computer assisted advising practices that serve as the best options for Florida universities to rely on. The author of the case study began investigation with the evaluation of the general state of affairs and explained that the existing variety of degree programs that could be offered by the SUS institutions created complex coursework requirements and standards. Regarding such conditions, there is a constant need to promote the improvements of the quality of academic achievements and the effects of academic advising on people.
Research indicated the importance of investigating the current state of technology in data processing and its ability to analyze the peculiarities of academic advising and its quality in a particular institution of a certain state (Hill, 2004). In this case study, the theme of technology and its possibility to reduce the problems that were connected with the number of students and advisors and their inabilities to gain control over their activities was raised. Due to the fact that the available advisors were not enough to provide all students with the required portion of academic help, additional paperwork, and long lines were observed. The situation had to be solved in a short period of time because effectiveness of the pieces of advice and student-advisor cooperation was not as effective as it was expected. Advisors did not have enough time to work with students and explain the material in a necessary form.
Therefore, in this case study, the author introduced computer assisted advising as one of the possible ways to provide students with a different approach in dealing with the challenges of baccalaureate degree programs. In addition, there was a belief that the use of computer assisted advising could become a beneficial achievement for an advisor and a helpful tool to make an ordinary advisor into a mentor who could promote and turn the advisor from a clerk into a mentor, and all universities should take advantage of it as quickly as possible.
As a result, in 1985, the Florida Legislature promoted the development of a computer assisted academic advisement program for the State University System (Hill, 2004). It was called the Student Academic Support System (SASS). The core of this study touched upon the viewpoints developed by administrators and advisors. The developers did not want to focus on traditional student perceptions and assessments. They wanted to gain understandings of computer assisted advising that could be appropriate for the State of Florida. Such an approach should help to identify the best computer assisted advising practices. The process of practices’ identification should be divided into several stages. First, it was necessary to introduce people who could take responsibility for the development of the advising systems. Then, it was crucial to understand what kind of instrument could be offered. Finally, the methods of data gathering could vary, and all stakeholders had to identify their duties and outcomes of their decisions in order to take the correct steps and help other stakeholders avoid mistakes and solve challenges.
The majority of information about the advising assessment system was analyzed on the basis of qualitative interviews developed with different members of the chosen community. In addition, this case study touched upon different practices that could be developed by advisors in regards to the needs of students from 11 universities that were located in Florida. The implementation of computer assisted advising systems involved a number of people including policy makers, who defined the standards, technology experts, who worked on the details of the assessment system, and administrators, who united the system and made it work.
In general, the outcomes of the study discussed in this project and the findings suggest that students and advisors could face certain challenges in the computer assisted advising system. Besides, there are many factors that could influence success and failure of the assessment process. The factors include funding, sponsorship, the identification of institutional culture, proficiency of the system, and the alternatives that could promote or challenge the implementation process was identified in the study. To make those factors work, it was important to find the required portion of the administrative support and make sure that advisors want to participate in the implementation process and understand the worth of the offered computer assisted advising system.
Besides, advisors should understand that assessment should be a continuous process with a number of modifications applied in cases of emergency. As a result, students got a chance to share information and find the required material, communicate with advisors, and get involved in the activities offered by the university. The students who were properly advised demonstrated good results in achieving their educational goals and meeting the deadlines and requirements set. Computer assisted advising was defined as a good form of help that included appropriate and in-time academic suggestions and communication as a result of which student satisfaction and academic results were improved considerably.
Methodology. In this case study, the author relied on the ideas developed by Merriam (1988), who admitted that “case study and, in particular, qualitative case study is an ideal design for understanding and interpreting observations of educational phenomena” (p. 2). Therefore, it is correct to say that this study was conducted using qualitative case study research methodology. The material was gathered in several stages. First, the review of the literature about how the SASS was developed and used in Florida was made. The analysis of archives and available documentation was offered. The data that were defined as archival were found in the sources of the library. The researcher focused on such aspects as missions of the universities, their policies, and various strategic planning documents with the help of which the SASS was developed. It was also possible to find additional information from the State of Florida archives and FACT books of the State of Florida (Hill, 2004).
Besides, an interview was another method for consideration. The essence of this method was to take 11 state universities and develop a multiple case study. The interviews were conducted with several people. First, a system administrator was chosen for communication. Then, several questions were posed to College of Business advisors from all state universities. The SASS administrator and Professional Advisor were also interviewed individually. The researcher used open-ended questions that were based on the SASS peculiarities. To make sure that all questions were relevant, the administrator of the Student Academic Support System at the University of Central Florida was involved and asked to check their quality. The interviews occurred in such places as the University of Florida, Florida State University, the University of North Florida, etc. between January 2004 and May 2004 (Hill, 2004). In general, 11 institutions were chosen, and two people from each university (in some cases, only one representative was chosen) were interviewed.
The chosen methods helped to identify and analyze the conditions under which the development and implementation of computer assisted advising systems occurred. The comparison of recommendations concerning the impact of computer assisted advising was done on the basis of the information obtained from several Colleges of Business at state universities in Florida (Hill, 2004). Besides, several additional helpful steps were taken relying on such sources as the Undergraduate Studies Student Academic Support Union (the definition of SASS was given and the evaluation of the degree audit system), the Information Resource Management Division (the transactions development was promoted), and several VSAM files that helped to identify the requirements offered to students to correspond with expectations of a degree program. Those files also helped to clarify the history of students and their academic success and the needs of institutions that should be recognized by students each time they start expecting something from their advisors.
Significance of the Study
There are several reasons why the chosen case study is important for current research and the understanding of academic advising and students’ perceptions of the work of their advisors. First, the case study helps to discover how to manage the available amount of information, combine the data obtained from the universities and colleges directly, and use computers as the main advising tools in an educational process. In fact, the case study has several purposes that should be met. Each purpose reinforces the importance of the study developed by Hill in 2004. For example, the review of SASS provides the reader with the required portion of information about the peculiarities of the system and its worth to the students of different colleges and universities in Florida. However, the definitions and reviews are not enough to understand how to use computer assisted advising in a certain context. Therefore, the attempts of the author to compare the perceptions of students, advisors, and other stakeholders who could deal with the system are useful indeed.
In general, the attention to such factors as cost and quality of advising makes the chosen case study a meaningful kind of work that provides educational leaders with enough information about computer assisted advising and the system that makes the assessments possible. The contribution to the collective knowledge cannot be neglected because students get help in understanding their opportunities and duties, and advisors learn what they can do to promote student satisfaction and retention. Advising systems could be developed in the future, and this case study is the explanation of what expectations should be settled.
Within a short period of time, computer assisted advising programs could be available to many public universities in the chosen state and influence the quality of education and advising available to students. The main findings included the possibility to identify the areas that could be improved with the help of computer technologies and the importance of understanding a computer assisted academic advisement program as a chance to cover the issues that could not be offered as ordinary and frequently used methods. The recommendations include the importance to investigate the academic satisfaction level of students and advisors in comparison to the existing facts and observations. The majority of all recommendations is based on the findings and underlines the importance to determine computer assisted advising systems not only in Florida institutions but also in other states because its growth could help to achieve new benefits in education.
Description of Case Study
Ayon (2015) wrote the case study in 2015, which discussed the peculiarities of students’ perceptions in a certain context that is a Lebanese University and investigated the details of an academic advising process and the experiences students get in their universities. The researcher began the article with the description of the current state of the chosen issue on academic advising and the impact of students’ retention, success, and satisfaction. Many writers and academic researchers, such as Hsu and Bailey (2011), had already discussed the impact of academic advising on student retention, student satisfaction, and the level of academic success. It is expected that the awareness of such important facts as academic advising and its impact on an educational process could make many colleges and universities to establish certain norms.
In this second case study, the author focused on one of the mid-sized Lebanese private universities and the attitudes of different students on this process. Though it was mandated and almost all students and advisors tried to make use of the opportunities; there were several students who had different positions in regards to academic advising and its true importance. Some students did not appreciate the chance to have an academic advisor. Therefore, the author of the case study found it important to examine such factors as students’ awareness of academic advising peculiarities, the roles of academic advisors, and the attitudes of different students to academic advising they could receive in their university. Besides, it was necessary to pay attention to the issues of gender, major, and academic status of students and advisors.
Ayon identified a number of research questions and made a decision to clarify what could make students neglect the importance of academic advising and if poor adherence to the policy could be explained by the unwillingness to learn more or to achieve good results or some other personal issues. Regarding the current situation in the university, the researcher could say that something wrong happened there. Still, the presence of different opinions and the intentions to promote some changes made, Ayon divided the study into several logical sections. Each section had its own center and depended on the research questions and goals. For example, first, the author wanted to explain the ways of how students perceive academic advising. Then, it was decided to focus on the attitudes of students. The next step was connected with the importance to clarify what students actually knew about academic advising. As soon as all clarifications were made, the author focused on such concepts like student gender, major, and status to investigate if they had an impact on academic advising and the quality of education in general.
The results of the study were promising. About 80% of the participants admitted that they received academic advising during their educational process. Still, the majority of those students chose academic advising only as a part of pre-registration activities or advising weeks (Ayon, 2015). The data offered by Ayon showed that not all students found academic advising helpful. A number of students demonstrated a neutral attitude toward advising. There were those students who defined academic advising in their university as frustrating and unhelpful. The satisfaction level also varied considerably. Some students were satisfied with the information and pieces of advice offered by their academic advisors. At the same time, many students did not want to answer or demonstrated neutral or negative satisfaction levels.
The case study indicated that the level of student satisfaction depended directly on the expectations students had in regards to academic advising. Many students wanted to believe that their advisors had to provide their students with guidelines and hints on how to succeed in all educational processes. In addition, students underlined that not all advisors had enough knowledge and practice in communicating with students and providing them with hints. The idea of helping and advising students was frequently confused with the idea of giving orders and following the standards. The type of advising regarding the expectations of students did not match with the type of advising defined by advisors themselves.
In general, the information gathered from students and the evaluation of the available literature suggested that students could have different attitudes to academic advising not because of their gender, major, or status differences but because of their personal experiences and evaluations of the situations. The author underlined that many students identified their own expectations and ideas about how academic advising could influence their education. However, they forgot one simple fact that academic advising was not about students only. Every advisor could demonstrate different approaches and attitudes to students and the duties that should be performed. Therefore, additional investigations should be addressed to explain how the problems in relations and misunderstandings that occurred between students and advisors could be solved.
Ayon (2015) used a mixed-methods approach with the help of which it was possible to select a required sample and identify the required exclusive and inclusive criteria. The complexity of problems discussed in social science research usually has a complex nature and requires a deep understanding of the issues that are taken into consideration. The combination of qualitative and quantitative methods helps to identify the urgent topics and explain the worth of the investigation. 185 students of different genders, majors, and academic statuses were chosen. The choice was made on the basis of a pilot study and the evaluation of the answers of the participants with the 100% rate return. The participants had to be interested in the perceptions and attitudes of students in order to give thorough and clear answers to all questions. The survey was divided into three focus groups. The method of triangulation was chosen to prove the validity of all information offered. This method helped to clarify that major, gender, and status did not play an important role. Students were concerned about their expectations and the results they could observe.
Ayon (2015) developed a self-completion questionnaire to gather the information from students. The participants had to answer 16 close-ended questions and two open-ended questions. The data obtained from the survey, focus groups, and questionnaires were analyzed in two different ways: qualitatively and quantitatively. The descriptive analysis of quantitative facts was conducted with the help of SPSS. An independent t-test was used to analyze the attitudes of male and female participants. One-way ANOVA was used to investigate the impact of students’ majors and statues.
In fact, in this case study, there is no indication as to how long the case study took. The author described the participants, their emotions, and their attitudes to academic advising and its true impact on an educational process. Ayon (2015) shared different aspects of the interviews with students and explained the reasons for why some students found academic advising as a negative experience and why many students wanted to improve their practices and use academic advising as one of the approaches to rely on. In general, regarding the description and the identification of different forms of analysis, it is possible to say that Ayon’s research took a long period of time.
Significance of the Study
The findings of the case study under consideration can be defined as credible because the author used a number of approaches and strategies to gather the material, analyze the answers of students, and combine the theoretical part of the work with its possible practical application. For example, triangulation of methods helps to prove the validity of the findings (Ayon, 2015). The author concluded that many participants (students with different grades and majors) could not demonstrate good attitudes to academic advising they had access to. Their unsatisfactory experiences, the inabilities to clarify their tasks and meet personal and academic expectations, and the intentions to achieve good results served as the main explanations of the nature of their attitudes. The findings showed that the majority of students were aware of a true value of academic advising and the ways student-advisor relations could be developed. New students were in need of special help and a number of explanations that could be used to succeed in education and various academic activities. Besides, students had to address their advisors in the case of emergency and according to the schedule.
However, advisors did not have enough experience, knowledge, or even desire to cooperate with students and provide them with the required portion of information and support. Therefore, Ayon made several suggestions on how to promote the effectiveness of academic advising at universities and developed several strategies that consider the importance of such factors as students’ majors, genders, and status. The majority of the author’s recommendations were based on the answers of the participants and the description of their attitudes and expectations. For example, Ayon (2015) used the investigations of Haag, Hubele, Garcia, and Mcbeath that were conducted in 2007 and explained that many engineering participants were not satisfied with their advising because their advisors did not have correct information about the requirements of the course and could not understand what students did expect from them. The same situation was observed with the participants of Ayon research.
The author admitted that students wanted to be well informed about the progress they could achieve. Besides, it was also important to identify the existing personal, intellectual, and institutional barriers (Ayon, 2015). The first stage of recommendations included the necessity to identify the problems and define the reasons for challenges students had to solve. Then, the recommendations were developed on the necessity to re-organize the work of advisors and focus on the needs of students. Students had to analyze their needs, share their expectations, and comprehend what they could achieve with academic advising. In their turn, advisors had to improve their level of knowledge, gain a better experience in comparison to the one it had at the moment, and develop new strategies on how to meet the expectations of their students.
This case study (Ayon, 2015) should be identified as a significant endeavor in discussing the value of academic advising and its impact on students’ satisfaction and academic success. It helps to comprehend the essence of academic advising and the reasons for why students could have negative attitudes to advising. This study will also be a contribution to the students, who want to know more about the opportunities they could gain from the cooperation with academic advisors. One of the main purposes of the case study under analysis is to show that academic advising is an urgent topic for consideration and that different researchers have their own opinions about the impact of advising on college/university retention, student satisfaction, and success.
Besides, the author underlined that academic advising was the factor that predetermined the quality of student behavior. Another important aspect is the necessity to prove that academic advising should not be neglected by students. There are a number of steps that should be taken by students in order to achieve benefits in academic advising. For example, this study describes the order of the tasks to be completed and includes such steps as the importance to sign up, discuss a plan of a program, adhere to the plan, consult in the case of emergency, secure the policy, etc. (Ayon, 2015). Because of the fact that students fail to take all these steps, they cannot understand why academic advising could be helpful to them. Only those students, who cooperate with advisors in a certain manner could benefit from the policy. In other cases, academic advising cannot be as beneficial as it is expected. This case study teaches to identify academic advising as a process with a number of multiple tasks and the successful completion of which improve academic success and increase the cases of student satisfaction.
Description of Case Study
This third case study conducted by Patterson (2013) where the topic of academic advising and its impact on retention of first-generation students at public HBCUs that are located in the Southeastern part of the United States is discussed. Patterson (2013) admitted that student retention turned out to be a burning issue for discussions in a number of American colleges and Universities. The author considered the opinions of such researchers as Pascarella & Terenzini (2005) and concluded that students should want to enter colleges, get the required portions of education, and develop their communication, writing, and thinking skills and abilities. It is also hard to imagine higher education without academic advising. However, many HBCUs neglect the importance of academic advising and explain this neglect as a part of an educational process and the necessity to provide students with choices and the possibility to understand what should be done in their academic life.
Therefore, there is a certain connection between retention and academic advising that cannot be ignored. Nowadays, many academic entities introduce academic advising as an integral part of an education process. However, the investigations of Patterson demonstrate that many academic institutions did not make their students consider this kind of academic help as an obligation. It was a choice that should be made by a student independently. In general, this case study explains that HBCUs are the organizations with a unique position in regards to academic advising. The experiences of first-generation students vary considerably, and it is necessary to understand if their experiences could influence the retention of students and think about the improvements and development of a supportive academic advising culture within the frames of which social, emotional, and academic needs of students could be met.
The author of the case study used a qualitative analysis on the basis of a Phenomenological multiple case study approach in order to explain the students’ academic advising experiences and their understanding of the importance of this process. There were three main theories defined by the author as the main grounds for research that included the Interactionalist Theory of College Student Departure, the Theory of Involvement, and the Psychological Model for Student Retention (Patterson, 2013). Each theory had its own impact on the study. In addition, to the theoretical framework of the project, it is necessary to underline that Patterson (2013) decided to use a qualitative approach to understand the academic advising experience of students and explore the essence of this phenomenon from various perspectives.
Interviews with 1029 first-generation students were chosen as the main research design of the study. The selection process was based on such factors as the necessity to work with first-generation students who returned to the institutions to their second year of education. The rationale for such choice was the possibility to combine the personal experience and theoretical knowledge of students. During the interviews, the participants were asked certain questions that were approved within the interview protocol. All questions were open-ended that made the researcher (Patterson, 2013) created some probing questions and involved students in discussions and evaluation of their personal experiences. In order to understand how to use the data obtained from the interviews, it was decided to transcribe, code, and review all words of students. The reviews of students’ answers indicated that many students were bothered with the necessity to consider a number of factors such as their personal interests, the presence or absence of free time, the necessity to participate in social life, etc. Personal communications that were parts of face-to-face interviews were taped so that the researcher could analyze all material in a convenient way. Besides, it was important to make sure that all participants felt safe and comfortable during personal communication and gave clear and true answers to all questions created by the researcher.
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study were very helpful to understand the benefits of academic advising and the importance to consider them in an educational process. This study is a critical contribution to the existing literature about retention and the impact of academic advising on retention among students of HBCUs. Patterson (2013) admitted that academic advising helped to connect social and emotional needs of students. Besides, education had to be improved by students and by advisors. Therefore, it was important for the author to document that academic advising was the process where the development of the relations had to be organized in the way the roles of two parties were identically recognized.
In addition, the findings of the study promoted the possibility of the development of a new conceptual understanding of academic advising and its role as a retention strategy (Patterson, 2013). There are many educational missions that could not be neglected by Institutions. Students had to understand that experience and their opportunities depended considerably on the quality of academic advising and the quality of the information offered by the advisors. A majority of academic stakeholders could find this case study important because of the possibility to use qualitative data about various social, personal, and financial factors that could improve the academic achievements of students.
Methodology of the Case Studies
The main method that was used in this project is the analysis of three case studies developed by three different writers in different conditions. These sources are defined as secondary data sources that are instrumental and helpful in gathering information, analyzing opinions, and reviewing situations similar to those described in the project. The chosen case studies help to understand the main issue of the study, support the chosen topic, and prove its worth and urgency. Besides, case studies introduce real life examples and experiences of people. As a rule, the authors of case studies try to avoid prejudices and personal viewpoints but make the conclusions using the material they gather from interviews, observations, and focus groups. In these chosen case studies, the authors introduced three research designs that have one similar concept that is a direct communication with students, who share their opinions about advisors and their academic advising experiences.
In general, the case studies chosen for this project will be analyzed in a systematic way. First, all of them will be read thoroughly. Then, it is required to underline the main sections in each study and underline such concepts as methods, samples, instruments, research strategies, etc. It is also necessary to pay a certain attention to the theoretical background of every case study and clarify what sources the authors used in their project. It is possible to make notes on every case study and create a table with the help of which the comparison could be developed. In the table, there should be four main columns. In the first column, it is necessary to mention the characteristics of case studies that should be analyzed. In the next three columns, the information from three different case studies should be given accordingly.
It is expected that the theoretical bases of all three case studies have a number of common features that help to unite the project and prove the importance of the topic chosen for the analysis. The methods and findings could be similar as well. Still, each author has their own approach in order to gather the material and underline the main issues. The years of publication also matter and could be used as an issue for comparison. The comparison of case studies should help to understand how different authors saw the importance of academic advising at different periods of time. There is no need to identify which case study has stronger arguments and findings. The task is to understand the methods of analysis of the data about academic advising and to introduce the methods chosen by different researchers to prove how crucial the role of academic advising for students and tutors could be. Conducting a thorough and in-depth analysis of the three foregoing case studies will enable the researcher to identify phenomena that emerge from the study of the case studies.
Comparative Analysis Basics
A comparative analysis is an important type of work with the help of which it is possible to compare the alternatives and describe the processes and qualifications of the chosen variables. It is not enough to define and compare the issues. It is important to investigate the main characteristics of the items that should be compared and underline the peculiarities that help to make a contribution in the findings of the project. In this project, the task is to compare three different case studies that discuss the same issue that is academic advising and its effects on students and academic institutions. To succeed in this assignment, it is necessary to introduce the specific features of the case studies, compare the findings, and underline the worth of each project and their general impact on the current work (Goodrick, 2014). The choice of case studies and their description have been already offered in the previous chapter. All three case studies help to understand the essence of one common topic that is the importance of students’ understanding and perceptions of academic advising in a certain type of colleges and universities.
There is no need to explain the worth of this type of connection between academic advising and students’ perception. The case studies aim at defining the ways of how students could perceive the practice of academic advising at their institutions and the help offered by advisors. At the same time, the comparative analysis of the case studies helps to realize how different authors could view the same variables (i.e. students’ perceptions, academic advising, and education) in different settings (i.e. Lebanese institutions, HBCUs, and Florida academic institutions). The authors of the case studies are challenged by the problem of how to evaluate students’ perceptions of academic advising and create a formula of how academic advising could improve the academic performance of students. Their main task is to offer the solutions to the problems and involve students and academic advisors as the main participants in addition to other important academic staff. Goodrick (2014) offers to use several strategies for comparative case studies in order to introduce a good portion of conceptual, analytic, and synthesizing work. The results of the comparative analysis include the similarities and differences of the situations described in the case studies. The essence of this kind of analysis is to support or even refute the propositions that could be offered as the interventions to the problem discussed in the project.
In brief, the essence of the comparative analysis is to provide the author with a solid theoretical background to discuss the chosen topic and prove that this basis is enough for further investigations and conclusions that could help all stakeholders of academic advising to understand the importance of students’ perceptions of academic advisors that are observed at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Common Themes of Case Studies
The project is devoted to the idea that academic advising at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities plays a very important role, and students’ perceptions should be clearly identified and understood by advisors to provide students with the required portion of knowledge and academic help. The concept of academic advising has been discussed by a number of authors including Allen, Smith, and Muehleck (2013), who believe that academic success and satisfaction are dependent directly on the ways of how undergraduate students cooperate with their advisors, and Hale, Graham, and Johnson (2009), who explain that there are two main types of academic advising, and development advising is preferred by more than 90% of students.
These authors focus on academic advising as the way to coordinate students and help them to discover their best abilities and opportunities. Regarding almost the same ways and techniques, the authors of the chosen three case studies introduce their own visions and findings of academic advising and its role in the educational system. For example, the main theme of Hill’s project (2004) is the undergraduate advertisement, the problems students and teachers could face under particular circumstances and the solutions that could be offered to the chosen group of people. Academic advising and its perceptions that could be observed among students are the subjects that are thoroughly described by Ayon (2015). Finally, the project developed by Patterson (2013) helps to evaluate the connection between students’ expectations, advisors’ possibilities, and academic opportunities.
Though the case studies focus on different aspects of academic advising, they have the same theme in common that is academic advising and its impact on students and advisors. A thorough analysis of these case study shows that these three authors also touch upon the same topics and cover them in their own properly explained ways. Hill (2004) chooses computer assisted academic advising as the main topic for consideration. The author explains that the problem of academic advising is still under consideration in the State of Florida because there are a number of students, who are in need of professional academic help and explanations, and a few advisors, who could provide students with the expected portion of assistance. As a result, academic institutions have to deal with much paper work and long lines of students. Hill explains that it is necessary to make the changes that could promote academic and organizational improvements.
To prove the urgency of the topic, the author increases the focus on such issues and the cost and quality of academic advising in the existing academic system of the state. Almost the same approach is used by Ayon (2015), who tries to underline the fact that academic advising influence the ways students want to achieve success and satisfaction with their academic activities. This author also explains the importance of academic advising and describes its urgency for colleges and universities using the examples of Lebanese institutions and the attitudes of students to academic advising. Still, the main task of Ayon’s project is not to offer the solutions but to explain the connection that exists between such issues as academic advising, students’ perceptions, academic success, satisfaction, and retention.
Considering such goals and expectations from the project, similar observations could be done in regards to the project introduced by Patterson in 2013. This author aims at describing academic advising experiences that could be offered to the students of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities located in the southeastern part of the United States. In this case study, a number of similar to the previous two projects’ themes could be discovered. For example, Patterson also believes that academic advising is one of the most crucial and recently neglected aspects of high education. The author makes the reader accept the idea that academic advising has to be properly investigated among the representatives of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Taking into consideration the ambitions and purposes of the authors of the chosen case studies, the list of common themes could be clearly identified in this comparative analysis. They are as follows:
- Academic advising as an important part of education at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities;
- Academic advising and its impact on students’ satisfaction, success, and retention;
- Academic advising is as not perfect as it is expected, and people have to promote some changes to succeed in this experience;
- Students have the rights to choose the type of academic advising that is appropriate for them;
- Teachers and advisors have to pay their attention to the needs of their students and try to meet them in a short period of time in order to avoid misunderstandings and contradictions;
- A currently changing world makes people think fast and follow their academic needs, and academic advising is one of the possible ways to avoid challenges in education and get the required opportunities;
- Advisors and students have enough credible information to make improvements and promote the changes that could provide students with specific academic advising programs.
These common themes help to create a new project the worth of which includes the necessity to understand the essence of academic advising, identify the role of this practice in an academic life, and develop a new program with the help of which students could improve their studies and develop professional relations with all teachers and teachers could provide students with the necessary explanations and expectations that are crucial for education.
Comparison and Contrast of Three Case Studies
The analysis of three case studies about academic advising shows that these projects have a number of similarities and differences. On the one hand, the authors of all three case studies believe that academic advising is the topic that has been poorly investigated and explained and try to introduce this concept as something crucial for the sphere of education. Similar methods are used in the projects in order to take the opinions of different people into consideration. On the other hand, the authors introduce various approaches and solutions to the problem of poor academic advising and the necessities to improve the process of the exchange of the academic information. Therefore, it is necessary to compare the findings of all case studies and clarify how their differences and similarities could be helpful in terms of the creation of a new project on the same topic within the frames identified in the topic.
Talking about the similar features that could be discovered in all three projects, it is possible to say about the backgrounds used by the authors. The authors of case studies under analysis explain that students have already used academic advising or plan to use it for a short period of time. The main background of all three projects is the importance to understand that academic advising is the concept that should not be neglected by students. Besides, students want to know more about this practice and understand how they could use to improve their academic results, develop good communication with advisors, and clarify the steps that have to be taken to complete a certain kind of work. Academic advising has a number of characteristics, and students have to know the majority of them. In all case studies under consideration, the authors aim at discussing academic advising and providing the reader with clear definitions, explanations, and the importance of academic advising in different colleges and universities. Still, the evaluation developed by Hill (2004) seems to be one of the most effective because the author is able to introduce the material of the 1984-1985 academic years and describe the experience of Regent Robert Westerfeldt, who believed that the quality of academic advising has to be improved and organized in accordance with the curriculum offered to students.
In comparison to other authors, Hill (2004) makes use of the specially developed reports and laws to prove the chosen position. Besides, she also introduces the Student Academic Support System according to which comprehensive and credible information has to be offered to all students in order to help them solve their academic matters. The powerful aspect of Patterson’s project is the presence of the theoretical framework that helps to comprehend the essence of academic advising and academic help that has to be offered to every student. The author uses three different theories such as Interactionalist Theory of College Student Departure, Theory of Involvement, and Psychological Model for Student Retention (Patterson, 2013). These theories touch upon the questions of student retention, satisfaction, and their intention to continue education and promote their academic development. This approach is beneficial for an academic project because the author could interpret the theoretical part regarding personal needs and goals of the work.
The literature used by Ayon includes several past case studies and the experiences of students from different universities and colleges. The author underlines that the choice of the studies could be explained by the possibility to investigate the perceptions of students and clarify how advising could influence such aspects of education as students’ success, satisfaction, and retention (Ayon, 2015). In general, the common feature of the chosen case studies is the decision to introduce a powerful basis for the development of their individual projects and prove that the chosen topic has been already discussed. Still, each author chooses a unique approach to prove the urgency of the topic: Ayon uses case studies and focuses on the idea of personal experience, Patterson focuses on the theoretical aspects of the case, and Hill investigates the legal side of the issue and tries to combine theory with practice.
Another important point in the comparison of three case studies on academic advising is the identification of the goals of the studies. Each author succeeds in representing the purposes of their projects and the explanations of how the studies had to be developed. In addition to the fact that all case studies touch upon the question of the importance of academic advising in colleges and universities, it is necessary to say that Hill, Ayon, and Patterson underline the main goals of their projects. Hill (2004) sets several goals in the work: first, to review the Student Academic Support System and explain how it can be used in the State University System, second, to investigate the perceptions of stakeholders, and, finally, to contribute the development of computer assisted advising as the way of how students could succeed in their academic work.
Ayon (2015) does not pay much attention to the identification of the goals of the project but informs that it is necessary to investigate the impact of students’ perceptions of their academic advising and combine the results with such factors as retention, success, and satisfaction. The author wants to compare the real facts with the expectations and develop the changes that could help to ensure the effectiveness of academic advising. Besides, Ayon explains that such issues as gender, major, and status could influence the ways academic advising is offered to students. Therefore, it is important to understand how students could deal with the requirements of academic advising regarding their personal characteristics. Finally, Patterson (2013) sounds clearly in the intentions to explore the academic advising experiences of the first-generation students at the Historically Black College and University.
The evaluation of the goals of these case studies shows that all three authors have one thing in common that is the intention to investigate the effects of academic advising and its connection to students and their perceptions of advising in general. However, regarding the presence of common features, it is also necessary to say that each author chooses a unique aspect of the common theme. So that, Hill works with the technological aspects (computer assisted advising), Ayon focuses on the students’ perceptions (the students of a particular university are chosen), and Patterson defines the main characteristics of academic advising and combines them with the outcomes academic advising could have. The approaches used by these three authors could serve as the basis for a new project within the frames of which it is possible to discuss academic advising from different perspectives.
The comparison of the case studies should also include the evaluation of the data collection methods that are properly introduced by Hill, Ayon, and Patterson. The projects by Hill and Patterson do not differ from each other in terms of the methods used. The researchers want to make use of the qualitative data and decide to gather it from the interviews with different people. Still, in addition to the fact that the methods of these two authors are different, it is necessary to admit that the groups of people chosen for the interviews differ considerably. Hill (2004) communicates with several representatives of colleges and universities. The author gathers the opinions of advisors and administrators about the worth of academic advising and the ways that have been already used to improve the existing system of advising. The interviews conducted by Patterson introduce the opinions of first-generation students and their perceptions of academic advising. This type of qualitative data differs from the type of qualitative data gathered by Hill. Patterson provides the reader with an opportunity to clarify what students think about academic advising and what they know about the methods of using these academic opportunities.
The work done by Ayon differs from the methods chosen by the previous authors. Ayon decides to use qualitative and quantitative data to explain the peculiarities of academic advising offered to students. Self-completion questionnaires help to gather the quantitative data and explain if gender or major could influence the quality of academic advising. In order to strengthen the effects of the quantitative data gathered, the author uses the information based on the analysis of focus groups. The qualitative data helps to underline the most important aspects of academic advising and prove that people are bothered with an idea on how to improve the quality of this academic practice and gain as many benefits as possible from the communication that should be developed between an advisor and a student.
The following table contains a brief comparison of the case studies under consideration and their main characteristics:
|Characteristics||Case Study One by Ayon||Case Study Two by Hill||Case Study Three by Patterson|
|Theme||Academic advising perceptions of students in a Lebanese University (Ayon, 2015).||Student academic support system developed at the State University of Florida (Hill, 2004).||Academic advising experiences and retention of first-generation students at HBCUs in the southeastern United States (Patterson, 2013).|
|Problem||Not all students of the chosen university value academic advising the way they could. There is a need to provide students with the amount of information about the worth of academic advising for their academic success.||The environment changes rapidly. There is a need to understand how a computer assisted advising system could help students and their advisors. The enhancement of the environment is crucial for every university and college.||Many academic stakeholders still cannot recognize the importance of academic advising and the connection between academic advising and student retention.|
|Purpose||To examine students’ perceptions of their academic advising and students’ understanding of their academic opportunities||To analyze the existing Student Academic Support System (SASS) in the state of Florida and prove if it is a helpful tool for students and faculty representatives||To investigate the academic advising experiences of HBCU first-generation students in the southeastern United States|
|Theoretical framework||No specific theories are offered by the author.||No specific theories are mentioned in the study.||The Interactionalist Theory of College Student Departure, the Theory of Involvement, and the Psychological Model for Student Retention (Patterson, 2013).|
|Research questions||What are the perceptions of students towards academic advising? |
What do students know about the importance of academic advising?
What do students know about the role of academic advisors?
Are the issues of gender, major, and status crucial for the development of students’ attitudes to academic advising?
|What are the peculiarities of the SASS? |
What are the main system elements in academic advising supported by the SASS?
What is the effect of the SASS on the professional academic advising?
What are the opportunities for students who use the SASS?
|What are academic advising experiences? |
What are the categories of academic advising experiences?
What is the connection between academic advising and retention of students?
|Methodology||The combination of qualitative and quantitative methods is used. Questionnaires and three focus groups are chosen for the analysis.||Qualitative case study research methodology on the basis of the interviews and the archival literature review.||Phenomenological multiple case study on the basis of the open-ended interviews.|
|Findings||Students have different attitudes to academic advising. Not many students are ready to define academic advising as a helpful tool for their academic development. Negative attitudes of students prove the importance to develop academic advising activities among the students of the chosen university. The impact of gender, major, and status is almost negligible (Ayon, 2015).||The SASS of the chosen university is an effective tool that helps students to identify their personal and professional needs. This academic advising system could also be offered to other academic institutions.||Students want to use academic advising as the way to improve the academic processes that have to be involved in. Academic advising helps to address students’ personal, academic, social, and professional needs and support their development. Academic advising does not impact student retention rates.|
|Limitations||Non-randomly selected sample, the opinions of some students only are considered, and the generalizability of the answers.||A single college within each university, generalized statements cannot be given, and small areas for investigations.||Students’ biases and personal feelings, inaccurate interviews’ transcriptions, and the generalization of the results.|
|Recommendations||The advising policy should be monitored and changed. Students and advisors should study the worth of academic advising. Academic advising has to be properly developed in the university. Advisors should be trained properly. Students have to develop serious attitudes towards academic advising.||The usage of the SASS should be promoted in universities in order to track students’ achievements and the changes of grades in regards to the existing academic environment. The system could help to indicate the organizations which students could address for academic help.||Students have to develop their positive attitudes to academic advising and meet with advisors frequently. Faculty members have to improve academic advising practices and support the professional development of students. Advisors have to consider learning and social traits of students when they provide advising services. Students should have enough opportunities to discuss the peculiarities of academic advising at their institutions.|
Synthesis of the Outcomes in Relation to the Three Case Studies
The success of all three projects discussed in this paper could be explained by the fact that all authors follow a clear procedure and make sure that get the answers to all research questions they put at the beginning of their work. It is not enough for the authors to prove if they are right or wrong in their suggestions. The authors want to prove that academic advising is the topic for consideration in all institutions, and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities should not be an exception. In addition to the analysis of the literature, the authors of the chosen case studies base their findings on the results of the questions obtained from the interviews and questionnaires they decide to organize. Three investigations prove the fact that academic advising is practiced in many American institutions. Besides, the authors explain that their results are not as positive and effective as they expect them to be.
For example, Hill says that computer assisted academic advising is known to many academic institutions in the chosen state. Still, there are a number of problems and misunderstandings that make people think about the actual worth of this practice and about the conditions under which students could ask for academic advising and use the knowledge and the material offered by academic advisors. Computer assisted academic advising is a chance for universities to organize the work of students in a proper way and make teachers get involved in the discussions of students problems in the most convenient ways. Hill, as well as two other researchers, admits that academic advising should be an ongoing process. It is wrong to use it once and neglect it the next time. At the same time, students and advisors have to understand that this kind of practice cannot be effective in case enough accurate information is given.
In comparison to Hill, who searches for some solutions and improvements, the findings of Patterson help to realize that academic advising is the concept that has not been thoroughly discussed in existing research. In addition to the answers to the research questions (the way Hill organizes the findings), this author divides the findings into several sections and explains the importance of each theme i.e. quality of academic advising, motivation, interaction, support, preparation, knowledge, availability, and environment (Patterson, 2013). Ayon’s findings discover the attitudes of students to the idea of academic advising in their colleges and universities. These findings help to prove that the majority of students find academic advising as a helpful practice. However, there is also almost the same number of students, who find academic advising neither good nor bad (Ayon, 2015).
In general, the outcomes of the case studies chosen for this analysis prove that students know about the possibility of academic advising. Besides, they are aware of the fact that academic advising is a chance to achieve academic success and improve personal and academic development with the help of advisors’ support. The findings of the case study under consideration are similar to the findings discovered in the study. For example, in this study, much attention is paid to the idea that academic advising is predetermined by such factors as advisor accountability, empowerment, support, and student responsibility and the abilities to develop their skills (Young-Jones, Burt, Dixon, & Hawthorne, 2013). Regarding all findings and research projects that have been used to cover the chosen topic, it becomes clear that academic advising matters to students a lot (Soria, 2012). The only challenge that could take place is the inability to provide students with an opportunity to comprehend all pros and cons of academic advising and to observe the support offered by teachers and advisors. There are many students, who want to improve their academic situations and learn how to achieve success in education.
However, academic advising is not always offered in regards to the students’ requests but in regards to the requirements and standards defined by colleges and universities. The experience of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities helps to understand that students want to use their opportunities and study at colleges and universities because this practice promotes success in further employment (Craig, 2011).
Findings of the Case Study
The investigations developed by Ayon (2015), Hill (2004), and Patterson (2013) contain a number of conclusions and effects on how academic advising should be understood by people. Therefore, it is necessary to understand that academic advising should not be neglected or replaced by some other practice. It has to be developed, and the current project is based on the idea to consider students’ perceptions of academic advisors and clarify what kind of improvement could be offered to the current students.
The evaluation of the material chosen for the comparative analysis shows that academic advising has to be improved and promoted among the students of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Some of the students of such universities have faced a number of challenges in their lives. Still, their personal problems do not always define their academic success and satisfaction. Some students have already used academic advising as a chance to gain a better understanding of their educational goals and opportunities. Some students have to learn more about academic advising and the possibilities they can use while communicating with advisors of both genders.
As soon as academic advising is defined as a problematic issue that should be investigated and evaluated, its domains that are the advising session, advocacy/accountability for student welfare, knowledge, and availability. The analysis of case studies proves the possibility to clarify that students are eager to use their opportunity of academic advising.
Students have to understand that academic advising should be defined as an ongoing process during which students learn what they should know about their colleges and universities and define the best and the most effective ways to achieve success in education. The examples of the students from different institutions help to realize that the duration of academic advising does not matter because much depends on students’ personal traits and skills to understand and use the information offered by advisors.
Advocacy/Accountability for Student Welfare
Advisors have to comprehend how crucial their role in the life of every student could be. Academic advising is a type of collaboration that does influence students and advisors in a variety of ways. On the one hand, student welfare depends on the quality of the work presented by advisors. On the other hand, advisors’ time and activities depend on the way of how students understand and use the material offered by advisors.
Students and advisors have to exchange their knowledge and practice because such activity could help to realize what students have to know and what they actually know. Besides, academic advising requires a high level of advisors’ knowledge. If advisors do not have enough knowledge and abilities to share it with students, the outcomes of academic advising could not be that successful. Advisors have to know how to involve students in an educational process, use their best ideas, and explain the points that are not clear. Students may have a number of questions, and advisors have to be ready to answer all of them and offer more information.
Students may have a number of questions to be answered by advisors. Still, it is important to understand that advisors have their own schedules. At the same time, advisors should realize how important their support for students could be. Therefore, the questions of advisors’ availability and students’ possibilities to clarify their needs have to be taken into considerations. Academic advising should be based on mutual understanding and cooperation.
Findings and Theoretical Framework
The analysis of the case studies, the evaluation of the material, and the observations during the work help to make one strong conclusion: the choice of the Interactionalist Theory of College Student Departure developed by Tinto was made correctly. First of all, the chosen model helps to focus on the interactions that students could develop with different groups of people. On the one hand, there are student’ peers and friends, who could share their experience and offer suggestions on how to succeed in learning or avoid mistakes or challenges. On the other hand, there are academic advisors, who provide the required portion of information, support students, and explain what kind of work has to be done. Second, interactions between students and academic advisors is the key argument that could be used to explain how students’ perceptions of academic advisors could be developed. It is impossible to clarify the reasons for why students want or do not want to cooperate with advisors without the chosen theory in a clear way. Finally, the findings prove that students’ interactions with academic advisors influence a variety of academic processes including decision-making activities, skills’ development, and communication.
It is wrong to neglect students’ perceptions of academic advisors at HBCUs. The chosen theory supports the idea that students have to develop professional relations with their academic advisors in order to establish clear goals, identify possible problems, and find out the solutions that could be appropriate for students. Tinto’s findings help to understand that though students’ perceptions are the main issues for consideration in the project, they could be modified and changed by means of the interactions students and academic advisors develop. Besides, the chosen theory explains the importance of such concepts as honesty and trust in the relations people have to develop. Students’ perceptions could be prejudiced and poorly explained. Still, the Tinto’s theory divides the answers given by students and considers the importance of personal attitudes to the process.
Taking into consideration the goals of the project, the main characteristics of the theory chosen as the framework for the project, and the outcomes achieved, it is possible to say that students have to interact with their advisors in order to achieve a number of goals, understand what can become a challenge for them, and clarify if there are the solutions that could help to improve the situation, change the perceptions, and achieve the results that are expected.
Academic advising is the activity that cannot be performed by one person only. Advisors need students to provide them with the required portion of information, and students are in need of advisors as the main sources of information they could use to achieve academic success. Interactions between students and advisors could gain different forms: cooperative, transformational, authoritative, etc. There are the situations when students define the nature of their possible relations with advisors. In some cases, advisors take responsibilities for the development of the relations with students. In any situation, the idea of interaction cannot be neglected, and the Interactionalist Theory of College Student Departure is the best theoretical solution that could be offered. Students’ perceptions of their academic advisors are based on the results of interactions, personal attitudes, opinions, and intentions of students to cooperate with tutors. Therefore, academic advisors could influence students’ perceptions by promoting their personal interests and desire to work with students, help them solve their problems, and investigate different areas of their academic life.
Solutions to Problems
The analysis of the findings helps to clarify one important fact that many students do not want to connect their personal problems and instabilities with their academic life and success (Ezeala-Harrison, 2014). Still, the connection is inevitable. Many things in education depend on the possibility to use academic advising. If students know about their chances to use academic advising, and if their advisors are able to provide them with a qualified portion of information, academic advising could be helpful indeed. If students have a neutral attitude to the idea of academic advising and want to use any available means to improve their educational result, academic advising could be offered as one of the possible alternatives. Still, the effects of this practice could be the same because students have the same access and the same conditions. The only difference is their perceptions of academic advising and their personal attitudes. However, personal attitudes and gender factors have been proved as not-that-important factors for academic success.
The main problems that have been raised in this project are connected with the idea of academic advising and its worth for students and teachers. The point is that academic advising is a crucial practice that could influence such issues as students’ development, the level of student satisfaction, the possibility of academic success, recruitment, and retention (Allen, Smith, & Muehleck, 2013). Still, not all people are aware of how to combine all those concepts together.
This is one of the problems that should have a solution or even several solutions. For example, academic advising has to be offered as an integral part of education. Students have to know about their opportunities, and teachers have to make sure students understand the essence of academic advising and its importance. As a rule, students get a number of brochures and descriptions of the activities that could be offered to them in the chosen college or university. Academic advising has to be identified as a separate activity that could be available to students, who are in need of help. The interviews with first-generation students (Patterson, 2013) and the opinions of academic workers (Hill, 2004) prove that the studying process could be considerably improved in case students and advisors develop their professional academic relations in time. There is no necessity to divide advisors according to their gender or age. It is enough to find a person, who could coordinate and give hints and explanations in the case of the emergency.
Another important problem that is connected with academic advising is the necessity to make a choice between a developmental and prescriptive advising. Some students do not understand the conditions under which they could make a choice, and some advisors are not able to evaluate a situation and offer the best possible option. The solutions to this problem could vary considerably. First, it is necessary to make sure that students could have access to the literature about the types of academic advising. They have to be free to investigate the topic and make the decision regarding their personal abilities and skills. However, there are the situations when students may know about personal weaknesses and strengths but cannot make a decision on what kind of advisor is preferable. Therefore, it is possible to develop a program that is based on a questionnaire devoted to students’ levels of knowledge, personal interests and abilities, and expectations from academic advising. The list of questions could be developed in the way it is convenient for students. Students read the questions, investigate their personal achievements, and give the answers regarding their knowledge. The results could show what kind of academic advising is required, what suggestions could be offered, and what academic improvements could be expected.
It is also important to understand that any of the two types of academic advising requires the development of appropriate environmental and interpersonal interactions and behavioral awareness. Students may not be ready to develop their skills regarding a number of external factors. The investigations of Patterson (2013) help to realize that academic advising is closely connected to a number of issues such as expectations, relationships, contact, the type of advising, preparations, etc. The solution that could be offered include the opportunities of students to make free decisions and have enough time to weigh all aspects of academic advising. Though students have to be advised and supported by academic experts, they should never forget about their personal worth and importance for advisors.
As soon as a student is deprived of motivation or has to solve a number of academic problems alone, teachers and advisors face a number of challenges while communicating with such a student. The educational process undergoes a number of changes, and advisors have to work hard to help students. In order to avoid such unpredictable and hard to control conditions, it is better to avoid them and use academic advising as the main precautionary method. Besides, Hale, Graham, Johnson (2009) prefer to use the classification of academic advising developed by Crookston in the 1990s and underline that prescriptive advising could be a good opportunity to rely on. Prescriptive advising could help students to understand what they have to do when they have to take certain steps, and why they have to follow the directions. In their turn, advisors gain a number of benefits as well because they could control an advising process, coordinate students in the most convenient for them ways, and even regard their personal needs and abilities to succeed in the chosen activity. At the same time, developmental advising should not be excluded because students may want to improve their current academic situation and take the initiative. Students should be deprived of the chance to ask for advising any time they way.
Finally, the main research problem that has to be solved is the poor list of the literature that could be offered to researchers, who want to investigate the gender issue (female and male advisors) connected with academic advising (Ezeala-Harrison, 2014) and explain how academic advising could influence student success and retention regarding the style of academic advising chosen by students and by advisors. Academic advising could change the life of a student in a variety of ways. On the one hand, students, who get a portion of advising in time, are not characterized by such issues as the lack of time, inabilities to comprehend their tasks, and the inabilities to organize a working day at once. Academic advisors have a positive impact on students in case this activity is developed according to the requirements of the college or university. On the other hand, students could be guided in a wrong way or be poorly informed. In such situations, student success and retention could be under threat. Students lack their confidentiality. Besides, they do not have the required portion of the support. The solution could be connected with the idea that students have to rely on their personal needs and expectations when they choose academic advising. Students have to be able to weigh all pros and cons of their possible cooperation with advisors and underline the outcomes they expect to get. As soon as students start thinking about their opportunities with academic advisors, academic advisors would like to improve their services in order to be chosen by a student.
Solution Link to Research in the Literature Review
The main task of this project is to find a solution to those problems and challenges and prove that academic advising could be beneficial for students. First of all, students have to understand that such issue as a gender of an advisor may not matter in case the quality of advising is under consideration. Female advisors have all chances to succeed in or fail their academic advising the same way male advisors could do it. The ground of such conclusion is the evaluation of the opinions of students and the analysis of case studies chosen for this project. Students do not pay much attention to the gender of their advisors. The majority of them are interested in the quality of help and support that could be offered. Nowadays, not all colleges and universities have an opportunity to combine their studies and academic advising. Some colleges and universities neglect the importance of academic advising and make students think about their academic progress independently without involving advisors in their activities. There are also a number of academic organizations where academic advising is an integral part of students and advisors activities. Advisors are eager to perform the role of academic advisors and help students improve their academic achievements. Still, there are the students who believe that not all advisors are interested in their duties. Therefore, students demonstrate their neutral or even negative attitude to academic advising (Ayon, 2015). The investigations of Patterson (2013) proves that students want to know more about academic advising and recommends to expand the discussions that could promote students’ academic progression and performance.
In the United States, people focus on the importance of education and students abilities to combine their personal achievements and academic development (Allen, Smith, & Muehleck, 2013). Still, the presence of some challenges or instabilities in the idea of academic advising proves that the sphere of education is far from its perfection. Students want to get more guarantees, and advisors want to achieve their own benefits. It is hard to cover all needs and meet all expectations. Therefore, much work should be done, and the literature review of this project helps to clarify the areas that have to be improved.
For example, not much attention is paid to students’ perceptions of an academic advising process. The point is that students and advisors remain to be two equal participants in the process. The absence of one representative results in the insignificance of another representative. Therefore, students’ perceptions cannot be ignored. A powerful and effective student’s perception includes the possibility to evaluate the work of an advisor, the ability to cooperate and share personal points of view, and a chance to ask for help and explanations. Regarding such significance of students’ perceptions, it is necessary to combine academic advising with such concepts as retention, student success, student satisfaction, and recruitment and clarify how all of them could influence students’ perceptions of female and male advisors who work at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
The analysis of three case studies helps to come to several conclusions and develop the possibilities of several solutions to the problem of students’ perceptions of academic advisors at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.Patterson’s results (2013) prove academic advising and its success directly depends on the changes in the global economic climate and the possibility to control the majority of financial operations by the federal government. The government understands that its people are in need of a good portion of education and is ready to invest in this sphere as much as possible. However, the government does not pay much attention to such factors as student retention and satisfaction. Unfortunately, financial needs are not the only needs students may have. Therefore, Patterson suggests involving the government in the discussions about the worth of academic advising. As soon as the conditions under which students could use academic advising as one of the possible means to succeed in their academic performance are clarified, the experiences and perceptions of students could be improved.
Academic advising has to touch not only upon some academic needs of students but also upon a number of social and emotion needs and expectations. The perceptions of students investigated by Ayon are also proved as an important aspect for consideration. The author wants to underline that academic advising is closely connected with students’ attitudes and awareness of the process and the advisors’ duties (Ayon, 2015). Therefore, in addition to the solution that is based on the governmental involvement in academic advising, it is possible to offer some improvements in the evaluation process and clarify the methods that could be used to analyze students’ perceptions of academic advising and the problems students and advisors could face in their advising. Students have to share their opinions and exchange the information of academic advising and their expectations in a free and clear way.
Finally, the investigations of Hill are based on the idea of the development the technological aspects of academic advising. Academic advising may touch upon a number of personal issues, needs, and expectations. However, it is also necessary to know how to organize and store all information and use it when it is necessary. The project developed by Hill (2004) helps to understand that academic advising should also be improved in terms of the technological development. Computer assisted academic advising is a solution that could be offered to a number of academic organizations and developed according to the needs and expectations of students.
In general, in this project, academic advising is proved as a crucial issue for consideration in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Students should have enough chances and options to rely on when they want to improve their academic performance. At the same time, students have to take into consideration their personal needs and abilities. Finally, they should not forget about the role of advisors in this practice and respect the choices made and the functions completed by advisors. In other words, students’ perceptions of academic advising should cover a number of aspects, and it is hard to create one powerful solution to improve academic advising and make it close to perfection.
In this project, three case studies are discussed and analyzed in order to clarify how different authors see the problem of academic advising at different academic institutions and what solutions could be offered. Considering the achievements made by the authors and their recommendations, it turns out to be possible to emphasize the worth of academic advising for the students of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the development of students’ perceptions of academic advising. Academic advising is a chance for students to understand their academic weaknesses and strengths and to make the decisions that could help them to succeed in education. Besides, academic advising is the development of professional relations between students and advisors.
Finally, academic advising is the practice that helps to combine such important for students’ factors as retention, satisfaction, success, recruitment, and self-development. The success in education consists of a number of things, and students have to deal with each of them thoroughly. For example, academic success cannot be achieved unless a student is satisfied and eager to study and cooperate with advisors. Student satisfaction is closely connected with recruitment and retention because these factors determine students’ readiness to study and develop. Self-development is the ability to identify personal abilities, weak and strong aspects and make use of them in order to succeed. In general terms, all these concepts and student achievements cannot be divided or analyzed separately because the absence of one factor could change the essence of another factor.
The understanding of students’ perceptions of academic advising is a board topic for consideration. It is hard to clarify what students have to know about advisors or about the opportunities available to them. Many students remain to be poorly aware of the worth of academic advising in their academic lives. Students do not know that they get the rights to cooperate with advisors who could provide them with academic support, explanations, and even assistance in organizing their emotional and social concerns.
The implications of the case study under consideration could involve certain changes in the already working system and improvements of the potential value of education and academic advising in particular. First, it is necessary to explain the connection between the federal government and academic advising and identify the possible impact of the government on the activities of students and the decisions they could make. Second, it is important to provide students with the required sources and explanations to make sure they comprehend their opportunities. Finally, academic advising implies the presence of advisors. Therefore, advisors have to understand what kind of work they should perform as academic advisors and how much responsibility they should be ready for. Academic advisors and students have to cooperate in order to facilitate an educational process and improve academic performance to its possible extent by means of regular meetings, clear exchange of information, and understanding of personal and professional goals. As soon as students comprehend what they can get with academic advising and advisors realize that they have all chances to coordinate students, academic advising could become an integral practice developed in all Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other academic institutions in the United States of America.
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