Student’s Perceptions of Academic Advisors

Subject: Education
Pages: 40
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Study level: PhD

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Americans pay much attention to the issue of education and the importance of personal achievements and development (Allen, Jewell, Griffin, & Wolf, 2007). Each member of American society should have a chance to get an education and choose a career that corresponds with the already earned 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 racial inequality touches upon almost every 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), many researchers underline the fact that discrimination remains to be a problem and challenge for many people, who live in the USA (Bonilla-Silva, 2013; Oliver & Shapiro, 2006).

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The factor of race determines human possibilities, future perspectives, and working demands. Several challenges based on racial inequality can be observed in the sphere of education. The USA spends much money on education in comparison to other OECD countries (Cook, 2015). However, even the financial improvements and attempts do not solve the question of the inequalities and poor student abilities (Cook, 2015). American education suffers from some 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 soon as their effects start 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 (Cook, 2015). 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 (Orfield, 2015). 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 problem.

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 high education is a 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, 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 opportunities for 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 concluded 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 (Wilson, 2011). As soon as students get equal opportunity for education, the question of racial inequality in education and even the workplace can be minimized considerably.

Many changes and evaluations of the role of HBCUs in American took place after the Brown case. The essence of the case was connected with the intention 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 choose ordinary schools. HBCUs continued opening their doors to all students regardless of their social status, ethnic backgrounds, and 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 its 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 (Allen et al., 2007). 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 NBCUs 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 in far 1972.

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Historically Black Colleges and Universities became a new chance to solve old problems and identify new opportunities. Nowadays, these institutions continue providing students with quality education for all students in need (Allen et al., 2007). Not all students can get the education they want; therefore, they have to address the organizations that can accept nontraditional students and help them be educated. HBCUs are open to students from low-income families, raised by one parent, or working at night- or daytime. Besides, Allen et al. (2007) underlined the importance of the gender gap between Black students and proved that more female students are eager to attend such schools and meet their professional and personal needs.

However, in addition to the outcomes and the results of 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 seem 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.

Academic Advising

The majority of tutors of 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 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 eras according to which academic advising can be improved (Allen et al., 2007; Habley & McClanahan, 2013). 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, Smith, & Muehleck, 2013; Habley & McClanahan, 2004; Harrison, 2014). However, the essence of academic advising remains 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 learn 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 to develop moral training, fast exchange of the experience, and the ability to control and correct students’ decisions (Kuhn, 2011). Still, such 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 several 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.

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Finally, after the Act of 1965 that was reauthorized eight times during the last decades, academic advising was identified and explained (Kuhn, 2011). 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 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 to improve interpersonal interactions, environmental conditions, and behavioral awareness (Crookston, 1994). Crookston (1994) 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 some 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 regard to the expectations and standards set by an organization. On the other hand, tutors learn how to provide students with 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 with several 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 appropriateness of academic advising can be explained by the level of student satisfaction and tutor maturity.

Academic Advising and Its Impact

Nowadays, academic advising is an integral part of any educational process in many colleges and universities. Teachers evaluate the needs of their students and focus on the conditions under which advising activities can be developed. Each institution creates its 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. Only after students demonstrate their abilities to develop and use the material, they get from their advisors. This approach is defined as developmental advising. Tutors should perform the role of advisors, who can guide students through the current educational system and make the solutions that are correct and justified.

Students’ development may take several 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 according to 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 (Hinchliffe & Wong, 2012). Finally, open and playful communication and active participation are usually encouraged to avoid passive reception of information, follow orders, and perform tasks without emotions or even understanding the essence of the work (Hinchliffe & Wong, 2012). Students’ development is a general notion, and students of all colleges, as well as the representatives of Historical Black Colleges and Universities, can benefit from academic advising as a chance to develop their skills and understand their academic needs and personal preferences.

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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 proved that 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 gain 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 can 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 because 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) to promote the development of relationships between students and tutors, identify the place where challenges or disconnections take place and show the ways of how to get recommendations. Drake also relied on the article written by Cuseo (2007). This author focused on defining the quality of academic advising because “if we cannot define it, we cannot recognize it when we see it, nor can we can assess it or improve” (Cuseo, 2007, 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 (Cuseo, 2007). As soon as students can 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 humanizing 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 working places. Tutors should understand what kind of work and information they could provide students with 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 a connection between the terms and their interchangeability should not confuse people. Academic advising is a type of actions educators should know how to take 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 from classrooms. Students learn how to communicate, ask for help, and choose careers that are more appropriate for them (Pargett, 2011). Advising is also 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 challenges and solve problems using the examples of other people. Finally, advising define 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 helps 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, Graham, & Johnson (2009) mentioned that undergraduate students were able to give clear reasons for 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: developmental, intrusive, and prescriptive. Each type has its 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 makes a few people choose this form of advising.

During the last decade, much research has been made 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 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 instructions on how to accept new material, new institutions, and new opportunities.

According to Crookston (1994), developmental advising is an effective educative tool because 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 case it 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 life available to students.

Crookston 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 a situation, students want to benefit from 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 (1994) 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 (1994) 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’ one. 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 (Crookston, 1994).

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 vision of situations or too dependent on the situations the requirements of which should be met.

Developmental and prescriptive types of advising have several 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 to explain the intentions of tutors to be involved in the activities of their students (Smart, 2010). Some contradictions and misunderstandings took place around this approach due to the inabilities to comprehend the true nature of the intentions of tutors to participate in student’s life. According to Glennen, 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 be initiative (Smart, 2010). There are 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 effort, 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 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 (Drake et al., 2013). 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 educational theories. Academic advising has a developmental nature. 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 student’s goals and possibilities. To meet such requirements, a tutor has to evaluate the student’s level of knowledge and the ability 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 some 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 proper completion of the work and tutors for a successful explanation of the material (Crookston, 1994). Besides, developmental advising is characterized by the initiative that comes from students and is 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 clearly explain new material.

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 principle. 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 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 case tutors focus on limiting students’ abilities, promote rewards in a 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 done. Such a type of relationship is based on trust and the nature of the task. Students demonstrate their intentions to succeed in completing their academic work and take initiative in 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 (Hale et al., 2009) 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 them to follow the instructions 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

Though there are no clearly established theories of academic advising, there are many educational and social theories that can be used as a foundation for the changes students and tutors have to be ready for while academic advising (Hagen & Jordan, 2011). Developmental academic advising is grounded on educational development theories, and adherents, who practice this style of advising, find the 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 perspective 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 with the help of 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 regard to the requirements set by a particular institution. There are several categories according to which development theories can be divided. 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 in. 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 can 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 the 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 in 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 tend 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 conclude 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 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 ideas on how to reward students and explain the reasons for the chosen behavior. In his theory of stages of psychosocial development, Erikson explains what kind of behavior may be expected from ordinary students in colleges and universities (Hubbard, 2012). Eight psychological stages can be interpreted as eight challenges students and tutors should be ready for in an educational process (Hubbard, 2012). 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 a tutor’s or student’s 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 clarify the correctness of the decisions made and compare the results that have been expected and that are observed. Erikson defined the sixth stage as 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. The last but one stage defines the level of care that can be used in a process. Advising is a 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 advice 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 existing differences and analyze how the diversities can be used. The representatives of such theories are the works by Myer, Briggs, Holland, etc. 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, 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 b spent on education. There are many students, who cannot allow themselves to study at 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. Some student circumstances can define the quality of advising offered to students. In addition to the question of different races, 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 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 identified and explained by and for students and tutors.

Students’ circumstances imply all those conditions under which students have to study and search for 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. The evaluation of “psychosocial wellness, academic self-efficacy, and achievement orientation” (Harper et al., 2004, 272) shows that the students from one college can have different ratings compared with the 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 higher education and other perspectives that could be available to them (Clabaugh, 2010). Male and female needs differ considerably. However, the conditions under which they can achieve the goals should be the same because the gender factor should play an important role in education. There are societies, like Afghanistan (Clabaugh, 2010), where the role of women is still diminished. Women are deprived of an opportunity to study or develop their 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, 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 the gender-related factors could not be ignored in the evaluation of academic advising and the perception of this concept by students. Still, gender disparities between students have been already discussed a lot during different centuries (Clabaugh, 2010; Harper et al., 2004; Eagan, Stolzenberg, Lozano, Aragon, Suchard, & Hurtado, 2014).

Gender Gap: Engagement of Undergraduate Advisees

A gender gap in academic advising is not a rare issue. Many colleges start 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 (Eagan et al., 2014). Women also tried to inform students about their options to support and develop their academic skills, address disability resources centers, or consider 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. However, both, female and male, advisors found it unnecessary to focus on the personal problems of students. One of the main goals of advising is to improve the academic instabilities and challenges students could face (Eagan et al., 2014). Female and male advisors wanted to improve the options concerning the opportunities to study abroad, conduct undergraduate research, and choose internships 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 to the necessity to provide students with information about courses, major/minor, future careers, and possible post-graduate goals. However, this research focused on tutors’ intentions to help students. 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 struggle for personal dignity and racial equality for a long period of time (Allen et al., 2007). Black students were challenged to get higher education on their intentions. The American culture created barriers that were hard to overcome. After the Civil War, some 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 (Allen et al., 2007). 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 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 decade, Black students’ enrollments have been changed considerably in the United States (Allen et al., 2007; Ezeala-Harrison, 2014). Several 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 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 succeeded in conducting a comparative analysis of male and female retention rates among Black students. The researcher considered students’ attributes, family circumstances, financial factors, some background events, and the current institution’s system that has to be respected (Ezeala-Harrison, 2014). 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 problems in their college retention (Ezeala-Harrison, 2014). However, such problems as child care, marriages, loving affairs, and broken families do not influence the number of students in HBCUs. Almost the same results were observed while analyzing the 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 can 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 stay with them as long as possible.

Much attention was paid to the behavioral aspects of higher education. 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 the same opportunities as Whites. Still, they face some 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 replicating 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 (Orfield, 2015). 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 use 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 approaches from the undergraduate student’s 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 the advice 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 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 as responsibility, self-efficacy, and study skills should be developed by students of different genders and races (Young-Jones et al., 2013). 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 (2004) 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. (2013) proved that advisor-student relations should be based on student’s goals and the outcomes that had to be achieved and were achieved. Besides, more additional elements could influence the academic experience of students and the reasons 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 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 got, the authors concluded 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 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. (2013) 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 to student success considerably. High education institutions may benefit from 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. Young-Jones et al. (2013) 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 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 the 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 (2011) 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 a method to increase students’ ratings or promote retention. Pargett (2011) 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 some 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 one. 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 from a college or university. Students’ goals should be definite and depend on the situation (Pargett, 2011). 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 perceptions of academic advisors at colleges and universities. Besides, African Americans remain to be 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 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 several 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 is 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 preferred style is developmental (Hale et al., 2009). 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 (Hale et al., 2009). Academic advising should cover the needs of students and the opportunities for tutors. Prescriptive advising aims at considering the experience and records based on 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 experience show that academic advising is an important part of an educational process. However, some challenges and misunderstandings still take place. 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 several 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 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 for 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 their studies and get more from the opportunities available to them. The peculiar feature of academic advising at HBCUs is the necessity to combine some 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.

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