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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 26, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

Part four: Reworking advising for students

In the fourth part of a series on IC 20/20, The Ithacan takes a look at the student advising changes highlighted in the 10-year strategic plan.

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Shawn steiner/the ithacanSophomore Robert Hohn works in the student government office. Hohn was on the IC 20/20 advising task force and the Steering Committee.

In the wake of one of the largest curriculum overhauls in Ithaca College’s history, the eighth initiative in the IC 20/20 final vision plan aims to streamline the way students receive academic direction from faculty and staff advisers.

The Student Advising Initiative outlined in the plan seeks to address the current challenges of student
advising on campus. It proposes the creation of a centralized student
advising center with a director and six to 10 academic advisers, which would “supplement, enhance and support the advising work of faculty.”

Among the services under consideration for the center are registration assistance, guidance in selecting majors and minors, midterm outreach and advising, and first-year student advising for adjusting to college.

Two key functions proposed for the center are a formal
adviser training program and a structured assessment of the advising system and academic advisers.

To evaluate the issues of the college’s current advising structure and to provide recommendations, the Student Advising Task Force was created during the fall 2010 semester. The task force met weekly last spring to draft a formal proposal, which was submitted to the Office of the Provost for review at the end of the 2010-11 academic year.

Sophomore Robert Hohn and first-year graduate student Kaitlin Clark were selected to serve on the task force last year as the committee’s two student members. Hohn, who also works part-time in the Office of the Registrar, said his involvement with the committee and the registrar opened his eyes to the lack of communication between many students and their advisers, which led him to believe that the creation of an advising center would help bridge that gap.

“I know just working there that there are a lot of questions that students don’t know the answers to, and their advisers don’t know the answers to, and if we just have the center, those answers will be able to be found,” he said. “I just think the center, overall, is good for the campus.”

Marisa Kelly, provost and vice president of academic affairs,
announced Sunday that Margaret Arnold, associate dean of the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance, was appointed special assistant to the provost. One of Arnold’s main responsibilities in this position will be to oversee the development of the new Center for Student Advising and Achievement, which Kelly stated is an “IC 20/20 priority” in her announcement.

Kelly could not be reached this week for comment.

In its proposal, the task force  also referenced a list of best practices for academic advising, predominately from the National Academic Advising Association’s website. One study cited was from Holly Martin, assistant dean and academic adviser at the University of Notre Dame, titled “Constructing Learning Objectives for Academic Advising.”

In the study, Martin cited the need for advisers to define learning objectives in order to answer the question, “What should students learn through academic advising?”

In relation to Martin’s study, the task force listed its predicted student learning outcomes from the recommendations outlined in its proposal. These included
students identifying their co-curricular experiences consistent with their goals and selecting the appropriate courses based on their understanding of the curriculum.

The IC 20/20 Steering Committee, which is co-chaired by Kelly, is currently finalizing its review of the task force’s formal recommendation. The group is made up of 16 faculty members, staff and students across the college. Hohn, who is also on the steering committee, said the college community should be ready for the creation of the new center within the next two years.

“I know that the IC 20/20 advisory committee is definitely focused,” he said. “It’s one of our main goals to have the advising center within the next couple of years.”

Clark, however, said because the committee was given a semester to draft a final proposal, she thinks they need more time to fully review the advising program’s status.

“We were limited on time, so we did as much as we could,” she said. “We made recommendations and said ‘Here’s our thoughts’, but the underlying line is that there still needs to be more discussion and more work done.”