CUCA - Advising - What Influences My Advising Style


Task: Choose a theory that you feel influences your practice as an academic advisor and write about how it directs your work.

Each student interaction begins with an assessment of the past experiences, formally or informally with advising

'Good advising may be the single most underestimated characteristic of a successful college experience.' (Light, R.J. 2001) Academic Advising has been an organic and evolving concept at Algonquin College over the last decade. Senior Administrators acknowledge the relationship between advising and student persistence through the establishment of a Policy and Procedure document, establishing an advising platform and allocating physical space. However, the challenge has always been, what is our philosophy on advising and how does that philosophy drive the actions of advising on campus? The prescriptive Ontario College curriculum in some respects challenges practitioners to think differently about the purpose and impact advising can have for a college student. 

Advising is a collaboration between advisor and student that is based on experience theory anchored to developmental advising. Advising on a college campus, comprised of a non-traditional student population, requires a strategy that recognizes students arrive with experiences from a variety of situations including the labour force which required that diagnoses from a skillful practitioner who can create an advising environment encouraging of a developmental relationship. It is in this lens that I begin to define what would influence my work as an Academic Advisor. My work, and how I would approach advising at my institution, is influenced by three general constructs: Developmental Advising; Collaborative Advising; and Experience Theory.

Each student interaction begins with an assessment of the past experiences, formally or informally with advising (or guidance), and progresses into an understanding of what their current situation is (Dewey, 1999). From here I am able to begin the work of applying student development theories and practices to the emerging conversation and expectations (Crookston, 1994). As the relationship builds and an action plan are put into place the entire dynamic shifts into a more collaborative structure as defined by the work of Lowenstein.

Given the vocational nature of the Ontario College experience much of the advising work I am engaged in, or would anticipate engaging in, would be motivated by the goal to “facilitate the student's ability to interact with and draw maximum benefit from the academic program and curriculum” rather than, “facilitating student's intra-personal growth and development, including cognitive, affective, etc.” (Lowenstein, 1999). I say that not exclude the holistic development of students but rather in recognition that the duration of many students is short and the ability to tackle intra-personal growth and development in an in-depth and meaningful way would be only possible based on the program length of study the student is enrolled in.

A dynamic student population, prescriptive curriculum, dominate non-traditional student population, all benefit from the multifaceted approach of advising shared in this reflection. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to refine and focus those concepts which influence and underpin my advising philosophy.



Crookston, B. B. (1994). A Developmental View of Academic Advising As Teaching. NACADA Journal, 14(2), 5-9.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Macmillan.

Light, R.J. (2001) Making the most of college. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lowenstein, M. (1999). An Alternative to the Developmental Theory of Advising. The Mentor. Retrieved January 31, 2016.