Read more about our vision for Academic Advising at The University of Memphis, where
A Developmental Academic Advising Model
The purpose of academic advising is to facilitate the intellectual and personal development
of our students, to enhance their academic performance, and to ensure student progress
toward graduation by assisting them in achieving the following objectives:
- choosing, clarifying, planning and achieving their life goals;
- exploring academic options so that they can make meaningful short- and long-term decisions
- identifying a major program to achieve educational, career, and life goals
- selecting courses that integrate their educational and personal goals
- assuming responsibility for current information about University degree requirements,
including General Education, academic policies, practices, programs and support services.
A developmental academic advising model presumes that the advisor does not function
in a prescriptive role, rather, she or he "serves as a facilitator of communication
a coordinator of learning experiences through course and career planning and academic
progress review, and an agent of referral to other campus agencies as necessary" (Gordon,
1988, p. 139). In order to serve in the roles of facilitator, coordinator, and referral
agent, an advisor must enter into a partnership with his/her advisee and go beyond
ensuring that the student is choosing coursework that is directly applicable to his/her
In developing his model of advising, Terry O'Banion (1972) has suggested that developmental
academic advising is composed of sequential tasks. These tasks are:
- The exploration of life goals.
- The exploration of vocational/career goals.
- The choice of program/major.
- The choice of courses.
- The scheduling of courses.
O'Banion (1972) contends that many advisors begin the advising process with course
selection and that often this happens because a student has already selected a major/program
of study to pursue. It is presumed that a student has already gone though some systematic
decision-making process and that, because of this, the focus of advising is appropriately
on the course selection process. However, according to O'Banion (1972), the information
we have about major selection has found that few students have actually engaged in
any sort of systematic decision-making process to select a major. Consequently, the
advisor's focus on course selection may, in fact, be a premature focus. If academic
advising is viewed as a process with the outcome being the development of an educational
and career plan for the student, then the primary focus moves away from merely course
registration and toward helping a student evaluate and explore personal and professional
Noel and Levitz (1989) have contributed significantly to our understanding of developmental
academic advising by operationalizing O'Banion's model for advisors. They have identified
key knowledge and skill areas for advisors within each of O'Banion's sequential tasks.
These areas are listed below along with the associated sequential task.
- Exploring Life Goals
- Know students' characteristics and development
- Understand decision-making process
- Know principles of psychology and sociology
- Possess skill in counseling techniques
- Appreciate individual differences
- Believe in the worth and dignity of all people
- Believe that all people have potential
- Exploring Career Goals
- Know vocational fields
- Possess skill in test interpretation
- Understand the changing nature of work in society
- Accept all fields of work as worthy and dignified
- Choosing Programs
- Know programs available in the college
- Know requirements of programs (special entrance requirements, fees, time commitments,
- Know university requirements for transfer programs
- Know how others have performed in the program
- Know the success of program graduates
- Selecting Courses
- Know available courses
- Know special information about courses (prerequisites, etc.)
- Know rules and regulations of the college
- Know honors and developmental courses
- Know instructors and their teaching styles
- Know course content
- Know advisee's demonstrated abilities
- Scheduling Courses
- Know course schedule
- Know all registration procedures
- Know advisee's work and commuting schedule
Source: Noel, And Levitz, R. (1989). Managing retention through early intervention. Iowa:
Noel Levitz Centers for Institutional Effectiveness and Innovation, Inc. p. 20.