Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


The purpose of this project was to conduct a formative evaluation of academic advising practices and relationships at Western Kentucky University. The case study process was utilized as a problem solving method to determine the academic advising needs of lower division students, to identify current academic advising practices, and to develop strategies for dealing with unmet advising needs to improve retention at Western Kentucky University. Answers were sought through eight research questions designed to provide information about existing advising needs, the kind and/or type of advising as currently done, the kind and/or type of advising environment that should exist to enhance the development of students, the status of the present academic advising environment, and the desired structure and advising outcomes for lower division students. The methods of investigation utilized for this project included a review of significant and relevant literature about the historical and theoretical aspects of academic advising, the relationship between advising and attrition, and successful academic advising practices. Additional procedures included an examination of University documents about mission, attrition, retention, and academic advising; attendance at one of the 1988 National Conferences on the Freshman Year Experience; and information gathered from meetings attended at the 1987 National Conference on Academic Advising. Complementary data were obtained from the use of an academic advising inventory administered by mail to a sample of six hundred undergraduate students, two hundred faculty and staff advisors; and from using in-depth semi-structured interviews with a sample of twenty-five students, fifteen faculty and staff advisors, and five campus administrators. Because academic advising at Western Kentucky University was primarily oriented toward the selection of coursework for registration purposes and because retention is a critical campus concern, it was concluded that issues of change and campus vitality to assist students and their subsequent retention, advisor-student relationships, advisor and student roles, advisor training, and effective developmental advising delivery systems must be addressed. Other considerations were the effective use of human resources for academic advising, the parameters of time, advising expertise, mission, and interinstitutional cooperation between the Divisions of Academic and Student Affairs. Another concern was that University advisors would consider the time spent in required advising as not in their best interests until it was part of the University reward structure. Recommendations were offered to develop a viable mission statement that reflects a commitment to student development. The University was further advised to enhance its advising system based upon the theoretical constructs of student development, to identify student and faculty advising needs and outcomes, to establish committees to oversee and coordinate the advising and registration system, and to recommend an evaluation program including a meaningful and equitable reward system for advisors. It was also recommended that the University begin to implement a computerized student academic information program to support the advising and registration system, and to develop, plan and implement a pilot seminar for the development of lower division students. The pilot seminar would be organized in conjunction with a faculty development program to enhance quality of advising for the ultimate success of these students.

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