Exploring New Territory
Our booth wasn’t the only space at the conference that celebrated exploration. While still rooted in academic research, topics at NACADA’s annual conference have increasingly ventured into new territory. Specifically, the use of new communication channels, new technology for case management, and (to use a term prevalent at NACADA this year) “big data.” Frontline advisors and advising scholars are grappling with the consequences of these innovations on their work, both positive and negative.
Read more about the evolution of academic advising
A few days before we traveled to NACADA, I presented The Advising Office of the Future at CONNECTED, our Student Success Collaborative Summit in D.C. In that presentation, I defined “advisors of the future” as holistic, success-oriented advisors who are centrally managed and committed to driving measurable outcomes with their students. These next-generation advisors embrace technology and innovation, working to reach key milestones with their assigned caseloads. Short-term student success metrics—like percentage of students declaring a major, submitting a degree plan, improving their GPA, or persisting to the next term—are increasingly a part of these advisors' formal evaluation.
At NACADA and in other spaces, there has been some resistance to change for change’s sake and fear that technology would outpace (or displace) advising. In particular, leaders have been hesitant to incorporate student success metrics into formal advisor evaluations. One of the most surprising findings from my research was just how open advisors are to metrics-based evaluation. We found that—with the right tools and support—advisors are confident in their ability to help students and they want to get credit and recognition for doing it.