Changing the advising model

Richard Wayne Freeman, Ken Gentry, Jenna Elyse Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This work-in-progress paper describes the work Northwestern University's School of Engineering is doing to implement change in how first-year students are advised. Northwestern University's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, McCormick, wanted to provide consistent advising to the incoming class, opportunities for students to feel a sense of belonging within the school, and help to students develop the skills required to become self-reliant, resilient, and successful University graduates. The McCormick Administration decided to build an advising model based on a learner-centered concept sometimes called the Advising-as-Teaching paradigm. Traditionally, First-Year students at Northwestern University were assigned to a faculty adviser, in a department based on their stated intended major. Undeclared students were randomly assigned to a faculty member. This advising model gave incoming students a home department, but not necessarily the department undeclared students wanted. In addition, students that changed majors, or were exploring majors, often needed to find their own connections with faculty in other departments. Lastly, in addition to helping students new to the university, higher education, and Engineering, faculty were tasked with teaching, building and managing research programs, advising graduate students, publishing and making progress towards promotion and tenure. While the adviser-training gave faculty the tools to help students build a schedule, many faculty had little time to actually engage and advise undergraduate students. Many faculty were not fully engaging students. Faculty advising across McCormick departments led to uneven advising for First-Year students. Under the new model, McCormick Advisers are tasked with academic advising and teaching. This 55/45 split in duties means the Advisers are more focused on the task of advising incoming classes. In exchange, McCormick Advisers advise each class through its first year. McCormick Advisers are also co-located in a suite. This office arrangement, along with a narrow focus, are able to collaborate on advising and mentoring students. Outcomes of the model should come in the form of increased student satisfaction with academic advising, increased awareness of and participation in academic programs such as Study Abroad, Exchange and Co-Ops Programs, and the Engineering School. The success of the advising change will be measured in multiple ways. Students will participate in both summative and formative assessment activities throughout the academic year. This assessment will be conducted by Student Affairs as part of the First-Year Seminar. Additional assessment will be conducted by the Engineering School. Students will be given an opportunity to participate in an Advising Survey. In past years, sophomore and senior students were surveyed. Starting this year, all students will be given an advising survey. The University will continue its satisfaction survey as well. This paper will explore the intended and unintended consequences of changing the advising model for First-Year Engineering students at McCormick.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jun 26 2016
Event123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2016Jun 29 2016


Other123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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