Feature: Understanding and Engaging Your Advisees

Freshmen Survey on Academic Advising

1. Establishing Rapport
Under the University Academic Advising System, first-year students are required to meet with their Faculty Academic Advisers (FAAs) at least once a semester. However for various reasons, some students were reluctant to do so. In August/September 2015, AAO conducted an online survey among the freshmen to gauge their attitudes towards academic advising with a view to promoting positive advice seeking behaviours. A total of 155 freshmen have completed the survey.

The respondents in general considered academic advising important for their study and welcomed the provision of academic advising at the University. Furthermore, they were aware of their responsibility to initiate contact with their FAAs to discuss their study issues. The topics of high concern to the freshmen include “Course Selection”, “Academic Goal and Study Plan” and “Adjustment to the University Learning Styles”. In addition, students indicated concern about other issues, for example, selection of Common Core courses, academic exchange, management of study load, collaborative skills to handle team projects and balance between study and extra-curricular activities. Although anxiety to meet with teachers alone emerged in previous student focus groups as one major barrier to advice seeking, the result did not indicate high support for group advising. It seemed that one-on-one advising was still the preferred model.

The survey also looked at students’ views on two primary approaches to advising: namely “Developmental” versus “Prescriptive”. Comparing the responses to the two approaches, the respondents seemed to show more support for the former, that is, “I want my academic adviser to guide me in finding information about my study and university life, and I will make my own decision”. In contrast, the prescriptive approach was less favoured, receiving a lower score: “I want my academic adviser to contact me, tell me what to do and I will just follow her/his instructions”. This is consistent with the University’s philosophy of academic advising as a developmental process for students. During advising sessions, FAAs could encourage their advisees to reflect critically and make informed study decisions by:

  • Asking open-ended questions about her/his university study and listen actively to identify concerns
  • Allowing silence for advisee to process information and think over
  • Avoiding temptation to decide for advisee
  • Questioning misconceptions of advisee
  • Guiding advisee to reflect on experience and make better plans
Q: As I begin my University studies, I have the following academic concerns: Mean Score
Adjustment to the University learning styles 4.04
Course selection 4.43
Selection of major / minor programmes 3.89
Curriculum structure of my programmes 3.92
Academic goal and study plan 4.04

*5=Strongly Agree, 4=Agree, 3=Neutral, 2=Disagree, 1=Strongly Disagree