Advising Fundamentals: Developmental Advising
Developmental advising stresses that advising should go beyond simply giving information or signing a form. When an advisee approaches you with a problem, it is important that you avoid prescribing solutions without addressing more comprehensive issues.
To advise freshmen successfully, you need to encourage developmental growth by asking the right questions and listening to their responses. Though you might know the answers to the challenges they are experiencing or know first-hand the solution to their problems, telling students what to do will discourage self-advocacy and decision-making. Instead, a developmental approach to advising is one that will help first-year students develop the life skills that they need to succeed.
How do you accomplish this?
By asking open-ended questions, you are helping your advisee(s) think about his/her situation and find appropriate strategies for improvement. For example, if you learn that one of your advisees is struggling in a class and has received a Fifth Week Flag, you might have a conversation with him or her about the situation and discuss how their performance can be improved. Here are some sample questions you might ask:
- Why do you think it happened?
- What do you think is going on?
- How are you doing in your other classes?
- What do you think you need to do to improve?
- How much work do you need to make up?
- How and where are you studying?
- Have you talked to your TA?
- What do you plan to do differently?
Some tips to remember:
- Ask the question, but don't answer it
- Help your advisee see the big picture, not just the Flag
- Get him/her to think about the situation
- Help him/her develop a strategy for improvement
- Give some commendation, not just advice
- Follow up with your advisee
See Communicating with Freshmen for more tips and information on how to talk to your advisees.