Communications

USF Taskforce to Promote Excellence in Academic Advising

Shane large

The University of South Florida (USF) was invited to participate in the Excellence in Academic Advising (EAA) project in June 2019.  An initiative started by the John Gardner Institute (JNGI) and the Global Community for Academic Advising (NACADA). 

The project guides the development of institution-wide task forces towards the goal of “advancing student learning, success, persistence, retention, and degree completion through a comprehensive, standards-based strategic planning process to promote excellence in academic advising.” 

As the second cohort of the project, USF along with 11 other institutions, the Urban Ecosystems Cohort, will extend the original work to include educational inequities. Such as inequities experienced by underserved communities like first-generation college students and students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Melissa Irvin, Ed.D., assistant dean, Academic Outreach & Support leads the USF institution-wide team.  

USF has a very decentralized model of academic advising: it resides in academic colleges as well as localized academic advising on the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses. Advising practices may accommodate the different advising spaces but consistency is also important for student success. EAA has framework points for the highest-quality academic advising programs. 

The task force divided into groups with specific duties, completed a review of 260 key performance indicators, drafted nine observational reports, and assembled over 100 unique artifacts, such as webpages, handbooks, training guides/documents, position descriptions, policy and procedure documents, event flyers, and advising award criteria. 

A student and a faculty/staff surveys were designed by NACADA and the Gardner Institute to collect information on institutional perceptions of and experiences with undergraduate academic advising. The student survey was sent to a random sample of 15% of enrolled undergraduate students from the three campuses and 7.9 percent of those responded. A faculty/staff survey was also distributed. 

Survey results show some perceived differentiated experiences with advising based on race and gender. Male undergraduates reported less confidence in their advising experience when compared to the average score of the surveyed population. Hispanic/Latino students, Black/African American students, and students identifying as two or more races also reported less confidence in their advising experience than the average.

The taskforce will continue the evaluation of the student responses to identify the appropriate training and resources to improve student experiences. The information will be included in the Comprehensive Excellence in Academic Advising report and will share the information with Student Success committes and academic leadership committees.

This project is a three-and-a-half-year commitment (August 1, 2019 – December 31, 2022) that includes: data and evidence collection; program evaluation; project planning; data-informed strategic planning; and institutional improvement and implementation. The support of the Kresge Foundation has made the Urban Ecosystems Cohort possible.