Where are Voices from the Field: Advising Research Underrepresented in Canadian Higher Education

Linda Pardy (University of the Fraser Valley)
Shea B Ellingham (Mount Royal University)

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 3:00 PM - 3:45 PM

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Session Outline

Higher education is working to increase student engagement, improve workplace readiness of graduates, internationalize, increase retention rates of Indigenous students, and prepare students for post-university life in an age of uncertainty. Many Canadian institutions invest in strategic enrolment management (SEM) initiatives to help improve student access, retention, and success (Black, 2010; Gottheil & Smith, 2011) and within SEM research Hossler and Bontrager (2015) describe the essential role advising plays in supporting both an institution’s SEM goals as well as their Strategic Plan goals. Yet research explicit to professional advising is not common or readily accessible. Nutt (2010, 2015) pointed out that because advisors have a direct connection with students at each stage of their learning experience there is a critical role for advising to fulfill, from entry to exit of the post-secondary journey. Professional Advising (by faculty or staff) is acknowledged as contributing a significant role towards student success and retention, yet the work of advisors is under-researched, in particular, in the Canadian context (e.g., Hardy & Strange, 2010; Pardy, 2016).

For example, there is a dearth of Canadian literature (e.g., Armstrong, 2011; Andres and Finlay, 2004; BCCAT, 1997; Brown and Doyle, 2010; Ouellette, 2010; Pardy 2016). There is limited data relating to advising available through the Canadian University Survey Consortium (CUSC, 2008, 2013). Further complicating the ability to draw on research to make informed or evidence-based advising practice decisions is an overarching systemic lens applied to what is shared and/or published. The individual knowledge and experiences of advisors and the diverse student populations they support and educate are often not captured. The voices of advisors are missing and there are limited opportunities to document promising practices.

This session shares findings from a group of Canadian advising researchers and outlines the ongoing challenges they experience as researchers. The presenters examine key findings and lessons learned from a national study conducted in 2018 and shares the voices of professional advisors from across Canada, coast-to-coast. They also share insights related to establishing and persisting with an advising research practice.

The session begins with a brief overview of the study. The results describe the current state of advising in Canada, the gaps in the research, and recommendations for a path forward as higher education today works to; 1) increase opportunities for underrepresented students; 2) address barriers that lead to disparity for many trying to access an education; 3) and improve equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) across the campus.

The presenters will facilitate a brainstorming session designed to help participants define advising research opportunities and explore ways to collaborate or establish an advising research culture.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
C4 - Expected outcomes of academic advising and tutoring
P3 - Commit to students, colleagues, and their institutions through engagement in continuing professional development, scholarly enquiry, and the evaluation of professional practices
P4 - Understand the implications of quality assurance and quality enhancement, and engage in on-going evaluation and development of advising and tutoring practice