Giving Compass’ Take:
• CCRC and MDRC share how three schools are using technology to improve their advising process, highlight essential components and challenges of reform.
• How can philanthropy help other schools take build off of these learnings?
• Learn about inadequacies in community college advisors.
A rapidly growing number of higher education institutions nationwide are implementing advising technologies—including education planning, counseling and coaching, and risk targeting technologies— to help students plan their academic paths and stay on track to graduation. Research suggests that these technologies may improve support for students if institutions also adopt advising structures and processes that leverage technology to provide a more intensive and personalized advising experience.
This report describes how three institutions—the University of North Carolina, Charlotte (UNC Charlotte); California State University, Fresno (Fresno State); and Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) in Pennsylvania—are approaching comprehensive, technology-based advising reforms, presenting detailed examples of their new advising practices, outreach methods, and messages to students.
Based on observations of the advising redesigns at UNC Charlotte, Fresno State, and MCCC, the report provides insights and ideas for other institutions seeking to redesign their advising practices around new technologies. Emerging themes include the following:
- Structural changes are needed to transform how students experience advising. Advisors at broad-access institutions often have large caseloads and lack the capacity to engage students in holistic discussions during advising appointments.
- Professional development is necessary to support advisors as they adopt holistic advising practices. Advisors need additional resources and professional development opportunities that support their efforts to engage students on topics beyond course registration and short-term academic planning.
- There are open questions about appropriate ways to use risk information and how to discuss risk data with students. All three sites utilize data—such as early-alert flags, midterm grades, and predictive analytics scores—to gauge students’ risk of falling off track in their programs and prompt targeted outreach. However, institutions and advisors struggled with how to discuss risk data with students in order to motivate them rather than discourage them, and questions emerged about the efficacy of some predictive analytics tools.
- Engaging multiple stakeholders in transformational advising redesigns is critical yet challenging. All three institutions included a range of stakeholders in their redesign efforts from the beginning, including those in advising, support services, information technology, and institutional research functions.
Many colleges and universities are using advising technologies as a foundation for broader reforms of their advising and student support services. These institutions are looking to transform their advising systems so that they support a more intensive and personalized case-management approach with students. Among the main technologies supporting such reforms are education planning technologies, counseling and coaching technologies, and risk targeting and intervention technologies. Institutions use these respective technologies together to provide more efficient and effective planning and advising services, target students who need the most support, and ultimately improve student success.