GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 187-10
Presentation Time: 10:35 AM


WIRTH, Karl R., Geology Department, Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN 55105,

In its most conventional form, academic advising serves an important clerical function of helping students select and schedule courses. Equally vital, but often neglected, goals of academic advising include: engaging students in dialogues about the larger learning outcomes of their education; promoting self-authored goal-setting, planning, and decision-making; and charting pathways to possible futures. Advising and mentorship have also been shown to be an important factor in retention and student success, especially for students from many less privileged groups. The challenge is to help students take a more active role, before their advising meetings, in reflecting on their educational and career paths. Here I describe a model of “flipped advising” that utilizes reflective prompts to pre-engage and prepare students for advising conversations, and to support their development and success.

Similar to flipped classrooms, the traditional elements of advising are reversed in the model of flipped advising. Before meeting with their academic advisor, the student first completes a pre-advising reflection that prompts them to identify and interpret significant experiences relevant to their learning, development, and choices. The instructor reads the responses prior to meeting with the student, and these become a starting point and context for student-advisor dialogues about learning, skills, course selection, co-curricular activities, and possible educational and career paths. The reflective prompts change each semester and are aligned with the progression of outcomes (e.g., learning to learn, liberal learning, intellectual and professional skills) and events (e.g., choosing a major, engaging in capstone research, preparation for a career) that occur along the arc of an undergraduate education.

The pre-advising reflections are easily implemented online using Google Forms, which provides a mechanism for branching to different prompts depending on the academic level of the student. Furthermore, the spreadsheet format of the student responses provides an efficient and effective management and review tool for the advisor. The use of a cloud-based instrument also facilitates sharing of reflection prompts within programs and institutions. Example prompts are available from the author upon request.