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Professional Development

APLU Course to Focus on Student Advising Reform

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) is launching a new online course to help higher education leaders redesign student advising on their campuses. Developed with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the six-lesson, self-paced course, "A SMART Approach to Student Success: Strategic Management of Advising Reform and Technology," offers guidance for leaders in academic affairs and student affairs, advising managers, professional advisers and faculty on the use of proactive advising to better serve students.

Topics covered include:

  • Intersection of proactive advising, technology and student success objectives;
  • Role of technology and data analytics in proactive advising;
  • Structural, process and attitudinal changes required to improve advising systems;
  • Implementation and communication strategies needed to build cross-campus collaboration; and
  • Best methods for calculating and communicating about returns on investments in proactive advising systems and student success driven initiatives.

Content for the course is drawn from interviews with presidents, provosts, vice provosts for student success, vice presidents of information technology, advising personnel and faculty from Austin Community College, Colorado State University, Georgia State University, Middle Tennessee State University and Whatcom Community College. According to an APLU statement, those institutions were selected to represent a variety of types and geographic regions: "Research universities, community colleges, urban-serving universities, and Hispanic-serving institutions were selected to illustrate a diversity of approaches, challenges and successes across differing institution types." 

The course includes video narratives in which leaders from the profiled institutions describe the activities, culture and strategies they developed to implement proactive advising on their campuses. Best practices covered include "unwavering executive and project level leadership; providing strong mechanisms for cross-campus collaboration and communication across academic and student affairs; tailoring reform efforts to specific campus context; and understanding and communicating to all stakeholders about the return on investment for implementing student success and advising reform." The course also provides students with practical activities and resources developed by experts in the field.

"Post-secondary leaders recognize the vast benefits that proactive advising systems offer in helping to increase retention and graduation rates. But implementing such a system is not a small or straightforward task, which is why this course is so valuable," said Meaghan Duff, executive director of APLU's Personalized Learning Consortium, in a statement. "Rather than reinventing the wheel, the in-depth content in this course provides participants with an opportunity to learn at their own pace directly from peers who have paved the way in this field. This helps institutions looking to implement proactive advising systems save time and money by avoiding the need for costly and time-consuming activities such as institutional site visits or consultants. All of the interviews, activities and supplemental materials are accessible on the course site for their review as often as they need and whenever they want."

For more information, visit the APLU site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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