New academic advising professional development course opens for faculty, staff

January 17, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new professional development course from Penn State teaches the best practices in academic advising that faculty and staff can use in assisting the more than 82,000 undergraduate students at the University.

The course, “Excellence in academic advising,” will open for the first time Feb. 1 in Canvas, the University’s learning management system, and will be available to any Penn State employee. It is being offered through the Penn State World Campus Faculty Development Online Learning (OL) course series in collaboration with the Penn State Division of Undergraduate Studies.

“Academic advising helps students interpret their beliefs, values and experiences so they make the most of their time at Penn State and ultimately achieve their academic goals,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones, Penn State’s chief academic administrator, in a video introduction to the course. “In critical ways, academic advisers facilitate reflective thinking by students, which ultimately enables them to engage fully in the many opportunities that higher education offers.”

The course, OL 3800, was created by a team of advising professionals from Penn State World Campus and the Division of Undergraduate Studies to streamline training and bring some uniformity to academic advising, which is administered in various forms across the University.

There are more than 3,600 faculty and staff members who serve as academic advisers across Penn State.

Dawn Coder, director of academic advising and student disability services for Penn State World Campus and one of the course’s authors, has 48 advisers, some of whom work remotely. Her staff assists more than 8,000 online learners.

Coder said the course’s learning objectives align with the core skills set forth by the National Academic Advising Association. The course consists of five modules: advising foundations, approaches to advising, assisting 21st century college students of all kinds, legal and ethical issues, and creating a personal philosophy.

“A lot of people see academic advising as ‘tell me what to take, and I’ll take it,’ but there is so much more,” Coder said. It includes setting educational goals, building a relationship with the student, discussing post-graduation plans, and providing resources for emergencies or extenuating circumstances, she said.

Academic advising is an integral part of Penn State’s mission, said David R. Smith, associate dean for advising and the executive director of the Division of Undergraduate Studies and one of the course’s authors.

“Developing strong, meaningful academic advising programs requires institutional support that acknowledges that advising is central to the teaching and learning mission of higher education,” Smith said. “We want to demonstrate a commitment to our students through academic advising to enhance their educational experiences and help ensure that they each have someone at the University committed to their success.”

After the first offering in February, the course will be available again in March and April.

In addition to Coder and Smith, the design team consisted of Julia Glover and Malena Gittler, of World Campus, and Terry Musser and Sean Bridgen from the Division of Undergraduate Studies.

Visit the Penn State World Campus Faculty Development website to register for the course.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 17, 2019