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Among advisors: An interview study of faculty and staff undergraduate advising experience at a public land-grant university

Donna J. S Lynch, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study uses in-depth interviewing along with participant observation and document analysis to develop an understanding of academic advising at one land grant university (Lincoln and Guba, 1985; Merriam, 1988a; Seidman, 1991; Spradley, 1980). Through in-depth phenomenological interviews, this study asks how academic advisors understand the work of advising, the changes proposed and occurring in this setting, and how they manage the deep-seated dilemmas and perplexing choices inherent in the advising role. In addition, it inquires how these choices and decisions connect to issues raised by national reform initiatives of professionalization and standardization for the field. A group of twenty-eight faculty, professional and classified staff academic advisors from twenty different academic departments, counseling centers, and programs within the advising support system were interviewed. This included nineteen women and nine men who provided academic advising as a significant part of their work role. A sequence of three separate, ninety-minute audio-taped interviews were done with each participant (Seidman, 1991). When transcribed, verbatim material was analyzed for patterns and commonalities that were shared among advisors as well as uniqueness of practice (Patton, 1980). In interviews, as academic advisors reconstructed their experience and understanding of their work and work life, they repeatedly cited a common set of organizational issues. This interview material was developed into seven thematic chapters that describe and examine the context and historical development of academic advising; the changing student profile; the missing spirit of connectedness and inadequate preparation; divided roles and fragmented delivery system; self-constructed advising definitions and orientations; individually developed advising techniques and use of advising tools; and the issue of status.

Subject Area

Higher education|School administration|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Lynch, Donna J. S, "Among advisors: An interview study of faculty and staff undergraduate advising experience at a public land-grant university" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9823753.