Effectiveness of Different Models of Academic Advising in Postgraduate Taught Courses

Sarah Bosch (Sheffield Hallam University)
Melissa Jacobi (Sheffield Hallam University)

Monday, April 8, 2024 10:00 AM - 10:45 AM

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Session Outline

Academic Advising is central to student experience and part of Sheffield Hallam University’s commitment to students. All students on taught courses at Hallam should be supported by an Academic Adviser (AA) who works with them on their academic, personal, and professional development. The AA process varies between course, staff, and students, based on differing needs and personalities. However, there are general principles and minimum requirements that should apply outlined in Hallam's Academic Advising Framework and Policy. These are generally well established as practice in undergraduate courses, but were less well established in postgraduate taught PGT courses. In 2021 a project was initiated to develop and implement evidence-informed models of PGT academic advising at Hallam. A working group developed models using pre-existing feedback about PGT academic advising (e.g., PTES data), existing literature and sector practice. In addition, course leader feedback and information about the characteristics of Hallam’s PGT courses were collated. Four models were created for all PGT courses to choose from for implementation from Sep’22.

Each model included minimum requirements and recommendations for implementation. Model 1 was an ‘out of curriculum’ approach, Model 2 an ‘embedded approach’; Model 3 an ‘extended advising’ offer and Model ‘X’ was a ‘student led’ approach.

A mixed methods approach was taken with existing qualitative and quantitative data (PTES and institutional surveys) and new data (staff surveys and staff/student focus groups) utilised. Comparisons pre- and post-model implementation, as well as between models, were made relating to student awareness of the AA role, usage of their AA and perceptions of their academic advising experiences. Additionally, staff experiences pre-and post-implementation were explored.

Preliminary results show awareness of the AA role and who theirs was as greater among students in the post-implementation year. Indeed, perceptions of usefulness of guidance provided, effectiveness of signposting, and personal interest taken by AAs was more positive in the post-implementation year, compared with pre-implementation.

When comparing models, Model 2 provided students with more opportunity for and uptake of meetings with their AA; Perceptions of the AA tended to be more positive in students who experienced Model 2. Model X revealed significantly less positive responses for signposting and personal interest taken. These initial results suggest that an institutional approach to implementation of academic advising in PGT courses had a positive effect on awareness and perceptions of academic advising, perhaps by increasing the visibility and importance of this crucial, but sometimes neglected, group. Additionally, results provide empirical evidence that embedding academic advising in curriculum can have a positive effect. This is likely due to increased opportunities to build meaningful relationships and trust.

This session addresses the following competencies of the UKAT Professional Framework for Advising and Tutoring
I5 - The characteristics, needs, and experiences of major and emerging student populations
R4 - Plan and conduct successful advising and tutoring interactions
P1 - Create and support environments that consider the needs and perspectives of students, and respect individual learners