Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Robert Hogan

Abstract

Academic advising is associated with increased student retention and academic success. However, advising at an urban graduate school of education in Tennessee has been criticized for limited advisor availability, poor communication, and lack of advising knowledge. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to gain a deeper understanding of the reasons for student satisfaction or dissatisfaction and to identify techniques to improve academic advising. This study was guided by the conceptual frameworks of Kelly's personal construct theory and Daloz's psycho-developmental perspective. The research question addressed the perceived role of academic advisors that graduate students associated with academic success. The data were collected using 4 focus groups. Group 1 consisted of 10 graduate students; group 2 included 5 professors; group 3 was comprised of 2 advisors; group 4 consisted of 3 administrators. A thematic analysis was performed on the data, and member checking was used to improve data quality. Findings revealed that students were satisfied with the positive attitude of advisors, but were dissatisfied with advisors' relational skills and knowledge of college programs. Findings also revealed that students, professors, and administrators were dissatisfied with advisor's limited availability and lack of training. Based on these research findings, a 3-day professional development workshop for advisors was developed. The workshop included training about techniques to improve advisor communication skills and knowledge of effective advising practices. Implementation of this professional development workshop could bring about positive social change by improving the effectiveness of the advising program and the quality of graduates.