Date of Conferral







Patricia McGee


AbstractWhile many universities rely on student success software to facilitate the academic advising process, little is known about how nontraditional students view technology-mediated advising and its usefulness for preventing attrition with this population. The purpose of this study was to explore how nontraditional undergraduates who may lack facility with technology view software as a tool to engage with their advisors and provide support for their academic decisions. Moore’s theory of transactional distance and Astin’s theory of engagement served as frameworks. Using a basic qualitative method, 14 students over the age of 40 years who were enrolled in various online undergraduate programs participated in semi-structured interviews. Data were open coded and analyzed thematically. The results indicated advising software is viewed favorably. However, five students, almost a third of the group, reported having beginner-level technical skills resulting in some challenges with navigating their school’s advising platform. Students valued timely communication with an advisor and convenient formats for doing so, which were facilitated by the advising platform. Findings contribute to positive social change by illustrating how advisors can more effectively use the software to engage students and enhance communication with them, therefore supporting persistence in coursework.