Practice Good Advising and Mentoring
It is important to note that advising and mentoring are not the same. As Schlosser and Gelso (2001) put it:
"Advisors and mentors are not synonymous. One can be an advisor without being a mentor and certainly one can be a mentor to someone without being that person's advisor. It appears that far more students have advisors than mentors."
Advising relationships are often focused on the nuts-and-bolts issues related to navigating a program of study or a campus community. This kind of technical guidance can be performed by someone in the department or a professional academic advisor elsewhere at the institution. By contrast, a mentoring relationship involves a faculty member or other professional in the discipline providing their protege with "knowledge, advice, counsel, challenge, and support in the protege's pursuit of becoming a full member in a particular profession" (Johnson, 2007). Naturally, some successful advising relationships can deepen into mentorships but not all will. Both advising and mentoring are important in student retention and progress and there are particular considerations associated with doing each well.
Hint: It's more than setting them up with a degree plan and course scheduling.
Hint: It's more than supervising them in the lab or field.
How Advising and Mentoring Support the Whole Student: Capacity and Continuity
From Jolly et al. (2004):
"The underlying assumption of Capacity is that there is fundamental knowledge that is necessary to advance to more rigorous or advanced levels." (p. 6)
"Ideally [Continuity] is a fully articulated system where the skills, knowledge and information students need to move to advanced levels are known and are provided at each earlier, less advanced level." (p. 7)
Viewed in this context both advising and mentoring each contribute to aspects of the Whole Student Model of supporting student success.
Capacity is often thought of in the context of content knowledge in STEM disciplines. But helping students understand the mechanics of successfully navigating the campus environment and completing a degree or developing their own identity as a STEM professional is also building their capacity to be successful. These are things that good advising and effective mentoring help students do.
Unlike capacity, which tends to focus on what the student can do, continuity deals with the institutional and programmatic systems that are in place to support them as they progress. Educator knowledge and quality, availability of out-of-school programs, and the availability of necessary coursework are examples of factors that affect continuity. Good advising and mentoring programs are also integral to this support system. Advising is critical in helping students to articulate and achieve their academic goals and make progress toward their degree. Opportunities for mentoring offer the deeper psychosocial support that can assist students in becoming members of the community of practice they are aiming for.
Alan T.D. and L.T. Eby (Eds) (2007). The Blackwell Handbook of Mentoring: A Multiple Perspectives Approach. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. 496 p.
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