Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ask the Administrator: How to Measure Advisement?

Bardiac, true to form, asked a great question. If performing academic advisement is part of a professor’s job description (which it is, at my cc), how do we measure whether they do it well or not?

Some measures are fairly easy, if indirect. Does the professor usually show up for office hours? Do we ever see students there? Does the professor show up on in-person registration days? Do we ever get that professor’s signature on change-of-major forms or course-substitution forms?

The problem with these measures, of course, is that they’re vague at best. It’s possible for office hours to consist of social chatter, rather than real advisement. It’s possible that advisement can be erroneous, causing more problems than it solves. Change-of-major and course-sub forms could show active advisement, earlier mistakes, or even new mistakes.

(We also have a group of faculty who get stipends for showing up at in-person advisement sessions during the off-contract times of year. Presence in that group is generally smiled upon, although one could certainly argue that extra pay is its own reward.)

These measures worked tolerably well when advisement and registration were entirely in-person. Now that registration is increasingly on the web, though, measuring advisement is trickier. I certainly don’t want to start snooping through faculty email accounts to see how much they’re helping students that way – the issues there are too many, and too ugly. But without some sort of monitoring, I have no way of knowing which professors are actually carrying the load, and which free-riding. (Confessions of free-riding are few and far between.)

Failing to monitor, effectively, leads to failing to reward. Failing to reward, over time, leads to failure to bother in the first place. I’m concerned that we’re kind of running on historical momentum, force of habit, from the days when everything was in person. That’s fine, for now, but it’s probably not sustainable.

Does anyone out there have a system that effectively rewards faculty for active, distance advisement? How does it work?