Community groups for advisees

As a member of the Advising Advisory Subcommittee, Dr. Rediehs has been thinking about advising from various perspectives for some time now.  Most recently, Dr. Rediehs has been inspired by SLU’s holistic vision for advising as extension of teaching and an opportunity for guiding students in their discovery of the big questions about liberal arts education, and intrigued by features specific to our online learning management system.  As a faculty member of the First Year Program, advising first year students and as-yet-undeclared second year students in addition to philosophy majors, her needs were complicated by a fairly high advising load. Eventually, however, it all came together. In searching for a way to facilitate best practices in advising while better meeting the perceived needs of students of the net generation, she discovered a previously untapped use for ANGEL community groups.

By way of the community group, Dr. Rediehs developed a number of critical getting-started components to disseminate accurate information among first year students and orient them to an holistic advising process. Resources included: (1) an essay encouraging broad thinking about liberal education and meaningful connections to students’ lives, (2) a document with embedded links for a range of advising resources, (3) instructions for getting started with ePortfolio, (4) frequently asked questions about the First Year Program, (5) key questions to structure thinking through the academic program, and (6) discussion forums. Discussion opportunities for public thinking included forums on key questions and an open forum to post questions. Dr. Rediehs also included the more private journal discussion option, providing a place for an ongoing exchange between the professor and each student.

Using the ANGEL advising community helped students organize their lives. Students may be facile with technology but tend to be disorganized or ill- equipped to manage their time or workload. The online community group interface is reassuringly similar to an ANGEL course, so students adapted easily. For example, calendar events alert each team to appointments or pertinent deadlines (e.g. course registration, registration runs processing, last day of drop/add, and overload petitions). It’s important to note here that the advising community ANGEL site was a supplement to, not a substitute for, traditional advisee-advisor encounters during the course of the semester.

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