Wilbur, Nick
Academic Advisor II, Adjunct Instructor
PS 201g
Last Updated: 12/6/18 -

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Academic Advising Philosophy

Nick Wilbur

     A student’s education plays a pivotal role in their life.  As an academic advisor, I strive for my students to analyze their goals and to develop a plan to achieve those goals in a rational and mature way.  Every person is constantly making decisions.  My ambition as an advisor is to instill in my students, the ability to make those decisions and support them in a manner that is logical, focused, and goal-oriented.

     As an advisor, I serve as a teacher and a guide, leading students to learn and grow while determining their personal path to success. An advisor is someone who can lead students to make their own conclusions and understandings, based on the resources, support, and information given to them.  This means that the student is in control of their academic career and creates their own path to success through the support and guidance of their advisor.  As an advisor, I provide students with the tools and reinforcement that they need in order to discover their objectives and how to reach them.

     In my experience as an instructor and in performing biology education research, I’ve come to realize that students learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning process.  In other words, when students can take control of their own learning experience, they learn, retain, and perform to a high standard.  This hands-on approach of classroom learning can also be applied to Academic Advising.  Students that are able to take control of their educational careers and decide the direction that is most appropriate to achieving their personal goals, are well suited to follow the path to success.  From my experience and my scholarly research, I’ve learned that students gain more from being engaged in the learning process than from passively listening to lectures.  Although I learned this lesson based on a classroom setting, the same applies to advising.  Students gain more from being engaged in the advising process than they do from simply being told what courses to take.  Engaging students and ensuring that they have a say during advising provides opportunities for students to explore their own paths to success, using the advisor as a guide.  If students are expected to think like scientists, than the advising sessions should encourage problem solving and critical thinking.  In order to learn life-long problem solving skills and principles, I ensure that my students are actively engaged in the learning and advising process. 

     In the classroom, my lesson planning follows “Backwards Design,” in which the purpose and goals of each subject are determined, followed by development of assessments and activities to guide students towards those goals (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998).  I have adopted this Goal-Oriented philosophy in advising as well.  In my advising sessions, students are encouraged to first explore their educational and professional goals, and then create plans to achieve those goals, while also developing methods for assessing their progress.  This method helps ensure that academic plans and approaches match the intended goals of the student and that activities are leading students towards the outcomes that they have determined.  As an advisor, I guide student to develop outcomes and goals that are in line with achieving success.  In this way, they are in control of their academic career and can assess progress towards their goals while understanding the necessity of steps along the way.

     Through the use of student-centered advising (meaning that students are personally engaged in the advising process), I gain a great deal of insight into the thought processes of my students.  From simply listening to students and observing their problem solving, I can gauge understanding, misconceptions, opinions and most importantly, the student’s goals.  From these, I learn alternate ways of viewing things as well as different ways to present information and ideas to students.  I can use this to assess methods of guiding student to their own success. 

     As an advisor, teacher, and scientist, I feel it is an important skill to be able to see the world with an analytical and critical eye.  I use an active and engaging advising approach to focus advisement around the student rather than the advisor.  Student engagement is the primary method used in order to instill in my students, the ability to solve problems and formulate plans for achieving their goals in a logical and rational manner.