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CCRC Report: Dynamics Affecting the Implementation of College Advising Redesigns

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According to a January 2020 working paper from the Community College Research Center (CCRC), external, internal, and interpersonal dynamics all “have implications for practitioners, funders, and policymakers looking to enact technology-mediated advising reforms.”

This research is based on interview data from stakeholders at two- and four-year colleges, from different regions (Southwest, Midwest, and South), demographic makeups, and settings (rural, town, or city). The study examines dynamics such as state policies on college completion, centralization of advising policies and procedures, and individual advising approaches. 

Findings suggest that a large obstacle to instituting advising reform comes from economic challenges (state funding cuts, shifts in demographics and enrollment). Such changes can mean high advisor turnover or large caseloads, and can have a negative impact for the success of advising initiatives, particularly where technology-mediated reforms are concerned. The strongest positive impact came from having “a rationale and organizing framework for envisioning and enacting institutional change to promote student success.” Despite challenges, external pressures to boost student completion rates in the face of budget cuts were met with motivation on the part of stakeholders. However, this was only true in cases where advisors had adequate resources to meet these demands.

Ultimately, the researchers conclude that taking a college’s surrounding environment into consideration is key when instituting new initiatives. They propose an “adaptation of ecological systems theory,” to consider the contexts that impact advisors’ capacity and willingness to buy in to new initiatives. Finally, the authors include a set of guiding questions based on this research that were developed for practitioner and institutional partner use.

To learn more about enacting technology-mediated advising reforms read the full CCRC working paper.

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  • technology
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