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University to Introduce New Advising Evaluation Form in Spring

02/14/13

By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Feb. 14, 2013

Undergraduates will have the opportunity to appraise the academic advising they receive from faculty using a new online evaluation form that will debut on a university-wide basis this spring.

The new annual advisor evaluation questionnaire is the product of a student initiative led by members of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College.

“We had a way to evaluate courses, but no way to provide feedback on the advising experience,” said Harrison Kent ’13, UGBC’s director of university affairs. “We hoped that by introducing this tool it would reward good advising as well as place an emphasis on advising, showing it was just as important as research and publishing.”

The new questionnaire polls students about their advisor’s knowledge of the core curriculum and major requirements as well as their advisor’s availability, help with academic goals and concern about non-academic life.

Along with Kent, others leading this initiative were Anna Rhodes ’10, Denise Der ’10, Brian Jacek ’10 and Christopher Kirby ’12.

“These students were the principal architects. This advisor evaluation form marks a wonderful achievement for them,” said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Donald Hafner.

The advisor evaluation form was initially proposed during the 2009-10 academic year. The students met regularly with Hafner to fine-tune the project, and made presentations to the University Council on Teaching and the Provost’s Advisory Council, among other groups.

“It is tricky,” said Kent. “The advising relationship is inherently a personal one and it can be difficult to determine how to measure it.”

In 2011, the evaluation form was piloted in the Connell School of Nursing. The experiment was successful, with more than an 80 percent participation rate. Last spring, the pilot group was expanded to the Carroll School of Management.

“We were concerned about survey fatigue,” recalled Kent. “But, the response told us that students felt it was an important issue.”

“We were pleased to find that students really took the process seriously,” added Hafner. “We found students were generally happy with their advising experience, but we did identify areas that could be strengthened.”

The UGBC students also helped to develop advising guides for students. These one-page guides, tailored to each class year, offer a checklist of questions and topics that students should be prepared to discuss with their advisor.
“Advising is a two-way street,” said Kent. “Students need to learn to be good advisees.”

Hafner noted that the evaluations are administered by an outside vendor and responses are confidential. In late April, undergraduates will be contacted by email about completing the advisor evaluation questionnaire.

Kent, an English and economics major from Arizona, is pleased that he will be here to see the advisor evaluation form become reality. “I joined UGBC because I wanted to create a legacy and make a positive impact for BC students.”