Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, 48:1, 7-20
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In the present study, the authors seek to examine the practice of the academic advising provided by the College of Teacher Education to support the future professional development of prospective teachers and its link to prospective teachers’ academic results.
The following research questions have therefore driven the study:
(1) To what extent are college teacher educators advising their prospective teachers?
(2) Is there a significant association between academic advising and prospective teachers’ academic outcomes?
Design of the study - The major purpose of the present study was to examine the extent to which teacher educators are providing academic advice to prospective teachers at a College of Teacher Education in Ethiopia.
To achieve the objective of this study, a descriptive survey approach was adopted.
This approach can help to gain a general understanding of the issue by analysing the problem’s status.
Participants - The study involved a total of 322 participants, comprising 311 prospective teachers, one Ex-Vice Dean, and 10 teacher educators from Woldia College of Teacher Education, Ethiopia.
The probability sampling method, particularly a simple random sampling technique, was used to select prospective teachers.
The Ex-Vice Dean of the college was selected using the purposive sampling technique.
Besides, 10 college teacher educators were selected using a simple random sampling technique.
Data collection - Data were collected using a questionnaire, unstructured interview, and document analysis.
Questionnaire - The questionnaires were developed and used to collect data on the practice of academic advising.
The scales have been tested for their reliability.
The questionnaire consisted of two main sections.
Section I required respondents to provide general demographic information.
Section II comprised items focusing on the practice of academic advising (with a total of 14 items) provided by teacher educators to prospective teachers.
The questionnaire was adapted from the previous researcher (Pargett 2011), with little modification.
The items were Likert scaled on a four-point scale ranging from 1-strongly disagree to 4-strongly agree.
The administration of the questionnaire was held in the hall of the college.
Interview - The unstructured interview was developed and was carried out with 10 advisors and the Ex-Vice Dean to triangulate the results.
Interviews were conducted in the participants’ offices, an area that was considered convenient for both participants and researchers to interact comfortably in a relaxed way to generate rich data.
The interviews lasted approximately 30 minutes for each participant.
Document analysis - The cumulative GPA for every one of the 311 prospective teachers was collected from the Registrar’s Office of the Woldia College of Teacher Education, Ethiopia to measure the academic score.
Data analysis techniques - To analyse the data, both quantitative and qualitative techniques (a mixed approach) were used.
Quantitative analysis was used to assess the targeted variables using statistical tests (such as percentage and mean) and qualitative analysis was performed on the interview data to triangulate with the information gathered through the questionnaire.
Results and discussion
Assessing the practice of teacher educators’ academic advising
The majority of responses to academic advice practices are below average.
The mean percentages are as follows: strongly agree is 19.29%, agree is 26.37%, disagree is 29.26%, and strongly disagree is 25.08%.
The overall mean percentage of the agreement category is 45.66%.
The overall average of the disagree category was 54.34%.
In assessing the practice of academic advice, the results indicate that the majority of prospective teachers’ responses to academic advice practice are below average.
This shows that the advice the prospective teachers received from their teacher educators was not sufficient to encourage them during their stay in college or to keep them in college to complete their training.
More than half of respondents’ responses indicated that they were not satisfied with the academic advising of their teacher educators.
Similarly, it is indicated that teacher educators do not assist prospective teachers in identifying realistic academic goals based on what they know and their test scores and grades, nor do they talk to the prospective teachers about their academic interests and plans.
Leach and Wang (2015), based on their findings, reported the value of founding clear prospects about the academic advising programme.
In line with this study, student satisfaction research on the quality of higher education academic advice reveals a pattern of disappointing findings.
Astin (1993), cited in Cuseo (2003), announced that just 40% of prospective teachers surveyed demonstrated that they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the academic advice they received from their academic advisors.
Furthermore, the teacher educators are not in a position to inform alternative and best choices when prospective teachers are faced with challenging decisions and are unable to recognise who to contact other than for academic problems.
Even though teacher educators are the source of information for prospective teachers in their college life, the practice of academic advising at the college was not at its required level.
Teacher educators fail to tell prospective teachers how to manage their time for learning effectively, what they have to do, what they should major in, and what courses are most appropriate for them to take.
In this regard, according to Light (2004), advisors at any institution can effectively answer the following questions: What has changed? What do students do effectively?
Moreover, interviewees were asked to explain the status of the teacher educators’ academic advising provision to the prospective teachers in the college.
Although the findings differ slightly, the majority of the respondents believed that teacher educators do not offer academic advice to prospective teachers due to different reasons.
Many interviewees felt that prospective teachers’ unsatisfactory academic achievement is a reflection of the poor academic advising service.
Suvedi et al. (2015) emphasise that academic advising within higher education is an important aspect that can help students overcome academic difficulties and flourish in their academic performance.
The findings suggest that some teacher educators provide academic advice to their advisees.
However, they try to provide academic advice to prospective teachers arbitrarily, without a scheduled academic advice programme.
This kind of practice might cast a shadow on the effectiveness of academic advice practices.
Academic advisors should prepare a schedule for meetings with the advisee to determine if there is any progress in the academic improvement of the advisee (Al-Khafaji, 2017).
This would be accomplished by evaluating the marks earned during that scheduled time in assignments, tests, quizzes, etc.
Other interviewees, on the other hand, expressed their feeling that academic advising is poorly practiced due to the workload of teacher educators.
They suggest that the workload of teacher educators makes it difficult to properly carry out the responsibilities of academic advice.
In this regard, the college should guide teacher educators to prioritise activities that have the potential to enhance academic performance for prospective teachers, rather than routine activities that may not be of significant relevance to prospective teachers’ academic outcomes.
On the other hand, another participant stated that prospective teachers themselves do not have a positive attitude towards receiving academic advice from their teacher educators.
In this regard, teacher educators should clarify the relevance of academic advising for the prospective teachers to develop a positive perception of the academic advising service.
Some respondents feel that the practice of teacher educators in academic advice provision is problematic because of teacher educators’ lack of experience on how to offer academic advice to their advisees, and do not see academic advice as their primary responsibility.
The inference is that the academic advising activity within the college might depend mainly on the understanding of the teacher educators, as the teacher educators did not share the experience with their seniors, nor were they informed of the rules and principles of academic advising.
In such a context where there is less institutional support for the academic advising system, confusion exists as to whether the prospective teacher advising programme as currently offered in the college can function for prospective teachers and the college at large.
As can be understood from the responses of the interviewees mentioned above, although there was a slight divergence of views among the respondents on the practice of the academic advice provision, the majority did not believe that it was well-practiced.
The implication is that it is possible to say it needs remedial action.
It is also noted that there are differences between the teacher educators regarding practising prospective teacher academic advising.
The new employee starts academic advising without sharing the experience with their senior in their departments.
In line with the findings of this study, Fussy’s (2018) study on academic advice in Tanzanian Universities reported that advisors do not receive any training before participating in academic advice activities.
Moreover, some teacher educators do not see academic advice as their primary responsibility.
The relation between academic advising and prospective teachers’ academic result
The results of the correlation analysis in the present study exhibited a statistically significant positive association between academic advice and the academic outcomes of prospective teachers.
Al-Khafaji, S. 2017. “Academic Advising Process Roles in Supporting Student’s Success.” International Journal of Scientific Research and Management (IJSRM) 5 (11): 7485–7494.
Astin, A. W. (1993). What matters in college. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Cuseo, J. 2003. “Academic Advisement and Student Retention: Empirical Connections & Systemic Interventions.” Policy Center on the First Year of College. www.brevard.edu/fyc/listserv/remarks/cuseoretention.htm
Fussy, D. 2018. “The Status of Academic Advising in Tanzanian Universities.” Korean Journal of Educational Policy 15 (1): 81–98. http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11810/5090
Leach, R. B., and T. R. Wang. 2015. “Academic Advisee Motives for Pursuing Out-of-Class Communication with the Faculty Academic Advisor.” Communication Education 64 (3): 325–343.
Light, R. J. 2004. “Changing Advising through Assessment.” NACADA Journal 24 (1–2): 7–16.
Pargett, K. K. 2011. “The Effects of Academic Advising on College Student Development in Higher Education.” Educational Administration: Theses, Dissertations, and Student Research.
Suvedi, M., R. Ghimire, K. Millenbah, and K. Shrestha. 2015. “Undergraduate Students’ Perceptions of Academic Advising.” NACTA Journal 59 (3): 227–233.