Perceptions of community college academic advisors of intrusive advising for first-year academically underprepared students
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Community colleges serve a large population of diverse students with different needs particularly those that are academically underprepared. Considering this the nation is depending on community colleges to focus even more on student success, due to the need to maintain a competitive workforce and economic growth. More importantly, community colleges can measure student success through retention and graduation rates and for this reason; a plan to increase both rates needs to be developed. Likewise, as more students are entering college academically underprepared there is a greater need for effective student support services such as academic advising to increase student retention during the first year. Intrusive advising is an approach used by academic advisors that can influence academic and social integration and assist students with personal issues, which are significant factors in increasing student retention. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences and perceptions of academic advisors in the role of mandatory intrusive advising and its impact on the retention of first-year academically underprepared students who are enrolled in developmental education courses. More specifically, this study focused on academic advisors’ perceptions of the benefits of intrusive advising on student retention, academic advisors’ perceptions of their role in intrusive advising, and the benefits and challenges of utilizing a mandatory intrusive advising model. A collective case study research design was used to conduct this study at two suburban community colleges in Texas located in the Gulf Coast region. Eight academic advisors were interviewed. Other forms of data collection included observations, field notes, documents, and recorded field notes. The collected data was analyzed using the constant comparative method with open and axial coding. Once the data was analyzed, it was used to address the five research questions listed in this study. The findings of the study demonstrate that the intrusive advising model improves student retention for first-year developmental education students. Through the experiences of community college academic advisors, this approach proves that both academic and nonacademic factors need to be considered when trying to analyze student retention and completion rates. The intrusive advisors perceived their roles were to establish a connection with the developmental education students and help them with feeling that they belong, assist them with personal and career goals through academic planning, and communicate with them frequently. Furthermore, the advisors role regarding the success of student retention was to connect with the student by being the first point of contact at the institution, show students that they care, and assist students with referrals and resources. In addition, the other results found that there were benefits and challenges with applying a mandatory intrusive advising model for a specific population of students and although campus-wide support was apparent, there was an opportunity to improve staffing and other resources. The results of the study produced a number of implications to be considered for higher education practice such as a mandatory intrusive advising program being implemented and designed for first-year developmental education students to increase student retention. Additionally, this will help institutions meet the American Graduation Initiative or completion agenda of increasing the number of postsecondary graduates with higher retention and completion rates. In order to achieve the abovementioned implications the advisors must have the time to advise these students and the institutional support needed to accomplish positive outcomes. Several recommendations for higher education practice were formed from the results of the study. Community colleges need to require first-year students to participate in some form of academic advising such as intrusive advising. Higher education practitioners need to incorporate intrusive advising with a mandatory student success course or first-year experience course. Academic advisors who participate in intrusive advising need to receive training and professional development opportunities. The final recommendation is that support is provided by the institution to ensure the success of the intrusive advising program.