Temple’s academic advising system is undergoing changes to make the planning and advising process easier to use for students. One of the biggest improvements of the system is the advising session report. Academic advisers from every department of the University, along with Computer Services and the Office of the Vice Provost, worked to develop a way to help students remember what was discussed at their advising appointments.
Other developments include condensable DARS reports and online registration that does not allow students to register for classes unless they have fulfilled the proper prerequisites.
“The DARS are easier to read now. Before they told you what you needed to take, but they were hard to interpret,” said sophomore biology major Sunita Ramcharan.
The College of Liberal Arts and University Studies are piloting the new session reports, which became available last Monday. The creators will present the use of session reports to the National Academic Advising Association.
“All advisers will be coming to see what Temple is doing. This gives students information at their fingertips,” said Stephanie Smith, academic advising director for CLA. Smith said she was proud that Temple can boast innovative improvements in advising.
Smith is well aware of how often students forget the advice they get during appointments, such as freshmen meetings with orientation advisers.
“Students leave the adviser’s office and forget everything that happened. It’s hard for students to remember,” she said.
After an advising session, advisers can enter notes about what they discussed with a student during an appointment into an electronic database. The database is linked to OWLnet, so students can access the session report the next day.
In the database, advisers can type their own notes about what was discussed, but there are also topic boxes with drop-down menus, where advisers can select specific requirements or academic policies that might have been discussed. For example, if a topic such as academic probation is talked about, the adviser can select it from a topic box, and a pre-written explanation of the policy on academic probation will appear on the report.
Smith said the outlines of policies and requirements provided in the report will give students more time to talk with advisers, rather than spending time during the appointment explaining requirements. All advisers have access to the reports, so they are especially convenient for students changing majors. A student’s new adviser can see what has been talked about with previous advisers.
“Students often say, ‘I didn’t know I had to do that.’ Now students can go to their session report at any time to see what we’ve told them. [The reports are] student-centered, a way for students to start taking control of their advising experience. We want students to be autonomous and self-sufficient,” Smith said.
Smith also intends for the session reports to change the way students view the advising process and help students plan their academic paths better.
“Students can start thinking of advising as a resource. Within 24 hours of leaving your appointment, you have this report that won’t ever be deleted,” she said. “I think it’s going to help student retention, especially when students are going further toward their major requirements.”
CLA and University Studies are working to improve the system now, but Smith hopes every school within the University will eventually use session reports. The two departments are now trying to shorten the 24-hour period that students have to wait to access their report.
Students can access their advising session reports by clicking the DARS/Advising tab on OWLnet, then clicking the date of the advising session they want to see notes on.
Kristin Maranki can be reached at email@example.com.