Advising Models

Advising models

Academic advising is most often done from one of two different perspectives. A combination approach is also possible. 

Prescriptive advising: The academic advisor tells the student what to do, and the student does it. Prescriptive advising is linear communication from the advisor to the advisee and places most of the responsibility not on the student, but the advisor. The advisor is required to have the answers. 

Developmental advising: The academic advisor and the advisee are partners in educational discovery in which responsibility is shared between the participants.... Here is one definition developed by David S. Crockett (1995): Prescriptive advising tends to be the "do it for them" model. Developmental advising is the "help them do it for themselves" model. 

Comparison of prescriptive and Developmental models
Prescriptive Developmental
Advisor tells student what he/she needs to know about programs and courses.  Advisor helps student learn about courses and programs for self.
Advisor knows college policies and tells student what to do.  Advisor tells student where to learn about policies and helps in understanding how they apply to him/her 
Advisor informs about deadlines and follows up behind student.  Advisor informs about deadlines, then lets student follow up. 
Advisor tells student which classes to take.  Advisor presents class options; student makes own selections. 
Advisor keeps informed about academic progress through files and records.  Advisor keeps informed about academic progress through records and talking to student about academic experiences. 
Advisor tells student what to do in order to get advised.  Advisor and student reach agreement about nature of advising relationship. 
Advisor uses grades and test results to determine courses most appropriate for student.  Advisor and student use grades, test results and self-determined interests and abilities to determine most appropriate courses. 
Advisor specifies alternatives and indicates best choice when student faces difficult decisions.  Advisor assists student in identifying alternatives and weighing consequences when facing difficult decisions. 
Advisor suggests what student should major in.  Advisor suggests steps students can take to help decide on major. 
Advisor identifies realistic academic goals based on grades and test results.  Advisor assists student in identifying realistic academic goals based on grades, test results and self-understanding. 
Advisor is concerned mainly about academic life of student.  Advisor is concerned about personal, social and academic life of student. 
Advisor provides information mainly about courses and class schedules.  Advisor provides information about workshops and seminars in areas such as career planning and study skills, in addition to courses and class schedules. 

Adapted from Missouri State University’s Theories of Advising. For more research-based resources on a variety of advising models, follow this link

  • Intrusive (also called Proactive) Advising involves proactive interactions with students, with the intention of connecting with them before a situation occurs that cannot be fixed. Intrusive Advising is not “hand-holding” or parenting, but rather active concern for students’ academic preparation; it is a willingness to assist students in exploring services and programs to improve skills and increase academic motivation (Upcraft & Kramer, 1995).  

  • Intrusive Advising involves intentional contact with students with the goal of developing a caring and beneficial relationship that leads to increased academic motivation and persistence. Research literature on student retention suggests that contact with a significant person within an institution of higher education is a crucial factor in a student’s decision to remain in college (Heisserer & Parette, 2002). Habley (1994) tells us that academic advising is the only structured activity on the campus in which all students have the opportunity for on-going, one-to-one interaction with a concerned representative of the institution (p. 10). .... In addition, contacting students in a preventative mode may help them anticipate problems and learn problem-solving skills and strategies (Upcraft & Kramer, 1995). 

  • Intrusive Advising differs from the more traditional prescriptive and developmental models of advising because advisors are not only helpful and encouraging of students, but they proactively make the initial contact with students…a pre-emptive strike, of sorts. …. Heisserer and Parette (2002) observe that “the only variable that has a direct effect on student persistence is the quality of a relationship with a significant member of the college community” (p. 72). 

  • The goal is to help students feel cared for by the institution. Students who perceive that someone cares about them and that they belong to the school community are more likely to be academically successful than those who do not feel any sense of care by the institution (Heisserer & Parette, 2002).  

  • Proactively monitor grades: both mid-semester and final. Contact students whose grades are marginal and encourage them to schedule an appointment to discuss strategies for working with faculty, improving study skills, and increasing the probability of academic success.  

  • When meeting with students, include questions about their grade expectations and how the outcome could have been different. 

 Suggestions for Intrusive Advising:

  1. Use the Academic Alert system early and often

  2. Engage in or enquire about student activities to bond with students 

  3. Share a meal or coffee 

  4. Encourage students to network with each other 

  5. Guide students to assess their own strengths and areas of opportunity.  

  6. Advocate for them when necessary and teach self-advocacy 

  7. Maintain clear boundaries with students: show genuine care, including a positive attitude, openness and honestly, but maintain professionalism at all times (Thomas & Minton, 2004). 

There are additional research-based resources on intrusive advising.

Appreciative Advising is the intentional collaborative practice of asking positive, open-ended questions that help students optimize their educational experiences and achieve their dreams, goals, and potentials.

The Six Phases of Appreciative Advising  

  1. Disarm: Make a positive first impression with the student, build rapport, and create a safe, welcoming space.  

  2. Discover: Ask positive open-ended questions that help advisers learn about students' strengths, skills, and abilities.  

  3. Dream: Inquire about students' hopes and dreams for their futures.  

  4. Design: Co-create a plan for making their dreams a reality.  

  5. Deliver: The student delivers on the plan created during the Design phase and the adviser is available to encourage and support students.  

  6. Don't Settle: Advisers and students need to set their own internal bars of expectations high.  


  • Welcome students personally   

  • Be mindful of your nonverbal communication:  (Gestures, smile, eye contact, focus on them without distractions)

  • Be mindful of your verbal communication: (Call students by name/Be sure they know your name )

  • Use inclusive pronouns: “Let’s look at this together.” , “We can find the answer to that.”

  • Give feedback to students: “That’s great!”, “Wow, you are making great progress.”, "You’ve had some great experiences.”  

  • Ask for student feedback: “Am I going too fast?”, "Would you like some help?”, “What are your questions?"   


  • Everybody has a story.  Ask positive questions to help us learn our students’ stories.  

  • Notice the student’s strengths, skills, passions, accomplishments.

  • Make students feel “heard” by: Affirming, Rephrasing, or Summarizing what the student is saying in a positive empowering way—“I’m impressed by…” or “It sounds like you…”       

Some discover questions:  

  • Tell me about a time when you enjoyed doing class projects or assignments.  How did you feel?  Why do you think you enjoyed it?   

  • Tell me about a time when you experienced academic success.  Why do you consider that a success?  What did you do to make it successful?  Who helped you?  

  • What activities were you involved with in high school?  

  • What do you like to do in your spare time? (Books, movies, travel, hobbies, etc…) If you have more time with an individual student:  

  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?  Why?  

  • Describe some life events that have made you into the person you are today?  

  • Who are the most important role models in your life?  Why?    


  • Listen purposefully, really listen to what the student is trying to convey.  

  • Make connections between information from the Discover phase and dreams being shared during this phase.  

  • Encourage students to be open to the possibilities and remind them that there is more than one right answer, major, career, etc.  


  • Explain technical information in easy to understand language

  • Avoid confusing acronyms  

  • Encourage inquiry and engagement from the student:  “That’s a good question.” 

  • Share options and discuss pros and cons of each option  

  • Student makes the decision  

  • Make effective referrals  

  • Take the student to the person they need to speak with, or 

  • If it is something they need to do after appointment, email a reminder or have them write down in detail:  who, what, when, where, how.   

  • Work together to set goals and specific sub-goals:     

  • Clarify who is responsible for what by what date – talk about approaches and ideas (i.e. take a friend with you to Study Abroad for questions and inquiry).  


  • At the end of the advising session:  Review what you have accomplished in this session Review the student’s responsibilities and your responsibilities and deadlines you have established.  

  • Encourage the student to contact you with any problems or concerns  

  • Reiterate you confidence that the student can indeed accomplish the goals set forth.   

  • Energize Students to be their best 

  • Conversation closure:  

  • “Do you have any questions for me?  

  • “Is there anything else that I should have asked you?”

  • “Thanks so much for coming.  I really enjoyed meeting with you.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.”  

Don’t Settle  

  • Have high expectations for yourself and your students, and teach them how to meet your standards. 

  • Don’t just deliver but go to next degree—every time.  

Adapted from:  The Appreciative Advising Revolution. Bloom, J. L., Hutson, B. L., & He, Y. (2008). The appreciative advising revolution. Champaign, IL: Stipes Publishing.   

Advising is Teaching

Academic advising researchers attest that advising is teaching.  Learn more by clicking the link below.