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Transcript of Proactive Advising
Facts and Figures
Overview of Session
Langara - Students on Academic Probation
Laurier - Brantford
Transitioning ESL Students to Academic Studies
Preparing ESL Students for a Successful Transition to Academic Studies
Next Steps and Discussion:
How does this align with what my institution is doing?
What are the barriers my institution would face in this approach?
Who can be my co-collaborators in my institutions?
How can I adapt this approach to fit my institution?
International students encounter challenges due to sociocultural adjustment, lack of access to support networks and their need to navigate new academic expectations and processes.
Targeted approaches in providing pro-active advising that are culturally contextualized can be used to engage these students to help them identify and work through barriers to success.
By addressing the linkages between GPA and student success and providing a structured approach to dealing with challenges, this type of approach provides students with the tools to become self-advocates and champions for their own success.
LEAF started in 2010 in Brantford - it is the only ESL program at Laurier
In tracking the academic progress of first cohorts with both GPA reports and anecdotal information from academic advisors and professors, it was identified that LEAF graduates faced a number of challenges in transitioning to academic studies
There also appears to be a link between LEAF level of entry or time spent learning English, and the academic success of these students. The longer the student spent learning English, the more challenges they encounter in the academic environment. This was shown in reports that tracked GPA compared to months spent in LEAF program.
Working with Students at Risk of Academic Probation
Identified that international students were struggling, both with anecdotal information from faculty and academic advisors, and in examining progression and graduation rates
Invited those with GPA between 2 and 3.9 (out of 12 pt) to attend session
At Laurier, if a students has less than a 2.0 after 4 credit attempts (most courses are .5 credit weight), then they are required to withdraw, if a student has a GPA of between 2.0 and 3.9, then they are placed on Academic Probation. Individual programs have their own GPA requirements (such as our BBA requires a 7.0 to progress), but generally require a GPA of 5.0 overall to remain in an honours program.
Also receive referrals from Academic Advisors, Professors, other support staff
Because of growth in population of international students, with no increase in staff for a number of years, we have developed a collaborative approach with other departments.
Started Proactive Advising – 2012
International students on academic probation after their first semester
Identified by an Academic Standing report listing all students on probation (GPA less than 1.50/4.33 in a semester)
Reason to start proactive advising:
Noticeable increase in probation rates, especially in those students who get on probation after their 1st semester.
Proactive Advising -
An engaged approach
Teresa Brooks, Manager, International Student Services, Langara College
Anna Choudhury, International Student Advisor, Wilfrid Laurier University
Melissa DiLeo, International Student Advisor, Wilfrid Laurier University
CBIE - November 2014 - Ottawa
Laurier - (Brantford) - ESL Students
Laurier - (Waterloo) - Working with Students at Risk of Academic Failure
Discussion and Next Steps
A Student Perspective (Langara)
Langara welcomes the world...
Identified all students who were on academic probation after first semester
Reached out by email and phone to come to a pre-scheduled meeting
Advisor would meet one-on-one with the student
Goal of meeting:
- normalize situation
- provide information
- help student realize there is someone who cares
Advisor would ensure student knew that he or she was “not in trouble.”
Explain what “academic probation” means and help student understand importance of being successful in current semester
Help student to figure out what happened last semester and what could be done differently moving forward
Often, student would need to be encourage to not give up their dream of getting into university
Introduce relevant on-campus support services
If student is interested, advisor would schedule an appointment for student to meet with a counsellor
for academic probation
Health-related (both mental and physical)
Bad weather (especially in January, some directly from overseas)
Poor adjustment to college and/or regular studies (includes students not feeling engaged with the college community)
Inability to focus on studies
Unaware of academic policies, such as the course withdrawal deadline
Unclear about academic goals and course plan
Studies were not set as a high priority in student’s life
Taking the wrong courses based on advice from friends
Taking too many courses (unrealistic expectations prior to coming to Canada
Although we are only able to reach a small percentage of international students (about 7 – 12% of total international student population), those who come to the meeting feel they’ve benefited from the meeting
Most who attend one of these meetings will be back in good academic standing the following semester (about 80%)
Most importantly, students who attend make a personal connection with a staff member in the office, which helps in the chance of success
Challenges & Next Steps
Our challenges are to get 100% uptake of these meeting. Despite our efforts to reach out, some still do not accept the invitation or make any contact (about 50%)
Another challenge is to help students navigate through the many support services on campus and how to use them to be successful
We will be working on improving on participation rates in these meetings and expanding our pro-active advising for more new international students.
We are also aiming to work with faculty with hopes that can be more culturally aware
Laurier Academic English Foundations Program
Consists of five levels
Students all have offers to academic programs
at Laurier, either Waterloo or Brantford Campus
Demographics of students: over 90% from China, a few from Canadian curriculum or international high schools, none with previous post-secondary experience (a couple of exceptions)
Total number of students: 143
Those in level five: 26
Invited Level 5 students to attend one-to-one advising sessions mid-way through the final term
Asked students reflective questions in areas of personal preparedness, biggest challenges, and the time needed to become a successful academic student
An explanation of GPA, required and elective courses, program worksheets, and the academic calendar is provided
Opportunity to discuss differences between prior studies, or ESL studies and academic studies
Students are provided with a list of services and academic student support available on each campus
Students were over confident in ability to transition to academic studies
Students not aware of differences between ESL teachers and professors expectations, speed of speech, level of reading required
74% of students noted they needed to improve on Note Taking
70% of students indicated they feel ready to start an academic program
65% of students surveyed felt they would need to devote 40 hours or less a week towards academic pursuits
This includes classes, labs, tutorials, readings, assignments, group work, and examinations
40% of students indicated they to improve on writing skills
Results of Discussions with Students
Laurier - Waterloo
Currently have 850 undergraduate international students, with total undergraduate enrollment of over 17,000, so undergraduate international are approx. 5%.
When I started at Laurier in Winter 2009, we had 230 international students so we have more than tripled our international enrollment.
Laurier International encompasses both our Global Engagement Department (exchanges, work and study abroad, intercultural training, international at home, etc), and International Student Services. We have grown from a department of four plus an admin assistant, to 12 full time staff, 3 part time student staff, and 26 paid student mentors.
We have changed focus from providing orientation and immigration support to focusing on programming for cultural adjustment, academic success, community integration, and advocacy, as part of our "Succeed in Canada" program.
We spoke with students in focus groups and surveys about their needs and how we could better support them, and the outcome was that social activities were good, but specialized academic support programming was better. The students were also looking for help with finding meaningful employment opportunities while studying and help with Canadian Labour Market preparedness.
Pilot Program - Winter 2014
Results from Pilot Group
international students need support that is appropriate to their challenges
it doesn't take much, just reach out and talk to the students (takes a lot of time, though)
as much as we'd like to think students should be independent, they are not always initially, but they are resilient and competent and need to be active participants in their success planning
students aren't aware of the many support services available to them
don't assume that the students know, even the simplest thing, as they are overwhelmed by unfamiliar processes and have trouble navigating them
sometimes knowing that you care about them or that you understand where they are coming from, gives the students the motivation or empowerment to achieve their educational goals
out of these meetings, we can learn what are gaps are in services so that we can work collaboratively with other departments (Library, Learning Commons, Faculty, etc.) to fill them.
A Student's View of Pro-Active Advising
(from Langara College):
Why Students Feel Ready to Start Academic Studies
Students identified proficiency in English, and being “ready”
“Because my marks are good and I look forward to make some local friends”
“Compared with time before, I see that my English is very good, and I am ready for University”
“First, I take LEAF level 5 class twices Second, I am confident for that. Third, I am waiting for the day I start academic program for one and half year”
“Because I feel my English language has improved, I believe I can study well in university life”
Challenges & Next Steps
As this is the beginning of the Pro-active Advising approach it will take a few years to collect data and results
The reflective nature of the questions was quite difficult for students. Many students did not want to complete the intake form and didn’t understand why the questions were asked
65% of students will be transferring campuses which means a collaborative approach must be in place in a multi-campus environment.
Programs and services will need to be developed in a multi-campus model, and in all areas of the university to promote success for ESL transitioning students
Integrated and Collaborative
Earl, W. R. (1988). Intrusive advising of freshmen in academic difficulty. NACADA journal, 8(2), 27-33.
Noel, L., Levitz, R., & Saluri, D. (1985). Increasing student retention: Effective program practices for reducing the dropout rate. San Francisco: Iossey-Bass.
Deliberate intervention to enhance student motivation,
Using strategies to show interest and involvement with students,
Intensive advising designed to increase the probability of student success,
Working to educate students on all options, and
Approaching students before situations develop
Proactive (Intrusive) Advising in Theory and Practise.
Foundations of this approach developed in area of student retention
Emphasis on campus-wide participation
Professional Staffing (right person in right position)
(Varney, J. (2012). Proactive (intrusive) advising. Academic Advising Today, 35(3).)
52 international students that met the GPA profile for program, and I had direct contact with 28 of them, resulting in 21 initial office visits.
Appointments took between 45 to 60 minutes
Students fill out self-assessment form at first meeting
Are asked to identify the following:
- which services they have used on campus
- what they feel are their biggest challenges
- where they feel they could use assistance
Students were contacted approximately two weeks later to see how they were doing and to book follow up appointments if they thought it would be helpful.
During those visits there were a number of common themes that emerged.
Winter 2014 marks, the following are the results of the data analysis:
TA Participants (21) Non TA Participants (31)
GPA Below 2.0 or RTW (1) 5% (4) 13%
Overall Improvement (13) 62% (15) 48%
GPA Above 5 (5) 24% (1) 3%
GPA Above 4 (5) 24% (5) 16%
Withdrew (1) 4.8% (5) 16%
Taken only as a snapshot, rather than a statistical analysis, in the chart we see that those who participated in Transition Advising were more likely to raise their GPA above 4 or 5, were more likely to continue their studies, and conversely, were less likely to withdraw from studies.
For the most part there was an improvement in most second semester GPA’s for those students who participated in Transition Advising
The lowest achieving students overwhelmingly did not participate.
Following up with approximately half of them, they indicated they had started using more of the resources and services available (academic advising, SI, First language tutoring were mentioned specifically)
Felt more connected to the International Office and to campus on whole
Students are quite self-aware of their struggles and indicated a lack of knowledge and experience in Canadian academic culture
Many of the challenges were knowledge and culturally based. For example, when an international student indicated that they needed to improve on time management
Student indicated that their readings and assignments took a long time to do, or that they struggled to transcribe their lecture notes; it wasn’t necessarily that they were not managing their time effectively, but that there wasn’t sufficient time to complete the work to a satisfactory level.
Students were generally not using the academic assistance available, such as SI sessions, the Writing Centre, the Math Assistance Centre, or other resources offered through the Centre for Student Success
I have to do the labs alone because my partner dropped out and the professor didn’t assign me a new partner. I don’t know how to ask the professor about this.
I don’t have any experience writing the kinds of essays that the professors want. I also struggle with presentations.
I am not always sure that I am doing things the right way. I was taught in a different way before. I haven’t been focusing on the assignments enough – I am used to only worrying about the final exam.
I have to be careful answering the questions correctly to get proper marks. I don’t always feel like I am organizing my work properly. I am really homesick.
I have a problem keeping my results consistent. I do well in multiple choice questions, but not the others. I struggle with handling unexpected situations.
Remarks from Students
We have worked and are working with our different partners on campus to help them take a more proactive approach with international students, including:
Career Centre -Fourth Year Advising)
ISWEP International Student Work Experience Program
Centre for Student Success - SI sessions in Mandarin
Faculty of Business and Economics - First Language Tutoring (through LI/ISS)
Others have already developed their own proactive programs which we assist with by way of education and referrals:
Faculty of Arts (Academic Probation Advising)
cultural adjustment issues, especially around academic expectations (difference in studying in their home country compared to Canada, difference in writing assignments, essay structure, etc.), managing their workloads and living independently
not likely to speak with their professors about their challenges
identified that they were not sure they were in the right program and they were not sure what career path they were on or where their degree would take them
My biggest struggle was getting used to the weather and communicating with the professors.
My biggest struggle is being far away from home away from my family and having to wait many months before I can go home again.
I struggle with my writing skills and having to learn so much.
My biggest struggle is making Canadian friends. Also, I think I understand the lectures but when I get back to my room I don’t understand anymore. I never speak in class or participate in the discussions.
I have trouble taking notes in classes and also speaking in groups.