The National Academic Advising Association’s guiding principle is “Advising is teaching” (Appleby, 2006, p. 85). Academic advising enables students to identify, clarify, investigate, prepare for, and accomplish educational, career, and personal goals by providing them with opportunities to identify resources, understand options, and enhance self-awareness. Academic advice can be delivered in many ways (Gordon, Habley, Grites, & Associates 2008), including in-person (one-on-one or in groups and classes), online (websites, podcasts, or instructional platforms), or in print (books, handouts, or brochures). The purpose of this article is to describe a recent addition to this set of advising delivery methods—the Academic Advising Poster (AAP)—and to offer readers a set of online AAPs from the authors.
The first mention of AAPs was made by Aiken-Wisniewski and Allen (2005) who recognized that advising is teaching, and therefore embraced the notion that advising activities should be assessed in the same manner as teaching activities. Their large posters, which adorned the walls of their advising center’s reception area, identified the learning outcomes of their advising program, presented the results of student surveys they performed to assess these outcomes, and used photos and graphs to illustrate how their office had utilized the results of their surveys to improve their program.
Six years later, the third author contacted the first author to request permission to use the information from his Kisses of Death in the Graduate School Application Process publication (Appleby & Appleby, 2006) as the content for an AAP. The first author eagerly accepted this request, designed the poster using a single-PowerPoint-slide format, and began creating posters of his own based on his publications that dealt with academic and career advising topics. These AAPs provide another method of reaching students (and their advisors) outside of the typical advising or classroom points of contact. AAPs strategically positioned throughout psychology-department hallways and in or near psychology classrooms are often noticed and frequently consulted by students. The second and third authors have observed students suggesting that other students consult a poster they saw in a particular location for the answer to their questions.
Two years later, the American Psychological Association recommended AAPs as ways to promote student success and enhance student awareness in their Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major (2013) by using “hallway posters” (p. 63) and displaying an “APA-sponsored poster of learning goals and student outcomes prominently in the program workspace” (p. 62).
Since that time, the first and second authors have promoted the concept of AAPs with posters on that topic presented at the Southeastern Conference on the Teaching of Psychology (Appleby & Apple, 2017), the Eastern Conference on the Teaching of Psychology (Appleby & Apple, 2016), and the Society for the Teaching of Psychology-Association for Psychological Science Teaching Institute (Appleby & Apple, 2017).
The remaining portion of this article explains the concept of AAPs by providing detailed answers to a series of questions about this new academic advising delivery system.
WHAT Is an AAP?
An AAP is a poster-size enlargement of a PowerPoint slide (or similar format) created to enable viewers to identify, clarify, and accomplish educational, career, and personal goals by providing them with opportunities to discover resources, understand options, gain programmatic information, and enhance self-awareness. Posters can also provide technical information that answers frequently-asked-advising questions (FAAQs). Some examples of poster topics include:
- An Online Career-Exploration Resource for Psychology Majors (resource)
- Academic Advising Resources in the Psychology Department (resource)
- Curriculum Requirements and Options (FAAQ)
- How to Complete a Graduation Application (FAAQ)
- Where Psychology Alumni Work (options)
- Selecting a Graduate Program that Matches Your Interests (options)
- Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Psychology Major (options)
- Field Placement Opportunities (options)
- The Objectives of the Psychology Major (programmatic information)
- Recent Program-Assessment Findings (programmatic information)
- What Is Your Procrastination Style? (self-awareness)
- Why Your Freshman Year in College Will NOT Be 13th Grade (self-awareness)
WHO Can Benefit From AAPs?
AAPs can be created to advise a variety of audiences:
- Prospective students including high school and community college students
- Visitors to the department including parents
- Freshmen who are learning how to adapt to the culture of higher education
- Students who want to understand the requirements to graduate with a specific major
- Students who want to become familiar with their department’s events, opportunities, and resources
- Students who want to prepare themselves for employment or graduate school after graduation
WHERE Can AAPs Be Displayed?
AAPs can be displayed in a variety of both physical and online locations, such as:
- Areas of high student traffic
- Academic advising offices and their entrances
- Classrooms where topics of the posters are taught (e.g., first-year seminars and capstones)
- Department websites
- Online classroom management platforms (e.g., Blackboard, Canvas or Moodle)
WHEN Should AAPs Be Posted?
AAPs should be posted during periods when students need specific information.
- During busy admission-visitation events
- During orientation to help students and their parents understand department resources and opportunities
- Before and during regularly occurring high volume advising periods
- During periods when students have specific advising questions (How do I apply to graduate school?)
- Before important deadlines (e.g., registration, deadlines for dropping/adding classes, or registering for graduation)
- Well in advance of times during which students need to make important decisions and prepare to engage in complex sequences of goal-related behaviors
- selection of a university and a major
- identifying potential career goals and engaging in the job-search process
- creating cover letters, resumes, and curriculum vitae
- selecting graduate programs that fit their values, goals, and strengths
- selecting appropriate authors of strong letters of recommendation
Consider switching-out posters or moving them around to decrease habituation and increase attention.
WHY Are AAPs Effective, Efficient, and Economical?
AAPs are effective, efficient, and economical advising delivery devices.
- Their messages are visible 24/7 to students, and they can be reused year-after-year.
- Students can decide to read only those posters whose content is relevant to them.
- Their appearance or content can be easily modified or updated.
- They can be created by faculty, staff, administrators, or students at a relatively low cost.
- They can reduce one-on-one advising time, thus allowing for more time to discuss unique and/or highly personalized concerns.
- They can enhance one-on-one advising when advisors walk students to a poster to discuss a particular issue or concern.
Posters containing content that pertains to more than one major or to all students can be shared with other academic departments and student-centered offices.
HOW Can the Effectiveness and Value of AAPs Be Assessed?
Surveys can determine the extent to which students notice, read, and value AAPs. For example, a 2015 survey of the AAPs displayed in the James Madison University Psychology Department produced the following results from the 359 students who responded to it.
- 81% said they noticed the posters.
- 77% of those who said they noticed the posters also said they read them.
- 80% of those who reported they read the posters agreed or strongly agreed that at least one of the posters was helpful.
Check out examples of existing AAPs for download on the APA website.
If a reader wants the poster in PPT form–so it can be modified for a particular program—contact the first author at email@example.com.
Readers are invited to contribute their own posters to the first author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Aiken-Wisniewski, S., & Allen, C. D. (2005). Did Einstein know the date to withdraw? Techniques and activities to educate your campus community about academic advising. Retrieved from the NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources website: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Clearinghouse/View-Articles/Techniques-and-activities-to-promote-academic-advising.aspx
American Psychological Association. (2013). APA guidelines for the undergraduate psychology major: Version 2.0. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ed/psymajor_guideline.pdf
Appleby, D. C. (2008). Advising as teaching and learning. In V. N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, T. J. Grites, T. J., & Associates. Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Appleby D. C., & Apple, K. J. (2017, March). Academic advising posters: A new academic advising delivery strategy. Poster presented at the meeting of the Southeastern Conference on the Teaching of Psychology, Atlanta, GA.
Appleby, D. C., & Apple, K. J. (2016, June). Academic advising posters: A new academic advising delivery system. Poster presented at the meeting of the Eastern Conference on the Teaching of Psychology, Staunton, VA.
Appleby D. C., & Apple, K. J. (2017, May). Academic advising posters: A new academic advising delivery strategy. Poster presented at the Society for the Teaching of Psychology-Association for Psychological Science Teaching Institute, Boston, MA.
Appleby, D. C., and Appleby, K. M. (2006). Kisses of death in the graduate school application process. Teaching of Psychology 33 (1), 19-24. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15328023top3301_5
Gordon, V. N., Habley, W. R., Grites, T. J., & Associates. Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.