Asee peer logo

Development Advising – Exploring The Boundaries; What Are Appropriate, Caring Limits?

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Potpourri II

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.402.1 - 13.402.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Elizabeth Waterfall Milwaukee School of Engineering

visit author page

Ms. Waterfall is Administrative Coordinator of Federal TRIO Programs at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). She holds a BS in Human Services and a BA in Public Administration and has 22 years of experience in developing, writing, implementing, managing, modifying and evaluating federal TRIO grants designed to increase the numbers of low-income, first generation and disabled students who enroll in and successfully complete a 4-year degree in an institution of higher education.

visit author page


Elizabeth Albrecht Milwaukee School of Engineering

visit author page

Ms. Albrecht is Coordinator/Counselor of Student Support Services Federal TRIO Programs at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). She holds a Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling and a Bachelors Degree in Home Economics Education. She is a licensed professional counselor and has 18 years of experience working with low-income, first generation and disabled students who are enrolled at MSOE. She also teaches Orientation classes and a variety of Psychology classes in the General Studies Department.

visit author page


Stephen Williams Milwaukee School of Engineering

visit author page

Dr. Stephen Williams is Program Director of Electrical Engineering and Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He received the Ph.D. degree from the University of Missouri in 1990 and has 20 years of experience across the corporate, government, and university sectors. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Wisconsin. He teaches courses in control systems, electronic design, and electromechanics.

visit author page


Owe Petersen Milwaukee School of Engineering

visit author page

Dr. Petersen is Department Chair and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He is a former Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories and received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and an ABET EAC program evaluator in Electrical Engineering.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Developmental Advising – Exploring the Boundaries What are appropriate, caring limits?


It is generally recognized that developmental advising is a key component for student retention and academic success. Yet faculty advisors may feel inadequately prepared to do such advising for what they think are very good reasons. Academic advisors in engineering have backgrounds in technology, industry, and curriculum but may forget that they have developed life skills from which students can benefit. Student needs can readily extend beyond academic topics and provide a considerable challenge to effective advising. This paper explores the territory between student personal issues that faculty worry about having to address and curriculum matters dealing with course selections and prerequisites. Effective student advising demands that the entire range of issues be addressed, yet faculty are hesitant. Faculty can and should shoulder only a part of the burden but could benefit from viewing the advisor-student relationship as an opportunity to help the student acquire life skills.

What the authors have found to be true to a great extent is that a major need of students is to simply talk, to talk to someone who cares. Engaging students in conversation and taking them seriously is essential. Frankly, students seldom have an expectation that someone will “make everything better.” They are not that unrealistic. Students do, however, benefit from talking to someone who has been where they are in the academic process and navigated it successfully as well as someone who can teach them critical thinking skills to address problems, be they academic or personal. Faculty need to be able to differentiate what students are communicating into two broad categories, academic and nonacademic. Issues dealing with the nonacademic, “stuff of life,” category may need to be referred to those with greater expertise but the faculty member may be able to help the student critically think through their issues by focusing on their goals. Hence, the effectiveness of the faculty component of advising can be vastly improved by the processes of listening, helping, and, when appropriate, referring students to the proper resources on campus.

Several actual case studies are presented that faculty have encountered during student advising. The paper will present different potential outcomes to the cases and suggest the suitability of faculty advising approaches. An analysis of the ramifications of these approaches will be given. It is expected that a faculty who has studied these cases before encountering them will be better prepared as an academic advisor.

Why bother? Why not just settle for an advising focus on what courses to take? Students come to college not just for knowledge in their chosen major. The purpose of college is growth, both professionally and personally. One without the other is a defeat for the entire educational process.

Waterfall, E., & Albrecht, E., & Williams, S., & Petersen, O. (2008, June), Development Advising – Exploring The Boundaries; What Are Appropriate, Caring Limits? Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4126

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015