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The Reflective Engineering Advisor: A Paradigm for Learning-Centered Student Advising

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Issues in Advising and Mentoring

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1228.1 - 23.1228.18



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Paper Authors


Emily L. Allen San Jose State University

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Dr. Emily Allen is Associate Dean of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San Jose State University. Her portfolio includes undergraduate programs and accreditation, student success programs, personnel and infrastructure, and K-14 outreach. She has been on the faculty at SJSU since earning her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University in 1992.

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Francisco Castillo College of Engineering, San Jose State University

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Mr. Francisco Castillo has a M.S. in Counseling with an emphasis in Student Development in Higher Education from California State University, Long Beach. For the past nine years at both two and four-year institutions, he has served students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). As the Assistant Director of Advising for the Engineering Student Success Center at San José State University, he supports students with personal, academic and professional growth.

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Eva Schiorring

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Eva Schiorring is Senior Researcher for the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges. Since joining the RP Group in 2000, she has served as project director for ten major projects, including a statewide, multi-year research project to increase transfer in professional majors, including engineering and nursing, and another on how community colleges can increase diversity at multiple levels of their institutions. She recently led an evaluation team assessing the impact of project designed to improve advising in engineering at San Jose State University’s College of Engineering. Ms. Schiorring has a strong interest in improving the STEM pipeline and has extensive experience with research and evaluation design and with the development, testing and application of measurement instruments. She works continuously to engage practitioners in conversations about their research priorities and about how they can use evidence to support improvements. The author of a wide range of research articles, Eva holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University.

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Knowing our Students Better: Faculty Learning from Academic AdvisingThere were nearly 500,000 undergraduate engineering students in baccalaureate programs in theUS in Fall 2010 ( Engineering & Technology Enrollments, Fall 2010 — Engineering WorkforceCommission). It is expected that fewer than half of them will have earned engineering degreesby 2016 (Retrieved 4/2212 from This lowgraduation rate is costly to institutions and has serious, negative implications for our ability tocompete in the global economy (Cicerone, R. J., Vest, C.M. Fineberg, H. V., et al., Rising abovethe Gathering Storm, Revisited. Washington, DC: National Academy Press (2010).Furthermore, studies show that entry as well as graduation rates are even lower for the country’sgrowing minority population, particularly African American and Latino students. To compoundsuch issues, public universities, often the post-secondary destination for students who are thefirst in their family to attend college, are undergoing drastic budget cuts, tuition increases, andloss of staff and full-time faculty. This reduction in services is happening in universities withthe least prepared students, who have the most complex educational histories and lives, and whoneed the greatest amount of intervention and support. Over the last few decades, engineeringeducators have tackled many challenges of retaining non-traditional students in engineeringprograms through a variety of efforts such as improving the effectiveness of classroom teaching,increasing awareness of diversity in learning styles, and engaging more women and under-represented minority students in research opportunities. However there has not been muchdiscussion about the role of faculty advising in the success and retention of engineering students.Improving the nature of exchange between faculty advisor and student may increase studentretention by improving student confidence, self-knowledge and self-efficacy, and by steeringstudents in directions which help them avoid costly academic mistakes, and increasing theirengagement with the University. This requires faculty development in the areas of studentdevelopment, cultural competency, and institutional practices.We cannot serve well those whom we do not understand. Understanding and communicatingwith the complex population of students in our programs requires professional development offaculty in the same way that classroom teaching and research success do. We are developing, forour own institution, a comprehensive syllabus for faculty professional development. Theoverarching research question that drives our work can be stated as: How can faculty, trained asengineering researchers, and carrying heavy teaching loads, become effective advisors? Whatfaculty knowledge is needed to effectively transform this aspect of the student experience? Inaddition to a deep understanding of all of the policies, programs and resources available oncampus, the advisor needs to understand our students and their challenges and contexts, which isoften far outside of his or her own experience.In this paper, literature and the theoretical frameworks for academic advising will be reviewed.We then present our own professional development program for engineering faculty advisors in alarge comprehensive public university, and what we have learned about our students as a result.

Allen, E. L., & Castillo, F., & Schiorring, E. (2013, June), The Reflective Engineering Advisor: A Paradigm for Learning-Centered Student Advising Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22613

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