Hello Members, Friends, and Supporters of the PACADA Community!
As the Purdue Academic Advising Association (PACADA) celebrates its 33rd year as a professional organization at Purdue University, we are reminded- perhaps this year more than ever before- of the vital role academic advisors plays in the recruitment and retention of students. Academic advisors have the unique opportunity to help students grow and mature from the first time the student visits campus to the day they receive their Purdue degree. As advisors, we take pride in the work we do and know that successful academic advising provides students with the support they need during their college years.
Each year, PACADA honors its membership by presenting the Outstanding Academic Advisor and Outstanding New Professionalawards to two deserving recipients at the PACADA Annual Business Meeting, which will be held (virtually) early in the spring 2021 semester. Please help PACADA continue this fine tradition by nominating an outstanding advisor for one of the 2020-2021 awards. You will find the required nomination forms attached. All nominations are due to Jackie Boudreaux (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Friday, December 18, 2020 at 5:00 pm.
Thank you for your help in identifying and appreciating truly OUTSTANDING advising here at Purdue!
This is your friendly reminder that PACADA Grant Applications are due on February 14th. Details below.
Do you plan to advance your career by attending a conference or professional development activity? Need some financial support for your trip? If you answered “YES!” to both of those questions, then let the Professional Development Committee support you with a grant! The Professional Development Committee invites you to submit an application for a grant to help you with your professional development expenses. The application is due by 5 pm on Friday, February 14, 2020. See the attached PDFs for application details and a cover page that you can edit and save. If you have any questions, please let me know.
You are invited to attend the 4rd Annual Boiler Share Symposium on June 4, 2019. The professional development conference is for all staff within the Divisions of Student Life, Teaching & Learning, and Enrollment Management. You can choose to spend the whole day (9am-4:30pm) or part of the day attending sessions you find interesting. The opening keynote will feature a panel discussing “Steps To Leaps,” introduced by Vice Provost Dr. Beth McCuskey.
A special thanks to the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Life sponsoring the event as well as all of our colleagues who submitted presentations and workshops. We look forward to seeing you there!
Note: Boiler Share is open to all staff, but staff should seek approval from their supervisor to attend sessions.
Philadelphia, PA the “City of Brotherly Love” known by many, although for me it was also the home of my first NASPA conference. As a newcomer at NASPA, I was eager to learn, meet new professionals, and enjoy the city of Philadelphia. However, Philadelphia’s unpredictable weather made for a fun few days of wind, cold weather, and an unexpected blizzard. As well, I would like to thank PACADA for affording me the opportunity as a recipient of the professional development grant.
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence” -Sheryl Sandberg
A quote shared by President Dwuan Warmack of Harris-Stowe University wrapped up NASPA’s African-American Male Summit. In my opinion is, and was, the best session held at NASPA. However, I must remind of my “first time attendee” hat that I was wearing at the time. In a room full of black males, I felt at home. Thinking back to that conference summit in particular, I would say that the summit’s theme is what resonated the most. Community, empowerment, and the building of a personal foundation.
As a Success Coach, my role at Purdue is to support students as they strive to persist. In many instances persistence in college can be one of the most challenging tasks due to financial issues, sense of belonging, lack of knowledge as it pertains to resources etc., and that is just to name a few. While we could place the onus of students to know, in hindsight we also must look at ourselves and ask, “What are you doing to support students?”
Using data from Fall 2017 to put things into perspective, Purdue enrolled 41,573 students. With 1,272 African-American students comprised of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. This translates to roughly 3% of the university population. On a campus where students African-American students are roughly 3% population. Finding a community could be a challenging task. Organizations such as National Society of Black Engineers, Black Student Union, Black Men’s Excellence Network, along with Mind, Body, & Soul, and facilities such as the Black Cultural Center provide great opportunities for involvement. However, the question is for the students who are not using these organizations and facilities to develop a sense of belonging, how are we keeping these students connected to campus?
Ryan Holmes, V.P. for Student Affairs & Dean of Students University of Miami, posed a question, which highlights an integral part of keeping students connected. Holmes, “The Generalist” as he introduced himself asked a simple question, “Who are you?” Immediately individuals around the room began sharing their name and what it is they do for a living, only to learn that was not the objective. Holmes intended for us to share our personal story of who we were and what we represented. Our vulnerability, the narratives we share, and the interactions with students are have a direct impact on retaining students in unfamiliar places. Sharing our stories allows us to build rapport. Our vulnerability allows students to recognize us as humans, which opens up opportunities for mentorship. By sharing whom you, are as a person, with students also empowers them. Students are able to see the resolve you have displayed through early trials and tribulations to reach this point. By not sharing these stories we allow students to believe adversity does not exist.
Speaking from experience, words cannot justify the impact of NASPA’s African-American Male summit; it’s something to experience. An event where university presidents and other administrators removed their titles, status quo, and mentor younger professionals. Providing opportunities to learn, but also providing significant tips for growth and building a personal foundation. In closing, I again ask, “Who are you & who are you being?” Are you here to collect a check or are you willing invest yourself for the greater good of students? As well, ask yourself “what are you doing to support students of underrepresented populations in a place of unfamiliarity?”
I was thrilled to receive the PACADA grant to travel to the 2018 NACADA National Conference in Phoenix, AZ. I was excited to not only travel to a state I’ve never been to but to also begin to fill my brain with new ideas to bring back to campus.
One of my favorite parts about a presentation is when the presenter will share actual ideas and things to bring back to the office. So, I decided I would share with you some of the best takeaways I received from the 2018 National Conference.
Stop one:How Major is Your Major? Presented by advisors in The Major Experience (TME) at UConn
It should come as no surprise that as an EXPL advisor I wanted to learn more about other undecided programs. This presentation was all about how the TME advisors advocate for their program with both prospective and current students. Below are a few samplings of the surveys and data they shared during their presentation.
In 2017, LinkedIn published a survey about the 10 most versatile majors. The top five majors were Business Administration, Marketing, Psychology, Communication, and Economics. Students often believe majors will limit them with their careers so they share this data with their students to show the breadth of jobs they can get with certain majors. They discussed the beauty of PSY being on this list because we often hear so many students say, “I love my psychology classes but I don’t want to be a clinical psychologist so I don’t want to study psychology.” What?! I think we all know that just because you study psychology DOES NOT mean you have to be a clinical psychology. But guess what? Most students don’t know that (another thing I think we all know). It’s all about opening their minds and showing them different possibilities.
They also shared information from a 2018 Job Outlook Survey by NACE that focuses on the top skills employers look for when hiring recent graduates. The top five skills are Problem Solving, Teamwork, Written Communication, Leadership, and Strong Work Ethic. I often find myself telling my students that employers look for those transferable skills and this information helped to support my case. It’s important we share with students that there are certain skills they can either teach themselves or learn on the job. Your major does not have to encompass all of those skills in order to work in that field.
Probably my favorite thing I got from this session was regarding future careers. A recent report by Dell shared that 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have yet to be created. Just think about social media. Ten years ago, there were no jobs that were specific just to social media. Now many universities offer classes, concentrations, and even majors that focus on social media management and development. The report also stated, “The ability to gain new knowledge will be more valuable than knowledge itself.”
Stop two: Technology Session: 4 Quick Tips for Managing Emails
The title was intriguing but I was definitely leery on what new tips I could learn for managing my email. Let me make this clear- I typically tend to be an easy tech adapter but I can sometimes be stuck in my ways. I’m sure some of you super tech-savvy people will read this and think, “Ashlyn….this is so obvious!” but I’m hopeful a few of you are just like me and will get something out of these tips.
Tip 1– Use your email signature. I know, I know. You’re all thinking you already do this. Well, do you have some emails that you feel like you always get from students? Maybe like, “how do I find my pin?!” Consider using your emails signature feature to actually create the email (with you signature already on it) so you can quickly send it to students. The only downside is you cannot have more than one signature. So, what happens if a student asks you a few of those common questions? Read on….
Our final stop: Developing a “College Mindset” Through First Year Seminar
Think about your current students. What’s their mindset during their first semester? It’s possible they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, worried about passing classes, feeling the burden of all the expectations everyone has on them.
The presenter shared what they consider the trifecta of a college mindset: growth mindset, grit, and resilience. We watched some videos regarding each of these areas. There was one thing I especially loved in the growth mindset video- your brain will grow when you do something wrong and you work to figure things out. You’ll explore, learn, and grow. Students won’t think of failure as an opportunity. Students will often have that fixed mindset when failure happens.
So how can we help students see the opportunity in failure? An activity the presenter provided was Real-Time Resilience. The presenter shared this takes challenging beliefs, puts it in to perspective, and packages in a way that’s immediately useful.
They ask the students to think of the following after they’ve identified their “crisis” or “failure”:
Alternative- A more accurate was of seeing this is…
Evidence- That’s not true because….
Implications- A more likely out is…and I can…to deal with it.
Here’s an example. A student says to you, “I’m not as smart as my friends because I’m not good at X (insert subject or major).” The student then needs to reflect on each of the areas.
Alternative- It’s ok that I’m not good at X because I’m good at Y (insert subject or major).
Evidence- X isn’t the standard of being smart.
Implications- I’m just as smart. I’m enjoying my studies and I’m doing well in Y.
Having a growth mindset looks at one event and its challenges and how they can grow from it, but it does not destroy a student’s identity. Whereas a fixed mindset immediately causes a student to immediately think about their identity and what’s wrong with ME.
Overall, the 2018 National Conference provided a great variety of sessions. I love how energized and excited I feel after learning from others around the states!
Beth Jones was a recipient of a PACADA Professional Development Grant for the 2017 year. Beth is an academic advisor in Exploratory Studies and used her funds to attend the NACADA regional conference!
Article by: Beth Jones
We’ve all had those experiences—the ones where it feels like you are having one conversation and your student is having an entirely different conversation. Something just isn’t clicking. You feel like your message is clear, but how is it being received? And, are you accurately interpreting the message you are receiving?
For anyone who has worked with students or has had a conversation with anyone EVER (so all of us!), these aren’t uncommon experiences, but they are more common when two people come from different cultures. Did you pick the right word? Did you read their body language correctly? Did you use an obscure idiomatic expression like when pigs fly that made no sense to the other person? Intercultural conversation is a minefield of potential misinterpretation. In his book The Art of Crossing Cultures, intercultural communications consultant Craig Storti defines an unsuccessful “cross-cultural encounter” as “whenever one or more of the parties is confused, offended, frustrated, or otherwise put off by the behavior of any of the other parties” (26). Sound familiar?
This is exactly why intercultural competence is such an important skill to cultivate. But, what is it exactly? Intercultural Development Inventory, LLC defines intercultural competence as “the capability to shift cultural perspective and appropriately adapt behavior to cultural differences and commonalities.” Study after study has clearly proven the importance of developing intercultural competence for learning, working, and beyond. According to research by IDI, LLC founder Dr. Mitchell R. Hammer, students who study abroad gain many benefits from greater intercultural competence including an increased interest in other cultures, more intercultural friendships, less anxiety about other cultures, and higher overall satisfaction with their study abroad experience. In fact, many Purdue courses and programs use the IDI as their primary assessment tool to measure intercultural competence among their students. Some programs even require students to complete the assessment to participate in study abroad programs. But, the assessment is not just for students. The IDI is available to all faculty, staff, and students through Purdue’s Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment, and Research (CILMAR).
Purdue’s academic advising web page on advising competencies lists cultural competency as one of the core skills advisors need to master to have successful interactions with students. This particular competency, as explained on the Purdue web page, suggests that advisors should “engage in self-reflection, be aware that cultural identities influence thinking and behavior,” and “exhibit the relational skills to advise effectively across differences.” It is important to note that these skills do not just extend to interactions with international students, however, but to any interaction where there is difference.
There are, of course, many ways to improve your intercultural competence skills such as through traveling abroad and getting to know people from other cultures, but there is a catch when we attempt to freestyle how we gain these skills. Human nature means we are pretty terrible at actually assessing just how refined our intercultural competence skills are—a notion the IDI supports. In other words, we most likely have a mindset that doesn’t align with our actual skillset—a gap, if you will. We may see ourselves one way but interact with the world differently. According to IDI, LLC, it is a myth that we can gain deep intercultural competence through experience alone—as if it is as easy as getting a tan while soaking up the sun’s rays. The truth is we often enter those experiences from our own cultural perspective thus limiting what we may actually gain in intercultural awareness. In the words of CILMAR Intercultural Learning Specialist (and my husband) Dr. Daniel Jones, the formula for intercultural development is “intentional interactions + time + reflection.”
So how can you lessen or close the mindset/skillset gap so that your heart and mind are more in sync? This is where the Intercultural Development Inventory assessment comes in. According to the IDI, LLC web article “Why Should You Consider Using the Intercultural Development Inventory?”, the IDI is the “only theory-based assessment of intercultural competence [that] allows you to see an individual’s or group’s progression along a continuum of cross-cultural competence.” It is a highly researched instrument that can help individuals and groups “make sense of cultural differences and also how they respond to cultural differences.”
Once you have taken the 50-question assessment, an Intercultural Development Inventory Qualified Administrator (just over 100 at Purdue including me) holds a debriefing session with you to review your results and make a plan for further development along the IDI continuum. You receive an individualized developmental plan that “guides the person through a series of activities and self-reflections” to help you intentionally move forward on the IDI continuum and to better understand and notice “patterns of difference” (“The Individual Development Plan”). These activities can include brief writing exercises and suggestions for continued learning and reflection such as attending training programs, traveling, and reading journals and books. The goal is that you complete these activities using the intentional skills that make them meaningful intercultural development opportunities rather than passive experiences informed by the limited worldview we all start out with.
Before becoming an administrator, I had to take the assessment and be debriefed. The experience was deeply meaningful—almost therapeutic. It forced me to reflect on aspects of my past and how they inform my outlook and actions and how to grow beyond my limitations. The entire experience is designed to be objective and developmental.
Taking the IDI and being debriefed can help those of us who work in higher education become better at what we do most—serve students. I have found that my experience with the IDI has not just broadly improved my intercultural competence but has also given me better language for how to engage with others wherever there is difference.
If you would like to learn more about the IDI, visit https://idiinventory.com where you can read more about the assessment as well as view some short introductory videos. Additionally, you can contact an intercultural learning specialist with CILMAR by emailing email@example.com. The assessment is $15 for staff/faculty and $11 for students. CILMAR also offers training to become a qualified administrator of the IDI as well as ideas about mitigating costs of the assessment.
If we are going to talk to students about the importance of study abroad and developing skills for an increasingly global workplace, we have to do our part by seeking out opportunities to develop these skills for ourselves. Knowing where we are on the IDI continuum and how we can grow can help us all better navigate the often tricky, culturally ambiguous situations we sometimes find ourselves in and that can only make us better advisors, instructors, or whatever it is we may be to our students and each other.
Suggested readings and resources:
The Art of Crossing Cultures, Craig Storti
Cross-Cultural Dialogues: 74 Brief Encounters with Cultural Difference, Craig Storti
Students Learning Abroad: What Our Students Are Learning, What They’re Not, and What We Can Do About It, Michael Vande Berg, R. Michael Paige, Kris Hemming Lou
Pat George was a recipient of a PACADA Professional Development Grant for the 2017 year. He used his funds to attend the NACADA Annual Conference in St. Louis, MO. See below for more information about his experience!
Article By: Pat George
There are many familiar words associated with St. Louis. Three that come to mind are gateway, arch, and Cardinals (sorry Cubs fans). However, during October 11-14, 2017, NACADA was all the buzz at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis.
I was fortunate to receive a PACADA professional development grant to attend this conference, and I was equally privileged to attend with some of my office colleagues who I believe are some of the most dedicated and caring advisors on this campus. Our Senior Associate Dean, Dr. Holly Mason, supports our Office of Student Services in the College of Pharmacy in numerous ways, and my colleagues and I benefit tremendously from his confidence and conviction.
Speaking of conviction, I am reporting on what I thought was one of the most intriguing and bold sessions at this conference, “The Problems and Promise of Big Data in Advising.” Kudos to NACADA and the selection committee for allowing this proposal to become a reality. It could have easily been passed over due to its subject matter and outcomes that challenge a service retailed by one of the main sponsors of the conference.
Adrienne Sewell, Director of Advising for Retention and Sophomore Initiatives at Indiana University Bloomington provoked thought and insight regarding the academe’s infatuation with big data. “When it comes to data, we aren’t always sure what we are looking at,” stated Sewell. She continued, “Expectations are that we will be able to search like Google® and make recommendations like Netflix®. Big Data can solve anything!”
Sewell stated, “Predictive analytics, data mining, and pattern recognition are now common terms in our digital world, and they promise to practically solve any problem. Looking back at our past Presidential election, it appears Big Data missed the mark as some of the most sophisticated predictive analytics tools in the world were all but certain of the outcome of the election.”
I was fascinated by her explanation of the evolution of computer programming. She explained that initially, computers were programmed by people. Programmers looked at data and made a hypothesis. Today, we are teaching computers the ability to learn without being programmed – to not only have the logic to answer questions, but to create the questions. A couple of examples are Netflix® which predicts what you would like to watch and our smart phones learning about us through typos, voice recognition, routes on GPS, etc.
How does this impact advising? Sewell referenced an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education as saying old- school advising is about who appears in front of you – it’s very limited. New-school advising is using predictive analytics to target a specific group. But is this true?
Sewell argued, “Our responsibility as advisors is to make sure we monitor how well the system is working. Keep good records of any errors (screen shots are ideal) and when systems are developed or enhanced, make sure we are advocates for advisor input/testing. Recognize that not all predictions have equal accuracy. Big data makes predictions for all students which leads to false-positives because it must select an answer.” She quoted Baer and Norris (2013) asserting analytics is only one piece in a student success system. It requires commitment to persistent, personalized actions, and interventions to improve student success guided by analytics-based insights.
Sewell concluded by asking us to ponder these questions: When do our data points become ethical issues? What about economic background, financial need, race, etc.? Can assessing risk become a self-fulfilling prophecy? She followed with acknowledging that data can help answer questions, describe/discover a pattern, figure out students to reach out to, but we must continually adjust and use data wisely because approaches matter and data alone won’t save us.
At the September 19th PACADA Retreat, we will welcome Dr. Tim Elmore as our Keynote Speaker. Dr. Elmore is the Founder and President of Growing Leaders, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing young leaders. He is passionate about understanding the emerging generation and helping adults teach them how to succeed.
In particular, his organization provides public schools, state universities, and corporations with the tools they need to develop individuals who can impact and transform society. The Growing Leaders team also equips young adults to take on real-life opportunities and challenges in the classroom, in their careers, and in the community.
Dr. Elmore has spoken to more than 500,000 students, faculty, and business leaders on campuses across the country. His expertise on the emerging generation and generational diversity in the workplace has garnered a wealth of positive media coverage. He is also the author of more than 30 books, including the best-selling Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future, Habitudes®: Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes, Life Giving Mentors, and 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid: Leading Your Kids to Succeed in Life.
Among his notable work, Dr. Elmore’s Habitudes allow for a new and refreshing outlook on the concept of leadership as it applies to the current generation of undergraduate students, one he refers to as Generation Z. Dr. Elmore’s concept of Habitudes recognizes the value of visual imagery, especially within today’s technologically savvy society, and emphasizes the importance of these images with respect to informing leadership pedagogies. To learn more about how we can best work with the college students of today to create better leaders for tomorrow, please join us at the PACADA retreat on September 19th.
**Click here for retreat and membership registration details**
**Click here for tentative Fall Retreat 2017 Schedule**
**Additionally, Raid your Closets! On-site at the Beck Agricultural Center the CCO will accept professional attire donations for the Career Closet! Attendees can drop-off items during check-in/registration in the morning and during the lunch hour.**
Holly Englert was a recipient of a PACADA Professional Development Grant for the 2016 year. She used her funds to attend the NACADA Region V Conference in Chicago, IL. See below for more information about her experience!
NACADA Region V Conference – Chicago, IL – March 15-17, 2017
I was able to attend the NACADA Region V Conference in Chicago, IL in March (my very first NACADA conference) thanks to a grant received from the PACADA Professional Development Committee. I was very much looking forward to attending this conference to learn best practices in advising and to perhaps learn some new and creative strategies when working with various student populations.
I attended a session titled, “Got Grit? A New Advising Method.” The presenters discussed the differences between grit and resiliency and how to advisors can work to instill grit in students. The presenter’s defined grit using phrases like; “perseverance and passion for long term goals,” and “living life like a marathon not a sprint,” and that “grit is the stamina not the intensity” or the “consistency of effort over time.” The presenters stated that resiliency is the ability to bounce back after adversity and that resiliency is a pre-cursor to grit. A surprising fact they shared was grit is more predictive to a student’s success than IQ and/or test scores. Students who display grit often will have lower test scores but a higher GPA, these students work harder to keep up with their peers. Often times, the high achieving students (those with high test scores, high GPA, high IQ) display low levels of grit. So how can we as advisors instill grit in students? First, the presenters shared we need to work with students on how they respond to new challenges. We can do this by helping them to examine their perceptions, assist them in developing a plan, and being a member of their support network. Second, advisors should ask directed questions such as; what did you learn this semester? What mistake did you make that taught you something? What did you try hard at this semester? Third, it is all about goal setting. Advisors should work with students to set long term goals and revisit and revise those goals in each meeting. Fourth advisors should work to foster a culture where a growth mindset is developed. Advisors should be supportive but demanding, discuss self-motivation, and do goal setting when working with students who need to develop grit. The presenters stated that students should be praised for their effort and not their intelligence.
Another session I attended was titled “Reasons for their Departure: A Look at Undergraduate Women who Abandon STEM Majors.” I was particularly interested in the session since I advise in a STEM major. The presenter did a small qualitative study at the mid-size state school where she advises. While interviewing female students who left STEM majors for a non-STEM major she shared that five themes developed. The first theme was lack of preparation. The students shared that they had never had to study or didn’t learn how to properly study. They shared they had little to no exposure in STEM classes prior to enrolling in college and that they lack experience in these settings. They also shared this was their first time failing and they didn’t know what to do. The second theme that emerged was failure to access resources. The students shared they knew about the resources available but they were afraid to go. The third theme was regarding the method of instruction of their courses. Most of their courses were in large lecture settings where exams made up most of the grade. The students found that when they had interaction with the faculty they seemed uninterested, stale, and not friendly. There was no community and little interaction in the courses and it was all independent work. The fourth theme that emerged was there was no sense of belonging in the students STEM majors. They discussed issues of alienation that while not obvious, was easy to notice. The students talked about feeling like outsiders. The students stated that their peers seemed more prepared and that they felt intimidated asking male faculty and students for help because they didn’t want to perpetuate the stereotype of women not being capable of the work in a STEM field. The last theme to emerge was about career expectations. Many of the students shared that they didn’t know what a career in a STEM field would actually be like and once they got internships or worked in labs they found they didn’t enjoy the field. Lastly, the presenter discussed what advisors in STEM fields can do moving forward to assist female students. Advisors should review the major and encourage early career exploration. Advisors should normalize the use of academic support resources. Advisors should encourage participation in women in STEM initiatives. And the advisor should always validate the student’s experiences.
In addition to being an attendee at the conference, I presented a poster presentation alongside my colleague Ashley Maloff. Our poster centered on global opportunities for students in STEM majors. We shared some best practices for advising students in STEM fields who would like to study abroad, timelines to consider, and some facts about our program.
Overall, my first experience attending a regional NACADA conference was successful. Thank you PACADA for the opportunity to attend!
You’ve taken the StrengthsFinder, right? Did you know there is a 1 in 33 million chance to find someone who has the exact same talent themes in the exact same order as you? Holly Englert, Associate Director of Advising in Mechanical Engineering, shared this interesting fact during an interview about Strengths Finder. In addition, both Cher Yazvac, Associate Director for Career Development in the CCO, and Matt Davenport, Assistant Director of Residential Life for Legacy Lane & Engagement, were interviewed about their insights regarding this topic. All three of these Purdue professionals are Certified Strengths Coaches!
Among the many ways in which this university is staying on the cutting edge of innovation, Purdue recently became a Strengths Campus and is working cross-departmentally to develop this novel model! Considering the national popularity and credibility of this tool, three members of the Communications and Connections Committee (C3) investigated trends, interactions, and resources by interviewing a variety of campus professionals who would know best!
Being a newly established Strengths Campus has several implications across the University, and each of the Coaches were able to touch upon what this means. In Residence Life, Matt Davenport shared that they “are implementing the philosophy of the Strengths into the curriculum.” Cher Yazvac highlighted that there isn’t just “one way for it to be integrated” and “the focus of what Purdue will look like could be different than other campuses.” It seems that there is an opportunity for campus branding so our institution can have a unique feel in how we create our identity as a Strengths Campus. Holly Englert also noted that this allows us to “go deeper with students and help them discover what their Strengths are and help them apply that in a way that can help them be successful in the classroom and in their career development.”
While some may think the assessment points people in a certain career direction, the truth is that it is designed to help you figure out how you do something, rather than what you should do. Instead of adopting this tool as a diagnostic for career paths, users should be aware the assessment is going to focus on helping them understand which approach they typically take in a given situation. These approaches (or Strengths) are not good or bad – they are neutral until a person puts an intention behind it.
Yazvac cautions people to remember that the bite-sized Top 5 Strengths are not the complete picture. Many people can operate out of their top 10 on a day-to-day basis. This is good news for those of us that feel as though we have a Strength that was not listed in the Top 5 of the StrengthsFinder assessment. It does not mean it is not used; it just means that some other Strengths may come even more naturally than the ones you previously thought.
Along similar lines, try not to think of your bottom Strengths as weaknesses. The 34 Strengths all have potential for you to use, but your bottom strengths may not come as naturally as other strengths do, and that is okay. This holds true even if you truly enjoy a Strength found at the bottom of your list. Davenport illustrates this occurrence by using singing as a supposed Strength: “Some people love to sing and even though they aren’t good at it, they do it anyway. Some people don’t particularly love singing but they are good at it. This is not too dissimilar to Strengths. Some things you may be good at but don’t love. Some things you may be bad at but love anyway. It’s tapping into an awareness of these personal tools and learning how to best harness them.”
The Strengths Coaches have utilized Strengths in a variety of ways. Conversations around Strengths are happening with students in groups, through classes and workshops, and in one-on-one settings, like career counseling. Englert has led Strengths workshops in ME 290. The CCO staff have gone into classrooms and residence halls, incorporating Strengths into career exploration workshops. Lessons on Strengths are also utilized in EDPS 105 and in workshops for fraternities, sororities, cooperative houses, and other student groups. In addition to using Strengths with students, staff in at the CCO, housing and dining, and other offices use Strengths for teambuilding and professional development. The opportunities abound to incorporate Strengths into work in student affairs.
A wide variety of resources exist for both advisors and students, which the three Coaches shared liberally! They include the following, many of which both advisors and students can use:
Strengths 2.0 Book (Downloadable e-Version access when Logged In on Gallup website)
Online Gallup Resources (Access when Logged In)
Purdue myStrengths Web Portal (4 Career Assessments under the “Resources” Folder and within the “View Additional Resources” Tab among many additional links and resources)
Strengths Facebook Groups
Strengths YouTube Channel including Themed Thursday Podcasts
Access Purdue’s Certified Gallup Strengths Coaches for Individual or Group Interactions
We asked the interviewees what their Top 5 Strengths are and which ones resonated with them the most. Davenport said his are: Activator, Maximizer, Communication, Competition, and Positivity. Interestingly, he felt as though his 6th Strength, Woo, was the one that resonated the most with him. While Woo might be conceived as a manipulative or negative trait because it consists of “winning people over” (Gallup, 2017), it really comes back to the intention of the user. Provided the person employing Woo is operating from the “Balcony” and not the “Basement”, the Strength is a great asset to the person and employer.
Englert stated her Strengths are: Empathy, Developer, Positivity, Communication, and Input and that Empathy resonates most with her. She believes it drives who she is as an individual and is highly relatable to her other Strengths. The genuine connection she feels through Empathy gives her an edge within advising because she can understand when to push a student and when to back off.
For Yazvac, her Top 5 strengths are: Communication, Connectedness, Empathy, Strategic, and Maximizer. She feels as though all of these resonate with her. However, she has intentionally focused more of her attention to the Strategic strength. She believes by developing this strength, it will help her with her other strength, Maximizer.
We should remember that implementing StrengthsFinder is a learning process for the students, faculty, and staff at Purdue so there are going to be some questions along the way. Thankfully, Purdue has provided a solid foundation to our advising and student services community to help navigate this new tool. For those finding the process to be a bit overwhelming or a bit lost as to how to get started with Strengths, we recommend that you start with yourself. By learning your own strengths and how they affect your work, you can better help your students tap into their Strengths within their academics and future careers.
Keep in mind that Gallup and Purdue have additional tools for you to use that we previously mentioned in this article. Reach out to the Strengths coaches here on campus if you want to continue your education or have them assist in your curriculum. You can find them by visiting here: .
We would love to hear how you are implementing Strengths in your work with students! Please feel free to reach out to the contacts listed below to let us know. We may contact you on future articles regarding Strengths methodology!
Jessica Knerr (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Veronica Rahim (email@example.com)
Chrystal Randler (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Molly Gilbert was a recipient of a PACADA Professional Development Grant for the 2016 year. She used her funds to attend the MBTI Certification Program by the Myers & Briggs Foundation in Indianapolis, Indiana. See below for more information about her experience!
Hi – my name is Molly Gilbert, and I am an ENTJ.
Chances are you have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), or will at some point. It is the world’s most widely used personality assessment with approximately two million people taking it each year. It has been used by over 2,500 colleges and universities and is popular in career counseling offices around the world.
Although I have taken the MBTI more than a few times – high school, college, a few times as an employee of various organizations – it has never made an impact. I am notorious for giving the deer in headlights blank stare when asked my “type.” That all changed in 2015 when I attended the First-Year Experience Annual Conference in Texas. I attended a session that focused on combining the worlds of MBTI and advising and I was hooked! In the past, the workshops I attended were the standard, and rather boring, “this is your type and this is what it means” session. The conference I attended was the first time the MBTI principles were talked about without having to know your type or the type of everyone around you – and I wanted to know more!
I had the opportunity, with the help of the PACADA Professional Development Grant, to attend an intense 4-day MBTI Certification Program in Indianapolis. I was filled with anticipation and excitement as the date approached. That is, until a rather large, heavy box showed up full of my pre-work materials. I very quickly learned why this was called an intense program. Each of the four days consisted of eight hours of interactive learning followed by a couple of hours of homework each night. This was no vacation!
While the MBTI Certification Program is no walk in the park, it was completely worth it. While I value the information I learned about all of the types, I learned more about myself than I ever anticipated. One of the most dramatic results I see is the improvement in my communication style, especially in my work with students. I am able to notice subtle clues from students and quickly tailor my style to fit their needs. While I thought I had always done this, I am more confident in my ability to “read” students and react in a more appropriate way since completing this program.
Though the information I brought back from the MBTI Certification Program is not always as clearly applicable to the world of advising as attending a student services focused conference, I feel like my experience was just as valuable as any conference I have attended in the past. As a newer advisor, I relished the opportunity to slow down and reflect on my role in the most basic aspect of our profession – our relationships with students. Thank you PACADA for helping to make this experience possible!
Storie Pedley was a recipient of a PACADA professional development grant for the 2016 year. She used her funds to attend the 2016 NACADA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. See below for more information about her experiences!
2016 NACADA Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA
Presentation by: Karen Hauschild, College of Charleston
Title: Generation Z: Advising Across the Generations
Experienced by: Storie Pedley
I learned some interesting information from this presentation – a short summary is below.
Definition of Generation Z:
They were born after the millennials. There is no consensus for beginning and ending dates, but in general, it spans from 1992-2012, 1995-2012 or 1998-2015, depending on the research
Who is Generation Z – these videos do a nice job explaining
Why is this information important? Here are some of my own take-aways from this presentation:
Why is it important to understand this generation better? This group of young adults will be the next group to enter our offices, and ultimately the work force. Understanding what makes them tick could help us improve our advising, recruitment and retention strategies.
We (Professors, Advisors, Admissions, Employers, College Administrators, etc.) need to find other/new ways to communicate with these students besides the traditional email and newsletters. Perhaps embedded video messages, short video clips, better/more frequent use of our webpages and social media, etc. This affects teaching style as well.
Instead of getting frustrated with who they are/what they do – work to understand them and accept them, and ultimately learn from them, so they in turn can learn from you. Start the relationship knowing you won’t change them, so meet them where they are. We just may need to ask for their patience while we try to catch up!
Consider whether we can we give them any freedom within their own major – to pick courses that THEY find relevant – without having to get special permission or jump through a bunch of hoops?
Take advantage of their entrepreneurial spirit and use that to better teach practical problem solving and coping skills.
From a recruitment/admissions perspective – if we don’t adapt and adjust, colleges will end up targeting only those students who see the message the way that college is putting it out there. We could potentially miss a LOT.
Because they have grown up hearing about the dangers of global warming, seeing their parents struggle financially and being very cognizant of potential terrorist threats, they see themselves as the solutions to these problems. That may cause them to pursue careers that they think may help society.
Jacqueline Brown was a recipient of a PACADA professional development grant for the 2016 year. She used her funds to attend the 2016 NACADA Regional Conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. See below for more information about her experiences!
I had the pleasure of attending my first Region 5 NACADA Conference which was held in April in the beautiful city of Toronto Ontario Canada. It was a great opportunity to go with some of my advising colleagues in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. It started off as an adventure from the very beginning, when we decided to drive to the conference instead of flying. The morning that we were leaving, my colleagues and I decided to meet at the Transportation Service Center to pick up the car. I did not realize that the center had moved to a new location. I was franticly trying to find the place, and I eventually got directions and found my way. My colleagues did not leave without me.
One of the reasons that I wanted to attend the conference was to take away valuable information that I could use at my own institution. I am on a Purdue Polytechnic Transformation Team that was looking at mentoring. Mentoring is not a new concept in higher education and the research does show that mentoring enhances a student’s undergraduate experience. As a result, it fosters retention and a sense of belonging and validation as student’s transition to college. The Purdue Polytechnic has been focusing on transforming how undergraduates learn and the issues facing higher education for several years.
I had the opportunity to attend a presentation presented by advisors from The Ohio State University on how they created their Peer Mentoring Program for first year students in Engineering. The instructors used more knowledgeable undergraduate students in their course as teaching assistants. The students then served as peer mentors to the students enrolled in the course. The mentors were able to provide leadership, tutoring and other support services. They definitely had some positive results from their mentoring model. The mentors had taken the course before and they were well acclimated to campus and campus life. However, the teaching assistants were involved in grading and reporting grades of undergraduate students. They also reported that the roles that the teaching assistant played in the classroom had a negative effect on some of the mentees. Supervision collaboration and formal training are key to a successful peer mentoring program. I realized while listening to their presentation that our mentoring model is very different but I greatly appreciated their insight on mentoring.
The conference was a great opportunity to network and learn about best practices from across the country. I want to thank the PACADA Grant Sub Committee for the opportunity to attend such a diverse topic and I would encourage other advisors to consider applying for professional development opportunities to attend a national, regional or state conference.
Shavonne Holton was a recipient of a PACADA professional development grant for the 2016 year. She used her funds to attend the 2016 NACADA National Conference in Atlanta, GA. See below for more information about her experiences!
2016 NACADA Annual Conference – Advising To Learn in Atlanta, GA
Atlanta, affectionately known as Hotlanta, was the host city for the 2016 NACADA Annual Conference. Not only were the themes and content of the sessions hot and trendy in advising, but the rooms were packed with eager practitioners! Many sessions were in demand requiring ad hoc accommodations and overflow sections for the participants who did not want to miss the valuable insights shared by the presenters.
I was fortunate to attend this conference with assistance from the PACADA grant. I enjoyed networking with advisors from every region and learning strategies that would take my practice to the next level. Three of the most impactful sessions are included below.
Student Stressors and Pressures: Navigating the Global Mental Health Epidemic on Campus
Susan Toler Carr is a professional engineer and founder of the Justin Carr Wants World Peace Foundation. Carr became aware of the lack of attention given to mental health issues when she lost her son, Justin, due to an undetected medical condition at the age of seventeen. It was during this time that she inquired about some of Justin’s surviving friends only to find that some of them had a difficult time grieving his loss. Since then, Susan has made it her mission to spread awareness and advocate for the mental health of adolescents and young adults.
During her workshop, Carr elaborated on a plethora of conditions and circumstances that plague today’s pre-college and college-aged students. For instance, she redefined the non-traditional student to include students who grew up in adverse conditions, are a part of veteran/military families, and consider themselves socially isolated amongst other things. One recommendation she shared was to enhance student ID cards to include counseling and crisis hotline numbers on the back. She stated that some institutions have already implemented it and have found it to be successful.
What I appreciated most about her session was that it was a great reminder to look up from the demands of our work to be present with our students. It is only natural to be preoccupied by the countless emails we receive and our never-ending task lists. Sometimes the most effective strategy for student success is to be present, which demonstrates that we care for our student’s well-being.
#BlackGirlMagic : The Role of Advisors in Supporting the Successes of Black Women
During this workshop, Dawn Matthews, Kelsie Patton, Ky’Eisha Penn, and Sabrina Smith of Florida State University used Critical Race Feminism and Womanist Identity Development theories to provide a framework for advising Black women in higher education. Critical Race Feminism acknowledges the various groups within a marginalized population. The Womanist Identity Development Model specifically illuminates the experiences of African American women to provide a more accurate perspective of their experiences.
During the session, the presenters shared various stereotypes that Black women at both Historically Black Colleges and Universities and predominately White institutions identify with including “being the only/tokenism”. By the end of the session, we learned more about the advising styles that work best for the success of Black Women including developmental advising which focuses on helping students define goals through collaboration with their advisor. Another recommended style was proactive advising. In it, the advisor initiates contact with the student during critical points or circumstances including if the student is high risk, on probation, high achieving, and other critical milestones throughout their academic career.
This particular workshop won Best of Region 4. With the number of practitioners that filled the large breakout room for this session at NACADA, it was clear the level of need and interest in this issue. Attendees from all ethnic and gender backgrounds were engaged in the critical conversations that took place. Even as a professional who identifies with #BlackGirlMagic, I found my biggest takeaway was to assess and approach each student according to her unique needs.
ATL: It’s HOTlanta: Don’t Burn Out
Presented by: Wiona Porath and Robert Detwiler (Siena Heights University), Jaimie Newby (University of Illinois – Springfield), Dana Hebreard (Calvin College)
With the many demands in our work, it is difficult to know when to turn down a project. It can feel as if everything is a priority even if it is a distraction. We all know that trying to manage a student load, committee work, participating in professional organizations, adjusting to curriculum changes, and other duties as assigned can lead to burn out. What is even more disheartening is that you can unknowingly lose the zest for the work you once found meaningful to you.
During this session, the presenters gave some of the signs of burn out including a change in sleeping and appetite, developing cynicism about your job, and finding it difficult to ease into the workday. Although I am in my second year as an academic advisor, I could see how our work could become less fulfilling as compared to the first day on campus or in a new role.
The presenters did well at reminding the attendees about the most powerful word ever: No. They stressed the importance of establishing boundaries with students, colleagues, and supervisors to prevent burnout. They also shared tips for incorporating relaxation into the workday and in life to create harmony. Some recommendations included taking your lunch outside of the office, going for walks, being present and more. Though the presentation covered signs you may have heard before, it definitely made me more aware of my own professional limitations and I can manage them when I returned to Purdue.
Overall, attending the NACADA annual conference gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing presenters, reinforce what I was doing well in my current role at Purdue, and introduced me to some new perspectives on advising. Thank you PACADA!