Support

Support for advising and advisors falls to the Office of the Vice-Provost, Teaching, Learning, and Student Experience. The vice-provost chairs the Advising Council and oversees the various units that deliver student support services.  

The Advising Council and the vice-provost, teaching and learning take a broad view of advising. Advising and advisors include academic advisors in colleges and departments as well as those allies who advise students in other ways - career coaches, disability services specialists, faculty mentors and many others. 

Advising Council

The council's mandate, as outlined in its terms of reference, is threefold:

  • Advance the professionalization of advisors to create a strong and transformative advising community that serves the needs of students.
  • Ensure all academic advisors have access to professional development opportunities and resources, including mentorship, building a community of practice and membership in professional organizations.
  • Communicate with both on- and off-campus communities the importance of advising, changes in advising and other relevant information as it becomes available.

Executive

The Executive Committee of the Advising Council manages the governance and day-to-day operations of the council.  Chaired by the Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning, the executive is made up of six members, all of whom sit on the Advising Council. Members of the executive also chair each of the Advising Council's standing committees.

Aboriginal Advisors’ Circle

The process and information sharing is inclusive, collaborative and respectful of Indigenous ways of knowing and being. 

Aboriginal Advisors’ CircleThe Aboriginal Advisors’ Circle is comprised of Aboriginal advisors and co-ordinators who work with Aboriginal students, and those who advance the U of S Aboriginal education mandate. The group meets about once a month during the academic year to share the activities and challenges within units, to plan activities (e.g. National Aboriginal Day, provincial meetings, etc.) and to strengthen internal and external connections.

The formal business of the group is two-fold. The Circle’s leaders (co-chairs) report to and make recommendations to the Advising Council on issues related to the academic advising of Aboriginal students, including best advising practices, professional development, etc. Through the co-chairs the Circle also reports and makes recommendations directly to the Vice-Provost of Teaching and Learning on issues related to Aboriginal students and how to best support their retention and success. The Circle also provides a welcoming and supportive atmosphere for new members.

Professional Development Committee

The Professional Development (P.D.) Committee is a sub committee of the Advising Council and works to support advisors’ professional development across the University of Saskatchewan as well as our partner advisors (Saskatchewan Regional Colleges, St. Peters College) throughout the province.

The committee is made up of a chair (this position is held by a member of the Advising Council Executive) and committee members comprised of academic advisors and allied advisors whose primary role is to support students in their academic pursuits.

The Advising Council has outlined four competencies USASK advisors require in order to enact their broad roles with a level of excellence: Relationship Building; Effective Communication: Professional Knowledge; Professional Skills

The P.D. committee offers a variety of events in order to support new and experienced advisors to meet the competencies mentioned above. Throughout the year workshops, lunch and learn opportunities and an annual ‘Advisors Day’ Conference are held for advisors. A variety of topics have been identified and offered including: Critical Theory & Implications for Advising; Trauma Level 1 and 2; presentations from allied services (Student Employment Career Centre; Equity and Access Services; Students of Concern Advisor Team, etc.)

Furthermore, the P.D. Committee provides information so that advisors are aware of opportunities to participate in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and other opportunities that support the development of the identified competencies for advising.

Advising Charter

One task the Advising Council set for itself in its first term was to create an academic advising charter outlining the responsibilities of students, advisors and the institution.

Resources

Core Competencies

Whether you are just starting out as an academic advisor or have years of experience, you can always learn and develop personally and professionally. The advising council has recognized several core competencies and corresponding skills that are important for advising.

Elements of PracticeProfessional CompetenciesProfessional Development Examples
Relationship Building/Interpersonal Competence The ability to form a relationship with/develop rapport with students; ensure students are comfortable; work well with colleagues e.g. mentorship with a more experienced advisor, critical race theory workshop, personality type workshop (such as Myers-Briggs)
Effective Communication The ability to clearly deliver knowledge and information in both written and verbal forms;  deliver knowledge and information compassionately e.g. workshops such as “crucial conversations,” ASIST training, or writing courses
Professional Knowledge (theoretical knowledge) Knowledge and understanding of advising in theoretical terms; knowledge and understanding of the institution (culture, systems, etc.) e.g. NACADA journal, conferences, Academic Advising Handbook, graduate education
Professional Skills Knowledge and understanding of advising in practical terms; ability to engage in difficult conversations; facilitation and problem solving; a reflective practitioner e.g. mentorship, conferences, certificate programs

Your academic advising practice may incorporate many of these models at the same time.

  • Prescriptive - focus is on giving students information directly related to their academic program and progress, such as academic policies, major/program requirements and course selection
  • Developmental - focus is on helping students examine and understand academic, career and life goals as well as promoting problem-solving and decision-making skills through collaborative advising
  • Intrusive - focus is on the advisor contacting the student at strategic times to prevent problems from arising, or from getting worse, as opposed to waiting for the student to seek academic advising
  • Advising as teaching - focus is on a process where curriculum, pedagogy and learning outcomes are used to help students learn from the advising experience
  • Appreciative advising - focus in on relationship building and is based on models of ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ developed by David Cooperrider. Appreciative Advising uses open ended questions and relationship building to develop a reciprocal relationship to assist students to identify and achieve their academic and career aspirations.

U of S Library LibGuide for Academic Advising resources

NACADA Journal

NACADA Pocket Guide Series

  • Academic Advising Syllabus: Advising as Teaching in Action, 2nd ed.
  • A Faculty Guide to Academic Advising
  • Foundations of Academic Advising
  • The Role of Acad Advising in Student Retention & Persistence

Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook

Career Advising: An Academic Advisor's Guide

TED Talks

RTDs

You can refer students to the reference page for RTD students which outlines some of the options, supports and next steps available to them when they are Required to Discontinue their studies.

Getting Help

Vice-Provost Teaching, Learning and Student Experience

If you have questions regarding advising that are not addressed on this page or any of the links provided on our Referring Students to Services page please send questions and comments to vpteaching@usask.ca - someone will respond to your message within two business days.