Tips for Faculty

These comments were prepared by me, Terri Dautcher, for a 2014 PSU Faculty Week workshop about Motivational Advising.  Comments and suggestions for improving this information can be sent to  You can also reach me by text or voice at 603 254-6262.

  • My goal as an advisor is to:
    • Establish developmentally supportive relationships
o   Approach my advisees with compassion & empathy, remembering that I am perceived as 'holding the power' in the relationship, and that I must use my power with care.
o   Create an environment where students don't become emotionally distracted as the result of my interactions.  I don't want to elicit fear or feelings of being judged or overwhelmed, all of which can disrupt focus and engagement.
o   I want to use my energy to help students feel powerful, confident and in control of their outcomes.  If I vibrate with 'you can absolutely do this' energy, the student will mirror that belief. 
·         I want to understand how students perceive themselves; what they believe about their potential.  If the student has counter-productive self-perceptions, I want to help the student develop a plan to shift those internal conversations onto a more positive talk track.   
·         Help advisees cultivate a vision for their future success
o   For some students that's short-term (GPA, degree completion)
o   For some students that's long-term (career goals, debt repayment goals)
·         Offer guidance to support major, minor and elective course selection that will motivate the student to engage and be successful while at PSU, and support long-term goals. (GPA, degree completion and long-term satisfaction)
·         Prepare students to successfully navigate the processes necessary to completion a degree
o   Sequence courses
o   GPA requirements
o   Preparations for a 'study away' experience
o   Internship or independent study planning
·         Work with students to identify potential barriers to success & run interference if possible
o   Study skills, writing or math challenges
o   Substance use
o   Roommate / housing issues
o   Family concerns
o   Financial concerns
·         Assist with career-readiness & job search preparation
·         Celebrate their successes


Advising Session Outline
Step 1 - Connect (5 - 8 minutes)
·         I take a few seconds to really focus myself, so that I can be truly attentive to the student.
·         For new advisees:
o   Describe my style of advising;
§  I'm kind of like a  coach who is going to teach you what you need to know to earn your degree;
§  I'm a resource who can help you if stuff gets wonky in ANY way.  We just need to start to build a relationship.  What works best is if you come to see me from time to time, and definitely let me know if/when you need help with anything.
§  You're sitting in a 'no judgment zone'.  I don't want you to ever get hung up on needed to earn my approval; don't get worried about disappointing me.  I'm here to help, not judge you.
§   I am going to push you to do your best and help you reach your potential, just like any good coach.   
·         For existing advisees: 
o   Check on progress in prior semester or academic semester in progress, and discuss any issues. 
§  Tell me how the semester is going so far.  What classes are going well?  Are there any classes that are going to be a challenge for you? 
o   Look for any physical or behavioral changes in advisee; skin, weight loss, nervousness.  If I have concerns about changes in appearance or behavior I usually make a broad statement (not a question) about wellness.
§  I want to make sure you're doing okay in terms of your health, your living situation, financially....  If there is anything going on that you need to talk with about, or get help with...if there is nonsense happening or you're dealing with anything you need you just need to let me know. I can only help with stuff if you let me know what's going on.
o   If a student gives me any indication that there are issues to address, I sometimes shift the advising session and focus on addressing issues that have surfaced.  We reschedule another time for academic advising, and then work on getting a short-term action plan in place to help address issues.  I put a reminder in my calendar to follow-up with a student on the agreed upon plan.  I also usually send a 'care' email. 

Step 2 - Shift to Academic Planning (1 minute)
·         Every advisee gets a file folder that I label 'Degree Progress'.  I coach students to keep the folder with things they bring back with them every semester, and to bring the folder to each session, explaining that we'll use it to keep important information. 
·         I look up the student's PIN and registration date, and write it on the inside of the student's Degree Progress folder. 

Step 3 - Review Degree Progress (10 minutes)
·         I have the student log into their MyPlymouth and navigate to the DegreeWorks screen. 
·         I go through a quick review of credits completed, credits remaining and the time it will take for the student to complete the degree.
o   This is where I review how the student can reduce time-to-degree and cost to degree
o   The time to degree illustration can be placed in the folder.
o   I have the student toggle over and take a quick look at the PSU Loan History PDF and confirm that they are making the connection between time to degree and cost to degree.
·         I often will work through a quick degree progress audit using a paper copy of the curriculum planning guide while referring to the DegreeWorks screen, just to ensure that the student is paying attention to the details of their progress and remaining courses.  My decision to do this depends on the student's grasp of their degree progress and level of engagement in the academic planning process.  The paper audit also goes in the folder.
·         First Year Planning:  I focus on satisfaction with major selection, academic performance and adjustment to the PSU environment.  I also ask about issues with retention in order to determine if they are planning to return or already considering a need or desire to transfer.  I also ask about, and encourage student organization involvement.
·         Sophomore Year Planning: We talk about minors, sometimes I print a few curriculum planning guides for minors if a student indicates interest, and suggest we talk about it in more detail at a follow-up meeting. I will add the follow-up to a 'to do' list on a blank piece of paper.
·         Junior Year Planning:  We talk about study-way options, internships, and independent study options.  Again, follow-up goes on a blank 'to do' sheet.
·         Senior Year Planning: It's important to confirm that students' majors and minors are accurately reflected in DegreeWorks.  If the student has not updated paperwork (major & minor declaration forms), now is the time it must be done. Seniors who hope to walk in graduation in the spring must also complete a Degree Request & Commencement Participation form (found on the forms link on the home page of this site).  The focus during senior sessions is on career & budget preparation.  For some students graduate school is also a consideration. In the spring semesters, I invite all of my senior students to sign up for an hour-long appointment just to discuss career & personal financial planning.

Step 4 - Discuss Next Semester Registration (8 minutes)

·         On a blank piece of paper, usually above the 'to do' list that I've started, I make a quick list of the courses that the student still needs to take, or in the case of Gen Ed, the category of courses required / remaining. 
·         In some instances I make faculty recommendations based on students' learning styles or a desire to expose them to a faculty member for professional development reasons. 
·         I confirm that they know how to use the Course Search information, and create a schedule. 

·         I tell them to sign up for another appointment if they want a follow-up before the day of registration.