A Web-based Decision Support Tool for Academic Advising
Tony Feghali, Imad Zbib and Sophia Hallal
Educational Technology & Society
With technology and online learning taking off in the higher education world, it is important that student services and academic advising keep up with these changes and adaptations. Advising is an important part of the student’s relationship with the university and adding technology to this process aims to handle repetitive tasks therefore leaving the student and advisor to dedicate more time to planning his/her academic future. “The purpose of this study was to evaluate the current advising process at the Olayan School of Business, introduce and evaluate the effectiveness of an easy-to-read web-based decision support tool that elevates the student (advisee) and professor (advisor) relationship from a prescriptive one to a more engaging one, and to assess the web usability of such a tool”, (Feghali, Zbib & Hallal, 2011).
The Online Advisor includes aspects such as creating academic schedules term to term and year to year, organizing graduation requirements, classes, degree checklists, credits completed and still needed, grades for each course, etc. It is unique in the sense that students are able to select possible courses and see where they fit or where they count in their degree evaluation before enrolling in the class.
The Online Advisor was used in a test group of both students and advisors to get opinions on how technology could help with advising. Surveys were administered to assess how both students and faculty felt about the system. Overall both parties favored the addition on the Online Advisor to the advising process. Overall a high majority of participants felt that the Online Advisor was effective, efficient, and useful. Their attitudes were positive, 75% of students and faculty rated the Online Advisor as extremely useful and helpful.
The aim of this program is not to replace one-on-one advising, but to be used for basic tasks so that the one on one time spent between the student and advisor can be more productive in terms of counseling, mapping out their education, career advising, etc. Wanting to get into this side of education, this would be extremely use and beneficial. Technology can be used in to let students take a certain amount of responsibility for their plan and develop problem solving skills. As the use of technology becomes more and more prevalent, students won’t have to meet with their advisor and waste time asking simple questions and dealing with “busy work”. This is interesting to me because with the use of technology we can actually enhance our in person interactions with students and be more efficient in the process.
The NETS standards that this incorporates are (2) design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments for teachers/advisors as well as (3) research and information fluency and (6) technology operations and concepts for students. Not only does it help advisors be more available and effect, it also gives students a chance to work out their questions on their own first and operate different levels of technology and internet systems. Overall a very beneficial and helpful program for both sides.