The UAC Peer Advisor Program is structured around Alexander Astin’s Theory of Student Involvement and is focused on three primary components that set the foundation and building blocks for student development and engagement of the peer advisors and the students they interact with: Learn, Engage and Develop.
Learn: Peer Advisors go through an extensive training process to learn about all of the majors at KU and how to create semester plans for those majors. Beyond majors, PAs learn about campus resources and offices and are constantly learning from other PAs, their supervisors, professional advisors and faculty about advising and how the university operates. Through peer to peer interactions, the students that meet with peer advisors learn about the student perspective of academics and advising at KU. Plus PAs are able to tell their own story to help relate to the students’ experience.
Engage: Peer Advisors are encouraged and supported to be actively engaged in their academic, personal, social and campus lives. An incentive program called “PA Points” rewards PAs for being engaged with campus and office activities and being supportive, helpful and creating positivity in the workplace. PAs are also engaged with other students. Through summer orientation, front desk hours and advising appointments, PAs have a strong connection with their position and are valued by the amount of responsibility given to them. Having peer advisors also helps other students be more engaged after seeing and hearing from the PAs.
Develop: Through this program, peer advisors learn a lot about themselves, their own academics and career, and what it means to be a professional as a student. Through social justice training PAs learn how to develop themselves as a student and a person which in turn helps them create a more inclusive and safe environment when meeting with students. Opportunities for student/professional development are supported and highly encouraged when there is interest from a PA. This program has also led to professional networking opportunities that have helped them in their academic and post-graduate career.
Astin's Theory of Student Involvement
Students are more academically and socially successful the more they are involved in their academic and social life.
- Motivating students and recognizing the importance of their role in their programs and services.
- If students spend more time in their academic and campus life programs and services then their overall learning will increase because they have invested their time and energy in things they enjoy.
- Opportunities need to be available that challenge and stimulate learning towards the students’ interests.
- Create an atmosphere that is relatable to the student, create outcomes towards their values and be flexible with external issues when it comes to other jobs, family and friends.
Overview of Alexander Astin’s Student Involvement Theory http://studentdevelopmenttheory.weebly.com/astin.html
In depth view of Student Involvement: A Developmental Theory of Higher Education: https://www.middlesex.mass.edu/ace/downloads/astininv.pdf
How we use Astin's Theory
Challenge and stimulate learning
- Constantly made to learn and adapt to changes in academic policies and procedures
- Assist in funding for professional/personal development opportunities outside of the office
- Expect PAs to maintain certain GPA and be involved with their coursework
- Online development course
Investment and ownership
- Ask their opinions on issues and policies
- Creating goals during evaluations
- Signs name when responding to emails and adding advising notes
- Have peer to peer interactions while working the front desk and advising during drop in appointments
Atmosphere that is relatable and welcoming
- Utilize GroupMe app for social and work communication
- PAs are always around, either hanging out or studying in the office
Motivation and recognition
- PA gnome
- PA of the Week
- PA awards
- PA point system
- Random acts of encouragement
Flexible with external issues
- Work hours and class schedules
- Accommodate with their personal needs
How we help Peer Advisors develop
Kierston McMichael- Former Peer Advisor and current Administrative Associate in the Provost's Office at KU