For Advisors

An invitation for Academic Advisors



Thank you for attending the Symposium!

Please provide us with your feedback on the event.  The survey will remain open until Friday, December 4, 2015. proposals that were included in the 2015 Academic Advising Symposium:


The role of Career Development within Advising at Post-Secondary Institutions -- Career Development is an ongoing process that continues throughout life. Learn the basics of the Career Development Process: Knowing Yourself, Exploring Options, Getting Focused & Taking Action. Participants will take part in round table discussions, exploring the steps of the Career Development Process. We will discuss and debate a case study and share individual experiences. Gain an understanding of the importance of career development and the role it plays in students’ wellbeing and overall happiness, by helping them connect with what is meaningful in their lives. This will aid you in your respective positions as Advisor’s of post-secondary students. (Presenter: David Cataford, University of Calgary)

Transitioning to and Navigating the University: the International Student Experience -- International students face many challenges in their transition to post-secondary in Canada. Many of them face academic and non-academic challenges which can negatively affect or hinder their success. As a result, it becomes imperative for student services to try to understand the various cultural underpinnings and contexts that these students come with while purposely and consciously applying proven and tried-out best practices. In this session we will share the demographic picture of international students in Canada and highlight some of their challenges and cultural contexts. We will also examine one specific case study as it pertains to two particular advising models. (Prseenters: Lubna Ahmad & Nora Lambrecht, University of Alberta)

Leveraging OneNote as a Student Communications Tracking Tool -- OneNote is a MS Office suite application that is easy to use and access. Drawing inspiration from other project management tools, we have devised a process to use OneNote to store student information and communication by student name. The in-house devised process eliminates repetition of work, provides a shared filing system, and provides easy retrieval of student communication history and documentation, while facilitating teamwork and efficiency. We will share our simple and easy to use process and the value it has provided to our academic advising team by presenting a model that simulates this environment. (Presenters: Gillian Peel, Joey Post, Sarah Ibrahim, SAIT Polytechnic)


CANCELLED Fitting Square Pegs into Round Holes: How to make our program work -- The ability to fit students' needs into the programs we offer is an important skill. Many of our students have life situations that make the regular path through a degree difficult, if not impossible. Some students have goals that lay between, or at the intersection, of the standard programs. Without flexibility on the part of the institution, these students may not complete their degrees. As a faculty member, I have learned that the key to helping students negotiate their unique paths is to listen. We need to hear what their needs are and to understand why they have theses needs. We need to discuss the possibilities that exist for these needs to be met at our institution, by our programs. Then, if the potential for flexibility is present, both on the part of the student and the institution, we find a way to fit this square peg into the round hole.The presentation will examine ways to identify flexibilities in our structures, how to negotiate the bureaucratic process that often overwhelms us, to provide alternatively shaped openings for our students to fit into. (Presenters: Jennifer Eiserman, University of Calgary)

More than a Roadmap: Discussing the role of Advising in Student Success
-- Do you ever feel like a GPS stuck on displaying the same directions day-in and day-out? Or a traffic cop continually pointing only one way down the path to graduation? Since its professionalization, Academic Advising has evolved beyond simply providing a roadmap for students. Advisors are now tasked with managing the expectations of more demanding students, answering the onslaught of questions about career applications of liberal arts degrees, as well as playing a key role in student retention. Improve your understanding of the role of advising within the context of student success and explore techniques and changes in the practice of academic advising. This presentation is geared for professional advisors. (Presenter: Brianna Harvie, Mount Royal University)

Being Confidently Undecided in the First Year -- Classes are like cards, if you play them right, they can work towards a variety of hands. Until students understand this, they are often terrified to explore. While exploring classes in their first semester, undecided students can access multiple supports on campus to help them narrow their degree/career decisions opening the possibility of new academic horizons and still be able to qualify for Early Admission for the following year.  It's critical to engage the student in the exploration process which often involves reflective dialogue between student and advisor. (Presenters: Rea Sauter and Rachel Doe, Mount Royal University)

Connecting the Dots: Validating the work of Frontline Advisors
-- Bridging the gap between strategic plans, NSSE results, and front line advising, this presentation will provide participants with tactical approaches to help advisors feel connected to the big picture goals of the institution, and feel validated that their work has impact on student success and retention rates. (Presenters: Lee-Ann Bainbridge and Lesley Gerein, University of Calgary)

Building Community: the Multiple Roles of Aboriginal Centres on Campuses -- Come and discuss the multiple roles of Aboriginal centres on campuses in both supporting Aboriginal students and providing cross-cultural understanding and resources to non-Aboriginal students, staff and faculty. Learn more about the model the University of Calgary uses in its approach to fulfilling these roles. (Presenters: Shawna Cunningham and Cate Hannington, University of Calgary)

A Look Back at the Start-Up of University of Calgary's New Energy Engineering Program -- In 2015, the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering admitted its inaugural class of the Energy Engineering degree program. This program enables graduates of approved engineering technology diploma programs (from, e.g., SAIT) to earn a degree in engineering in two calendar years.

This presentation provides a look back at the advising-related aspects of the start-up of this program, with particular attention to challenges faced by advisors and students that required that they do more with less, including:

-- Tight admissions time-frame (less than three months from provincial approval to the start of classes in May)

-- Advisor workload (including both pre-existing end-of-year commitments and major changes to registration)

-- Curricular and non-curricular challenges facing students (e.g., condensed spring / summer courses, and transition to university during spring / summer rather than fall) (Presenters: Kari Coleman and Adrianne Hrynyszyn, University of Calgary)


Pre-professional Programs: Coaching vs. Advising -- When advising is sought by students it often sounds like “here are my thoughts on what you should do based on your goal of _______ . . . .” or “typically a student would prepare for ______ by doing the following…..”
In contrast, when one coaches you, they are leading you to arrive at your own answers; they ask probing questions to assist you in making the decision(s) for yourself. As an Advisor in the BSc program at MRU I am frequently asked about preparing for professional schools, often Medicine. Students want to be told what courses to take, what degree to pursue and where they should volunteer and my typical response is “How many Medical Schools are there in Canada?” Not surprisingly, students react with wildly puzzled looks on their faces! Working with students who are exploring medicine or other professional programs beyond the scope of your own institution is not about knowing the courses they should take or the degree they should pursue, it’s about coaching them through a series of questions that puts the responsibility back on them as future professionals to investigate for themselves the many paths that lead to Medicine and many other professional programs. In this presentation I will walk through the conversations I have with students, and explain the ‘homework’ assignments I give them and the step by step organizational plan I suggest for them to begin tackling the daunting research and obtaining the necessary knowledge to pursue their desired goals, professional and beyond. (Presenter: Cheryl Melatdoost, Mount Royal University)

Working Mindfully: Incorporating Mindfulness Practice in the Workplace as an Advisor -- Many people try to find peace in this frantic world, especially in the Western culture that values action and accomplishments so highly. One consequence of a busy lifestyle is that our minds are also busy, cluttered, and distracted. This hinders our ability to sustain attention and present-moment awareness in the workplace. Fortunately, attention can be practiced. Research has started to investigate mindfulness practice as a method for bringing our attention back to the present moment, which is important because our ability to sustain attention is inextricably linked to our well-being, happiness, productivity and creative capabilities. This presentation will introduce student advisors to foundational mindfulness practices that can be done in the workplace and with clients. (Presenter: Justin Pritchard, University of Alberta)

Making Peer Advising Tangible -- Most organizations have a variety of learning opportunities as part of their staff development plan. For an administrative advisor, peer advising, the use of other staff as a preceptor, resource and feedback mechanisms to enhance the diversity in their skills and knowledge development[i], can be a valuable component in their learning process. Peer advising provides a unique opportunity for less experienced employees to gain one-on-one knowledge from a more experienced employee. Despite the support and encouragement from members within an organization some barriers do exists within the learning process. Peer advising is often learner driven which means the responsibility is placed on the less experienced member to initiate his or her own learning. Also, if the peer advising process is not formalized in some way, from the advising employee’s perspective volunteering time in addition to other required duties can be problematic. It is for this reason, that successful peer advising strategies, rest on the provision that the organization have established structures, supports and tools in place to assist in capturing the shared knowledge, ensure the information that is being shared is accurate and documented in a way that is accessible to all staff. The intention of my presentation is to generate a discussion around how to capture the side by side teaching style that defines peering advising into a tool, structure or format that is tangible and usable by all advisors. Is this possible? If so how? How have the advisors attending this presentation seen this in practice?

[i] Mavrinac, Mary Ann. “Transformational Leadership: Peer Mentoring as a Values-Based Learning Process”. Johns Hopkins University Press, July, 2005,Libraries and the Academy, Volume 5, Number 3, pp.391-404. DOI: 10.1353/pla.2005.0037 (Presenter: Stacy Gooliaff, University of Calgary)

Building resilience through Fostering Awareness, Drive and Engagement -- With rapid changes in the world, including changes in technology, careers and economies, how do we help students to cope and even to thrive in the shifting education and career landscapes? Succeeding in the midst of these changes requires persistence and grit. A simple framework for building resilience and grit in students will be presented that involves fostering: 1) (Awareness) an understanding of values, strengths and talents; 2) (Drive) clarity around vision and goals, along with alignment of activities and 3) (Engagement) an attitude of ownership and willingness to learn from challenges. (Presenter: Matthew Geddes, University of Calgary)

The ACAT Learner Pathways Modernization Initiative and Academic Advisor Engagement -- This session will provide an overview of the four phases of the Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfer (ACAT) Learner Pathways Modernization Initiative (LPMI), including highlights from the Phase 1 Business Assessment Report, and a focus on Phase 2 Admissions and Transfer Modernization. Discussion will occur regarding Phase 2 projects – Transfer System Redesign and Transfer Alberta Web Modernization, including ongoing collaboration with working groups to share and align development and support Alberta student needs, as well as cooperation across geographical boundaries. (Presenters: Wendy Richer, and Ann Marie Lyseng, Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfer)

Mindfulness for Helping Professionals: Reducing Burnout and Stress -- In looking to cultivate mental and physical well-being for all members on campus, the University of Calgary has designed mindfulness-based programs (MBSR and MBCT) specifically for staff and faculty.Through the collaboration with multiple departments, we were able to reduce the cost and increase accessibility for off-campus members through synchronous online technology. Join us to see how you may start this wellness program in your institution. (Presenter: Alex Klassen and Mandy Little, University of Calgary)


Grey Eagle Resort & Casino -- Close to Mount Royal University, your accommodation includes hot buffet breakfast, free wifi/internet and complimentary parking.  Rate $149.00
Best Western Plus (Downtown)  -- Good transit options for travel to Mount Royal University. Accommodation includes free wifi/internet, free parking and complimentary breakfast. Rate $149.99 standard or AAA/CAA Rate $134.99