Thomas Brown & Associates (TBA) has a consistent record of highly effective experience working with campus communities that are seeking to understand how faculty, staff, administrators, and others can collaborate to increase student engagement, learning, and success. We call this work, Building Effective Student Success Teams (BEST Teams), which involves and engages all segments of the campus community.
Important student learning takes place in the classroom; however, what happens to students outside of class (e.g., on campus, at work, at home) also plays an important role in their decisions to drop out or persist. If colleges and universities are to achieve greater levels of success for students, administrators, faculty, and staff just understand that the campus is an interconnected web of people, programs, and services that must work together to achieve institutional, departmental, and individual goals.
Following are examples of TBA professional development presentations that have proven effective in developing the skills, attitudes, and behaviors that contribute to a student-centered campus community, wherein all students are more likely to succeed.
Pathways to Persistence: Student Success Takes a Campus; It Takes YOU
According to the annual Institutional Data File from ACT (formerly The American College Testing Program), less than half of students in four year institutions and only 30% of community college students complete certificates or degrees. The attrition rates are even higher for first-generation/low socio-economic students, students of color, underprepared, and other at-risk groups.
Why do some students leave college as the result of incidents that appear relatively minor, while others persist in the face of tremendous obstacles? Are some students “predestined” to fail and withdraw from college, as the result of their educational backgrounds? If this is the case, why do some students with strong GPAs and test scores leave college, while others achieve at high levels despite coming from “educationally disadvantaged” backgrounds? Do some students leave college for reasons that are expected and understandable, while others could be encouraged and supported to stay? Which campus offices or personnel should have the responsibility for increasing student development, satisfaction and persistence? Pathways to Persistence is a simulation exercise that answers these questions and assists campus communities to act—individually and collectively—to increase student success.
Pathways identifies many of the reasons students leave college, challenges some of the common myths and misconceptions about attrition, and shares evidence that what happens to students after they enroll is often more important than their pre-enrollment attributes and experiences. The exercise illustrates that increased persistence is the by-product of a campus environment which combines high quality teaching, comprehensive student services, and an effective academic advising program. On student-centered campuses, everyone recognizes that they have the power to make an individual difference—whether they are department heads, classroom teachers, counselors, advisors, coaches, administrative assistants, or receptionists. Pathways has proven to be highly effective for campus-wide programs that include diverse groups of faculty, administrators, administrative support staff, etc.
Like other simulation exercises, Pathways offers participants a learning and development experience they can participate in rather than just read or hear about. Participants leave the simulation with a clear sense that what they do matters, along with concrete tangible strategies that they can utilize to contribute to a campus community that promotes student satisfaction, development, and persistence. Pathways is part of a strategy designed by Thomas Brown & Associates to Build Effective Student Services Teams (BEST Teams).
There is a $5.00 per participant materials preparation fee for Pathways.
Following are comments from Pathways to Persistence participants:
The simulation was a graphic illustration of how we impact students’ lives and retention….It allows you to see how all the pieces fit together…proactive techniques were explained and presented in a comprehensive way…I appreciated the validation that I am doing something right
This session made a huge impact on our faculty. They saw how what they do in advising really does make a difference in retention. I can truly say in the six years that I have been here Tom Brown by far has made the biggest impact of any speaker we have brought in.
Teaching Beyond the Classroom: The Critical Role of Faculty and Academic Advising in Promoting Student Learning, Achievement, and Success
Robert Berdahl, a former chancellor at the University of California Berkeley and president at the University of Texas Austin, once wrote, "Teaching and good advising need to be part of a seamless process, sharing the same intellectual sphere and informed by a relatively consistent educational philosophy." Harvard professor Richard Light, in his book, Making the Grade, concludes, "Good advising might be the single most underestimated characteristic of a quality educational experience." However, an on-going survey of faculty advisors finds most faculty reporting they did not have adequate training and preparation before beginning to advise.
This session will highlight how student/faculty interactions beyond the classroom combine with students’ experiences in the classroom, laboratory, and library to influence their engagement and persistence behaviors. Included will be: Research finding academic advising is a process that is a particularly effective intervention in increasing student success; the shared goals of teaching and academic advising; a model of shared responsibility for academic advising; an overview of first-year students’ expectations and needs in academic advising.
Professional Development for Academic Advisors Supporting Student Engagement and Learning Beyond the Classroom
In continuing studies of student satisfaction, Noel Levitz found that “next to the quality of instruction, academic advising is consistently the next most important area of the college experience to students.” ACT’s What Works in Student Retention (WWISR) studies continue to find academic advising among the top three practices utilized by campus seeking to increase student persistence.
Effective academic advising is dependent on comprehensive pre- or in-service advisor development programs. However, national surveys have found advisor development/training to be among the least effective areas. Advisor development programs have common elements, whether participants are instructional faculty, counselors, professional, or peer advisors.
This session is based on chapters Tom Brown has published in Academic Advising: A Handbook (Jossey-Bass, 2008) and Fostering Student Success in the Campus Community (Jossey-Bass, 2007). It provides an overview of Conceptual, Relational, and Informational elements of comprehensive advisor development programs and describes how programs might be designed to meet the needs of advisors with differing levels of experience, willingness to participate. It examines and redefines academic advising as a process that shares many of the goals of teaching and counseling and reviews empirical evidence suggesting a strong correlation between academic advising and student achievement, satisfaction, and persistence.
Participants will also consider the roles and responsibilities of advisors and advisees, as well as how advisors support students to successfully move in, move through, and move on from college.
Thanks for the wonderful presentation. I appreciated your specific application of our campus data to national standards. You inspired our faculty to see the advisor relationship as most critical on a campus. You uplifted our vision!
Dr. Richard Osborn, President, Pacific Union College
One-to-One Teaching and Advising: Building Effective Relationships with Students
Effective academic advising requires the development of high quality interpersonal relationships between advisors and their advisees. Such relationships evolve as the result of a connection being made between advisors who genuinely care about the students they advise, as well as their advisees’ recognition and response to the care, concern, expertise, and respect manifested by the advisor. Indeed, the expectation that students develop during their recruitment and pre-enrollment experience is that the institution, faculty, and others will demonstrate personal care and concern for them and their development. Effective advising involves a wide range of skills, habits, and attitudes that can be learned and enhanced.
This session will consider the relational elements that are essential to one-to-one advising. Relational elements are those behaviors that advisors need to employ as they strive to develop effective and mutually rewarding relationships with their advisees. As relationships are based as much on whom we are as they are on what we do, we will also examine the distinction between being and doing.
Topics covered will include: Establishing Rapport With Students, Conducting Effective Advising Interviews, Listening as a Critical Advising Skill, Effective Referral Strategies and Skills, Supporting Student Decision-Making, Challenging and Supporting Students, Acknowledging and Responding to Difference and Diversity
The excitement and passion that I received from your presentation exemplified what I have for educating and teaching others. I cannot thank you enough for helping bring that back out of me today.
Supporting the Engagement, Achievement and Success of Multicultural Students
Academic advisors will achieve success in their work with students of color and other diverse backgrounds when they are aware of differences, accept the fact that diversity is a reality of the human experience, and when they become proficient in identifying issues and employing a range of appropriate perspectives, skills, and strategies that are effective for their advisees. The primary focus of this session will be on Asian Pacific American, Black/African American, Latino, and Native American/First Nations People, with some reference to students from abroad (“international students”). The session will address the following:
- Challenges in multicultural advising
- Diversity in diversity
- Identity development and worldview
- Value conflicts in advising
- Advisor assumptions
- Attribution theory as a guide for the work of academic advisors
- Understanding and reducing the impact of Stereotype Threat
- Rivas 0-100% Teaching, Counseling and Advising Method
- Pluralistic advising skills
A theoretical framework will be presented along with concrete, tangible strategies that can enable advisors to be more effective in their work in supporting the development and achievement of students of color.
I cannot find the words to express my thanks for the superb presentations you offered. With over 14 years in the areas of diversity, I found this to be one of the most exceptional presentations I have had the pleasure to experience….
Dr. Shari Clarke, Vice President for Student Affairs, Marshall University
Tom Brown achieved something that our previous speakers on diversity haven’t been able to: he spoke to us as fellow professionals! The tone was just right and the substance important.
Dr. Dee Andrews, Chair, History, Cal State East Bay
Understanding and Applying Racial Identity Development Theory as A Critical Skill for Educators Serving Students of Color
Drawing on the work of theorists and practitioners such as Janet Helm (white identity development), Atkinson, Morten and Sue (minority identity development), Beverly Tatum (“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria”), and Claude Steele (“racial stigma”), this presentation/discussion considers how identity development manifests itself in academic advising and how understanding racial identity development can enable advisors of various backgrounds to interact and intervene more effectively in support of the academic and social integration of traditional- aged (18-22 years old) college students of color. The session will provide an introduction to theory and suggest practical applications and strategies for academic advising programming and individual advising initiatives.
“Awesome presentation! It had a huge impact on me as a white professional working with many students of color in a very diverse department and as I supervise new professionals”
Reframing At-Risk to High Potential: Responding to Today’s Diverse Students
This presentation and discussion will identify the characteristics, challenges and effective strategies for increasing engagement, learning, and persistence for students who often are at-risk for leaving college and/or for not achieving their full potential. The session will include an overview of “dispositional barriers” (cognitive, emotional, and behavioral) that hinder student success. It will highlight theories of student learning and motivation and provide concrete individual and programmatic interventions that have worked to increase achievement and persistence for students-at-risk. Examples of promising research-based strategies will also be provided. Following are the student cohorts that can be the focus of this session:
· Adult/re-entry students
· First-generation/low socio-economic students
· First-year students
· Foster youth
· Homeless Students
· International students
· Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) students
· Multicultural/students of color
· Rural students
· Students with disabilities
· Undecided/Exploratory students
· Underprepared students
· Undocumented students
The number of cohorts discussed will depend on the time available for the session, and campuses will be asked to identify student groups of specific concern on them.
I want to extend my appreciation for the wonderful presentation. I have been to a few retreats, workshops, and professional development events that were far from anything presented today and I just wanted to make sure that I expressed what you did for me today. I can truly say that it is one of the greatest and most powerful presentations I have been to.
Promoting the Development, Achievement and Persistence of Hispanic/Latino/a College Students: People, Principles, and Programs
This workshop evolved from an invited presentation for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), which has been among the best attended and most highly rated sessions at HACU National Conferences since it was first offered in 2005. The focus is on specific theory-based programmatic and individual interventions that have proven effective in increasing the development, achievement and persistence of students of color, in general, and Hispanic/Latino/a students, in particular. In addition to providing an overview of theories that are critical to student success, this session provides concrete, tangible strategies that can enable educators and educational institutions to motivate and support Hispanic/Latino/a students to take greater responsibility for their own learning, development, and success.
In the report, Latinos in Higher Education: Many Enroll, Too Few Graduate, Richard Fry, a Senior Research Associate at the Pew Hispanic Center, concluded, “Much of the Latino achievement gap in higher education is the result of what happens after students begin their postsecondary studies” (page 4). Students do not have encounters and interactions with institutions; rather, they have a series of interactions and encounters with individual faculty and staff members. It is the sum total of these encounters and experiences which comprise students’ institutional experiences. One of the ways that faculty and staff can validate students is by engaging them beyond the classroom in activities such as academic advising.
Laura Rendon points out that students want their doubts erased about their being capable of learning and that even the most at-risk students can be turned into powerful learners through in and out-of-class validation. The What Works in Student Retention report cited earlier found that the retention practices responsible for the greatest contribution to retention fall into three main categories: 1. Programs that support first-year college students to make the transition to college; 2. Academic advising, including interventions with specific populations, such as Latino and other cohorts at greater risk for dropping out before graduation, 3. Learning support programs (e.g., learning assistance, supplemental instruction)
This workshop demonstrates how promising practices in retention can be brought to bear in institutional and individual initiatives in support of Latino/a students.
Wow! Thought provoking, inspiring and concrete ways to assist students on their educational journeys. I enjoyed and learned tremendously!
Enhancing the Academic Climate for Black and Hispanic/Latino Male Students
The College Board issued a 2010 report, The Educational Crisis Facing Young Men of Color, which provided the results culmination of two years of qualitative research into the issue of the comparative lack of success that males of color are experiencing traversing the education pipeline. The report concluded that for every racial group, young women are outperforming young men with respect to the attainment of high school diplomas, with even more pronounced disparities at the postsecondary level. The findings were even more dire for Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino males
This intensive workshop identifies the characteristics, challenges and strengths of African American/Black and Hispanic/Latino male students whose backgrounds and experiences often put them at greater risk for not achieving their full potential and/or for leaving college. Participants will consider how these students often confront multiple challenges due to overlapping issues (e.g., Multicultural AND first generation AND first-year; Multicultural AND Underprepared AND GBT). The presentation will share intentional, structured, and proactive theory-based individual and programmatic interventions that can increase engagement, motivation, and achievement.
Participants will also consider how US societal attitudes, behaviors and practices—including racial, gender, and class discrimination, an increasing tendency to criminalize and punish youthful behaviors and styles, and the youth control complex—serve to marginalize young men of color, in particular, causing them to be more likely to withdraw from education at every level. Participants will be also encouraged to complete the Harvard University Implicit Association Test between sessions one and two, in private, in order to recognize how they may have internalized certain beliefs, misconceptions, and stereotypes.
Excellent! I can see how I can apply this on my campus, as it-inspired ideas and ways I can help. I appreciated the discussion of some of the “big picture issues” [followed by] more practical strategies. I gained lots of great ideas for how to create a welcoming environment.
Best Practices for Retaining Multicultural Students: We Know What Works, Why Aren’t We Doing It? Overcoming Our Immunity to Change.
Going back to the 1980s and beyond—whether ACT’s What Works In Student Retention (WWISR) studies, Excelencia’s What Works for Latino Students in Higher Education reports, or Wes Habley and Jenny Bloom’s findings in their book, Increasing Persistence: Research Based Strategies for College Student Success—the same “best practices” appear (e.g., developmental/remedial courses, tutoring, advising, early alert, summer bridge, mentoring). So, if we have long known “what works,” why haven’t institutions fully employed these “best practices” in support of the success of African American/Black, Asian Paciifc Islander, Hispanic/Latin@ and other at-risk student cohorts?
Change is hard, even good change. In their book, Immunity to Change, Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow-Lahey, point out that when cardiologists tell their seriously ill patients that failure to change behaviors will result in death, only one in seven will follow their doctors’ advice! This session will consider impediments to change rooted in Implicit Cultural Assumptions and the American Issue Attention Span and share "The Bell Curve of Campus Change. It will highlight the critical distinction between “technical” and “adaptive” challenges and describe how “hidden commitments” and “big assumptions” serve to impede the commitment and persistence needed to bring about meaningful change and development. Finally, participants will be provided with a framework that can enable individuals, groups, and institutions to make use of Kegan and Laskow-Lahey’s four-column process that can create organizational learning leading to increased student success.
BARNGA: A Simulation of Cultural Clashes
BARNGA places participants in a situation where they actually experience the "shock" of realizing that, in spite of many similarities, people of differing cultures have different ways of doing things--whether the "culture" differs in terms of ethnicity, gender, age, or otherwise. The experience happens in a safe, time compressed setting in which participants have the opportunity to encounter, reflect, and learn. Like other simulation exercises, BARNGA uses a learning methodology that gives participants an experience they can participate in rather than just read or hear about.
BARNGA is a powerful learning experience that enables participants to consider how their actions and reactions contribute to strengthening relationships with students, colleagues, and others they encounter in their professional and personal lives. BARNGA is also a tool that can be used by faculty members in their classrooms, as well as by those responsible for faculty or staff development programs. BARNGA is an especially effective experience for frontline staff in offices where policies and procedures can cause conflicts with students, faculty, and staff (e.g., Registrar, Financial Aid, and Business Office).
I can apply what I learned to my everyday life…I don’t have to defend my opinion and can give up the need to be right.
Empowering Classified Staff (Education Support Professionals) to Understand and Embrace The Critical Role They Play to Actualize the College Mission and Support Student Success
Most retention research focuses on the relationships student have with instructional faculty and student affairs professionals; however, students also interact with classified staff (education support professionals) at every juncture as they move in, move through, and move on from college. Accordingly, a study by the Association of Institutional Research found that staff members significantly influence students’ decisions to stay or drop out of college.
Professional development for classified staff usually focuses on mastering job-related skills; however, this session will support participants to understand and strengthen the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, attitudes, and behaviors that can produce increased effectiveness and satisfaction for students and for staff themselves.
This session reminded me that we should approach our positions as our “work” not a “job”. I am in this work to support others and I am the only one who can motivate me.
Supporting the Academic Achievement and Success of Student-Athletes
Intercollegiate athletics enables students to develop a wide range of skills that can support their success in college, in their careers, and in life. However, many student-athletes also need guidance to help them balance the demands of their academic and athletic lives. This session considers individual and institutional initiatives that can support learning, development and persistence for student-athletes. It will examine issues that impede and enhance the academic success of student-athletes. It will provide concrete, tangible strategies that can enable educators to motivate and support student-athletes to take greater responsibility for their own learning, development, and persistence. This session will provide information on the key elements of a successful academic support structure and provide resources for institutions seeking to implement or enhance programs to serve student-athletes. The session also provides and overview of the FLAG/GRO model developed by the NCAA to examine the level of academic risk of incoming and continuing student-athletes. The model is a tool that can also be used to anticipate and respond proactively to the needs of any at-risk student population.
Intrusive Academic Advising: An Invitational, Proactive Approach to Increasing Student Success
Noel Levitz’s Student Satisfaction Surveys find academic advising to be among the top priorities for students, with students in public universities identifying advising as among the main priorities for students in community colleges). Research from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) concludes that the more interaction students have with faculty and staff, the more likely they are to learn effectively and persist toward achievement of their educational goals. These findings have led an increasing number of colleges and universities to implement intrusive, proactive, or invitational academic advising as a central element in their efforts to increase student engagement, persistence and success. This advising approach means that campuses—through instructional faculty, academic advisors, counselors, and programs—take the initiative to reach out to students to provide advice, support, referral, and assistance, rather than waiting for students to seek help.
Intrusive Academic Advising does not mean “hand holding” or the return of in loco parentis. Rather, it suggests that faculty, counselors, academic advisors, and others demonstrate an active concern for students’ academic progress and a willingness to assist students to understand and utilize programs and services that can increase the likelihood of their success. Intrusive Academic Advising programs and advisors understand that many students, especially those who may be at greater risk for dropping out, often do not seek assistance in time for the assistance to have a positive impact on their progress. This especially true for students who are first-year, first-generation, undecided, underprepared, or otherwise at greater risk for leaving college. This session will consider the principles, philosophy, outcomes, best practices, and successful implementation of Intrusive Academic Advising.
The Maze: Making It Through…Together!
The objective of this team building exercise is for group to move through a maze to reach a goal. Team members must work together to discover the one and only safe path through trial and error. This activity creates an opportunity to understand how the culture of an office, program, or organization can support or limit individual and group initiative. Participants learn what supportive behaviors are necessary for the entire team to be successful. They gain an understanding of the importance of taking risks and are reminded that mistakes are part of learning, development, and increased effectiveness. Participants also come to understand how fear of rejection, making mistakes, and/or being negatively judged can limit effectiveness. The exercise clearly demonstrates how improved support, trust, energy and accountability directly impact outcomes and effectiveness.
Thank you again for an amazing presentation and workshop! I have heard nothing but positive comments. It’s quite an achievement to get a standing ovation from our jaded group of faculty and staffJ
Mary Sandberg, Professional Development Coordinator, Santa Rosa Junior College
Recent Publications by Associates (partial listing)
Jennifer L. Bloom
Increasing Persistence: Research-Based Strategies for College Student Success, Wesley R. Habley, Jennifer L. Bloom, Steve Robbins, Jossey-Bass. 2012
Appreciative College Instruction: Becoming a Force for Positive Change in Student Success Courses. Jennifer L. Bloom, Bryant L. Hutson, Ye He, Claire Robinson. 2011.
The Appreciative Advising Revolution , Jennifer L. Bloom, Bryant L. Hutson, Ye He. 2008
Fulfilling the Promise of the Community College: Increasing First Year Student Engagement and Success. Thomas Brown, Margaret C. King & Patricia Stanley. American Association of Community Colleges and National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition. 2011.
“From Diversity to Inclusivity,” in Foundations: A Reader for New College Students. Wadsworth. 2011.
"Critical Concepts in Advisor Training and Development," in Academic Advising Handbook 2nd Edition. Jossey Bass. 2008
“Developing Instructional and Administrative Faculty to Put Students First”, in Fostering Student Success in the Campus Community. Jossey-Bass. 2007
Thomas Brown & Mario Rivas
“Reframing At-Risk to High-Potential: Supporting the Achievement and Success of Underprepared Students in the Critical First Year of College,” in Fulfilling the Promise of the Community College: Increasing First Year Student Engagement and Success. American Association of Community Colleges & The National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. 2011.
“Advising Students of Color” in Academic Advising for Student Success and Retention. Noel- Levitz. 1997, 2004.
“Pluralistic advising: “Facilitating the Development and Achievement of First Year Students of Color,” in First Year Academic Advising: Patterns in the Present, Pathways to the Future. National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition and the National Academic Advising Association. 1995.
Increasing Persistence: Research-Based Strategies for College Student Success. Wesley R. Habley, Jennifer, L. Bloom & Steve Robbins. Jossey-Bass. 2012
“Enhancing First Year Success in the Community College: What Works in Student Retention, in Fulfilling the Promise of the Community College: Increasing First-Year Student Engagement and Success. 2011.
Academic Advising: A Comprehensive Handbook. Virginia N. Gordon, Wesley R. Habley, Thomas Grites. Jossey-Bass. 2008.
“Gestalt Educational Counseling,” In, The Bridge: Dialogues Across Cultures. Gestalt Institute Press. 2005.
Helping Latino Students Develop Confidence to Learn and Succeed, Hispanic Outlook Magazine, June 9, 2014
http://digital.turn-page.com/i/326217/15# (click on free preview)