What academic advisors need to provide better student support : lessons from a Malaysian medical school

Tan, Christina P. L. (2011-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2011.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Background: Academic support programmes have an important part to play in addressing the needs of students experiencing difficulties. A quality assurance exercise by the national accreditation body highlighted the fact that academic staff involved in non-academic counselling had no prior training. Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the academic advisor programme in a Malaysian medical school from the academic advisors’ perspective in order to determine their understanding of their role, their experiences and needs. Method: Focus group discussions (FGDs) involving 10 academic advisors were conducted using a semi-structured interview schedule. Results: Study participants demonstrated some instinctive understanding of their role (especially as role models in their professional development) although they did not have clear guidelines. They strongly expressed a need for training in counselling skills and better administrative support. There was some reluctance to undertake the task of academic advising as there were no perceived rewards or incentives. Conclusions: The training of academic advisors needs to be addressed in faculty development programmes. Strong institutional administrative support is important with efficient channels of communication to academic advisors on student performance and other relevant information. Teaching activities need due institutional recognition and reward.


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