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Engagement in Academic Advising: A Comparison Between Students in Interdisciplinary Programs and Students in Noninterdisciplinary Programs

Pajewski, Stephen G. (2007) Engagement in Academic Advising: A Comparison Between Students in Interdisciplinary Programs and Students in Noninterdisciplinary Programs. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This study examined the academic advising experiences of students in undergraduate interdisciplinary majors at a private research university and observed whether these students engage in advising in ways that are different from those of students whose primary academic majors are not interdisciplinary.The data consisted of responses to a student survey of advising at the university(n = 2,461, or 48% of the undergraduate population). Overall, interdisciplinary students were more engaged in advising than the others. Compared to noninterdisciplinary students, they visited their advisors more often, they contacted their advisor for a wider range of reasons, and their sense of the overall quality of advising received was higher. They also placed greater importance on certain advisor competencies (such as guidance in noncurricular opportunities) and personal characteristics than did noninterdisciplinary students. In addition, the noninterdisciplinary students were divided into their eight areas of study (business administration, computer science, engineering, fine arts, humanities, natural & physical sciences, social sciences, and undecided). Each area was compared to the interdisciplinary students for the same variables. Interdisciplinary ranked in the top half for all of the nineteen variables.This study also found that engagement with advising may be significantly influenced by the type of advising model used by individual academic departments and programs. Since data were used from just one institution, the characteristics of this institution's advising models likely have more of an effect on students' responses than their fields of study.Observations from this study may be used to enhance advising effectiveness in interdisciplinary programs. With students in these programs having higher expectations for advising than students in other programs, advisors need to be well-prepared. Training should ensure that advisors are well-informed of the learning outcomes of interdisciplinary study and can communicate them to students. Further research on student experiences with advising models may contribute to understanding factors affecting advising quality. As for interdisciplinary programs, further study from other institutions with such programs can contribute to understanding how to serve their students with advising. Researching what kinds of students seek enrollment into interdisciplinary programs may also effective.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Pajewski, Stephen
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeidman, John Cweidman@pitt.eduWEIDMAN
Committee MemberNelson, Glenn Mgmnelson@pitt.eduGMNELSON
Committee MemberNair,
Committee MemberYeager, John Ljlyeager@pitt.eduJLYEAGER
Date: 29 January 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 27 November 2006
Approval Date: 29 January 2007
Submission Date: 13 December 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: academic advising; higher education; interdisciplinary
Other ID:, etd-12132006-083310
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:10
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:54


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