To kick off Q2S collaborations, advising coordinator for Ohio University's History Department Brian Schoen coordinated a gathering of history faculty from OHIO's main and regional campuses in September.
Photographer: Wayne Thomas
Schoen and other advisors in the Athens campus History Department have completed transition degree completion plans (TDCPs) for most of their upperclassmen.
Photographer: Wayne Thomas
Jan 19, 2012
By Monica Chapman
In the past, Brian Schoen's role as advising coordinator for Ohio University's History Department was almost entirely confined to the Athens campus. But that all changed when plans for the University's quarters-to-semesters (Q2S) conversion got underway.
"In our particular case, we have about 100 majors on the regional campuses. Knowing that they would be needing the same degree of advising help, we thought a little clearer coordination would be helpful," said Schoen, who also serves as the director of undergraduate studies for OHIO's History Department.
To kick off Q2S collaborations, Schoen coordinated a gathering of history faculty from OHIO's main and regional campuses in September. Faculty from four of the University's five regional campuses turned out for discussion and training on Transition Degree Completion Plans (TDCP), which are required for all OHIO students enrolled during the Q2S transition.
The History Department began the TDCP process early and was quick to train Athens and Regional Campus faculty. Since that initial meeting, Schoen and other advisors in the Athens campus History Department have completed TDCPs for most of their upperclassmen. Regional campuses begin TDCP advising during winter quarter.
"You learn on the job and because we were one of the first in the trenches, we've learned from our mistakes and learned from what went really well. That's part of the process… and hopefully we can pass on that experience to the regional campuses so that they will have a smoother process of transitional advising," Schoen said.
Conversely, Schoen said the conversation made Athens history faculty aware of the unique challenges faced by regional students throughout the Q2S transition, including fewer course offerings and the need for commuter students to take courses in bulk blocks of time.
According to Korcaighe Hale, an associate professor of history on the Zanesville campus, the Q2S process has greatly increased departmental communication between Athens campus and the regional campuses. Hale said that while regional history faculty frequently meet and collaborate, the Q2S process has helped bring the Athens history faculty into that fold.
"Being able to meet all together and being able to talk to other history advisors about advising history majors on the transition greatly increased our preparation and comfort level for the transitional advising," said Hale, who advises approximately 35 students on the Zanesville campus.
Schoen's work was mirrored at the college level in several instances this past fall.
In November, the College of Arts and Sciences held an advising workshop for regional and Athens campus staff. All regional campuses were represented at the workshop and more meetings are anticipated, according to Caryn Asleson, assistant dean for undergraduate student affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Strong connections between the regional advisors and Athens campus programs are crucial to the College of Arts and Sciences because final degrees are conferred in Athens, even though many graduates begin their coursework on a regional campus, Asleson said.
"In order for the students to be successful, they have to seamlessly understand how to finish their courses in whatever campus they are at now and the Athens campus when they project to come," she explained.
University College also serves a sizable regional student population, as well as many students through eCampus via online or distance delivery – necessitating frequent coordination with regional and eCampus advisors. In October, University College supplemented its regular communications with an in-service to prepare for Q2S advising and transition plan completion.
The extra efforts are well worth it, according to Jim McKean, who serves as interim associate dean on the Chillicothe campus, program coordinator for Law Enforcement Technology, and program Chillicothe campus coordinator for the Bachelor of Criminal Justice (BCJ) degree through University College.
"It's enhanced collaboration from my perspective… Whenever we have an opportunity to meet and discuss curriculum, that's a good thing. We always take advantage of the opportunity to increase our communicative effectiveness," McKean said.
But the positive effects of these advising coordination efforts can go beyond the transition, according to David Descutner, dean of University College and associate provost for undergraduate education.
"From the beginning of our Q2S transition discussions, now nearly three years ago, we resolved that we would use the transition as an opportunity to improve our current practices," Descutner said. "Advising is one such practice, and it is critical to student success. Our goal is to identify specific ways in which we could enhance advising and then be sure that we implement those enhancements and sustain them."
One effort toward this goal was an examination of Appreciative Advising, a student-centered approach to academic advising, according to Descutner. Joe Murray, director of advising and retention at Miami University-Hamilton, presented this model to advisors in October.
"As a result, our advisors were able to hone their skills and serve Ohio University students even more compassionately and effectively," Descutner said. "We are looking forward to discovering even more about how we can improve advising based on what we learn from next year's campus-wide ACT advising assessment that Institutional Research will conduct."
Schoen believes the increased collaboration in the History Department will also outlast the Q2S transition.
"(The Q2S advising process) has been a really good experience. All of us went into it with a lot of trepidation, but things have worked pretty well so far, and I hope they continue to do so," Schoen reflected. "Our department takes advising very seriously, and I think we have a pretty good track record with our students. But we've had to ratchet it up this year."
Q2S advising series is underway
Throughout winter quarter, Compass will feature tips and information on advising students through the Q2S transition, based on input from top student advisers. Check back Thursday for tips and insights from tech-savvy student adviser Jim McKean, who also serves as interim associate dean on the Chillicothe campus.
For more information…
OHIO is one of 17 public universities and community colleges across the state converting to semesters in accordance with the University System of Ohio's strategic plan. Questions about the quarters-to-semesters transition at Ohio University can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.