A Statement of Advising Philosophy

Michael F. Young, Ph.D.

27 February, 2001

According to Brown, Collins, & Duguid (1989) all learning is situated, meaning, it is an integrated part of the context in which it occurs. Things we learn are inextricably tied to the places, people, and specific instances of objects we experience. Further, such "situated" learning is directed by personal goals, intentions, and ambitions. So advising, like teaching, is not a matter of transfering objective truths from the all-knowing advisor to the empty vessel advisee. Rather advising of undergraduate, Masters and doctoral students is a mentorship process, invovling the selection of episodes of experience that optimally afford students an opportunity to optimize their thinking and learning.

As a mentorship process, advising means more than providing information in a timely manner. It means shaping goals that direct inquiry. It means learning along with students, researching along with students, and experiencing failure and triumph along with students. Cooperative activities, such as co-authoring, co-researching, and co-teaching, allow for the intangibles of academic life, the processes as well as the products, to be shared with students "situated" in authentic tasks. These are an integral part of my philosophy of advising.

Yet, the greatest challenge is the shaping and directing of students' goals. Quite often the experience of graduate education is one of dramatic restructuring of thinking. Advising means allowing students to explore new potentials, adopt new goals, and see themselves as doing things they had not considered before. Balancing the thrills of new discovery with the pains of challenge is the art of advising. My philosophy is that advising must capture the moments-- the so-called "teachable moments" or now "advisable moments," and leverage them to optimize growth and development.