How Eight Institutions Have Incorporated Appreciative Advising

Jennifer L. Bloom
University of South Carolina
Bryant L. Hutson
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Ye He
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Scott Amundsen
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Cathy Buyarski
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Philip D. Christman
Stark State College of Technology
Amanda E. Propst Cuevas
Grand Valley State University
L. Kaye Woodward
Eastern Illinois University
Joseph E. Murray
Miami University Hamilton
Claire Robinson
University of South Carolina
Loretta M. Kucharczyk
Prairie State College

Volume: 11
Article first published online: April 22, 2009
DOI: 10.26209/MJ1161501

Keywords: advising, academic advising, adviser, advisor, appreciative advising, appreciative inquiry


Since the 2002 introduction of Appreciative Inquiry as an academic advising tool (Bloom & Martin, 2002), there has been a great deal of interest in intentionally infusing what is now known as Appreciative Advising (AA) into individual advising sessions, the curriculum, and programmatic interventions. The term “Appreciative Advising” was first introduced at the Student Academic Services Office at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Kamphoff, Hutson, Amundsen, & Atwood, 2007) and popularized by various presentations and workshops at National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) annual (Amundsen & Hutson, 2005) and regional conferences since 2005.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of how some of the early pioneers of Appreciative Advising are successfully employing this cutting-edge philosophy to improve student retention and satisfaction. The co-authors of this article meet monthly via teleconference to discuss innovations and breakthroughs concerning Appreciative Advising on their respective campuses, brainstorm how to advance the field of Appreciative Advising, and refine the instrument they developed called the Appreciative Advising Instrument ( In addition, the group meets in person at annual NACADA conferences. Although publications and presentations (Bloom, Hutson, & He, 2008; Hall, 2008; Hutson, 2003; Hutson, 2006; Hutson & Atwood, 2006; Hutson & Clark, 2007; Hutson, Amundsen, & He, 2005; Hutson & Amundsen, 2006; Kamphoff et al., 2007; Redfern, 2008) on Appreciative Advising are available, this article is an attempt to compile information in a user-friendly manner about at least some of the Appreciative Advising work being done at a diverse set of institutions. Readers wishing to learn more about Appreciative Advising can find an overview and access some of the articles pertaining to Appreciative Advising at

The Appreciative Advising initiatives that eight institutions have undertaken are discussed below. The following chart provides an overview of the institutions, including each institution's Carnegie Classification, 2008 enrollment figures, unit(s) incorporating Appreciative Advising, and summary of AA use.

Institutions That Are Intentionally Incorporating Appreciative Advising
Institution Carnegie Classification* 2008 Enrollment** Unit Using Appreciative Advising (AA) How the Institutional Unit Is Using AA
University of North Carolina at Greensboro Research university (high research activity) 16,872 Student Academic Services Office Advising, adviser training, undergraduate academic courses (First-Year Experience and class for probation students), advising pre-nursing students who do not meet standards, Appreciative Advising Inventory, and graduate-level ESL courses
University of North Carolina at Wilmington Master's (larger programs) 12,098 University College Advising, adviser training, TEAL Learning Community, and Academic Recovery Program
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Research university (high research activity) 29,764 University College Advising students on probation, workshops for students on probation, and adviser training
University of South Carolina at Columbia Research university (very high research activity) 27,390 Academic Centers for Excellence; Higher Education and Student Affairs program Advising students on probation, adviser training, Appreciative Advising Inventory, advising master's degree students in Higher Education and Student Affairs program, and graduate-level course that focuses on Appreciative Advising
Miami University Hamilton Special focus institution 2,522 Office of Academic Advising and Student Retention Advising all students, including probation students; advising syllabus; adviser training; and Appreciative Advising Inventory
Eastern Illinois University Master's (larger programs) 12,349 Bachelor of Arts in General Studies program Advising adult and non-traditional students, electronic advising
Prairie State College Associate's public suburban 5,294 Collegewide Advising at-risk students, faculty and adviser training
Grand Valley State University Master's (larger programs) 23,295 CLAS Academic Advising Center (pre-professional advising) Advising pre-professional students



University of North Carolina at Greensboro (

The Student Academic Services office at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) has applied AA in a number of programs. The Strategies for Academic Success (SAS 100) program for academic probation students features the Appreciative Advising Inventory (AAI) as the basis for three mandatory advising sessions and the use of AA questions in weekly reflections and discussions. The retention of these students improved upwards of 20 percent since AA was introduced (Kamphoff et al., 2007). AA also has been used to assist pre-nursing majors, who have not met continuance requirements, to explore their options and stay enrolled at UNCG. More than 30 percent of these students found new majors, and the mean grade-point average (GPA) of participants improved dramatically (Bloom et al., 2008). Similarly, UNCG's First-Year Experience program, University Studies 101 (UNS 101), uses a curriculum emphasizing AA, leading to a higher first-year student-to-sophomore retention rate and higher first-term GPA among participants (Hutson & Atwood, 2006).

The principles of AA also have been applied to the English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teacher education program at UNCG. Positive psychology theories and approaches were introduced and discussed in class to enhance teachers' appreciation of diversity among the students, families and community. Through working with families on an ABCs project (Autobiography, Biography, and Cross-cultural Comparison, Schmidt, 1999), ESL teachers not only better understood the assets their ESL students and families bring to class but also made recommendations in terms of cross-cultural communication for other teachers working with ESL students.

University of North Carolina at Wilmington (

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) is utilizing Appreciative Advising in a number of different ways. First, all UNCW faculty and staff members within University College have completed an Appreciative Advising training program. Second, Appreciative Advising techniques are infused into University College's individual Noel-Levitz CSI meetings with students. Third, UNCW's TEAL Learning Community, which focuses on transition, enrichment, achievement, and leadership, incorporates both Appreciative Advising and a strengths-based curriculum. Students in the TEAL Learning Community completed the VIA StrengthsFinder assessment test and the Appreciative Advising Inventory during their first week on campus. Finally, UNCW is offering a First-Year Experience class infused with Appreciative Advising concepts for students on academic probation. This two-credit academic recovery course includes more than fifty participants in spring 2009.

Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (

At Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Appreciative Advising began with a training program for academic advisers and career staff in University College. Each staff member took the StrengthsFinder instrument as a way to learn about the strength-based approach to personal success. Through a series of staff meetings, discussions highlighted how to work with students to harness the power of their strengths, skills, and knowledge. Further, Appreciative Inquiry techniques and processes are used to guide most retreats and committee work to ensure that the appreciative approach is part of the culture of the advising center, not just a technique to use with students.

Programmatically, the Appreciative Advising approach assists students on probation. All second-semester students on probation must participate in an approved intervention, two elements of which are four-week Appreciative Advising-based workshops. The first workshop series uses the strengths-development program StrengthsQuest as a textbook and guide. Students identify their signature strengths and develop plans to incorporate their strengths into academic work. The second workshop series uses Kelm's (2005) Appreciative Living model to help students engage in three important questions: (1) What is working right now? (2) What is the ideal of what you want? and (3) How can you use what is working to achieve the ideal? In both workshops, students receive two individual mentoring sessions with an adviser trained in appreciative techniques. Qualitative feedback from students participating in both workshops has been positive, with a majority reporting feeling empowered when looking at their probationary status from a positive, success-oriented perspective. Quantitative outcomes (GPA and retention) were mixed, possibly due to small numbers of participants.

University of South Carolina (

Two separate Appreciative Advising interventions are being conducted at the University of South Carolina. The first is primarily focused at undergraduates and the second is focused on master's degree students.

The Academic Centers for Excellence (ACE) at the University of South Carolina use Appreciative Advising in a variety of undergraduate academic support and academic recovery initiatives (Hall, 2008). Twenty-five graduate students serve as ACE academic coaches and work individually with students primarily on academic probation. Appreciative Advising serves as the framework for helping students devise academic plans, which consist of a comprehensive overview of reflection, motivation, academic history, and goal setting. ACE coaches also use the Appreciative Advising Inventory that accompanies the planning and goal-setting portion of the session. Students who meet with ACE coaches verbalize having a special connection and mentor relationship from their session, which is attributed to the Appreciative Advising techniques. Often students will voluntarily return to the ACE to meet with the same coach throughout the semester and academic year.

The director of the master's degree program in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina is using Appreciative Advising techniques during fall advisory conferences with approximately 100 master's degree students. These sessions focus on getting to know the students, understanding each student's life and career goals, and then co-designing a plan with each student to achieve his/her goals. Copies of notes taken during these meetings are given to students at the end of the advisory conference. In addition, a graduate-level course titled Advising in Higher Education is offered that focuses on Appreciative Advising.

Miami University Hamilton (

Staff members in Miami University Hamilton's Office of Advising and Student Retention include full-time, part-time, and graduate students who advise in an open enrollment, largely first-generation campus of 3,600 students. The staff is responsible for advising all majors, and the student-to-adviser ratio is 600:1. The Hamilton campus first used Appreciative Advising with probation students, then with Bachelor of Integrative Studies (BIS) students, and finally with all majors. The BIS program is a self-designed program in which students reflect on their strengths and build educational experiences to match their goals. This process requires a different adviser-advisee interaction compared to that of a prescriptive model typically utilized by majors with more structured requirements. While occasionally more time consuming, Appreciative Advising is the cornerstone of the BIS program and provides advisers with the tools needed to help students through this process of self-discovery and self-authorship (Baxter Magolda, 2001).

The next step was to apply Appreciative Advising across all majors. The Office of Advising and Student Retention developed a plan to communicate both student and adviser expectations. Most of Hamilton's incoming students are first-generation students with limited understanding of the academic advising process or how to prepare for advising appointments. To accomplish this, Appreciative Advising is used as a recruiting tool for the campus, and advisers begin to discuss the expectations of students and advisers at campus open houses for parents and prospective students. In addition, Appreciative Advising is infused in the advising syllabus that is given to all new students and discussed during their first advising appointment. Finally, advisers receive training on documenting their conversations with students so that Appreciative Advising discussions can continue throughout students' academic careers regardless of the particular adviser they meet or length of time between advising appointments.

The advisers at the Hamilton campus also started using the Appreciative Advising Inventory (AAI) with probation students. All students on probation are required to meet with their advisers. Prior to a required meeting with their advisers, they are expected to fill out the inventory and prepare to discuss their answers.

The advising staff was trained in Appreciative Advising during summer 2008. Each adviser received a copy of The Appreciative Advising Revolution (Bloom et al, 2008). Every two weeks, one of the six phases of Appreciative Advising was covered during a regular staff meeting with the expectation that advisers would intentionally incorporate this knowledge into their conversations with students in between training sessions. This extended training process provided the advising staff opportunities to focus on each stage individually, apply new techniques for each phase in their interactions with students, and reflect on issues before moving on to the next section. The training concluded with a staff retreat, which included two outside consultants in Appreciative Advising.

Eastern Illinois University (

Adult learners who live far from from the Eastern Illinois University (EIU) main campus present some unique challenges, especially in terms of providing support services to increase opportunities for success and in helping them develop a sense of identity with the institution. In an effort to help these students overcome fears of returning as adult learners and feelings of isolation, advisers and staff in Eastern Illinois University's Bachelor of Arts in General Studies program have been working to develop Appreciative Advising techniques that work for the student who may never be on the main campus, who may never be seen in a face-to-face advising session, and for whom advising is done either by phone or by e-mail (Redfern, 2008).

A systematic review, through an Appreciative Advising lens, of how program staff members interfaced with the adult students who were at a distance, resulted in both large and small changes. Starting with simple things like evaluating the tone of voice used when greeting students on the phone, in person, or in an e-mail, led to developing a list of suggested questions advisers could use when talking to students. Designed to elicit information about the adult learner as an individual and about his or her reasons for returning to college, the questions also elicit information appropriate for each AA phase. Since advisers tend to talk with the adult distance learner more frequently, notes about each student's strengths are recorded in the appropriate student file. Beginning with the spring 2009 semester, integrating the Appreciative Advising Inventory into the required orientation course will provide additional information for advisers working with students planning curricula that truly build on the strengths adults bring to the academic environment.

Subtle changes in wording and organization of printed materials sent from the program office resulted in documents that communicate a more appreciative and supportive message. Students view these revised documents as more encouraging and friendly.

The results of incorporating Appreciative Advising into the program have been profound for both students and staff. Students report a higher level of satisfaction with their degree programs, their individualized curriculum, and the quality of advising received while in the program. Unsolicited comments from students reflect appreciation for the manner in which they were treated, encouraged, supported, and assisted throughout their program. Notes of appreciation increased and complaints about advisers or advising became almost nonexistent. Advisers discovered that using the AA techniques provided them with more information about the individual student, both on a personal and academic level, allowing them to interact on a much more personal basis. They reported that this increased knowledge enabled them to help students more effectively in planning their academic programs, an especially important point for a program that does not have a set curriculum but rather allows students to develop a curriculum based on their individual goals and objectives. An unexpected outcome of the implementation of AA techniques has been reports by advisers and staff of increased levels of satisfaction with their jobs and with their performances.

Prairie State College (

Prairie State College, a community college located in the southern suburbs of Chicago, is just beginning to implement Appreciative Advising. The first planned initiative includes two groups of twenty-five students enrolled in a pre-college writing class. Students will complete the Appreciative Advising Inventory at the beginning and end of the term. In addition, students will meet individually with an appreciative adviser assigned to the class. Finally, the same adviser will visit each of the two class sections to provide additional support utilizing the Appreciative Advising construct.

The second initiative includes the development of a learning community of faculty, counselors, and academic advisers who have roles in the pre-college writing course. One aspect of the learning community includes using a software platform (Blackboard). The platform provides a place for information, discussion, ideas, and websites. Hopefully this platform will help all members of the community (faculty as well as academic advisers and counselors) increase their knowledge of Appreciative Advising theory as they adopt an appreciative advising mindset. A second focus of the learning community is participation in a face-to-face workshop designed to provide an opportunity for discussion as well as additional appreciative advising training and information.

Grand Valley State University (

The six phases of Appreciative Advising are being implemented in individual pre-professional advising sessions in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Academic Advising Center at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, where a large number of students who aspire to become physicians, dentists, pharmacists, podiatrists, chiropractors, veterinarians, and optometrists seek academic and professional career advising. The plan is to eventually track the impact of Appreciative Advising sessions on advisees, including those students who are in jeopardy of dismissal, are on academic probation, and/or may need to switch career paths because these particular professional pathways may not be the best fit for them. The initial student feedback is very positive and includes thank you e-mails from them to express gratitude and high marks on student satisfaction surveys.


This article has presented eight institutional approaches to implementing Appreciative Advising at various levels. In doing so, a number of key themes emerge. First is the importance of adequate training. Each institution implemented a training program that involved utilizing an appreciative mindset to realize specific student objectives. Whether working with traditional students, at-risk populations, adult learners, or distance learners, a well-crafted training plan was a key thread at each institutional type. Determining the involvement of faculty, administration, and support staff is also critical in training. Will you begin with a specific office, course, or major? Will training be offered campuswide? Common readings, symposia, outside consultants, length of training sessions, etc., are all vital considerations in developing a successful training plan.

Institutions need to determine where, how, and at what level they will engage students through the use of Appreciative Advising. This article depicts professionals from a wide array of backgrounds successfully utilizing Appreciative Advising across multiple institutional types and among a wide variety of student types. Some utilize an advising syllabus, while others incorporate the content in a first-year-experience course or summer bridge program. Some focus on the face-to-face advising appointment, and one utilizes Appreciative Advising electronically.

Each program presents itself at different stages in the process. Some utilize the Appreciative Advising Inventory (UNCG, IUPUI, Miami University Hamilton, USC, EIU, and Prairie State), all but UNCG focus on specific student populations, two (UNCG and IUPUI) utilize other proven instruments in student success with Appreciative Advising, and one institution (University of South Carolina) has incorporated Appreciative Advising into a graduate course.

Finally, developing a way to assess results is critical in determining the impact of Appreciative Advising at any institution. Several methodologies are presented in this article, though some programs are still too early in the process to yield valid data. The need for future outcome data is warranted. Preliminary results for students on probation are most encouraging, and as Appreciative Advising expands to other institutions, continued research on its effectiveness pertaining to both the adviser and advisee will be crucial. This innovative approach to student engagement appears to have much promise as it gains popularity throughout multiple venues of higher education. Further research that reports longitudinal effects on students and advisers should realize the real impact of Appreciative Advising.


Amundsen, S. A., & Hutson, B. L. (2005, October). Appreciative advising: A new paradigm in advising at-risk students. Presentation at the annual national conference of the National Academic Advising Association, Las Vegas, NV.

Baxter Magolda, M. B. (2001). Making their own way: Narratives for transforming higher education to promote self-development. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Bloom, J. L., Hutson, B. L., & He, Y. (2008). The appreciative advising revolution. Urbana-Champaign, IL: Stipes.

Bloom, J., & Martin, N. A. (2002, August 29). Incorporating appreciative inquiry into academic advising. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal, 4(3). Retrieved January 10, 2009, from

Hall, L. R. (2008, July 23). Appreciative Advising: How the Academic Centers for Excellence at the University of South Carolina are using this breakthrough concept. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal, 10(3). Retrieved January 10, 2009, from

Hutson, B. L. (2003). Student Strategies for Success Survey. Greensboro, NC: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Hutson, B. L. (2006). Monitoring for success: Implementing a proactive probation program for diverse, at-risk college students. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Hutson, B. L., & Atwood, J. A. (2006, November). Outcome evaluation to support a freshman orientation program. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Evaluation Association, Portland, OR.

Hutson, B. L., & Clark, J. A. (2007, May). Reaching out to those who have been dismissed: An application of appreciative advising. Poster presented at the annual Region III conference of the National Academic Advising Association, Asheville, NC.

Hutson, B. L., Amundsen, S. A., & He, Y. (2005, April). Monitoring for success: Implementing a proactive probation program for diverse, at-risk college students. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal, QC.

Hutson, B. L., He, Y., & Amundsen, S. A. (2006, November). Evaluating the impact of Appreciative Advising across higher education institutions: A multi-site evaluation. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Evaluation Association, Portland, OR.

Kamphoff, C. S., Hutson, B. L., Amundsen, S. A., & Atwood, J. A. (2007). A Motivational/Empowerment Model applied to students on academic probation. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory, and Practice, 8(4), 397–412.

Kelm, J. B. (2005). Appreciative living: The principles of appreciative inquiry in personal life. Wake Forest, NC: Venet.

Redfern, K. (2008, November 4). Appreciative advising and the non-traditional student. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal, 10(5). Retrieved January 10, 2009, from

Schmidt, P. (1999). Know thyself and understand others. Language Arts, 76, 332–340.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer Bloom ( is a clinical associate professor and director of the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at the University of South Carolina.

Bryant Hutson ( is associate director for Student Academic Services at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Ye He ( is assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Scott Amundsen ( is an associate dean in University College at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Cathy Buyarski ( is assistant dean and executive director of Academic and Career Planning in University College at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.

Philip Christman ( is a consultant to institutions on implementing student success and an adjunct faculty member at Stark State College of Technology.

Amanda Cuevas ( is a senior academic advisor at Grand Valley State University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Center.

L. Kaye Woodward ( the director of the Bachelor of General Studies degree program at Eastern Illinois University.

Joseph Murray ( is director of Academic Advising and Retention at Miami University Hamilton.

Claire Robinson ( coordinates the Academic Centers for Excellence and academic success initiatives at the University of South Carolina.

Loretta Kucharczyk ( is the coordinator of Intentional Advising and adjunct instructor at Prairie State College.