P12 Enhancing Academic Guidance

Project Status: Close out due July 2014  

Benefit Review scheduled for July 2015

Envisaged Benefits    

The Enhancing Academic Guidance Project  has delivered a best practice framework for providing academic support to students that includes:

  • A new University Statement on Academic Guidance (Section E2), that is included in all Programme Handbooks for students and is followed by a contextualising statement by programme teams.

  • New mandatory online training and workshop for all Academic Advisers that helps them to understand their role, including the expectation that they have a minimum of two contact points with each advisee per year.

  • Redesigned webpages for the Supporting Students Handbook to support the work of Academic Advisers.

  • A new facility in Moodle, the ‘My Advisees’ tab, that allows Academic Advisers and their Advisees to record the date of their contact points and record any agreed notes or actions.

  • A new dashboard in the Academic Performance Tracking Tool (APTT) that analyses and presents data from the ‘My Advisees’ tab in Moodle.

  • A new Annual Review of the Academic Guidance Framework that will be prepared by the Associate Dean’s Student Experience and submitted to the University Academic Enhancement Committee and the University Workload Planning Group.

  • An enhanced emphasis on introducing students to the framework during induction.

  • New pre-year briefings for Academic Advisers by Programme Leads to discuss the possible synergies between the curriculum and the academic advising.

The envisaged benefits include:

  • Improved student satisfaction (as measured by NSS and PTES).

  • Lower withdrawal rates and better retention rates.

  • Enhanced emphasis on graduate attributes and graduate employability.

  • Enhancing academics’ knowledge and understanding of the University's support services for students.



Project synopsis

The notion of the Academic Adviser (or Personal Tutor) is commonly understood as complementing, rather than replacing, curriculum-based academic guidance by focusing on the holistic development of the individual student. The research literature on academic guidance (e.g. Malik, 2000; Mottarella, 2004; Broadbridge, 1996) suggests that Academic Advisers who are proactive meet regularly with their advisees (Kuh, 2008) and are likely to be successful in supporting students to:

  • reflect on how their studies are progressing (Hattie, 2009)
  • extend their conceptions of learning, study skills, metacognition and self-critical awareness (Hattie, 2009)
  • formulate and review their plans for employment and career aspirations
  • communicate effectively with academics within their discipline (Thomas, 2012)

The case ‘for’ Academic Advisers is very convincing, yet it has to be recognised that the one-to-one nature of the Adviser/Advisee relationship makes any University-wide Academic Adviser scheme very resource hungry. Thus, a successful Academic Advisers scheme will be one that carefully balances the costs and benefits.

Project 12 aims to enhance the current Academic Guidance Framework at Oxford Brookes, specifically through enhancing the role of the Academic Adviser.

Terms of Reference

The terms of reference for Project 12 (from November 2012) were as follows:

  1. To address the recommendations of OCSLD’s Evaluation of Faculty-based Student Support paper (OCSLD, 2012) with respect to the role of the Academic Adviser for undergraduate and postgraduate students (with reference to research literature and best practice).
  2. To develop the role of the Academic Adviser to include supporting the development of the Personal Literacy graduate attribute (of which critical self-awareness is a sub-set).

Key project milestones

  • Academic Advisors Working group set up to respond to recommendations of the Evaluation of Faculty-based Student Support paper (approved by AESC May 2012)
  • Pre-enrolment inventories project abandoned and P12 merged with Academic Advisors Working Group with revised terms of reference (November 2012)
  • P12 Interim Report approved by University AESC (January 2013)
  • Training for Academic Advisors starts June - December 2013
  • Enhanced academic guidance framework commences 2013-14


Sub note: Following stakeholder feedback in 2012, project 12 under took a re-scoping exercise see above. Information pertaining to the previous initiative involving student inventories has been archived via the PESE Programme Manager.


Project Sponsors Helena Webster ASD TDE, Chris Rust ASD Academic Policy