Instructional Leadership Excellence (ILEAD)
School of Education
V. Robert Agostino, William Switala
Timothy J. Steinhauer
advisory, advocacy, mentoring
This study compared perceptions of effective characteristics of middle school advisors from administrators, teachers and students at Fort Couch Middle School, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The research questions for this study included the following:
1. What are the effective qualities that students value in an advisor?
2. What are the effective qualities that principals value in an advisor?
3. What are the effective qualities that teachers value in an advisor?
4. What is the comparison between student, principal and teacher perceptions of effective qualities in implementing an advisor program? This was a descriptive research study using quantitative (survey) and qualitative (focus groups) methods to define the effective characteristics of middle level advisors. The questions were designed to collect data regarding the perceptions that students, administrators and teachers had on the qualities of an effective middle level advisor. The survey was given to eighth level students, four administrators at Upper St. Clair School District and twelve eighth level advisors/teachers at Fort Couch Middle School. Data collected from the students, administrators and teacher surveys; and the focus groups' perceptions of qualities for effective middle level advisors were used to determine how students, administrators and teachers perceived the qualities of an effective middle school advisor. Consistent with the research regarding the impact of affective qualities in relation to advisory programs, the data from both the focus groups and the survey provides clear evidence that all affective qualities such as honesty, positive attitude, caring attitude, nonjudgmental attitude, sense of humor, listens to concerns, optimism, supportive attitude and sympathetic to student needs all scored as the "most important" characteristics to being an effective advisor from students, administrators and teachers. Qualities regarding gender were not an important factor for students, administrators and teachers. The major difference between the perceptions from 8th level students and educators from Fort Couch Middle School involved instructional characteristics to being an effective advisor. Instructional qualities regarding academic needs, supervision of grades, knowledge of grades, and advisor as academic teacher scored as "not important" characteristics to being an effective advisor from 8th level students. The three focus groups validated the 8th level survey results. While there is clear evidence that students did not see instructional qualities as important characteristics for effective advisors, data from the survey provides conclusions that instructional qualities regarding academic needs, supervision of grades, knowledge of grades and the advisor as an academic teacher scored as "most important" characteristics to being an effective advisor from educators. This researcher concluded that in order for advisory programs to succeed, staff development must be an essential component of the program. Staff development should cover basic information regarding the advisory program along with interpersonal guidance skills needed to work with students. Advisory program must also refrain from replacing advocacy traits with academic traits as an essential component to advisory. An analysis of the data collected in this investigation may prove helpful in improving the quality and consistency of advisor time in middle school education.
Deitrick, K. (2004). Comparing Perceptions of Effective Characteristics of Middle School Advisors from Administrators, Teachers, and Students (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/473