A Brief Guide to Advising Students for wbr the

Document Sample
A Brief Guide to Advising Students for wbr the Powered By Docstoc
					A Brief Guide to Advising Students
       for the USP Advisors

                       Prepared by USP Students Office
                                   Updated January 09
    A Brief Guide to Advising Students for the USP Advisors

CONTENTS                                                                   Page

1       Introduction                                                        2

2       How the USP Advising System Works

        2.1            Overview                                             2

        2.2            Scheduled Meetings with Advisees                     2

        2.3            Expectations of the Roles of the Advisors            4

3       Advice on Module Choices

        3.1            First-Tier Curriculum                                5

                       3.1.1    First-Tier Modules                          5

                       3.1.2    First-Tier Module Requirements              6

        3.2            Advanced Curriculum                                  8

4       Accessing Students’ Records

        4.1            USP Advisory Online System                           9

        4.2            Confidentiality of Information                       9

5       Resolving Personal and Academic Problems

        5.1            Advising Students on Minor Academic Problems         10

        5.2            Advising Students on Persistent Academic Problems    11

        5.3            Counselling Students on Minor Personal Problems      11

        5.4            Counselling Students on More Serious Problems        12

        5.5            Contacting the NUS Counselling Centre                12

        5.6            Dealing with At-risk Students                        12

        Appendix A                                                          13

                                                                            Page 1

      The following information is designed as a resource to help USP faculty members perform their
      roles as advisors to students under their care. It is important that we understand the students’
      situations so that we can help them plan for the future.

      If, after reading through the following material, you still have questions regarding an individual
      student, please consult with any one of the USP Directors, or Administrative Officers (Appendix

      This information will be continuously updated as a section of the USP website.

      USP website
      URL: http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/staff/faculty_staff/index.html


2.1   Overview

      Prior to the beginning of every academic year, USP faculty members are assigned as advisors to
      a group of incoming students. They keep these students as advisees for the four years that the
      students are in USP. The USP advising system is based on the premise that students are
      responsible for making the final decisions about what modules they take and when. However,
      advisors help students to:
               (1) articulate their personal and intellectual interests
               (2) see connections between USP modules and these interests
               (3) strategically plan a course of study to maintain high academic standards, so that USP
                    students will stand a good chance of achieving honours
               (4) complete their studies in a timely manner
               (5) find resources to resolve academic and personal problems

      Of these five goals for advising, the first three are the most important parts of an advisor’s job.
      USP advisors bring strong teaching experience to advising. They have well developed classroom
      strategies for encouraging students to explore new issues in class independently, and they
      successfully use many of these strategies to help advisees discover a fit between their
      intellectual interests and USP modules. However, gathering the information to accomplish the
      fourth and fifth aspects of advising can be time-consuming. Thus, the goal of this information
      packet is to identify the main features of USP that advisors ought to know about to help students
      and to direct advisors to places where they can find more and up-to-date information on the USP

2.2   Scheduled Meetings with Advisees

      Advisors should schedule regular meetings with advisees during their stay in USP. For the first
      two years, they should meet with their first-year advisees twice during Semester 1 and at least
      once in every subsequent semester. Beyond the second year, the meetings can be scheduled at
      the discretion of the advisors and the advisees. Table 1 below outlines the major points of focus
      for each scheduled meeting.

                                                                                                 Page 2
Meeting objectives

  Meeting                 Time                                   Focus

      1           Start of Semester 1     •   Explain advising system’s goals and your role.
      or                                  •   Give/ get contact information.
 during initial                           •   Encourage students to plan out two-year plan of
   Faculty-                                   study.
 Student Tea                              •   Encourage students to think about choices of
  Sessions                                    modules for Semester 2.
                                          •   Alert students to opportunities in USP; be they
                                              study-related or outside-the-classroom

       2          Middle of Semester 1    •   Review students’ study plans and choice of modules
                                              for Semester 2 and compare with the USP
                                          •   Enquire about adjustment to university life.
                                          •   Enquire about academic problems with current

       3          Middle of Semester 2    •   Check USP Advisory Online System (accessible
                                              from the USP website) for students’ academic
                                              performance during the first semester. Note that a
                                              copy of the academic warning letters is also sent by
                                              USP Students Office to the respective advisors to
                                              aid their advising process.
                                          •   Discuss causes of poor academic performance
                                              (CAP below 3.8). Encourage students to think
                                              about academic counselling early. If the students’
                                              CAP falls below 3.5, you could advise the students
                                              to consider leaving USP in their best interests, in
                                              order to concentrate on obtaining a degree at the
                                              home Faculty/ School.
                                          •   Review students’ study plans and choice of modules
                                              for Semester 3 and compare with the USP
                                          •   Encourage students to work out their study plans for
                                              Semesters 5 to 8, and to start giving thoughts about
                                              planning their USP Advanced curriculum.

       4           Middle of Semester 3   •   Same as previous semester
                                          •   In addition, to start discussions with students about
                                              their ideas and plans for the USP Advanced
                                              curriculum and provide general inputs for their
                                              consideration wherever possible, even while you
                                              may not have the specialised knowledge in their
                                              disciplines of study.

       5           Middle of Semester 4   •   Same as previous semester

   6 and             Semester 5 and       •   Discussion items and schedule of meetings at the
  onwards              onwards                discretion of advisors and advisees

                                                                                              Page 3
      USP Advising Online System
      URL: http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/ (Access “Advisory System”)

2.3   Expectations of the Roles of the Advisors

      Advisors are expected to be able to advise on the following aspects:

         •   To help students understand the USP structure or requirements
         •   To guide students in choosing the First-Tier modules that will challenge them
             intellectually while offering them a chance to expand their interests
         •   To help students think through and work towards their career and personal goals
         •   To help students with any problems that they may experience within USP itself
         •   To put students in touch with others who may be of assistance with regards to
             questions and problems outside USP

      Advisors are not expected to be able to:

         •   provide detailed information regarding the students’ home Faculty/ School’s
             curriculum structure or requirements
         •   give students professional counselling (although they can refer the students to
             others who can help them)

      In the process, advisors may enquire the following with Ms Sim Mong Wey
      [uspsimmw@nus.edu.sg] or Ms Veronica Mitchell [uspvvm@nus.edu.sg] where they are
      not certain of the advice to give on these issues:

         •   Advanced curriculum
         •   USP module registration
         •   How USP requirements interrelate with the graduation requirements of students’
             home Faculties/ Schools
         •   Student Exchange Programme module substitutions
         •   Transfer of faculty or change of course
         •   Withdrawal from USP

                                                                                        Page 4

3.1     First-Tier Curriculum

3.1.1   First-Tier Modules

The Domains and Areas of study in the USP First-Tier curriculum are listed below.
Domain of Study                          Area of Study
Writing and Critical Thinking            Students must read one Writing and Critical Thinking
Domain                                   (WCT) module. They are strongly encouraged to read the
                                         module in their first or second semester of study.

University Scholars Seminar              The University Scholars Seminar module exposes
(USS2105)                                students to various academic disciplines and professions
                                         with the aim of providing a firmer intellectual basis on
                                         which students would plan their Advanced curriculum
                                         studies. Assessed on CS/CU basis, the 4-MC module is
                                         only accessible by first-year students to be completed over
                                         two semesters (specifically in the student’s second and
                                         third semester of study).

Humanities and Social Sciences               •   Literary Studies
Domain                                       •   Visual and Performing Arts
                                             •   Philosophical Inquiries
                                             •   Human Behaviour
                                             •   Society, Economy, Polity
                                             •   Civilizational Studies

Sciences and Technologies                    •   Life Sciences
Domain                                       •   Nature’s Laws
                                             •   Quantitative Reasoning
                                             •   Biological & Medical Technologies
                                             •   Physical & Chemical Technologies
                                             •   Information Technologies

Singapore Studies Modules Basket         In addition, students are required to read one of the
                                         modules designated as Singapore Studies modules in

                                         As at January 2009, the basket of USP Singapore Studies
                                         modules consists of the following:

                                           Module               Modules                  Domain
                                          UCV2301        Nationalism and the        First-Tier /
                                                         Arts                       Humanities & Social
                                          USE2301        Economic Policy            First-Tier /
                                                         Analysis                   Humanities & Social
                                                                                                 Page 5
                                          USE2302       Democratic Possibilities   First-Tier /
                                                        in Singapore               Humanities & Social
                                          USE2304       Singapore: The Making      First-Tier /
                                                        of a Nation                Humanities & Social
                                          USE2305       Southeast Asia: The        First-Tier /
                                                        Making of a Region         Humanities & Social
                                          UQR2311       Singapore Studies:         First-Tier / Sciences
                                                        Transportation System      & Technologies
                                                        of Tomorrow

                                          UAS3005       Civil Society: Theory      Advanced CBM /
                                                        and Practice               Humanities & Social
                                          LL4104        Singapore Legal            Advanced CBM /
                                                        History                    Humanities & Social
                                          USP3505       Asianism and               Advanced CBM /
                                                        Singapore                  Humanities & Social

        USP First-Tier curriculum website
        URL: http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/first_tier_modules/index.html

3.1.2   First-Tier Module Requirements

        All USP students must read and pass a minimum of eight First-Tier Modules. Students
        can read First-Tier modules throughout their 4 years of study, but it is preferable for
        students to clear their First-Tier modules by Semester 6 so that they can focus on their
        USP Advanced curriculum and Honours Year modules in their senior years of studies.

        First-Tier Module Requirements for USP Students Matriculated in AY2005-06

        USP students are defined in the following manner:

           •   Arts-based students (students from Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences or Business
               School); or

           •   Science-based students (students from Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Science
               or School of Computing)

           •   Students from School of Design and Environment may choose to be either Arts-
               based or Science-based.

        Students should observe the following First-Tier Module Domain distribution requirements
        choosing either Option A or Option B:
                                                                                                 Page 6
Domain                                    Module requirement for            Module requirement for
                                           Arts-based students              Science-based students
                                          Option A      Option B            Option A      Option B
Writing and Critical Thinking                 1            1                    1            1
University Scholars Seminar                                1                                 1
Humanities and Social Sciences                3            3                    4            3
Sciences and Technologies                     4            3                    3            3
Total                                           8 modules                          8 modules

First-Tier Module Requirements for USP Students Matriculated in AY2004-05 and before

Students matriculated in AY2004-05 and before observe a different First-Tier Module Domain
distribution requirements as follows:

Domain                                    Module requirement for            Module requirement for
                                           Arts-based students              Science-based students
Writing and Critical Thinking                       1                                 1
Humanities and Social Sciences                      3                                 4
Sciences and Technologies                           4                                 3
Total                                           8 modules                         8 modules

        USP First-Tier module requirements for USP students matriculated in different academic years
        URL: http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/acad_structure/acad_requirements/08_09.html
        URL: http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/curr_studn/acad_requirements/07_08.html
        URL: http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/curr_studn/acad_requirements/06_07.html
        URL: http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/curr_studn/acad_requirements/05_06.html

In advising students, do encourage them to take a variety of First-Tier Modules in a timely fashion. For
example, if a student is required to take 4 modules from the Sciences & Technologies Domain, he/ she is
strongly encouraged to select modules from 4 different areas of study within the domain. This will reduce
timetabling difficulties as well as make mapping or substitution of modules relatively easier in the event
that students choose to go on the Student Exchange Programme or leave USP to return to their Faculty/
School to complete their degree requirements.

                                                                                                  Page 7
3.2              Advanced Curriculum

                 Your advising role for the Advanced curriculum will be shaped by the fact that
                 the students may approach you to ask for advice in regards to the intellectual
                 and academic soundness of their proposed study plans. Students are
                 encouraged to meet with you at the beginning of their third semester to talk
                 about the basic educational aims of their Advanced curriculum.

                 Students are to undertake one of the options or sub-options available to them
                 for fulfilling the Advanced curriculum; specific requirements differ widely from
                 (sub-)option to (sub-)option, and even from programme to programme within
                 the same (sub-)option:

                 (A) Academic Inquiry, which is further divided into two sub-options:
                        (a) Research-intensive programmes,
                        (b) Multidisciplinary programmes;
                 (B) Bicultural Immersion;
                 (C) Entrepreneurial Development

      Advanced Curriculum website
      URL: http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/advanced_modules/index.html

            You can also refer your advisees to Ms Lydia Chan [uspcfm@nus.edu.sg] for
            advice on Advanced Curriculum

                                                                                          Page 8

4.1           USP Advisory Online System

              To assist students effectively, you will need information about your advisees’
              academic performance. You will have access to the USP’s database through
              your computer and will be able to call up a report on each of your advisees.
              The report will provide the following information:

                  •   student’s name and matriculation number;
                  •   student’s contact information – home address, phone number(s), and
                      e-mail address;
                  •   student’s home Faculty/ School and course of study and major (where
                  •   information on modules taken by the student – module codes and
                      module titles;
                  •   grade for each completed module; and
                  •   history of the student’s CAP;

              These web-based reports are generated on a real-time basis. As a result, you
              will always have access to the latest information about your advisees
              whenever and wherever you need it.

              Below are steps for calling up a report on an advisee.

                  •   Go to the USP website.
                  •   Click on “Staff”.
                  •   Click on “USP Advisory Online System”.
                  •   Login with your NUSNET ID and password and follow the prompts to
                      generate reports.

      USP Advisory Online System
      The USP Advisory Online System is also easily accessible as a quick link from the
      USP website’s homepage (http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg).

4.2         Confidentiality of Information

            The need for confidentiality is central to winning advisees’ trust so they will
            share information. In general, treat information you receive from advisees and
            their records as confidential. If a need arises for you to share information with
            colleagues about advisees, seek students’ permission to do so. Certain
            exceptions to this guideline are specified below.

                                                                                      Page 9

      You may find some advisees struggling with poor academic performance. Poor
      academic performance is a matter of concern that should be discussed with
      students as soon as you see a problem. If students’ CAP falls below 3.8, they
      may not have a serious chance of being offered a place in their home Faculty’s/
      School’s honours programme. Some Faculties make this decision early in their
      students’ course of study. For example, the School of Computing will decide
      which students are eligible for its honours programme after Semester 2. Early
      intervention is necessary to forestall premature decisions and to give students a
      chance to deal with the academic and emotional causes of under-performance.

      The two most obvious signs of academic difficulty are falling grades and poor
      class attendance. Academic difficulties are often triggered by personal
      problems, which advisees may raise as you discuss their academic
      performance with them. You will need to make a decision about whether to
      counsel advisees on their academic and personal problems or to refer them to
      professional counsellors. The first two sections below describe procedures for
      handling advisees’ academic problems. The following four sections describe
      procedures for handling advisees’ personal problems.

5.1   Advising Students on Minor Academic Problems
      Poor academic performance during Semester 1 among first-year USP students
      often stems from students’ inability to modify learning strategies to meet the
      demands of university studies. Try the following with students who have trouble
      adjusting to academic life during Semester 1.

         •   Ask advisees to describe step-by-step how they have been studying in a
             problematic module.
         •   Get them to describe the circumstances under which they usually study.

      Sometimes, just articulating their study habits helps students see how they can
      adjust their learning strategies.      Even if students do not see possible
      modifications, this exercise will provide you a basis on which to suggest
      changes to students.

                                                                               Page 10
5.2         Advising Students on Persistent Academic Problems

            Sometimes students’ academic problems result from study habits or emotional
            problems that cannot be resolved through academic advising. Continued poor
            academic performance by the end of the first academic year is an indication that
            the matter should be referred to trained counsellors. You can refer such
            students to the NUS Counselling Centre. Students can also be referred to the
            Counselling Centre at any point in time (not necessarily by the end of the
            academic year) if the advisor spots any other signs or symptoms of underlying
            psychological or emotional issues.

            Explain to advisees the USP referral procedure step-by-step before making a

                 •   Tell advisees that you are not trained to help them resolve the problem
                     that they have presented but there are people in the Counselling Centre
                     who are. It is recommended that you make the referral if the student has
                     requested for your help to do so, and that this step is taken in the
                     student’s presence. (Otherwise, it is fine for your advisees to contact the
                     Counselling Centre directly for an intake appointment and assessment.)
                 •   Get contact information from your advisees.
                 •   Make a confidential referral by phone or e-mail; that is, give the
                     Counselling Centre the advisee’s name and contact information, but do
                     not note the referral in the students’ records.
                 •   After the referral, give advisees the Counselling Centre’s contact
                     information and request them to initiate contact with Counselling Centre
                     to make an intake appointment and assessment (See section 5.5 below).
                 •   Explain that you will inform the USP Directors unofficially of the referral.
                     (Again this means the Directors will keep the referral confidential and not
                     note it in the students’ official records.)
                 •   You may wish to understand that once a referred student becomes a
                     Counselling Centre’s client, professional ethics regarding client
                     confidentiality dictates that the Centre cannot disclose any information to
                     external parties. If you or USP wants feedback regarding a referred
                     student, the said student must agree to release information to the
                     pertinent parties, and must sign a document authorizing the Centre to do

      NUS Counselling Centre website
      URL: http://www.nus.edu.sg/uhwc/counselling/

                                                                                        Page 11
5.3                   Counselling Students on Minor Personal Problems

                      If advisees present personal problems that appear resolvable by
                      discussing them with you, and if you are comfortable talking about the
                      problem, listen to the advisee, read back your understanding of what the
                      advisee is saying, and help the advisee to focus on what he or she can do
                      to solve the problem.

5.4                   Counselling Students on More Serious Problems

                      Sometimes students are involved in more serious emotional problems
                      such as prolonged depression or a death in the family. Since we are not
                      trained counsellors, it is more appropriate to offer to assist students in
                      seeking professional help. Refer such students to the Counselling
                      Centre. Explain to advisees the USP referral procedure step-by-step
                      before making a referral (See section 5.2 above).

5.5                   Contacting the NUS Counselling Centre

                      The NUS Counselling Centre can be contacted through email at
                      counselling@nus.edu.sg or by phone at, 6516-2376.

5.6                   Dealing with At-risk Students

                      There are two situations in which you should inform the USP Directors
                      and contact the Counselling Centre immediately with or without a
                      student’s understanding of the referral process:

                          •   if a student has psychological difficulties exhibited by clear signs
                              of disorientation, delusion, extreme agitation, fidgeting, or
                              uncontrollable crying.
                          •   if a student shows violent tendencies or threatens to harm
                              themselves or others.

We hope you found this information packet useful for your advising purposes. Should you
require more resources in facilitating your advising process, please feel free to contact any one
of the Directors or administrative officers listed in Appendix A.

                                                                                            Page 12
Alphabet Soup for Advisors

CBM = Course-Based Modules – one type of the Advanced modules for students pursuing the
Academic Inquiry Option

ISM = Independent Study Modules – one type of the Advanced modules for students pursuing the
Academic Inquiry Option

MC = Modular credits – the units by which most Faculties and Schools in NUS calculate
graduation requirements and students’ academic progress

CAP = Cumulative Average Points

AY = Academic Year

Sem 1 or Sem 2 = Semester 1 or Semester 2

FASS = Faculty of Arts and Sciences

BIZ = Business School

SoC = School of Computing

FOS = Faculty of Science

FOE = Faculty of Engineering

SDE = School of Design and Environment

                                                                                           Page 13
Title & Name                                               Telephone   Email
                                                           6516-XXXX   XXXX@nus.edu.sg
Ms CHIA Yvonne         Senior Manager, General office      4611        uspcfl
                       administration, HR, Research,
                       Accounts & Budget

Ms TAN Ai Lian         Assistant Manager, Corporate        1328        usptanal
                       Communications & Media

Ms CHAN Foong Ming     Administrative Manager, Student     1874        uspcfm
Lydia                  & Curriculum matters

Ms CIA Lin Lin Lynn    Administrative Officer, Outreach,   8916        usptsmc
                       Alumni & Community Relations

Mr LEE Daniel          Administrative Officer, Student     4730        usplyb
                       Opportunities & Student

Ms Gurvinderjit KAUR   Administrative Officer, Global      4628        uspgkss
                       Programme, Events
                       Management & Student Grants

Mr QUEK Rop Fun        Administrative Officer,             1572        uspqrf
Adam                   Admissions, Longitudinal
                       Studies and Alumni

                                                                                  Page 14