Moving toward stronger advising practices: How Black males’ experiences at HPWIs advance a more caring and wholeness-promoting framework for graduate advising

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Leadership and Counseling

Publication Title

Teachers College Record: The Voice of Scholarship in Education


Background: Graduate education provides students with specialized skills needed to advance science and discovery and prepares future educators and role models for future generations of learners. Given the importance of graduate education, the estimate that more than half of the students who begin it do not complete their degrees is troubling. Existing scholarship suggests that this substantial attrition from graduate school is in part due to inadequate advising. To address this concern, it is important to examine students’ experiences with graduate advising. Purpose: This article presents a new model—the Model of Wholeness in Graduate Advising (MWGA)—that characterizes a range of students’ advising experiences. In so doing, it encourages faculty to move toward a more caring and wholeness-promoting framework in graduate advising. Research Design: To better understand the complexities of graduate advising and the various types of experiences—and relationships—that students have, desire, expect, and need to thrive both professionally and personally, this study included interviews with 42 Black male graduate students attending historically and predominantly White institutions (HPWIs). Thematic analysis revealed that students’ advising experiences included aspects of “ethics of care” (or degrees of care: whole, partial, empty). Iterative analysis of data led to the creation of the practice-informing model: the Model of Wholeness in Graduate Advising (MWGA). Findings: Although some students described experiencing positive interactions and teachable moments with their advisors, others painted pictures of demoralizing encounters and public shaming practices. Still others described advising experiences they did not have but would want. Accounting for this range, the MWGA denotes an upwardly moving relationship between degrees of care (i.e., empty, partial, whole) and students’ perceptions of their advising experiences and relationships (i.e., weak, basic, strong) in part shaped by students’ expectations for their advising experiences and relationships, and their lived experiences. Conclusions and Recommendations: The findings from this study, represented in the MWGA, illustrate theoretical linkages between students’ expectations of advising, the levels of their advising experiences and relationships, and degrees of care demonstrated by their advisors. Most notably, more elements of care tend to result in better lived advising experiences and relationships. For current and future faculty, moving toward a more caring and wholeness-promoting framework might start with recognizing the needs of students as whole people. Creating more caring advising experiences and developing more caring relationships may better assist students in progressing through degree completion, and doing so more fully whole.

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