Effectiveness of Different Types of Advisories for Supporting Struggling Secondary Students
For discouraged and struggling secondary school students, improving engagement and achievement often necessitates combatting alienation. One strategy for improving their connectedness to school is advisories where a group of students meets regularly with a teacher for the duration of their secondary education. In theory, advisories provide students opportunities to develop positive relationships with peers and a teacher, who may become his/her advocate, and to enhance awareness of academic requirements and participation in school activities. This paper will offer empirical evidence of the differential effectiveness of three ways to organize advisories. In the first case, a school district implemented highly structured bi-weekly advisories in four large secondary schools, provided a district-wide curriculum, and randomly assigned teachers and students all of whom were in the same grade. In the second case, a small school organized less structured daily advisories for students at mixed grades, required no curriculum, and allowed students to change advisories at will. In the third case, advisories were flexibly structured, some groups meeting daily for as much as two hours during which students worked on contracted academic assignments and checked their progress with teachers, and some students meeting teachers individually at appointed times for the same purpose. Findings indicate that personalized approaches to advisories were more effective in supporting engagement and achievement. This paper will detail the organization of each type and present interview data from students, teachers, and administrators at each site regarding academic and social impact.
Keywords: Engagement, Student Alienation, School Organization
Dr. Linda Mabry
Professor, Educational Psychology, Washington State University