Advisor Learning Program

Executive Summary:
Washington State University Advisor Learning Program

Prepared by Sara Ackerson, Coordinator of the Advisor Learning Program. February 2018.

The WSU Advisor Learning Program (ALP) supports:

  • A community of primary-role and faculty advisors who are committed to continuous training and professional development to ensure students receive consistent, quality advising across the WSU-system.
  • A culture of learning-centered advising, that focuses on key student transitions and active student engagement
  • The development and strengthening of academic advising practice through an understanding and application of the NACADA Core Competencies.

We accomplish this mission through:

  • Comprehensive, continuous training and professional development for all who advise students.
  • Consistent advising experiences regardless of college or campus.
  • Opportunities for training to keep up-to-date on advising trends and changes.
  • Comprehensive use of technology in advising practice.
  • Formal and informal learning adhering to the 70:20:10 model of professional development: 70% on-the-job learning, 20% coaching and mentoring, and 10% formal learning.
  • Collaboration between departmental, college, and university academic advisors.
  • Mandatory training for social justice and cultural competency specifically designed for academic advisors.
  • Self-assessment, reflection, and improvement in individual advising practices.


  • In October 2017, Sara Ackerson was hired in a newly created position as Coordinator of the Advisor Learning Program. This role supports and coordinates both the onboarding and continued professional development of those who perform academic advising (in primary or other roles) across the University system.
  • Previously, onboarding fell onto both the Academic Success and Career Center (ASCC) for Advisor 101, 102, 103 workshops, and the Continued professional development was offered through WSU ACADA (Level II and roundtables) and the WSU Advising Forum, sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Education (OUE).

Justification for Change

  • Since 2007, advisors have regularly asked for more consistent and accessible training and professional development opportunities (WSU Advising Forum feedback). Under the new model, onboarding and professional development for certification fall under the Advisor Learning Program. This change provides a point of contact within a unit, rather than a volunteer organization.
  • Advisor training and professional development are integral pieces of one’s job. They provide consistency and accuracy across units, motivation to develop and grow within one’s profession, and a desire to remain within the WSU system.


  • Advisor training and professional development will be tracked through HRS Skillport. Online modules will be created for onboarding new advisors to allow for consistent and accessible Advisors are expected to complete Level II certification as indicated in the Educational Policies and Procedures Manual (EPMM).
  • All advisors are mandated to complete refresher modules each year which will cover reinstatement, technology changes, legal issues, and other necessary updates.  There will be regularly scheduled opportunities to earn certification regardless of campus available for supervisors as requested. Level II certification will consist of the completion of 20 Advanced Learning credits (over a 2 year period). Advisors will complete a professional development plan and advising philosophy as part of their annual review.
  • It is also expected that advisors receive fiscal support by their units for annual NACADA membership fees ($75).