Implementation and Evaluation of a Course-embedded Faculty Advising Model

Concurrent Session 3
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Brief Abstract

Course-embedded advising can positively impact student satisfaction and retention by creating regular engaging interactions between students and instructors. This presentation discusses the development, implementation and evaluation of a course-embedded advising model and its impact on student engagement, satisfaction, and retention in an online MA degree program.


Dr. Michelle Dennis serves as Chair of the Department of Leadership and Applied Psychology at Adler University’s Online Campus. She has held various positions in the field of higher education over the past 18 years and previously worked as a statistician. Her research interests include engagement, best-practices in the delivery of online education, personality and interpersonal problems.
Sarah Fornero serves as the Executive Dean of the Online Campus. She joined Adler in 2011 as an Instructional and Multimedia Consultant, and has since held a number of positions at the University. Prior to her current role, Sarah served as Associate Vice President of the Department of Educational Design and Innovation. Sarah is an active member of a variety of professional organizations including University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) and the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). She is also published in the field of online and distance learning. She completed her B.S. in Education from the University of Michigan, her M.A. in Education from the University of Michigan – Flint, and her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida.

Additional Authors

A lifelong learner, I have a special love and passion for all things involving online learning. I have over 15 years in education, and have spent the majority of that advocating and championing the online learning atmosphere for faculty and students.

Extended Abstract

Implementation and Evaluation of a Course-embedded Faculty Advising Model

Dennis, M., Fornero, S., Snelling, J., Thom, S., Surles, J. and McPheters, E.

Low student retention in online higher education programs can result in a significant loss of revenue to an institution, jeopardizing its financial health and potentially, survival (Faculty Focus, n.d.). Although research shows that faculty advising, instructor presence, community, the incorporation of synchronous sessions and the use of web-conferencing software have a significant positive impact on student outcomes (Allen & Seaman, 2014; Bailey & Brown,  Craft, Augustine-Shaw, Fairbanks & Adams-Wright, 2016; King & Alperstein, 2015; Richardson, Besser, Koehler, Lim, & Strait, 2016; Stewart, Harlow & DeBacco, 2011), facilitating effective interaction continues to remain a challenge in the online format. By creating regular engaging interactions between students and instructors, course-embedded advising can positively impact student satisfaction and retention.

 This presentation introduces a study on the development, implementation, and evaluation of a course-embedded advising model, within the online programs of a mid-sized University that emphasizes the preparation of socially responsible practitioners, as a strategy for increasing student engagement, satisfaction, and retention. The course-embedded advising model consists of structured, individual synchronous faculty advising sessions built into 4 courses of an online MA degree program. A sample of 13 students completed a student experience survey. Results and future directions are discussed in the context of relevant theories and best practices.


Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2014). Grade change: Tracking online education in the United States. Retrieved from

Bailey, T. & Brown, A. (2016). Online student services: Current practices and recommendations for implementation. Journal of Educational Technology, 44(4), 450-462.

Craft, C., Augustine-Shaw, D., Fairbanks, A. & Adams-Wright, G. (2016). Advising doctoral students in education programs. NACADA Journal, 36(1), 54-66.

Gallo, C. (2018, July 23). 7 presentation tips that will turn your presentation into a competitive advantage. Retrieved from

Faculty Focus. (n.d.). Strategies for increasing online student retention and satisfaction. Retrieved from Magna website:

King, E. & Alperstein, N. (2015). Best Practices in Online Program Development: Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. New York, NY: Routledge.

Richardson, J., Besser, E., Koehler, A., Lim, J. & Strait, M. (2016). Instructors perceptions of instructor presence in online learning environments. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17(4), 82-105.

Stewart, A., Harlow, D. & DeBacco, K. (2011). Students experience of synchronous learning in distributed environments. Distance Education, 32(3), 357-381.