Narrative and Proactive Advising Approaches

What are the similarities between the two approaches?

Both proactive (intrusive) and narrative (hermeneutic) approaches are based on the importance of an advisor’s connection with the student. Kalinowski Ohrt (2016), the devotee of a proactive approach, claims that “by contacting students and offering knowledge, concern, and availability, advisers can establish the trust” (p. 1). Newman (2016), who practices the narrative approach, is assured that all that students need is “to feel that someone wants to know them” (p. 3). Besides, both techniques exist in the form of group meetings and individual conversations.

What are the differences between the two approaches?

Nevertheless, these two approaches diverge in process and methods. The narrative approach represents an actual process of telling stories: by a student and by an advisor. Snyder and Zona (2019) believe it to be personalized at the deepest level. This approach focuses both on academic and personal aspects of life, while the proactive approach is mainly aimed at educational goals. Intrusive advising may be organized every quarter in the form of pre-appointed meetings by an advisor, where he and students discuss educational goals, ways to realize them, and improve academic performance

The next difference lies in the role of an advisor. The consultant working with narrations initiates the dialogue and then becomes an active listener. Students have a chance to learn the advisor’s story as well, which builds a certain level of trust between them and students. The story is also an excellent way to teach something. An advisor in a proactive technique is an organizer and an influential figure.

Finally, in contrast to proactive advising, the narrative is not coercive. Anyone can seek help when they need to and be open. However, in the case of students who do not know about the possibility to appeal for help, proactive tools exist. Proactive advising assumes mild forms of intervention in the student’s college life. It is structured, scheduled, and deliberate for every student (Kitchen et al., 2020). The main difference of this advising from the narrative approach is its preventive character: students get consultations without directly addressing the advisor’s office. The advantage of the proactive method is its ability to detect a problem before it had consequences. Besides, some students may ignore the issues they have or be afraid or ashamed to access help.

Which approach would be best for supporting new community college students? Why?

An educative and entertaining narration is a tool to build confidential space in an advisor’s office. Therefore, the narrative approach is suitable for supporting new community college students. The advisor and students can discuss any problem through storytelling: parent’s pressure, fear of choosing the wrong major, or difficulties of plugging into college social life, etc. Moreover, publishing personal stories of newcomers in a shared blog or college website, or sharing their stories in group meetings will unite coursemates.

Which approach would be best for ensuring students persist and complete their programs? Why?

Proactive advising helps recommend suitable courses for a particular person, find the most appropriate learning model, and define academic goals. The approach encourages emphasizing the importance of deadlines and course attendance to advisees (Kitchen et al., 2020). It helps remind the learners of their academic goals and, therefore, is irreplaceable for undergraduate students. Thus, a proactive approach allows the most to control students to attend courses and complete their programs.


Kalinowski Ohrt, E. (2016). Proactive advising with first-generation students: Suggestions for practice. The Mentor. An Academic Advising Journal, 18(1),1–5. Web.

Kitchen, J. A., Cole, D., Rivera, G., & Hallett, R. (2020). The impact of a college transition program. Proactive advising intervention on self-efficacy. Journal of Student Affairs, 56(4), 1–15. Web.

Newman, L. E. (2019). What’s your story? A narrative approach to advising. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal, 18(1), 1–6.

Snyder, E., Zona, L. (2019). How advisors and institutions can use storytelling as a renewable resource. NACADA. Web.

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ChalkyPapers. "Narrative and Proactive Advising Approaches." October 9, 2023.