Students’ experiences of mattering in academic advising settings

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University of Alabama Libraries

Mattering is defined as feelings of significance and importance (Rosenberg & McCullough, 1981). Mattering can be enacted through feeling dependent on others and sharing in celebrations of achievement or periods of frustration. Moments of mattering can mediate the complex challenges that college students face through the duration of their academic career. Academic advisors act as facilitators of these moments of mattering for students; especially at institutions where students are required to meet with advisors prior to course registration. As undergraduate students are confronted with academic, social, and personal stressors that require assistance, they can turn to academic advisors for trusted support as they navigate through their academic and personal journeys. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how students experience moments of mattering in academic advising settings. Using a constructivist post-phenomenological approach, I interviewed 15 participants, three times each, for a total of 45 interviews. Data was analyzed through a post-phenomenological lens and a priori theme development. The findings suggest that students experienced moments of mattering in small nuanced interactions with their academic advisor. More specifically, spoke to the individualized attention, recognition, and affirmation academic advisors provided them with during meetings together. Taken together, these concepts generated feelings of mattering for the students who participated in this study. Further, students’ felt that mattering to themselves, first, was an important factor in how they described mattering to others.

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Higher education, Higher education administration, Education