Eastern Washington University

Tandem Advising

We will update this page with questions and answers as they arise.

Please use the button here or at the bottom of the page to submit any questions, concerns, and feedback you have regarding tandem advising.

What is tandem advising?

The tandem model is characterized by students having two advisors at all times (in most cases): a faculty mentor in the academic department and a professional advisor in the Center for Academic Advising and Retention (CAAR). We will continue with professional advising being housed in a single academic unit, namely CAAR in Monroe Hall.

How is tandem advising different from our current advising structure?

The main change from our current structure is that faculty will no longer have sole responsibility for supporting declared students with course sequencing, scheduling, and term-to-term registration in a one-on-one setting. Instead, professional CAAR advisors will academically advise students from confirmation to graduation, with light support from each department (i.e.: final graduation checks). 

Why are we considering moving to tandem advising?

While we have come a long way since the first iteration of EWU’s academic advising restructure in 2016, there are remaining issues on campus that impact student satisfaction and retention, including inequitable faculty advisee caseloads and workloads that are unsustainable; lack of funding to hire tenure or tenure-track faculty or to provide release time for advising; perceived lack of knowledge, support, and time by faculty advisors to provide effective advising; undefined expectations and recognition of advising and advising functions at EWU; all leading to inconsistent student experiences with academic advising across campus.

In order to address these and other advising issues, and to have a greater impact on student retention, EWU has piloted Tandem Advising in the College of Health Science & Public Health. This potential change may allow faculty to have additional time to devote to instruction and high-impact practices through supportive mentorship where each student is connected to community engagement, internships, research, career and networking opportunities, and/or experiential learning, as examples.

Faculty know their curriculum best; what if we don’t want to give up curriculum advising?

At this time, departments will not have to stop advising to the major if they do not wish to do so; however, it is strongly encouraged by the Office of the Provost. Regardless, there will be a CAAR advisor associated with each undergraduate student account and this advisor can help with General Education and University Graduation Requirements. CAAR advisors will also respond to all academic Early Warning System (EWS) cases and help facilitate the pre-university basic skills check for auto-enrollments for students in violation of this policy.

What is the role of the professional advisor (CAAR)?

  • Educate all undergraduate students on advising structure and pathways including guiding the student toward their faculty mentor and the department
  • Educate all undergraduate students on all academic advising technology
  • Support students with creating an academic plan from their start at EWU through timely graduation
  • Refer students to their faculty mentor at department-defined milestones (such as when a student is interested in internships)
  • Respond to all academic Early Warning System (EWS) cases and provide outreach and support (all faculty can still submit an alert on any student at any time)
  • Facilitate pre-university basic skills checks for MTHD 103, 104, 106 and ENGL 113/114.

Will advisors be moved into the colleges?

No. We will continue with professional advising being housed in a single academic unit, namely CAAR in Monroe Hall.

Will online advising be included in this transition to tandem advising?

Online campus students will be included in the pilot. However, it is to be determined whether online campus students will be a part of the new structure. Data will be collected on this as we move through the pilot and a determination will be made at a later point.

How will students declare or redeclare their major?

In tandem, the CAAR professional advisor will support the student with the declaring and re-declaring process, similar to the process now. With the release of the NEW online Major Declaration form, advisor and mentor assignment is now a separate process, decoupled from the major declaration process.

Will the high turnover rate in CAAR be a detriment to the advisors’ ability to advise through graduation?

CAAR was impacted, like many other departments, by the “great resignation” during the pandemic which led to advising inconsistencies and inaccuracies. The turnover rate has greatly decreased in the past few months. We believe that staffing is beginning to stabilize and we are also considering other retention strategies within the current structure of CAAR.

Will the structure of CAAR change?

No. CAAR advisors will be specializing in certain majors as the advising teams are organized by college. This will allow each department to have set advisors that will be advising to their programs. Departments will be encouraged to meet with their CAAR advisor college teams on a regular basis to share information and best practices, resolve issues, and remain up to date on all relevant information.

Will this decrease the workload of the Faculty who now advise? If so, how?

Yes, the advising workload of faculty who currently advise will decrease. This is because CAAR professional advisors can support the student with registration, department-defined course sequencing, utilizing technology such as the degree audit, lifting holds, entering permits (where permissible), etc. Since faculty already mentor students in their major, this will not be adding additional workload while removing the “transactional” aspect of advising. The more responsibilities that the department allows CAAR professional advisors to complete with students, the fewer responsibilities will be with faculty/staff in the department.

Why won’t my workload increase if students are being assigned a Faculty Mentor sooner?

Workloads should only shift from advising to mentorship, not increase. Having students assigned a Faculty Mentor sooner will allow departments to have a better understanding of how many students are coming your way. The departments will still identify when students should be sent to the faculty mentor for guidance on non-course  “milestones”. So even though the student will know who their Faculty Mentor is, the Faculty Mentor workload won’t have to consist of advising (unless the department still wants to advise the curriculum). You may have more mentees than your current advisee list; however, if mentorship is determined to start after a particular “milestone”, then the actual workload of faculty mentorship will not start until after the student has met that criteria: Mentor Ready (replacing the current Major Ready). 

How will this solve the issue of faculty who don’t advise currently and transition to Faculty Mentorship?

Having clear expectations of what Faculty Mentorship is and ways of measuring success will ensure that faculty who are supposed to mentor will. Being able to update the CBA to reflect these expectations will help tremendously. Please provide feedback on the feedback form at the bottom of this page to state what you believe Faculty Mentorship expectations should be.

Will there be CAAR advisors available at the Catalyst building?

Demand for advising in Spokane and space availability will determine how many CAAR advisors will be available there, and what days/times they will be available. If your department has office space available you would like to make available for Spokane advising days/hours, please let the Degree Completion Coordinator for your college know.

Will there be evening advising hours?

CAAR currently has some advisors who take appointments at 5:00 and 5:30.  We continue to assess the demand and logistics related to later availability. Please let the Degree Completion Coordinator for your college know the extent of demand for evening appointments you are hearing from your students.

Who will register students?

CAAR advisors will be responsible for assisting all undergraduate students with course registration. Students are required to consult with an advisor prior to registering if they have earned fewer than 45 credits. Ultimately, the student decides what classes they will enroll in and they register themselves.

How will CAAR advisors know what courses students should register for?

Departments and schools will provide term-to-term sequencing documentation along with projected one-year course schedules to CAAR staff via the Degree Completion Coordinator. This information will be updated by department/school staff regularly and disseminated to students via CAAR advisors. Your Degree Completion Coordinator will be the main point of contact for the departments to disseminate information.