What is Equity-Oriented Advising & Coaching?

Author: Andrew Estrada Phuong, Ph.D.

This program is grounded in an adaptive equity-oriented pedagogical framework that has been shown to improve student engagement, success, and belonging. We advance a transformative perspective on equity and student development. We know that students' starting points, questions, and challenges are not deficits dictating an endpoint, but rather, can be sources of innovation that transform our practices and students' lives.

Through this program, we hope to build a cohort of equity champions who provide culturally responsive, equity-oriented advising that is imbued with a sense of purpose, empathy, and love. Being equity-oriented requires practitioners to be reflective and vigilant, recognizing that our practices can have unintended harms and positive, life-changing impacts. Being equity-oriented calls us to recognize that harm can occur when we reduce students, their histories, and their challenges into simple problems that can be solved easily. 

Instead, we propose a more holistic, data-informed approach that is not “transactional”, but “transformational!” We envision equity champions as life-long learners who interrogate their assumptions, listen to learn, expand their repertoire of practices, and continuously adapt their practices to support students’ holistic needs. Built on this vision, the adaptive equity-oriented pedagogical model advances the following competencies for advisors and student services professionals:

  • Work in partnership with students and clarify students’ goals

    • Practice deep listening (Hanh, 2008) and work in partnership with the student 

    • Create a brave space for learning

  • Ask questions that help you understand the student’s goals

    • Depending on student needs, use motivational interviewing (Miller & Rose, 2009), deep listening, and/or cognitive behavioral therapy techniques (Rothbaum et al., 2000) to ask questions and re-clarify goals if needed

  • Understand students’ current reality relative to these goals

    • Identify passions, skills, strengths, values, fears, and equity barriers to goals. 

      • Learn about students’ possible and feared selves (Markus & Nurius, 1986) and what drives these selves

      • Identify students’ different capitals and strengths, drawing on Yosso’s (2005) Community Cultural Wealth framework.

  • Adapt our practices based on understanding of students

    • Personalize options and resources

    • Refer students to resources and expand their networks 

    • Try to recognize our emotions and their emotions

    • Equip students with socio-emotional competencies to identify what’s energizing and toxic so they can thrive personally, academically, and professionally 

    • Model different decision-making strategies and help students develop their own decision-making strategies that help them thrive and reach their highest potential (Phuong et al., 2021)

    • Be aware of impact vs. intent

  • Iterate, evaluate, evolve, and transform: Demonstrate a continuous commitment to adaptation and improvement 

    • Demonstrate a growth mindset where you believe your practices and students’ success can grow     

    • Demonstrate anti-racist competencies and pro-equity allyship (Hammond, 2014)

      • Evaluate and reflect on your practices, institutional practices, and frameworks that drive them (e.g., are we taking an institution-ready or student-ready approach?)

      • Be vigilant of why we value certain frameworks and how they may be related to biases and larger, oppressive and racialized systems (DiAngelo, 2018).

      • Be aware of transference and countertransference (Racker, 2018).

    • Engage in greater perspective taking to advance student success holistically

While much of the curriculum can be applied in our direct interactions with students, we also want participants to reflect and take everyday action on transforming our policies, practices, and structures. In this program, we think not only about our role advising and coaching students on their individual journeys, but also about how we can address systemic racism and inequalities at UC Berkeley.


Read more about the background, history, and development of the Equity-Oriented Advising & Coaching Program!