Foundations of Practice

Foundations of Practice

Acquiring, applying, and refining these foundations of practice is an on-going and necessary process to best support student success. Continuous learning is at the heart of a mature and sophisticated practice that includes regular self-reflection and fine-tuning of advising approaches and methods. We hope the explicit identification of advising and student service related competencies will help guide your learning and growth.

Foundations of Practice Quick Review


An understanding of the conceptual and theoretical foundations of advising and student support. An ability to develop equity, inclusion, and belonging practices responsive to student and programmatic needs to promote holistic development and success.


The ability to employ the interpersonal skills needed to facilitate a student-centered, inclusive, and culturally sensitive advising relationship. An understanding of structural, systemic, and institutional barriers and dynamics at play within the student/advisor partnership.


The ability to engage in regular analysis and assessment of one's advising practice.  The ability to employ self-care practices in order to sustain self in people-centered work.


The ability to employ current and emerging student information systems and tools to effectively support student engagement, progress, and evidence-based decision making.


The knowledge of institution-specific programs, requirements, policies, procedures, resources, and tools.

Information provided here is intended for: 

  • Advising and Student Support Professionals: for self-assessment and evaluation, and to guide learning, career development, and advancement.

  • Supervisors, Managers, and Mentors: to identify strengths, stretch goals, and areas for staff development; and to guide hiring, training, and evaluation.

  • Learning Professionals and Trainers: to support curriculum development and establish learning priorities.

  • Faculty and Administrators: to clarify academic advising and student support roles and responsibilities, and highlight their contributions to teaching and learning.

From Core Competencies to Foundations of Practice

‘Core competencies’ has been the term used to describe the areas in which we believe are foundational to ground our professional development practices and ways of being as a student services/advising community.  Viewing professional development as on-going learning, and in an effort to more closely align with our stated values of strengths-based service, we are looking to use a term that better reflects learning as continued growth rather than as a destination.  Further developing our praxis, we seek to adopt a growth mindset for our professional development and expectations. 

We believe the foundations of holistic student support better reflects the continued evolution of our professions and students’ needs. We acknowledge that there are baseline proficiencies to be met and mastered in service to students and areas of knowledge to grow in. These provide a foundation from which to grow: the foundations of our practice as advising and student services staff.

UC Berkeley’s Foundations of Practice are grounded in the competency areas initially identified by Wes Habley (1995) and Jeffrey McClellan (2007) and expanded upon by Elizabeth Wilcox in collaboration with the UC Berkeley Advising Council and with input from NACADA's Professional Development Committee (the full body of this work can be found here). The Foundations of Practice framework was developed by a subgroup of the Advising Strategy + Training Program Advising Fellows, with contributions from Donna Vivar, Michael Cervantes, Sarah Acosta, Susan Hagstrom, and Tim Cahill.