Foundations of Practice: Conceptual



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.

A strong conceptual foundation includes an understanding of:

  • The history, purposes, and goals of advising and student support in higher education.

  • Theory relevant to working with diverse student populations (including, but not limited to: student development theory, Yosso’s model of Cultural Wealth, and strengths-based advising).

  • Learning theory, approaches, styles, and outcomes.

  • The practice (approaches and methods) of advising.

  • The characteristics, needs, and experiences of the breadth of student populations.

  • One’s own personal philosophy of advising and how it relates to other philosophies and theories.

  • Ethics, boundaries, and self care.

  • The vital role that advising and student support play in creating and supporting equitable and inclusive student experiences.

The Foundation, Applied

Below find some examples of what applying the Conceptual Foundation can look like:

Mission and Vision Statement Creation

Many offices around campus have created Mission and Vision Statements. This process can be a fruitful conceptual exercise. A few “local” examples include:The CED Undergraduate Advising Office, The Rausser College of Natural Resources, The L&S Office of Undergradutate Advising, Student Affairs, and The Undocumented Student ProgramBerkeley Diversity also has a Principles of Community Statement that can be useful for any office looking to define their operating principles. 

Internal Conceptual Resources

Explore more sites right here! The suite of sites that makes up Advising Matters is a fantastic resource you can use to explore and further develop student services foundations. Explore Self-care Awareness and Resilience and other conceptual foundations here!

Theory and Practice in Student Appointments

Many student services units on campus offer students Strength-Based questions as preparation for student appointments. For example, the College of Environmental Design has gathered a number of resources from NACADA and others to prepare for student appointments:

Questions are outlined in forms delivered to incoming students and students having academic difficulty. This can be a great way to lead practice with theory!

Suggested Learning Activities

Consider engaging with the following suggested learning activities to integrate your understanding of this Foundation of Practice into your own work:

Activity A

Create a Statement of Advising Philosophy for your advising practice using some theory that you find relevant to you. Read through the workbook to help guide you through this process. 

Activity B

Revisit, or establish with your team, a Values Statement and/or Mission Statement. Go line by line and talk about how these values play out in your practice. Visit the Advising Matters Resources page for more information

Activity C

Visit the Advising Matters Conceptual Foundation to learn more about the theories important to the campus. See also the recording of Exploring Equity-Oriented Academic Coaching session.

For further exploration of this Foundation of Practice, check out the following Advancing Practice workshop recordings from past semesters:

Racism Isn't Rocket Science - It's More Complicated with American Cultures
Carcerality and Advising
Reintroduction to the Global Academic Advising Association with Dr.Melinda Anderson. Sept 23, 2021
Transformation at the Center: Fostering Advising Strategies for Undergraduate Discovery

Image of Women with dark hair, orange scarf, and greenery in the background/“Every day, each student, and every advising interaction is unique. A great advisor responds by adapting their style,technique and strategies to meet individual needs and situations. They see every interaction as an opportunity to get better.”

Elizabeth Storer, M.A., Academic Advisor, Molecular Environmental Biology