Derrick Woodard: Gaining Feedback on Advising Among Black Students

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?”. This quote, spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., represents a call to action to help those in need. I had no idea that answering this question would guide my development and outlook on the world. Hello, my name is Derrick Woodard, a second-year Biological Sciences major and Child Development minor. I am a first-generation CARE student with intentions of becoming a Pediatrician. This summer, I plan to research intensively to determine the satisfaction of Black students who receive academic advising. My project, titled “Black College Student Satisfaction with Academic Advising Methods”, is what I will be focusing my efforts on.

My inspiration for this project was ignited by my participation in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) during the 2020-2021 academic school year. Partaking in this program allowed me to diversify my college experience and explore the world of research, challenging myself to tackle new disciplines. I worked on a project led by my research mentors, Dr. Dawn Matthews and Ms. Cassandra Kepple, that focused on first-generation student satisfaction with academic advising at Florida State. Participants from the focus groups used in this project expanded on both their praise and grievances felt for academic advisors. Being a part of this experience opened my eyes to the importance of student satisfaction at colleges and universities.

Furthermore, this experience showed me that I too related to the hardships faced by other students. Discovering that these issues existed fueled a passion in me to learn more about this subject and how to create a solution. I challenged myself to apply for the IDEA Grant in order to investigate whether a relationship existed between student satisfaction and academic advising with another vulnerable student population, Black students. I will tackle this project with the hopes of answering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s pertinent question. Advocating for other’s concerns while trying to search for recommendations to assist Black students at Florida State is what I am doing for others.

Throughout Summer 2021, I plan to perform a mixed-method study by sending out surveys and setting up a focus group of Black students from FSU to determine their perspectives about academic advising. While progressing throughout this project, I will ensure that a safe space will be established in order for engaging conversations to occur. The goal of utilizing this focus group is to foster an environment for the students to feel comfortable sharing their experiences. I will be hiding their identities with the use of pseudonyms. This focus group will be recorded to gather qualitative data and obtain any outstanding themes that come up in the discussion.

FSU Advising First Staff

The hope of this project is to listen to what students have to say and inquire about what suggestions they may want to implement to better serve them in academic advising. In addition, another objective of this project is to send out surveys to academic advisors to determine how they believe their services are perceived from a Black students’ perspective. Prominent themes gathered from the focus group will be shared with these same advisors. The hopeful outcome of this is to expose true Black student satisfaction with academic advising methods to academic advisors.

The survey will be used as an instrument to determine how academic advisors feel about the students’ responses and how to improve their methods of advising for this student population. The IDEA grant will be used to incentivize both Black students and academic advisors. Moreover, the information gathered in the focus group will have to be transcribed followed by the analysis of the qualitative data. I am extremely excited and honored to facilitate this project. I would like to provide a voice for Black students, acknowledging and remedying the struggles they face at a predominantly white institution.

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