What Role(s) Do Stakeholders Play in an Advising Technology Implementation?
A New Report Outlines Nine Personas Taken on by Key Stakeholders in an Advising Technology Implementation
Holistic advising is a resource-intensive yet beneficial practice that prioritizes being student-centered in the institutional process of undergraduate academic advising. This approach has gained prominence within the higher education landscape for its potential to better support student communities that have historically been insufficiently served by more transactional approaches to advising, including students of color, first-generation students, and students experiencing poverty. Given the comprehensive nature of holistic advising, institutions have increasingly turned to technology to support the students, staff, and faculty members involved in the process. These technologies promise to help manage caseloads, identify how best to target institutional resources for student success, and empower students with more information to control their academic journey. Due to the positive impact advising technologies can have on student success and increasing equitable outcomes for students, the Advising Success Network (ASN) spearheaded several projects to better prepare colleges and universities with tools to successfully select, purchase, implement, and use advising technologies to support student success.
As a part of this collaborative effort, Ithaka S+R explored the role of stakeholders during a successful implementation of an advising technology. The importance of stakeholders in general and the roles they play throughout the process has been explored in other studies, but these were largely limited to lists of job titles or common needs associated with particular stakeholder groups. The role of stakeholders in the implementation process itself, a process that can have far-reaching effects within an institution, has yet to be fully researched.
Our new report The Role(s) of Stakeholders in the Implementation of Advising Technology details our findings from a collection of case studies conducted with twelve institutions—all that viewed their advising technology implementation as successful—as well as interviews with two large advising technology vendors. Nine stakeholder roles, or personas—evangelist, senior sponsor, change champion, sage, ambassador, resistor, cheerleader, piloteer, and vendor—became apparent across case sites. These stakeholders come from a set of constituency groups including faculty, senior institutional leaders, information technology, academic support services, students, student success administrators, and software providers. Using these constituencies and a framework based on the educational technology implementation literature, we describe when it was most important to incorporate each persona into the implementation and who fulfilled this role based on narratives shared with us throughout these interviews.
As institutions, catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the coinciding racial reckoning, continue to navigate growing concerns around equity and retention, the promise and popularity of advising technologies will likely continue to expand. Ensuring that promise is fulfilled begins with how well the technology is implemented and what stakeholders are effectively involved in that process. Our report offers a roadmap for institutions looking to incorporate an advising technology to optimize their engagement and organization of stakeholders.