Examining the effect of advisor-student relationships on academic major decision-making
Leach, Jennifer Kay
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Given extensive research highlighting the benefits of need-supportive practices and need satisfaction, it seems likely that academic advisors who use practices found to be need-supportive in classroom, work, and other contexts, will foster students’ perceived autonomy and competence toward the academic major decision-making process and facilitate longer-term goals of enhancing motivation and satisfaction with their academic coursework. A longitudinal study was conducted in order to examine the stability in perceptions of college students' academic major decision-making experience over time as a function of need-supportive advising. The study also examined the stability in satisfaction and motivation outcomes as a function of need-supportive advising over time. Participants included undecided students who completed an online survey at three time points during either the 2012-2013 or 2013-2014 academic year. The online survey included measures assessing perceptions of advisors' needs-supportive practices, students' autonomous and competent decision-making, satisfaction with and motivation for coursework, and subjective well-being, as well as demographic characteristics. Analyses on several models were performed using Mplus version 6.12. Results suggest need-supportive advising at the beginning of the academic year predicts improved academic satisfaction, academic efficacy, subjective well-being, and value toward coursework toward the end of the academic year particularly when advising sessions satisfy students need for competence throughout the year which, in turn, provides students with increased competence about choosing an academic major. Implications and future directions are discussed.