This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Academic Advising and the COVID-19 Pivot: A Qualitative Case Study of the Transition to Virtual Advising




Sanders, Judith

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology

Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



The purpose of this study was to explore how academic advisors at a large, R1 university campus who traditionally offer mainly in-person services, pivoted to fully remote operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to narrate how these advisors adopted and integrated technology into undergraduate academic advising practices. The case study explored the advisors’ perceived training and professional development needs and delivery preferences to facilitate more effective learning opportunities regarding technology for this population of advisors. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to gather the experiences of the advisors. Additional data sources included university-level communication and professional development opportunities offered during the COVID-19 pivot and subsequent time of remote work. The findings of the study illustrated that advisors’ behaviors aligned with Self-Directed Learning theory as they worked to solve immediate and practical problems to provide virtual student services during COVID-19 pivot. The findings also supported that academic advisors were more likely to implement a specific technology into their advising practices based on concepts from Technology Acceptance Model, perceived usefulness and ease of use of the technology. The findings further illustrated that previous experiences were used as a foundation to learn to use new technology during the COVID-19 pivot as expected from the Model of Digital Literacy and Technology Literacy Dimensions. In such, this study contributes to the intersection of the advising and technology literature. The study also contributes to the advising literature as it provides documentation of the work of academic advisors to support students during a unique period that might be viewed as a historical milestone in the field of academic advising.