Advisors and Coordinators

Advisors, coordinators, and supervisors play a key role in collaborating with leaders and stakeholders to support translating the mathematics pathways vision into everyday practice.

Role of Advisors and Coordinators in Mathematics Pathways

Advising coordinators provide critical support in the early stages of implementation by helping mathematics faculty understand and plan for an effective advising process, including planning communications to students. Advisors then enact the process and provide updates to the leadership team to allow the team to monitor enrollment.

Several overarching implementation activities include: soliciting input from advising professionals; providing training resources and opportunities; addressing structural changes; and collecting and using data to support the continuous improvement of mathematics pathways and advising strategies.


Essential Ideas and Selected Resources

  • Essential Idea 1

    Representatives of advising should be included early in the planning process.

  • Essential Idea 2

    All advisors should understand the reasons for mathematics pathways and the benefits to students.

  • Essential Idea 3

    An effective advising process depends on clear, default math pathways aligned to programs of study.

  • Essential Idea 4

    Advisors create tools to support effective advising and communication to students.

  • Essential Idea 5

    Students should be advised into math pathways based on their goals, not their level of preparation.

  • Essential Idea 6

    Algebraically intensive pathways that include courses such as College Algebra and Pre–Calculus should be reserved for students who will need Calculus.

Advisors have a unique understanding of the student experience that is critical to successful implementation. While some aspects of early planning may not directly impact the advising process, it is invaluable to have an advising representative on the leadership team. First, it helps the advising representative understand the full range of issues surrounding mathematics pathways and the local implementation. Second, it provides opportunities for the advising perspective to be integrated into the planning process.

Selected Resource:

Advisors are strong advocates for students. They will fully commit to mathematics pathways when they understand how the pathways benefit students, including understanding the problems with the traditional approach and how pathways can address those problems. Advisors should be given the opportunity to engage in discussions with math faculty to share their insights and questions. It is also important for advisors to understand new courses, such as quantitative reasoning, so they can help students understand what to expect.

Selected Resources:

The role of advisors is to help students enroll in courses based on recommendations and requirements from departments. If those recommendations are ambiguous, advisors are forced to make a judgment call, which often leads them to default to the most familiar selection—this reinforces the status quo. Changing normative practice so that students are routinely advised into the appropriate pathway and receive the appropriate supports requires clear, unambiguous requirements from programs. Given that information, advising coordinators can develop effective tools to support the advising process.

Selected Resources:

Advisors and students have to understand a great deal of information. It is important to prepare strategically for how information will be shared. Once math pathways have been aligned to programs of study, advisors create tools to communicate with students. It is important to ensure that appropriate tools are designed to match the different methods of advising and registration. For example, a color–coded handout might be very effective for in–person advising but would not be effective for online advising and registration.

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One of the primary goals of math pathways is to help students prepare for and meet their academic and career goals. It is essential that those goals be the sole determinant of which math pathway is appropriate for a given student. Students who are underprepared should receive the necessary support to succeed within the pathway.

This approach, however, raises the challenge of advising students who have not declared a major. Advising departments should establish protocols for advising these students by determining their broad interests, or meta–majors. The most effective structure is a full guided pathways structure in which students select from a small number of two to six broad meta–majors. (See the Emerging Texas Math Pathwaysview full resourceDownloadFile resource.) If an institution does not have guided pathways, the concept can be adapted to focus on math pathways as shown in the resource below.

Selected Resource:

National data1 show that the majority of students are in programs that do not require Calculus. Therefore, the default pathway for undecided students should be one of the non–algebraically intensive options, such as statistics or quantitative reasoning.

Selected Resources:


1Chen, X.,  & Soldner, M. (2013). STEM attrition: College students’ paths into and out of STEM fields. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics,

Further Considerations and Resources for Advising Coordinators and Supervisors

It is likely that advising coordinators are engaged in other systemic change efforts such as implementing multiple measures placement, guided pathways or new forms of proactive advising. Coordinators should seek ways to integrate these changes into a single comprehensive plan. Several of the Dana Center’s collaborating organizations offer information and services in these areas:


Expand this section to explore.

  • A SMART Approach to Student Success: The Association of Public and Land–Grant Universities offers a series of learning modules to help leaders implement a proactive advising system.
  • Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS): Achieving the Dream developed resources to support the implementation of an integrated advising system for its iPASS initiative.
  • Multiple measures: Research for Action published useful resources on implementation of the multiple measures approach across states and systems. See the summary report of the work here. A toolkit for postsecondary systems exploring policies that require or encourage institutions to use multiple measures for student placement is also located here.

Join the Joyful Conspiracy

Making mathematics pathways the normative practice at full scale within and across institutions requires coordinated actions across stakeholder groups and across sectors. Uri Treisman coined the phrase “the Joyful Conspiracy” to describe this united effort.

Explore the critical roles of each stakeholder group:




Learn more about the organizations that support and innovate in the mathematics pathways movement: