Advisors and Coordinators

Information for: Advising coordinators, advisors, and others who are leading mathematics pathways implementation.

Role in Mathematics Pathways

Advising coordinators play an important role in the early stages of implementation to help 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.

Listen to students and a faculty member describe their experiences with courses aligned with the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways Model.


Essential Ideas

  • Essential Idea 1

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

  • Essential Idea 2

    An effective advising process depends on clear recommendations about math pathways alignment to programs of study.

  • Essential Idea 3

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

  • Essential Idea 4

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

  • Essential Idea 5

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

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While some of the early planning may not directly impact the advising process, it is invaluable to have an advising representative on the leadership team, as it serves two purposes. 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 implementation plan. Advisors have a unique understanding of the student experience that often is critical to successful implementation.

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 information from programs. Given that information, advising coordinators can develop effective tools to support the advising process. (For more information on leading alignment work, see Learn More)

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Advisors and students have to deal with a great deal of information so it is important prepare strategically for how information will be shared. Once the 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 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. The most effective structure is a full guided pathways structure in which students select from a small number of broad meta-majors. If an institution does not have guided pathways, the concept can be adapted to focus on math pathways as shown in some of the resources below.


The default pathway for undecided students should be one of the non-algebraically intensive options, such as statistics or quantitative reasoning, because data show that more students are in programs that need these pathways and students are more likely to be successful in these courses. The selection of a default pathway should be done at the local level based on data.

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Students describe their challenges with math and how courses aligned with the Dana Center Mathematics Pathway Model helped them succeed. 

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 the 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.

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