Help for Advising Notes

The Advising Notes application provides two ways for advisers to enter and/or view notes of advising contacts with or about students:

  1. Contact Summary—advising notes summarized using a set of codes and displayed in a table. This summary table can be viewed in two formats: abbreviated (highly codified) and expanded (with codes translated into succinct text).
  2. Adviser Comments—advising notes presented as narrative text.

Table of Contents

Contact Summary

The contact summary is a codified record of advising contacts with a particular student. It can also be used to record advising-related notes about a student if the contact is with another individual (a University official, a member of the student's family, another adviser, etc.).

The summary consists of a table of advising contact records for a particular student, with each record representing a contact with a specific adviser on a specific date. The data in each contact record include In the abbreviated contact summary, all of the information is displayed in code form only. In the expanded contact summary, all of the codes are translated into brief but descriptive text.

Additional information about contact records can be found in the eLion Advising Notes and ISIS Screen ARUEA website. (The contact summary section of the Advising Notes application is based on screen ARUEA, which predates eLion Advising Notes. ISIS serves as the database for the contact summary.)

Viewing the contact summary

The abbreviated contact summary is automatically displayed when the Advising Notes application is selected from the eLion menu. To view the expanded summary, select the "View expanded Contact Summary" button. To view the abbreviated summary again, select the "View abbreviated Contact Summary" button.

Adding a new contact summary record

To add a new contact record, select the "Add a new contact record" button and follow the steps below. Please refer to the eLion Advising Notes and ISIS Screen ARUEA website for additional instructions.
  1. Date: Today's date will be displayed automatically. If the advising contact occurred on an earlier date, you can change the date displayed in the date field.
  2. Adviser: Your adviser code will also be be displayed automatically. You cannot change this code.
  3. College: The student's current college of enrollment will be displayed automatically. If the student's college of enrollment was different or missing at the outset of the advising contact, select the appropriate college from the pull-down list.
  4. Content: From the pull-down lists, select up to five content codes and descriptions that summarize the types of activities and discussions that occurred in the advising contact.
  5. Referral: If "Referral" was selected as one of the content codes, select up to two referral resources from the pull-down lists.
  6. Type of contact: From the pull-down list, select the code and description that categorize the manner in which the advising contact took place (e.g., individual interview, email correspondence, telephone call, etc.).
  7. Exploring: Select the appropriate exploration code.
  8. Curricular goals: If the student's curricular goals at the end of the advising contact were the same as the goals from the previous contact, select the "Carry over" option. Otherwise, select up to three majors/options from the pull-down lists or enter up to three major and option codes in the text boxes provided.
Select the "Add contact record" button to add this new record to the Contact Summary, or select the "Cancel" button to return to the Contact Summary screen.

Changing an existing contact summary record

On occasion, it may be necessary to correct an advising contact record that was entered previously. This screen allows an adviser to select an existing record that was entered by that adviser and to make changes in the previously entered data. It is not possible for an adviser to change a contact record that was entered by another adviser.

To change an existing contact record, follow the instructions below.
  1. Select the "Change an existing contact record" button.
  2. From the table of previously entered advising contacts, select the radio button next to the record that you want to change. Then select the "Change" button.
  3. The advising contact record you selected on the previous screen will be displayed. You can change any or all of the fields displayed except the Adviser field. (Please refer to the Adding a new contact summary record section above for additional information about the data fields in advising contact records.)
  4. Select the "Change" button to change the existing record, or select the "Cancel" button to return to the Contact Summary screen.
Deleting an existing contact summary record

It is not possible to delete a contact summary record after it has been entered.

Displaying an academic summary

To review some additional academic information about the student while viewing and/or entering records in the contact summary tables, select the "Show brief academic summary" button. This summary displays the following student data: major, semester classification, campus, registration status, admission type, semester of admission, semester grade-point average, cumulative grade-point average, cumulative credits, total credits, grade-point deficiencies, student-athlete status, Schreyer Scholar status, entrance to major pool, DUS max time semester, gender, ethnic code, assigned adviser, and curricular goals. To remove the academic summary display, select the "Hide brief academic summary" button.

Adviser Comments

The Adviser Comments section is a narrative record of advising contacts with a particular student. Each comment is prefaced by the date on which the contact occurred and the adviser code of the adviser who had the contact.

Advisers may use this section to record professional comments about advising contacts with students. It may also be used to record advising-related comments about a student when the contact is with another individual (a University official, a member of the student's family, another adviser, etc.).

Adviser comments should reflect what took place during the interview. They represent the current picture of the student's educational plans and how they were developed. They may include notes about the student's curricular goals, vocational choices, graduate/post-baccalaureate plans, and academic progress; discussions about schedule planning, study skills improvement, and exploration; and actions taken such as referrals, change of major, etc. The content codes used in the contact summary section of Advising Notes may provide helpful guidelines in writing the comments to accurately summarize an advising contact. Also refer to the Protocol for entering adviser comments.

Viewing adviser comments

From the Contact Records screen, select the "Go to Adviser Comments" button. If any comments have already been recorded for the student, they will be displayed at the top of the Adviser Comments screen in the order in which they were entered (i.e., not necessarily in chronological order), starting with the first (earliest/oldest) record entered. Each comment record will be prefaced by the date of the advising contact and code of the adviser who had the contact.

If there are more than thirty lines of notes, select the "More" button to go to the next page of notes. Select the "Previous" button to return to the previous page of notes.

Adding an adviser comment

To add a new adviser comment, follow the steps below.
  1. The date field will already be filled in with today's date. If the advising contact occurred on an earlier date, change the date.
  2. The Adviser field will already be filled in with your adviser code. This cannot be changed.
  3. Type your comments directly into the large text box provided.
  4. Select the "Add adviser comment" button to add your comments to the record, or select the "Go to Contact Summary" button.
Note: It is inappropriate to copy students' emails and paste them verbatim into the Advising Notes adviser comments box. However, it can be acceptable to summarize and record the academic content of that email in your own words, if it is relevant to advising the student. Discretion is advised.

Printing adviser comments

To print the adviser comment that was just added, select the "Print adviser comments" button.

Changing/deleting an existing adviser comment

It is not possible to change or delete an adviser comment after it has been entered into the student's record. If you want to correct a comment after it has been entered, you may enter an additional comment with a correction that refers to the previous comment.

Protocol for entering adviser comments

The professional and ethical responsibilities for viewing, entering, changing, and sharing academic information about a student are described in the National Academic Advising Association's Statement of Core Values of Academic Advising (2005):
Advisors respect student confidentiality rights regarding personal information. Advisors practice with an understanding of the institution's interpretation of applicable laws such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Advisors seek access to and use student information only when the information is relevant to the advising process. Advisors enter or change information on students' records only with appropriate institutional authorization to do so.

Advisors document advising contacts adequately to meet institutional disclosure guidelines and aid in subsequent advising interactions.

In addition, Penn State's Administrative Policy AD11 (University Policy on Confidentiality of Student Records) states, in part,
The Pennsylvania State University collects and retains data and information about students for designated periods of time for the express purpose of facilitating the student's educational development. The University recognizes the privacy rights of individuals in exerting control over what information about themselves may be disclosed and, at the same time, attempts to balance that right with the institution's need for information relevant to the fulfillment of its educational missions. The University further recognizes its obligation to inform the student of his/her rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA); to inform the student of the existence and location of records as well as to define the purposes for which such information is obtained; to provide security for such material; to permit student access to, disclosure of, and challenge to this information as herein described; and to discontinue such information when compelling reasons for its retention no longer exist.

The University will disclose information from a student's educational record only with the prior written consent of the student, except that educational records may be disclosed without consent to University officials having a legitimate educational interest in the records ...
When writing adviser comments on eLion, it is critical to keep in mind that
  1. a student has a legal right to request access to his or her academic records, including the comments you enter on eLion, and
  2. the comments you enter can be viewed by many other individuals, including professional advisers, faculty, administrative staff, and advising support staff.
Additional notes about entering adviser comments Sample adviser comments

Adviser comments should be written succinctly. Enough information should be recorded so that a reasonable reconstruction of the advising contact can be made from the comments. Avoid both overly abbreviated comments, which could be difficult for others to interpret, and verbose comments, which could take excessively long to read while providing only a minimal amount of additional useful information.

Three examples of adviser comments (abbreviated, succinct, and verbose) from the same contact provide illustrative benchmarks.


Contact Summary and Adviser Comments

Both a contact summary and an adviser comment can be entered on a single screen by selecting the "Add a Contact Record and Comment" button. This option is primarily for advisers who want a quick way to enter both a contact record and a comment and are familiar with the necessary codes. Although there are no pull-down lists of codes on this screen, links are provided to a quick reference chart that summarizes the content, referral, and type of contact codes that can be used in the contact record and to a list of degree program codes for the curricular goals.

After entering a contact summary and/or adviser comment, select the appropriate button to update the student's record.

To print a copy of the adviser comment that was just added, select the "Print adviser comments" button.