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Guidelines for Campus Solutions (PeopleSoft) Advising Notes

Statement of Purpose

  • Documentation of student interactions is a benchmark of providing excellent student service as we support students throughout their academic careers.
  • Adopting a developmental approach to academic success and academic advising allows for intentional, individualized connections between students and the resources, opportunities, and policies of Boise State University.
  • Advising notes document student advising interactions. Recording notes consistently and accurately allows for seamless records of students’ needs, progress, and plans for the future.
  • We need to change the perception that these are “my notes” and “my students”

Timely, purposeful entries in advising notes provide:

  • Documentation–record of student interactions, whether face-to-face or via electronic formats
  • Context and history–allowing for expedient and productive contacts that minimize unnecessary repetition and redundancy
  • Opportunity–to enhance the advising relationship and connect with students
  • Information Sharing–a secure, formal, means for the sharing of information between advisors and students
  • Tracking– development, learning, and progress toward established benchmarks, patterns in behavior or actions to be taken
  • Ongoing assessment–the ability to monitor student navigation within the university allowing for a holistic view, as students work with and move between advisors, departments, campus services, and other University representatives

Privacy of Student Educational Records

  • “FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. This legislation protects the privacy of student records and regulates how information is utilized.
  • Employment at Boise State University requires, as a term of employment, compliance with the policies of Boise State University; the rules, regulations, and procedures of the Idaho State Board of Education; and all local, state, and federal laws. Faculty and staff are required to review FERPA and sign a FERPA CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT.
  • As with any document containing information personally identifiable to a student,
    PeopleSoft Advising Notes are a part of student education records and are thus subject
    to FERPA.
  • Training in Boise State’s FERPA practices is available through the web-based Online FERPA Training.
  • Be mindful that a student can request to view their advising notes under FERPA and must be granted access to the records within 45 days of the request, and they may also be subject to subpoena. Any and all legal requests for student records must be referred to general counsel.

General Content & Practice Guidelines

In preparing to enter Advising Notes in Campus Solutions, ask yourself how the notes contribute to the holistic record of a student’s academic and career pathway. Additionally, ask yourself if the note
will maintain appropriate levels of disclosure. Fact-based, descriptive notes help to convey the unique dynamics of each student advising contact. Narrative notes are encouraged for readability and nuanced circumstances, but bulleted summaries can also be effective and readily skimmed in preparation for an appointment.

The following section presents items for consideration and potential inclusion in PeopleSoft Advising Notes. Please take note that not every item will apply to all circumstances or advising conversations; these are intended to be guidelines for determining what is necessary or appropriate for each interaction.

  • Focus on facts and events. Summarize conversations. Provide information that would/will allow a campus colleague to contextualize the student’s circumstance and the related advice offered. Use objective, non-emotional language. Do not attribute behaviors or intent to the facts.
  • Include relevant information regarding student’s progress towards degree or career goals, university benchmarks (e.g. Foundational Studies Courses), prerequisites, or major components. Only document information that is directly relevant to the delivery of service.
  • Comment on recommended courses or alternative courses discussed and how
    those courses will likely affect progress towards degree completion and/or major
    exploration
  • If you speculate about an outcome/impact of an action or decision, be clear with the student (and in your note) to acknowledge the hypothetical nature of your conversation. Make no overt promises if you cannot guarantee the result. Keep in mind that almost no results are guaranteed.
  • Document discussions of university policies and academic regulations.
  • Cite actions that were requested of the student and require follow-up.
  • For referrals, include context to allow the third party to act with clarity and purpose in their interaction with the shared student.
  • Document communications outside of advising appointments that are relevant to student’s academic record (e.g. a reminder about how to access/utilize systems such as the Student Center; a phone call about how to withdraw from a course; a query about an Academic Regulation).
  • Note transitions (e.g. transfers in/out of a college or the institution; Withdrawal from the University; decision to take a leave of absence).
  • Note exceptions granted including why and on what basis they were approved/implemented, as well as who approved the exception (if approval was needed).
  • Note stated opinions or decisions pertaining to recommendations made during a current or prior advising appointment (adoption or rejection).
  • Note opportunities suggested to or asked about by the student seeking to augment in-class learning and engagement (e.g. volunteer experience, leadership experience, internship).
  • Document attributes disclosed by the student that may assist with reference letters or scholarship letters and add value to the advising relationship and future interactions (e.g. student’s interests, student’s aspirations, student’s involvement, or student’s experiences).
  • Note reminders for future term considerations.
  • In case of a substantive email contact enter a summary in Advising Notes or, if the entire message is relevant to academic record, copy the content into the Advising Notes. If noting a change in behavior or concern, report through observation, not accusation or judgment. Subjective comments or opinions speculating about student’s motivations, concerns, or abilities are not appropriate inclusions.

Areas of Concern & Increased Sensitivity

  • If recording student’s comments about coursework, perceptions, experiences, etc., employ phrasing to the effect of the student “reported,” “stated,” or “expressed.”
  • Information about other students should not be included.
  • If recording information, conversations, or referrals of a highly personal or sensitive nature exercise care with the language employed; report academically relevant facts. Focus on steps already taken or steps that are necessary to address the circumstance.
  • Do not diagnose, assess, or offer judgment on the student or circumstance. Consider merely listing the office involved (COEN, COAS, SPS, COED, SILC, etc.) as a prompt for future follow up or check-in without recording details. Alternately, you might elect to employ a generic statement (e.g. “Student reported facing challenging circumstance. Referred student to [name of department/office].”)  Be sure to document whenever you do refer a student to other offices on campus (academic or non-academic, including for example, Counseling Services, and the
    Financial Aid Office).
  • Regarding financial process or cost information, make no promises if you cannot guarantee the outcome. Include general summary of discussion and note informational and/or office referrals (e.g. “Showed student where to find Tuition and Fees Information on the Boise State website” or “Suggested a proactive contact with Fin. Aid office.”)
  • Child Abuse, Sexual Harassment/Sexual Violence (Title IX), & other legal issues – Any mention within Advising Notes should follow cautions above regarding highly personal or sensitive matters.
  • If a student discloses incidents of sexual assault or any other events that are covered by Title IX, include in your notes “Student disclosed information that is covered by Title IX and/or Boise State Policy 1060”
  • Include NO details of the disclosure
  • Reminder: Do not promise confidentiality to the student.
    • Remember that as employees of an Idaho institution of higher education we are subject to mandatory reporting of child abuse.
  • The Office of Institutional Compliance and Ethics identifies Employee Responsibilities related to Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972. Title IX requires Boise State University to respond to certain harassment on the basis of sex, which it knows about or reasonably should have known about. The university must:
    • Investigate what happened.
    • Take appropriate steps to resolve the matter. The University must do its best to eliminate the harassment, prevent recurrence, and remedy effects even if no formal complaint has been made or when a person making a complaint does not wish to further participate in the process.
    • Take interim measures during the investigation to prevent potential further harassment.
  • The Office of Institutional Compliance and Ethics provides employee guidance for reporting to disclosures of sexual violence or harassment among its information on assistance, reporting contacts, responsibilities, sanctions, and education/outreach opportunities.