Rutgers University Senate Committee on Instruction, Curricula and Advising

Report on Student Advising Services

Appendix C

NACADA Standards for Advising Distance Learners


Education offered via distance education provides greater flexibility to individualized learning.  A primary goal of distance education is to provide an environment in which learning occurs at the time, location, and pace of the individual learner.  Distance education provides an alternative delivery and ready access to educational offerings and necessary support services.

Distance Education includes students enrolling in:


Providers of Distance Education must offer a minimum set of core services which assist distance learners in identifying and achieving their education goals.


Technologies used for distance learning:

        Broadcast television
        Interactive video
        Computer networking
        Internet (www)


The following standards have been developed to address many of the categories as identified in the established Academic Advising CAS Standards.  These standards have been divided into three categories:   institutional standards, standards related to faculty as advisors and/or professional advisors, and standards that apply to students.


  1. Provide leadership and an organizational structure that integrates and coordinates activities that support distance learning for faculty, advisors and students.
  2. Truth in advertising:  Recruitment and admissions promotions must accurately represent the program and services available.
  3. The institution must be committed to the concept of distance education by providing on-going technical as well as financial support for a period sufficient to enable students to complete a degree or certificate.
  4. The institution has an obligation to work toward providing the same student services to distance learners as they do for students on campus plus any additional that are appropriate to support their learning.
  5. The institution’s environment for distance learners must strive to provide a sense of connection and community with the institution and with other distance learners.
  6. The institutional philosophy of a distance learning support services program must be to strive to respond to learner needs rather than the learner adjusting to an institution’s established organizational structure with the principal goal being to provide “individualized guidance” so learners may become more effective in dealing with concerns that influence their pursuit of personal learning goals at a distance and at the time and delivery mode preferred by the learner.
  7. Continuous evaluation & application of TQM principles:  It is an institutional responsibility to evaluate the program’s educational effectiveness, assess student learning outcomes, analyze student  retention and measure the level of student faculty satisfaction.
  8. Institute an orientation course, i.e. DL 101 “What it takes to be a distance learner.”
  9. Proper assessment must be conducted to ensure students have the required backgrounds, knowledge and technical skills needed to undertake the program.


  1.  A distance education program must provide for appropriate real time or delayed interaction between faculty, advisors and students, AND among students.
  2. The program provides faculty and advisors to support and assist students in making informed choices about career and academic goals; self assessment; decision making; and evaluation of academic career options.
  3. The program provides faculty and advisors with the support to orient students to the distance learning environment.
  4. The institution needs to provide an environment in which faculty as advisors, as well as professional advisors, can work toward achieving the following competencies needed to be an advisor of distance learners. (Thach and Murphy, 1995)
    1. Advising and counseling
      Planning and organization
      Interpersonal communications
      Presentation skills
      Learner needs assessment
      Learning style and theory
      Distance learning theory
      Customer support services
  5. Advise on the level that the student needs and wants. Multiple systems and/or policies may be required.


  1. The program provides workshops and/or training as required for students enrolled in courses/programs in the use of distance education technologies.
  2. The program provides access to the appropriate learning resources as required of distance learning students, i.e. basic skills, course tutorials, disability support, library, etc.
  3. In order for students to be able to function effectively and achieve academically, they need to be provided with accurate information on the assumptions about the technical competence and skill level required as well as the actual technical equipment requirements needed to participate.
  4. The program provides students with accurate and timely information and an internal distance learner network that connects all processes required of the distance learner providing them with one point of contact for:

  5.             Admissions
                Degree audit
                Course requirements
                Financial aid
                Costs and payment policies
                Nature of student/faculty interaction
NACADA Task Force on Distance Education, 1999