Leadership, development, and organization of an advisor/advisee program: A comparative case study of two middle schools

Phyllis Ekeland Dale, Fordham University


The middle school is organized to educate young people ages 10 to 14 years, focusing on the student as individual learner, providing opportunities for personal development, positive interrelationships, and self-realization. Research suggests that middle schools should be small nurturing communities. Advisor/Advisee programs assign students in groups to an interested staff member thus assisting these students in developing self-understanding, a positive self-esteem, meaningful relationships, and skills for effective decision making. This study examined the vision, design, and implementation of Advisor/Advisee programs, the role of the principal's and teachers' leadership, and students' perception of the programs. The study analyzed the Advisor/Advisee programs at two suburban middle schools, addressing four questions: (a) How do principals and teachers provide leadership for the program? (b) What is the student perspective of the program? (c) What is the role of staff development? (d) How does the program's organization (by single or mixed grade level) affect the process and outcomes of the program? A 2 x 6 case study research design encompassed six variables, including leadership, staff development, the A/A program, relationships, obstacles, and outcomes. Data collection methods included observations, interviews, and examination of documents. The results indicate the importance of leadership in setting goals and program priorities. The commitment of the principal is critical in engaging the staff in planning, implementing, and maintaining the Advisor/Advisee program. In one of the case study schools, the principal involved the staff in planning with great success but in the other school the principal imposed the program, with less positive results. Staff development is important so teachers can learn to be advisors. The allotment of time was an important variable. Advisor/Advisee programs are valuable for students, teachers, and administrators to develop meaningful relationships, and a sense of family. An effective program provides young adolescents with the opportunities to discuss personal, academic, and social problems specific to their age.

Subject Area

School administration|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Dale, Phyllis Ekeland, "Leadership, development, and organization of an advisor/advisee program: A comparative case study of two middle schools" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9412132.