Advising as Literacy: A Cultural Capital Approach to Academic Advising in an Hispanic Serving Institution

Heather Ann Smith, University of Texas at El Paso


This dissertation examines academic advising through the lenses of cultural capital and sociocultural literacy. I reframe advising as a literacy practice that facilitates opportunities for students to access and acquire the navigational and cultural capital required to navigate the complex structures of higher education. I describe an advising as literacy model that was designed specifically for and has been implemented at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), a large, four-year, Research I Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) situated on the US-Mexico border, whose student demographic reflects the bi-national region from which UTEP draws the majority of its students. The advising as literacy model was designed to provide all UTEP students personalized, seamless advising through an integrated structure of support that facilitates the development of academic, financial and social literacies from admission through graduation. I explain preliminary results of this model based on the early participation and first term retention results, discuss the limitations of the advising as literacy project, including that no single advising model is appropriate for all institutions, and then discuss broader implications and for how to potentially adjust the model at other institutions. The findings in this dissertation emphasize the impact that an advising model can have when aligned with the values, mission, and culture of the institution and through a theoretical framework based on the characteristics of the student demographic, put into organic practice a holistic approach to facilitating the literacy students need to navigate higher education and persist to graduation.

Subject Area

Higher education|School counseling|Hispanic American studies

Recommended Citation

Smith, Heather Ann, "Advising as Literacy: A Cultural Capital Approach to Academic Advising in an Hispanic Serving Institution" (2019). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI13884331.