A Mixed Methods Study of the Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Academic Advisor’s Influence on Student Engagement and Persistence

Maria Nora Manz, University of Pennsylvania


Student retention takes a national spotlight as institutions of higher education seek ways in which to help students persist. Research has touted academic advising as the cornerstone of student retention, which provides students with an opportunity to meet with an advising professional that can guide them through an individualized academic journey. This is particularly important at community colleges, where over 6.5 million students begin their academic journey. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the essential interpersonal skills that academic advisors must possess in order to assist students through this journey. As a result, this study looked at the emotional and social intelligence competencies of academic advisors at one community college utilizing the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI). To assess whether an academic advisor’s emotional intelligence improved student engagement and persistence, this mixed methods study analyzed quantitative data from the ESCI against student grade point average, number of visits students made to their advisor, and student enrollment into the subsequent academic semester. Qualitative data from student interviews was analyzed using a thematic analysis. The major findings identified that: (a) students expect academic advisors to have mastered the essential competencies of advising which include knowledge about majors and programmatic requirements, knowledge about registration and the use of technology, and knowledge about institutional resources; (b) students want an individualized approach taken during their academic advising sessions, open communication, respect, and compassion exhibited by the academic advisor, in addition to an opportunity to build a lasting rapport with the advisor. The last finding (c) identified no significant correlation between the different dimensions of emotional intelligence as rated on the ESCI and student engagement and persistence. This research has implications for improving academic advisor training, increasing professional development opportunities for community college advisors, and revamping the advising structures at community colleges.

Subject Area

Higher education|Educational psychology|Educational administration|School counseling|Community college education

Recommended Citation

Manz, Maria Nora, "A Mixed Methods Study of the Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Academic Advisor’s Influence on Student Engagement and Persistence" (2020). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI28023307.