Examples of Curious Questions

In my last posting, I talked about using curious questions with students to help them discover their goals.  Here is a list of curious questions you might try asking:


Curious Questions



  • What concerns you most about…?
  • What could you do right now that might help you get unstuck?
  • What’s most important to you about this right now?
  • What would you like help thinking through?
  • How is this affecting you?
  • What is really important to you in this situation?
  • How is this working out?
  • What might that mean to you?
  • What else would you like to tell me about it?
  • What have you tried so far?
  • How can you find out more about it?
  • What is important to you about this goal?
  • What do you think is best?
  • Where do you go from here?
  • What’s most important to you about this right now?





  • What could you do to improve the situation even a little?
  • What is really important to you in this situation?
  • What is important to you about this goal?
  • What’s humorous about the situation?
  • What might that mean for you?
  • What are your thoughts about how to manage the situation?
  • What other ideas do you have about it?
  • What are your next steps?
  • What are some other options?
  • If you had your choice, what would you do?
  • Who else on campus could you talk with about this?
  • What do you want?

Developing a Different Mindset

Recently I participated in a workshop given by three coaches from Landmark College.  The title was Using Non-Directive Techniques to Empower Students.  The coaching model used at Landmark and in schools and colleges, in general, is based upon the premise that we are all creative, resourceful, and whole.  From this, the job of the coach/advisor is to help the student identify and achieve goals based on knowing and valuing oneself.

As I think about the idea that students are creative, resourceful, and whole, I realize how often, in my work, I don’t fully operate from this belief.  I don’t think I’m alone in this.  In meetings, my colleagues and I find ourselves complaining about what the students don’t seem to possess in the way of both academic and non-academic skills.  From this “deficit” viewpoint, it’s hard to trust that students really are resourceful, creative, and whole and that they have the ability to direct themselves towards their goals.  Continue reading

Advising: It Takes a Village



I just came back from a wonderful conference on college advising at Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield, MA.  The keynote speaker, Susan Koll, who serves  on the Board of Directors for the national Academic Advising Assocition is very   passionate about her work with students.  This came across clearly in her keynote address in which stressed that advising is a collaborative effort.  Good advising takes the whole college working together to support the success of its students.


So often this doesn’t happen.  Various parts of our colleges can work in their own silo, never reaching out to collaborate on behalf of the student.  This can happen between academic departments as well as between student affairs and academic affairs.  Students don’t make that distinction.  What they really need and want is to have one reliable “go to” person who recognizes that while accurate academic advising is critical, a student’s needs go beyond that.  An effective advisor knows this.   While this doesn’t imply that  advisors  have  to be an expert in every area of student development, they do need to have strong ties with other parts of the college to make referrals.


Students don’t segment their lives into pieces.  When they come to college, they bring all parts of themselves as a package.  Our job is to support all these pieces in the name of academic success and that takes “a village”.

What is Developmental Advising?

Margaret King, a founder of National Academic Advising Association, defines developmental advising as both a process and an orientation. It reflects the idea of movement and progression. It goes beyond simply giving information or signing a form.

For the full article read: http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/clearinghouse/advisingissues/dev_adv.htm

In essence all students are “developmental” in that they are constantly “developing” skills that help them achieve their academic, personal, and career goals. For most students, the first year is a time when even more attention is required to help students transition successfully.

Recognizing this, a group of faculty and staff at BCC created a center specifically designed to meet the needs of incoming students especially those who test into two or more developmental courses.

The overall mission of the center named “GetREAL” (GetResources in Education, Advising, and Learning) is to build a relationship between advisor and student that, as it develops, encourages student independence as they achieve educational, career, and personal goals through the use of a broad range of college resources.

The center opened this past September. Currently there are 12 advisors, some professional staff, some adjunct faculty who are advising roughly 60 students in everything from what classes to take to setting career goals. It is truly an approach the focuses on the whole student.

Look for updates as the year moves on.