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What needs to change?

Currently when it comes to academic counselling there is no formal policy when it comes to doing the job of academic counsellor. Hanze CMD has job descriptions for the other functions, such as teacher, HSD (CMD Groningen, 2018), etc., but not for the academic counsellor. This might result in academic counsellors doing what they believe is best, which can result in students receiving different treatments and/or guidance. This could be one of the factors that causes different orientations of students in later years of their study. The differences that stand out amongst students in year 2 are the following:

  • There are big differences between classes in terms of how many students get through to year 2 (Table 1). The assumption is that this is largely based on the effectiveness of the academic counsellor.
  • Project coaches in year 1 and 2 have stated that there are big differences with how students react to receiving feedback. Some classes are extremely defensive, others don’t use it and others are open to it and some are even actively searching for it.
  • According to the CMD Study Desk, there are big differences between how future-oriented students are. Some have never thought about why they are even studying here, some want to work on the next world of warcraft (missing realism), some have vague ideas and others have set goals and ambitions for themselves.
GD Class1A1B1C1D1E1F1G1H1V
Through to year 2151112168118810
Percentage when looking at an average of 20 students per class75%55%60%80%40%55%40%40%50%  
Table 1 Study Success in year 1 Game Design per class in study year 2018/2019

Why does it need to change?

Every student is different

Besides their different cultural backgrounds and educational backgrounds, students also learn and look at their own development differently. There will always be diversity in students, but every student deserves the guidance to develop their talents, find their goals and ambitions in life and receive the guidance to get to where they want and need to go. According to the OOP (CMD Groningen, 2018) the goal of academic counselling is for each student to receive the right support whenever they need it. From this it can be stated that because each student is different, it is up to the academic counsellor to adjust to their students and make sure that they receive the support from them when the student needs it.

Hanze CMD’s Vision on Academic Counselling

“Academic counselling is designed to help students get a better grip on their own study process. Students learn to plan and reflect on their studies as well as their future profession and related competencies. Students learn to plan for future improvement, take decisions and applying focus to key issues. They are supported in this process from by academic counsellor.”

TER (CMD Groningen, 2019/2020)

The student and academic counsellor will reach agreements on the student’s academic goals and choices at the start of each year. Beyond contact moments scheduled by the programme, students can also always ask questions about their studies of their own accord. Students may also consult the academic counsellor in the event of personal problems or circumstances, such as long-term illness or family matters with the potential to negatively affect their progress. Crucially, students should discuss such matters at an early stage rather than wait, so that problems (such as a negative binding study advice) can be prevented (TER, CMD Groningen, 2019).

The academic counsellor may, depending on the nature of the problem, refer the student to the Dean. The contents of the academic counselling programme are described in Osiris and within the electronic learning environment. See the Student Charter (Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, 27-05-2019, p. Art. 3.16.4) “

But just stating a vision does not explain what an academic counsellor actually does, but this vision can be used to narrow down the job specifications and give academic counsellors more clarity.

A missing job description for academic counselling

Besides that the numbers, in table 1, show a big difference in study success, the main problem here is that there is no clarity on the role of the academic counsellor. Academic counsellors have raised questions in the past few years about what they are supposed to do and what knowledge they need to have. Without any information, how do they know what is expected of them? And how can the academic counsellor properly support the student when there is no baseline to start with?

So besides it needing to change to properly guide the student and reach the goal mentioned in the OOP (CMD Groningen, 2018), it also needs to change to create a baseline for the academic counsellor so that they know what their job entails.


Looking at the what and how, it can be concluded that the change should focus on clarifying and codifying what the academic counsellor is supposed to do to properly support the student.

Who are involved?

There are a multitude of stakeholders involved in this change. From the academic counsellors, to HSD’s, Study Desk CMD, team leaders, project coaches and the Dean of the institute. These stakeholders have been mapped by using the stakeholder mapping tool. The benefit of making a stakeholder map is that it gives insight in not only who are involved, but also where to find feedback/opinions/input, who to bring along and to plan your actions (MindTools, n.d.). Each of these stakeholders have been asked to take Caluwé’s colour test (Berns, 2016) in order to better understand how they look at change. Not all of them have filled this in. Those that have filled it in have been colour coded, according to Caluwé within the stakeholder map (figure 1).

Figure 1: stakeholdermap

The stakeholders have been mapped according to these 4 rulings. High or low interest and high or low influence. As you can see, the academic counsellor are high interest as it is important to them to receive clarity. Students are also on high interest as it is of importance for them to receive the right guidance. People with a high influence are our teamleader and ‘hogeschooldocent’.

How do they look at change?

In total there are 5 colours when it comes to change; yellow, blue, red, green and white (Vermaak & de Caluwé , 2019). Within the stakeholder map (figure 1) the main colour is the base colour of the stakeholder, the outline is the secondary colour when people had a close second coming out of the test. The main colour amongst stakeholders is white, followed by red (2), blue (1) and green (1).

Frank Willems (2012) has given a lecture on leadership and organisational change that showed models on how people view change based on the Caluwé colours. These have been used to further analyse the change (figure 2, 3 , 4 and 5).

Something changes when you:
define a clear result beforehand
formulate a step by step action plan
monitor progress and take corrective measures
foster stability and reduce complexity.
'Change = a rational process"
Result delineated and guaranteed in advance
Interventions for example:
project management
meeting procedures
time management
strategic analysis.
Safeguarding progress:
monitoring, benchmarking, ISO systems
Progress can be planned; a better world can
be - built
The - best - solution (tangible aspects of
To steamroller about people and their feelings
To ignore irrational and external factors
Change agent
Role expen who formulates and implements
plans if mandated to do so
Competencies for example:
analytical skills
planning and control
expertise crucial to the project content
presentation skills.
Focus: expertise and results
Figure 2 Blue print thinking
Something changes when you:
use the right incentives to motivate people
make it comfortable and interesting for people
award and punish people
exercise care and safeguard fairness.
'Change = a trading exercise"
Result outlined beforehand but not guaranteed
Interventions for example:
appraisal and remuneration
management of mobility and diversity
social gatherings
soap box.
Safeguarding progress:
HRM systems
The optimal fit between organizational goals
and individual goals
A solution that motivates people
(soft organizational aspects)
Sparing the rod, avoiding conflicts, ignonng
power struggles
Smothering brillance
Change agent
Role systems expert who occasionaly makes
suggestions with regard to the content
Competencies for example:
HRM methods
organizing proper communication
working in teams
exercising care
Focus: procedures and atmosphere
Figure 3 Red print thinking
Something changes when you:
make people aware of their incompetencies
people gain new insights and new skills
create settings for collective learning
change people.
'Changing = learning"
Result: envisaged beforehand, but not guaranteed
Interventions for example:
training, management development
open systems planning.
Safeguarding progress:
permanently learning organization
Learning organizations. with everybody, about
everything, always
A solution that helps people to develop
To ignore that not everybody IS willing or
capable of learning everything
Overabundance of safety and reflection, lack
of decisiveness
Change agent
Role facilitator who supports people
Competencies for example:
designing and facilitating learning situations
knowledge of organizational development
- feedback skills
empathy and creativity.
Focus: setting and communication
Figure 4 Green print thinking
Something changes when you:
tap people - s own will, desire and strength
remove obstacles to entrepeneurship and optimize
discern underlying patterns and make meaning
create new heroes and rituals.
'Changing = releasing energy/'
Result hard to predict (the road = the destination)
Interventions for example:
self steering teams
open space meeting
personal growth/empowerment
challenge sacredly held ideas and customs.
Safeguarding progress:
self steenng_
Spontaneous evolution
Self steering
Taoist "non-action"
- Insufficient insight into underlying forces and
Laisses faire, - self-steering - as an excuse
for management apathy
Change agent
Role personality who uses his being as
Competencies for example:
pattern recognition and creation of (new)
challenging the status quo
courage, and ability to deal with insecurity
authenticity and self-awareness.
Focus: patterns and persons.
Figure 5 White print thinking

According to these colours the following should be taken into account when wanting to incite change amongst this diverse group of stakeholders:

Blue thinkers

  • The solution should be clear
  • The solution should focus on the expertise
  • The solution should foster stability and reduce complexity

Red thinkers

  • The solution should be fair
  • The solution should be properly communicated
  • The solution should leave room for individual goals

Green thinkers

  • The solution should be beneficial to everyone involved
  • The solution should have a clear vision
  • The solution should be made with input/feedback from others

White thinkers

  • The solution should focus on peoples will and desire to learn (self-growth)
  • The solution should help people step up
  • The solution should recognize patterns and create new meaning


In short, this would mean that while the solution is being designed, input should be collected from the other stakeholders, feedback should be requested in the process of design and be taken into consideration when continuing the design of the solution. This solution should be made with the diversity of the academic counsellors in mind and have enough space for personal growth, entering individual goals while at the same time offering stability, clarity, fairness and decrease in complexity to the reader.

What caused this?

In the past few years, CMD has gone through many changes. Up until 2 years ago, academic counsellors were with the same class for the full 4 years (and sometimes more) of their study (CMD Groningen, 2018). This inadvertently increased costs, workload and a decrease in the quality of support for students. In 2019 the Study Desk was set up by Ellis Boom , the coordinator of the Study Desk and a white thinker. The Study Desk was designed to replace the academic counsellor from study year 2 and up and would entail a desk where students could drop by and make appointments for anything study-related, thus reducing costs, time and an increase in the quality of student support (CMD Groningen, 2019/2020). The Study Desk has seen a positive effect on the students which is still growing, but in turn, the academic counsellor lost track of their job requirements, leaving them to look for directions where there are none.

Which components are important here?

The stakeholders within this change process are most important and they are the ones that need to be taken into account to design a solution to the problem.

Stakeholder components

The Students

The students want to have an academic counsellor that supports them when they need it. A brief survey has been done via Discord to learn about the needs of students when it comes to academic counselling (Appendix A).

The Academic counsellors

The academic counsellors want to know what is expected of them. To have guidance in what is expected of them to do their job properly. They want to know what to do, when to do it and how to do it, but they don’t want to have a big manual to read. They want something short and simple that will help them do a good job (Appendix B).

The Study Desk

As the study desk is responsible for the academic counsellors, it is important for the study desk to know how the academic counsellors are doing, whether they help the students when they need it. The study desk would like to gain insights into the job of the academic counsellors, create guidance and have interventions to help them learn and grow within their jobs.


The HSD follows the Hanze guidelines when it comes to student support, it is important to them that each student is treated equally and receive the same treatment from the academic counsellor focussed on their success.

The team leaders

The team leaders want study success for the students, to have as many first-year students pass year 1 with their propedeutic diploma to decrease the chances of a study delay and decrease and/or prevent costs.

The Teachers

Although a smaller component, teachers who are not academic counsellors, might also see the need in academic counselling. A brief survey has been done via Discord to learn about the needs of colleagues when it comes to academic counsellors (Appendix C). It appears as though colleagues see the need for academic counsellors as well and would like to use their expertise to improve their learnings within a classroom as well as it being a low threshold way of learning more about students.


The planning department is a stakeholder due to them having to schedule classes, trainings etc for the academic counsellors. They do so based on approved hours by management and through communication with the course coordinators. It is important to timely communicate with them in order to get the right schedules out for the academic counsellors.

Content Components

The academic counselling classes

The academic counselling classes need to be designed for 2-hour classes per block, meaning 8 hours of content in total. These classes need to be accompanied by a lesson plan to create clarity for academic counsellors. Powerpoints need to be created that include notes to support the academic counsellor in their classes.

The individual talks

As of now, it is unclear what an academic counsellor is supposed to do during individual talks, how long they take, what the content it, when to plan them etcetera. Based on feedback that will be collected from both students and academic counsellors, a plan will be devised for these individual talks. The academic counsellors will receive content for each of these individual talks and information on how to plan these talks.

Study Success

To understand why the academic counsellor is there, the solution will contain information about the 4 features that are a part of academic counselling (Jansen, 2020; Vereniging Hogescholen, 2018). These 4 features will come back throughout the entire manual to show how the academic counsellor can increase study success for the student.

What is the end goal?

The goal of this change analysis is to create a solution to the problem, which is a lack of knowledge on the role of academic counsellor. Currently, there is no description/formal policy as well as a lack of accountability when it comes to being an academic counsellor. Changing policies isn’t done overnight, but it is possible to create clarity in the role for both the counsellor and the coordinators within the Study Desk.

What is the desired output

Based on the change analysis research the following solutions will be designed

  • Create a job description for the academic counsellors which includes the why, how and desired output.
  • Create a lesson plan with corresponding powerpoints for the lessons
  • A clear structure for academic counsellors to work with
  • Create a possibility for the Study Desk to use the job description for the wanted evaluations.

With what am I doing this?

The desired output needs to be developed and organised to come to fruition, several document types are needed for this.

Job Description

A job description will be developed in order for coaches to know what their role is about as this has been vague. Academic counsellors have coached on their gut in stead of didactics. With the recent changes into the HILL didactics for Hanze CMD it becomes important that the HILL Didactics are being brought into the job description. Giving academic counsellors the freedom to guide our students within the boundaries of the HILL didactics and connected to the job requirements by management and our OOP.


Academic counsellors want to have clarity on the structure of their work throughout the year. A year overview will be developed so academic counsellors know how many classes there are and what to expect of the academic counselling talks; when to schedule them and how long they should be.

Lesson Plan

Academic councelling is part individual talks (counselling) and part group work in the form of classes. These classes need to be designed, to properly design them a lessonplan is required. Through a lesson plan, the academic counsellors will receive an overview of the learning lines, student goals, teacher goals and expected content to teach.


The lessonplans will be accompanied by powerpoints for the entire year. This way all teachers will have the same topics, and a structure. Within these classes the teachers can choose some assignments to work with (discussions, smaller group work etc) to increase classbonding and collaborative learning.

When does this start?

As per September 2021, CMD GD will transfer into CMGT. It is important for both CMD and CMGT that they have a good start with Academic Counselling in the new school year, creating clarity for not just the academic counsellors, but also for the managers. The development should be done by June 2021 so it can be reviewd by academic counsellors and managers, before being put on blackboard. At the start of the schoolyear, blackboard should be filled with the required documents/powerpoints.

Who are involved

The stakeholders have been mentioned before. This paragraph will explain their role in the development and the flowchart in figure 2 explains the flow of the involvement.

The Students

The students have been giving input in their wants and needs. This input has been brought to academic counsellor meetings to see what needs to be implemented in both the job description and the classes.

The Academic counsellors

The academic counsellors, as said before, want clarity and structure in their job. The input from students has been taken to the academic counsellor meetings, and together with the AC’s a structure have been made.

The Study Desk

The structure made together with the academic counsellors has been brought to the StudyDesk to hear their expert opinion on the implementation of student wants and needs. After their feedback, changes have been made, these have been proposed to the academic counsellors and after final approval, the documents have been brought to the teamleaders, HSD and managers

The HSD + Team Leaders

The HSD and team leaders have their own stakes in the new structure for academic counsellors. The documents were sent to them and a meeting had been scheduled to discuss the findings. With their feedback the document has gone through a new iteration. The final document has gone back to the academic counsellors for presentation and has resulted in the final structure as part of the development document (table 1).

figure 2: flowchart of involvement in the development

The final Structure of academic counselling in year 1

BlockClass TopicsAmount of classesTime of classesIndividual talks
1Blackboard/Osiris Cultural Shock Building a community class (3 or 4) toolbox of classes with topics that might be good for the students and teachers can choose which ones are needed for their class.5 classes2 hour classesScheduled in the first 3-4 weeks to have introductory talks. 15 mins per student.
2Where to find feedback / grades on both BB and Osiris. How to do resits.  1 class2 hour classesScheduled after week 3 so that results are in.   Scheduled again after the Christmas break for the talks on continuing the study.   15 mins per student.  
3Honours programm1 class2 hour classesScheduled whenever   15 mins per student.
4Year 2 (resits, signing up on Osiris etc.)   Talk about portfolio and learning goals (looking back/looking forward)2 classes2 hour classesScheduled whenever   15 mins per student.
Table 1: The structure of academic counselling for study year 2021-2022


There weren’t many special wishes, the main wish from AC’s was about structure and clarity. The final wish was to receive more hours as some academic counsellors were struggling with the received tme.

Based on this concern, a discussion was started up with the academic counsellors. The amount of classes, have been structured in hours for the classes and preparation time. The individual talks have been calculated as 15 minutes per student per 30 students. Weve added a bit of extra time for students who have extra learning needs (as seen in table 2) . As of 2021-2022, the academic counsellors become responsible for informal learning moments, such as a trip to a gaming museum etc. For this hours were scheduled as well. They have been sent to teamleaders and approval has been given.

Hours per academic counsellor

Classes128 (4 classes)2 (1 class)2 (1 class)4 (2 classes)
Class prep 2222
Individual Talks 12161612
Informal Learning 2  2
AC Meetings 3333
Total hours per block1225232323
Table 2: the hours requested for academic counsellors per 2021-2-22

Another wish came from the academic cousnellors to receive training in cultural awareness and critical conversations with the BSA being removed from all studies in higher education.


It might sound optimistic but due to the procedure followed, little resistance is expected. The following table will take a look at possible resistances that could occur depending on the roles of stakeholders.

Academic counsellorAC’s are often very invested in the development of their students and want more time from management to guide their studentsThe hours have been discussed beforehand with the stakeholders mentioned before and have been approved. It is possible that AC’s still spend too much time on the students. It is important to discuss the progression of time spent during the bi-weekly AC meetings to possibly intervene before time spent gets out of hand. That way AC’s can help each other as a team or can find solutions together
 AC’s spend too much time but don’t discuss thisIt is possible that too much time is spent by AC’s. This becomes important during an evaluation process to find out WHY too much time has been spent, if this is a personal AC issue or an issue for all AC’s, in the latter we can apply for more time in the following studyyear. If it’s a problem for that specific AC we can organise an intervention with the AC’s to learn how to structure our time given better.
StudentsStudents often find it harder to go to class when it is not for a grade. This is very much a fixed mindset but could for a resistance when it comes to going to classes and learning and bonding as a classThe AC needs to show the students the urgency of the classes. Expectations are that the classes for the coming year are important for the students as they are based on their needs and thus they feel the urgency to go to classes. If It happens that students do not show up, the AC’s can discuss this during the bi-weekly meetings to come up with a plan for creating urgency with the students as a team. This way AC’s can also learn from each other and grow together.


A brief costs overview has been made, based on hours that are needed for the development

Job Description10 hours totalClarity for the Academic Counsellors in terms of what the academic counsellor is responsible for, what needs to get done, and tips for individual talks in the form of documentationAll academic counsellors will offer the same service to the students, there will be less differences between AC’s and students will enter year 2 at a similar level. Students who need extra help can receive extra help due to the new hours received
Lessonplan6 hours totalClarity for the Academic Counsellors in terms of classes in the form of documentationThe AC’s will receive a clear structure, meetings will become more concise and thus can be shorter because everything has been prepared beforehand.
Powerpoints6 hours totalClarity for the Academic Counsellors in terms of powerpoint slides that follow the lessonplanAC’s will have less preparation time, students will all receive the same information and support.
Bi-weekly meetings1 hour per 4 weeksBonding among AC’s, a studyprogramme for all students, which doesn’t depend on the AC.Clear structure, clear information for students. Clarity and structure help with increasing student autonomy (Stefanou et. Al. 2004)
Introductionweek80 hour prep for coordinator
+ 12 hours per ac during
Class bonding, bonding with AC. Creation of community, trust and positivityTrust, feeling of community and positive atmosphere are important  to increase learning impact (Dochy, 2018)
ICLL Training2 hours per 4 weeksBecause CMD GD and CMGT are international studies, it is important for Academic cousnellors to be culturally aware.AC’s who are culturally aware can better guide students in their individual learning process.
Critical Conversation training.2×2 hoursAC’s will become more aware of student progress, when to schedule these conversations and how to discuss the possible lack of progress of studentsIt becomes easier for AC’s to have an honest conversation with students on whether or not they are in the right study.

How to make it work

 Based on the change analysis, a procedure has been designed and iterated upon throughout the past year. The stakeholders have been taken into account. Anything crossed off the list has already been taken care off, open bullet points are in the works or planned. The deadline as said before is June/July 2021.  

  • Have a brainstorm session with the StudyDesk on the need for the job description.
  • Have a brainstorm session with the StudyDesk on what the role of academic counsellor entails.
  • Have a brainstorm session with the Academic counsellors to find out what they are missing
  • Research Hanze CMD rules and regulations for academic counselling
  • Write down what these rules and regulations mean
  • Collect information from students on what they need from their academic counsellor.
  • Check these with the HSD and request feedback
  • Use feedback to clarify the rules and regulations further
  • Request feedback from the Studydesk coordinator and HSD on contents of the job description.
  • Use feedback to further detail the document
  • Request feedback from the StudyDesk and team leaders
  • Use feedback to further clarify the job description
  • Request feedback from the academic counsellors
  • Compare feedback from academic counsellors to feedback of team leaders & study desk.
  • Finalise the document.
  • Communicate and explain the final document to academic counsellors.
  • Present the final document in the CMD newsletter to other teachers.
  • Request bi-weekly meetings for academic counsellors with a clear structure and agenda
  • Request extra hours for the coming study year -> approved
  • Request ICLL training for academic counsellors
  • Receive approval from managers based on availability, costs and hours
  • Request Critical Conversation training or intervision for academic counsellors
  • Receive approval from managers based on availability, costs and hours
  • If approved, schedule the training days for AC’s with planning.
  • Schedule an introductionweek kickoff to train AC’s with planning
  • Schedule a kickoff for academic counsellors for each block before the block starts.
  • Schedule evaluations near the end of the block to make time to evaluate hours, class content and student progress
  • Schedule bi-weekly meetings of 30mins for all academic counsellors.

This procedure is based on the stakeholder map, meaning stakeholders with high interest, medium to high influence first, followed by gathering feedback from the high interest, high influence people to high-interest low influence people. This was done to ensure the rules and regulations were followed and making sure that every stakeholder was a part of this design process. The remaining points all connect to the planning stakeholder to prepare for next years scheduling and external trainers for the proposed trainings.

The solution can be requested via email:


Berns, L. (2016, november 16). Kleurentest van De Caluwé. Opgehaald van

CMD Groningen. (2018). Onderwijskunding Opleidingsplan. Groningen: Hanze Hogeschool Groningen, Instituut voor Communicatie, Media & IT.

CMD Groningen. (2019/2020). Teaching and Examination Regulations (TER). Groningen: School of Communication, Media & IT. Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen (Hanze UAS).

Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen. (27-05-2019). Student Charter. Groningen: Hanze University of Applied Sciences.

Jansen, O. (2020). How does Academic Counseling contribute to the study succes of the students within Hanze CMD. Groningen: CMD.

MindTools. (sd). Stakeholder Analysis. Opgehaald van

SLO. (2019, Augustus 29). Leeromgeving. Opgehaald van

Vereniging Hogescholen. (2018). Evaluatieonderzoek studieloopbaanbegeleiding. .

Vermaak, H., & de Caluwé , L. (2019). Leren veranderen. Deventer: Vakmedianet.

Willems, F. (2012, May 25). Sourcing lecture 2 ITSM Leadership and organizational Change. Opgehaald van Slideshare:

Odette Jansen

Odette Jansen

Autism Coach | Teacher | Dungeon Delver