Academic advising has been part of institutions of higher education in the United States since the early 19th century. With the rise of incoming students each year and the wide range of majors and programs colleges offer, advisors are necessary to help guide students through their academic careers. This paper presents a qualitative study on how advisors intentionally create a space that encourages communication and collaboration within an advisor-advisee relationship. The theoretical framework used in this study is Social Penetration Theory, which suggests that facilitating self-disclosure will also support relationship development. For this research, academic advisors working at two different universities were selected through e-mail recruitment and snowball sampling. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, and transcripts of the interviews were analyzed using In Vivo coding. Six themes involving office décor emerged from the analysis: use of lighting, school paraphernalia, wall decorations, desk décor, plants, and arrangement of furniture. Overall, the data suggests that academic advisors intentionally use office décor to create a space that feels welcoming to students, in order to encourage conversation and facilitate a process of self-disclosure that can support advising goals.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Faculty advisors--Homes and haunts--Public opinion; Office decoration--Psychological aspects; College students--Attitudes

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Communication and Media Technologies (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Communication (CLA)


Claudia Bucciferro

Advisor/Committee Member

Katrina Overby

Advisor/Committee Member

Eun Sook Kwon


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes