By Dominic Gwinn
from Roosevelt Torch
In an effort to aid students struggling with their courses, the university has overhauled its Early Alert system so that students in danger of failing courses have a chance to save their grades.
While aimed at freshman, the idea behind the Early Alert system is to help guide students at all grade levels, including those at the graduate level, through the rigors of academia by connecting them with faculty, staff and support programs.
“What we’re trying to do is just employ whatever means we can to get students to the support that they need,” said Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Linda Jones, who helped work with faculty and staff on building the new alert system.
According to Jones, many of the problems faced by newer students are resolved simply through letting them know about existing resources.
“They don’t know about the tutoring center or writing center,” said Jones. “If they’re not doing well in a class a lot of students just default to, ‘I’ll avoid it,’ ‘If they don’t see me it’s not a problem,’ ‘If I don’t think about it, it’s OK,’ That kind of thing.”
If an an instructor finds a student in danger of failing, explains Jones, their first step should be to address their concern with the student.
“They don’t need to send in an early alert to send them to the writing center or tutoring, but some conversation,” said Jones. “Even if it’s an email, that should precede the alert so that it’s not a surprise to the student. That’s off putting.”
If that fails, professors have the option of filing an Early Alert from within RU Access based on several criteria that range from academic performance, attendance, class participation, preparedness, comprehension, Midterm grades below a C, as several others. Professors then offer a best course of action for the student, such as seeking support at the Academic Success Center, Office of First Generation Student Support Services, the Writing, Center, or to make an appointment with their academic advisor. Instructors then their concerns in some detail, and a copy of the notification is sent to the student, their advisor, and the appropriate support service.
In a statement to the Torch, Student Information Systems Specialist Laura Kehoe explains that, “The intention is to give faculty a way to easily connect students with resources early enough in the term to help them be successful.”
While similar services are common at many universities, and Roosevelt has had an Early Alert system in the past, it has been rudimentary and unhelpful. Faculty attempting to aid students by filing Early Alerts found their their concerns often fell into a “blackhole”, according to Jones, due to the lack of connectivity between students, faculty and support staff.
This new system, while not perfect, does seeks to use existing school resources to establish a bridge for students in need. Because of Roosevelt’s ongoing budgetary constraints, Jones, Kehoe, and several other members of Roosevelt’s faculty and staff including Elizabeth Meadows, Associate Provost Megan Bernard, and Director of Undergraduate Academic Advising Alicia Butler, felt that something must be done to help address problems common in many first year students .
Students shouldn’t over react when they get this,” said Jones. “You’re getting an early alert because somebody cares about you. It doesn’t mean you’re flunking, it will offer you an out, it will give you some options, some ways to deal with things.