During the third week of classes, the Office of Academic Support asks all faculty to identify any student who is already at risk to fail the course. While this might seem early, some students are always judged to be in trouble. Sometimes this is due to low grades on the initial assignments, but usually it stems infrequent attendance, failure to submit required work, or other evidence of disengagement from the work involved in the course. Early warnings are an internal notation only; they do not appear on a student’s APR.
Once faculty have identified such students, the Coordinator of Academic Support contacts both the student and his or her advisor to encourage the student to work with the advisor and faculty to formulate a plan to get back on track. In all cases, but especially for those students with multiple early warnings, the Coordinator of Academic Support reaches out to all parties to understand just what is happening. Faculty play a key role here by identifying students who are struggling.
During the seventh week of classes, the Registrar's Office asks faculty to submit formal mid-semester grades for those students doing less than satisfactory work: those earning less than 2.0. These grade reports go to the students and their advisors through the APR (Academic Planning and Registration) system. Not all faculty assign mid-semester grades; some offer narrative assessments, which are handled in the same way as numerical grades. Mid-semester grades are voluntary, but providing students and advisors with this formal notification enables the identification of problems in the course and encourages response while a change may still be made.
Academic advisors are considered the primary resource for students who are struggling. Even so, the Office of Academic Advising Programs uses both early warnings and mid-semester grades to identify students in academic distress. Once that identification is made, we reach out to the student, working with the advisor, to the student’s coach, and to any other staff member who might have a connection with the struggling student. Our goal is to devise a plan to address the problem before it is too late.