Early Alert Systems

A Faster Connection: Using Technology to Enhance Engagement between Faculty and Students
Randall Melton, Lake Michigan College

Lake Michigan College built an internal attendance system (Pig) which they have connected to their CRM system which includes this cycle: recruitment > advising > contact management > early warning > retention management. Faculty log into a web page, select their course, and uncheck all of the absent students. At LMC, they have until 12:00 pm the following day to enter attendance. There is also a button for faculty to use to cancel a class. First students get a “We Miss You” email which is caring and concerned. After three strikes, students receive the “Three Strikes Rule” email which is automatically generated and is more strongly worded. Students do respond to these automated emails, so it is very important when implementing an automated email system that  you are prepared for those responses.

The system allows LMC to run reports on student attendance. There is a clear pattern showing that students do not like to come to class on Fridays. Additionally, it is possible to see absentee and participation rates by department and subject.

Over the years, from Spring 2011 to Spring 2013 – absentee rates have gone from 21.2% to 13.6%. Although, it is not a requirement that all faculty participate in the attendance system.

It is important when implementing a mandatory attendance taking system that you consult with your financial aid director. There are rules around no shows, the last date of attendance, and the 14 day rule/institutional rules. On the plus side, there are potential benefits when using a mandatory attendance system.

One of the LMC employees used pig to monitor classes and look for patterns. He saw that there was a high number of absences in some specific early morning classes. After contacting the students, he determined that there was actually a transportation issue which was causing students to miss their morning classes. An intervention was put in place to use a college van to transport these at risk students to class.

LMC is open sourcing their attendance tool and will be putting it on Github under an Educational Community License. In the future, they will be adding mobile support and new UI. Other enhancements are needed and will be added, an open data warehouse and CRM / Workflows API. Further, there will be a consideration for open sourcing the CRM solution.

Q: How do you obtain accurate phone numbers on your students?

A: Once a term, when a student logs into the student portal, there is a pop-up which students have to update with their phone number and degree.

Q: Have you done any matching between attendance, regular or not, and the final grades of students?

A: No we have not. What we have talked about internally, is finding out where that hurdle is where if you miss x number of attendances, your change of succeeding is very low. Right now there is an ethical debate on using systems like Signals from Purdue to make these type of comparisons.

Promoting Student Success with Early Alert @ GRCC
Lynnae Selberg, Khalia Daniels, Eric Kunnen, Grand Rapids Community College

At GRCC, we recognized that we had an issue related to retention and student success. GRCC chose StarFish Early Alert as a tool to raise flags related to different concerns.

Foundation classes are targeted because the students at the most risk are typically in those courses.

Last semester, over 9600 flags were raised. Currently, there is only one person who monitors the flags that are raised, although the counselors are being tapped to help. There were over 30,000 visits from students to the Counseling and Career Department last year alone. If you are going to put a system like Early Alert in place, then be sure you have the resources to support it! If faculty raise flags and do not get a prompt response, they become disillusioned. The one staff who monitors the flags has a 48 hour turn around time and will contact the faculty member, the student, and then the other systems on campus to collaborate and help the student. There is a lot of hands on between the retention specialist and the student.

It’s more than just connecting with the student, but also staying in contact with them to help the student be successful. Faculty are encouraged to raise flags. (There is an attendance flag with follow-up and an attendance flag with no follow-up.)

In many cases, when a student just receives an automated email in response to a flag, it is enough to impact their behavior and get them back to class. The only flag which doesn’t have an automated email is the behavior flag.

There are ways to raise “kudos” flags, and in the future, GRCC is looking into implementing a positive flag as well.

Q: What are the objections that faculty have to using this system?

A: Some of the faculty feel that it is too time consuming, and they do not get prompt responses. The student is actually responded to first, and then they follow-up with the faculty member. The biggest complaint from faculty is that they want everything to be easy, and some feel like this is another way to baby the student.


3 thoughts on “Early Alert Systems

  1. Pingback: Weekly Reports – June 12 and June 19 | Distance Learning & Instructional Technologies

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