Providing early feedback and resource connection to support course persistence.
The UMass Amherst Academic Alert initiative partners with instructors and advisors to connect undergraduate students with the resources needed to meet the rigors of college-level academic work and expectations. Through a coordinated referral network, students are guided toward resources that support mastery of course content and academic skill development.
Academic Alert programs are most effective when course progress feedback (such as attendance, homework, and/or quiz grades) is provided to the student within the first four to six weeks of the semester allowing for students to be intentionally connected to resources before a negative consequence is experienced, such as a low exam or midterm grade.
Priority #1: Connect undergraduate students experiencing academic difficulty with the resources needed to meet the rigors of college level academic work and expectations through a partnership with instructors and advisors.
Priority #2: Be a resource to instructors wanting to connect students in their courses with resources on campus.
Priority #3: Track and monitor students with early academic warning indicators to inform larger campus-wide student success needs and initiatives.
There are three main components of the UMass Amherst Academic Alert initiative—the referral, the alert, and the support.
1. The Referral. Instructors are asked to provide feedback through online student success technology regarding student progress in the course. Observed classroom behavior identifying academic concern for the student’s ability to persist in the course, such as course absences, low assignment or test grades, lack of participation, overall course performance, etc. is requested through the academic alert initiative. By issuing concerns based on observed behaviors, faculty/instructors are not asked to determine the student’s need, but rather to share their experience and observations.(Students are able to view referrals so that the feedback provided can be used to inform their next steps.)
2. The Alert. Referred students receive an automatically generated email, specific to the referral reason selected by the instructor, with resources and information about how to access them. The goals of this communication are to let the student know we are concerned about their progress in the course and to provide suggestions for next steps. Students are encouraged to reach out to their instructors to discuss their progress and advisor to discuss their academic plan. In addition, Student Success sends weekly lists of referred students to Academic Deans and/or advising leads in the schools/colleges for additional triage and follow up. Particular attention is paid to students with multiple referrals.
3. The Support. The information provided in the referral is reviewed by advisors and staff prior to an intentional conversation with the student where they discuss the student's performance in the course and provide connections to resources and strategies. Working with an advisor, students co-design an action plan for their success in the course. (Students are able to view referrals so that the feedback provided can be used to inform their next steps.)
As an institution, our shared strategy for an academic alert initiative provides us the opportunity to measure student outcomes and retention. By tracking and monitoring student progress and interactions with support units on campus in a shared student success technology, we will be able to identify trends and needs to inform future academic skill development and transitional support.
The UMass Academic Alert Initiative, Exec Summary Two Year (FA18 - SP20) is available for review.
Resources for Instructors
All emails regarding this initiative will be from firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, you are welcome to reach out to us with any questions.
The Academic Alert Initiative is a two-part approach creating pathways to connect undergraduate students with the resources needed to meet the rigors of college-level academic work and expectations.
- Refer students at any time who have come to your attention as a student who may not successfully complete the course.Student Success will send you reminder emails throughout the semester as well.
- Population specific referrals: Complete Course Progress Requests for target populations of students. Athletics Academic Success will email instructors progress report requests at key points in the semester. Course progress updates (both positive and needs-improvement) is requested.
Talking with your Students about Academic Alert
We recommend instructors consider including information about Academic Alert in their course syllabus as well as spend a few minutes in class talking about the initiative. Letting students know that you have partnered with Student Success and their academic advisors to support their academic success can be very beneficial in promoting resource utilization should they receive a referral from you during the semester.
- PowerPoint Slide to Share with Class
Syllabus Language (copy & paste text below)
Your success in this course is important. Your instructor has partnered with Student Success and your academic advisors to assist you in better understanding course material which can aid you on your path to success. Resources available to students include: Supplemental Instruction, ExSEL Group Tutoring, and 1:1 Tutoring. Visit the Learning Resource Center online at http://www.umass.edu/lrc.
Throughout the semester, your instructor will communicate with Student Success & academic advisors regarding your progress in the course. If you are contacted, please consider scheduling appointments such as tutoring or academic advising and talk with your professor. Referrals are not punitive and are meant to assist you in connecting with resources at UMass. Please email email@example.com if you have any questions or need assistance connecting with resources.
Resources for College Advising Offices & Advisors
Connect with Student Success to learn more about the resources available.
I would like to participate in the UMass Academic Alert initiative. What should I do?
Reach out to Student Success staff to get started with Academic Alert in your course. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I already do something similar for athletics. Is this different?
Yes and no. Athletics Academic Success and Student Success partner to implement the UMass Academic Alert initiative. Athletics Academic Success requests course progress information for all student-athletes at key points in the semester. Differing from 'anytime' Academic Alert referrals, Athletics requests information on all students—in other words, students doing well and students struggling.
Do I have to fill out information for every student in my class?
Through our 'anytime' Academic Alert referrals, we are most interested in knowing which students are experiencing difficulty in your course. It is desired that requests on course progress feedback from Athletics Academic Success provide feedback on all students listed.
I already do something similar to this in my course. Do I need to join the UMass Academic Alert initiative?
Please do! By participating in the Academic Alert initiative, you will connect with advisors who also play a key role in helping students achieve success and timely degree completion, and you'll join a network of instructors campus-wide addressing academic progress. Email us at email@example.com.