Providing early feedback and resource connection to support course persistence.
The UMass Amherst Early 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.
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.
Early 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.
There are three main components of the UMass Amherst Early 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 early 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.
2. The Alert. Students with concerning progress reports are contacted by their college’s academic dean's office. 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.
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 codesign an action plan for their success in the course.
As an institution, our shared strategy for an early 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.
Resources for Instructors
Syllabus language: Copy & Paste the text below into your syllabus
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.
- PowerPoint slide to share with course. Talking with your students about Early Alert for a few minutes at the beginning of the semester is always a good idea. Let them know you’ve partnered with Student Success and academic advisors to provide connection to resources on campus.
- Video tutorials for submitting referrals (coming soon)
- Directions: Submitting Referrals at any time - 1-Page Quick Guide (PDF) or Video Tutorial
- Directions: Submitting Referrals through a unique emailed link to course roster - 1-Page Quick Guide (PDF) or Video Tutorial
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 Early Alert initiative. What should I do?
Reach out to Student Success to get started with an early 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 also requests course progress information through our student success system for all student-athletes at key points in the semester. Differing from the early alert initiative, athletics request information on all students—in other words, students doing well and students struggling. As we continue to grow our early alert initiative, we hope to one day have a single student progress request process.
Do I have to fill out information for every student in my class?
No, through our Early Alert initiative we are most interested in knowing which students are experiencing difficulty in your course. Course progress information for students doing well is not needed.
I already do something similar to this in my course. Do I need to join the UMass Early Alert initiative?
Please do! By participating in the Early 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.