New program replaces Early Alert System

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Students can now receive detailed feedback from their instructors and advisers without even getting in touch with them. Now, they can just log on to SuccessNET.

SuccessNET is a new online academic progress reporting tool the University is using as a replacement to the former early alert system, said Cynthia Roberts, assistant director for retention.

The system, powered by Starfish Retention Solutions, is not meant for instructors to use to record letter grades, but so they can report concerns about students or congratulate them on good work, Roberts said.

“It connects campus in a way that hasn’t been done before,” she said. “It’s so students have that online web of support.”

The site became available Aug. 20. Graduate student and teaching assistant in the Math Department, Mark Brauen, used it the first day it was available.

“It is a great way for students and instructors to communicate, or for teachers to communicate with students’ advisers,” Braun said.

Brauen used the flagging tool Monday, which teachers can use to indicate to the student and their adviser that something is wrong.

Instructors can choose from about eight reasons for why a student is being flagged, Brauen said.

Once the student is flagged by an instructor, the student receives an email and the adviser is notified, Roberts said. Instructors can put notes in with a flag to explain the reason and they can also choose to refer students to the Learning Commons.

After being flagged, the student is contacted by an adviser, faculty or staff member. Each party involved is notified it has been resolved, she said.

“It closes the loop. [With the] former early alert system, faculty who raised an alert never knew what happened. There was previously no circling back and communication,” Roberts said.

Without SuccessNET, Brauen said he probably wouldn’t have gone to the adviser.

“I don’t think I would have gone to the adviser. I would have encouraged the student to take action,” Brauen said. “But I probably wouldn’t have done anything else. SuccessNet helped clear up this issue.”

Before SuccessNET, there was a tendency to submit feedback and never hear anything after that, said Dermot Forde, director in the Office of Advising Services.

“This allows us to complete the circle,” Forde said.

Instructors can also be constructive with SuccessNET by giving “kudos” to their students, which includes positive feedback, such as compliments or encouragement, Brauen said.

“SuccessNet helps [instructors] show we care,” Brauen said. “Before the instructor or professor would have to go out of their way to let [students] know.”

Tabitha Timbrook, a senior who has used the system, thinks it is a great opportunity for students to connect with their instructors.

“Students deserve to get recognition when they’re doing well,” Timbrook said. “It’ll help strengthen that relationship between faculty, staff and students. It’s an amazing tool and a step in the right direction.”

Roberts said the University looked at several systems before deciding on SuccessNET, which was chosen for it’s tracking features and user-friendliness.

“This connects campus so it feels smaller to students,” Roberts said.

The University decided about a year ago to replace the previous early alert system because of retention, Roberts said.

“[There was an] awareness that the early alert system wasn’t providing all that we needed it to provide,” she said. “We want to identify students who are at risk as early as possible.”

Forde believes it is important to communicate with students about their academic success.

“Feedback early and often has been proven to help retention,” Forde said. “If [students are] missing class in the first two weeks and we’re not addressing that, [they could] leave.”

The goal for the new system is for students to receive the help they need as soon as possible and that they are attending to their academics, Roberts said.

“We are very pleased with the number of students, advisers and faculty [who are using it],” she said.

Forde thinks SuccessNET has a lot of potential.

“Students know right away and they know on a consistent basis [where they stand],” Forde said. “They know early on if there’s some concern.”

Roberts envisions students being able to log on and see their status academically and stay on track.

“I think everyone wants to be successful, everyone wants to know where they stand,” she said.