Early Alert can lead to student success

January 17, 2011 by  

Kwantlen Polytechnic University is raising the bar by providing more student success programs, such as the relatively new Early Alert program.

The first step in Early Alert is for an instructor to recognize that a student is having difficulty, which can range from poor attendance, to signs of distress and disruptive behaviour in class, underdeveloped study skills, or failing grades.

“It’s what we call an interventionist program, so we don’t leave it to chance for a student to get connected with services that can help them,” says Lyn Benn, Director for Student Development. “We’re one of the earlier institutions in Canada to put this program in.”

Early Alert began at Kwantlen in the fall 2009 semester, with roughly 60 student referrals. The program saw an increase in referrals, to over 250 in fall 2010.

There are two categories for students who are referred to Early Alert: successful contacts and unsuccessful contacts. A successful contact is a student who is contacted by the Early Alert Team. Not surprisingly, an unsuccessful contact is a student who can’t be reached.

Statistics for the fall 2010 semester show 47 per cent of successful student contacts resulted in passing grades, while 21 per cent withdrew from the course and 31 per cent failed the course. In comparison, the unsuccessful student contacts resulted in 53 per cent of those students failing the course, 24 per cent withdrawing, and only 22 per cent passing the course.

“The sooner students know how to get access to resources and the help they need, the better off they are,” says Benn.

Benn points out that there are cases where students don’t withdraw from a course, because they’re simply unaware of procedures.

“Sometimes [a student] hasn’t attended a course, because they’ve decided to drop it, but they didn’t know the rules and regulations for dropping. So instead of getting a W for withdrawal, they get an F.”

Benn also says that a lot of students don’t know the deal with the GPA (Grade Point Average), but they need a GPA over 2.0 to graduate.

“When you get an F, it really pulls your GPA down.”

Benn says that the main purpose of Early Alert is to maintain student retention and student persistence.

“We don’t want to lose students, because it’s an investment for everybody. We want students to be successful.”


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