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‘Early Alert System’ helps students succeed

Effective academic advising is critical to student success, especially in the first year. RIT has established the “Early Alert System” to identify first-year students who may be struggling with a particular class or area of study. This system ensures that they receive the intervention, direction and additional tutoring they need to get back on track.

Modeled after a program established at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, the system starts with a software module on the faculty/staff advising Web site. Instructors are able to notify a student online as to how he or she is performing in class. Performance evaluations are generated using predetermined categories of achievement and evaluation, as well as space for the instructor’s individual comments.

Evaluations are e-mailed directly to the student. Included with this evaluation is an “alert” notice that can be forwarded to the student and can be automatically copied to his or her First Year Enrichment coach, academic advisor or home department head. Through this alert notice, the student and these advisory parties are made aware of performance problems and have the opportunity to intercede to assist the student or provide direction.

Results from the Early Alert System have been very positive. Receiving the alert notice often provides enough motivation for students to begin actively seeking help and to begin focusing more time and energy on their course work. Many times, this extra study time is all that is needed to turn the student’s grades around.

In other cases, academic advisors put the student in contact with support services, such as RIT’s Learning Development Center, where their specific needs are assessed. They then are able to receive training in study skills and time management and to work with tutors to strengthen weak academic foundations. In a few cases, students have been accurately diagnosed with learning disabilities for the first time as a direct result of the Early Alert System and these students are then able to receive appropriate help and support.

With proper help and support, student success increases, both academically and in their life after RIT.