In 2013-14, NWTC implemented and scaled up our Starfish Early Alert System, and in 2014-15, we focused on making sure that all full-time and part-time faculty were using the system in all credit-bearing classes, as well as developing a robust infrastructure to respond to the 42,485 tracking items created this academic year. As the intervention is now scaled college-wide, we are hoping to address improving timely feedback to students about their progress in classes, how we share information across campus to build a student success network, and strategically identifying and targeting students at risk of failing classes. In the past year, we met our goal of early feedback with more than 84% of the feedback sent to students before the 8th week of a 15-week semester. Information sharing between faculty and support services has dramatically increased as staff continue to document student appointments and outcomes in the early alert system. Faculty and staff have access to the same student information and can share the same holistic message during student interactions. Cohorting at-risk populations was a particular focus in the second year of using our early alert system. We started 2014-15 with cohorts for academically struggling students and quickly expanded to create cohorts based on the following identifiers: race/ethnicity, international status, and special grant populations. Staff use the cohorts to narrow down and triage the flags and kudos for students who fall into these at-risk cohorts.
Other intervention elements and activities include documented referrals to services and creating success plans for struggling students. Faculty and staff can refer students to services through the early alert system, and the referring service receives a note to follow up with the student. Academic Coaching, Counseling, Academic Advising, and Accommodations (Disability Services) saw an increase in student traffic due to the referrals. Faculty and staff created 3 success plans in the early alert system to document a specific “to do” list for students who were struggling academically and/or needed to meet with faculty to stay engaged in their first semester in college. At the end of 2014-15, 73% of faculty said the early alert system meets or exceeds their expectations, and students agree that they appreciate getting flags and kudos messages (73% and 89% respectively) and put more effort into class as a result of flags and kudos messages (61% and 63% respectively).
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