“I have used the Early Alert system several times and cannot recommend it highly enough. The students I have referred have all benefitted greatly, in large part because they are introduced to a wide range of support services that they were not aware of previously. Or if they were, they didn't know where to go, who to talk to, etc. As a result of Early Alert referrals, I've had students withdraw from a class, see a BA advisor, dramatically improve their writing, and get counselling. And I have seen the great relief they experience from being offered help. It is a relief for instructors too, to be able to refer students to people who have the expertise in assisting with everything from poor study habits to personal problems.”(Faculty Member – Arts)
“Prior to the Early Alert program, upon recognizing that students were struggling, I recall having experienced some difficulties in connecting them with the variety of support services afforded them at this institution. Although I felt comfortable discussing some of the opportunities that were available, the conversations went one of two ways: either declining the suggestions provided for fear that it would affect their marks, or agreeing, yet worried that the information they shared would somehow get back to those who disseminated their grades. Either way, I often wondered if students had in fact accessed support, or if they had conceded to sorting things out on their own. The inception of the Early Alert program changed this for me as a faculty member in that, with the ease of access afforded faculty members in submitting an Early Alert request, and the anonymity afforded students in the consultation process, I have experienced very positive results with student outcomes. Further, by introducing students to the Early Alert Program at the onset of the semester, I found that issues (academic or behavioural) can be addressed more easily with students, and they are more receptive to seeking support. Since its inception, I have witnessed several positive outcomes, which based on students’ testimonials, have occurred as a result of accessing student support services. For me, the Early Alert program has been integral to providing support for both faculty members and students alike.”(Faculty Member – Faculty of Health)
Early Alert Procedure:
If the student is not coming to class, not handing in assignments on time, not participating in group work or doing poorly on assignments then the Student Services team can be notified.
Once an instructor checks-off his or her concerns, the Early Alert Program will generate an email which will be received by the Student Services team. This team consists of members from Counseling, Educational Advising, Student Awards and Financial Assistance and The Learning Centres.
The team then identifies resources that can assist that student. Whether that means finding a tutor to provide extra support or suggesting a learning strategies workshop or visiting Student Awards and Financial Assistance.
This information is then sent to the student via email or, where appropriate, the student is contacted by phone. The student is also encouraged to meet with the instructor to discuss their concerns.
Early Alert -- Persistence and Success
- The Typical student at KPU studies part time (nine credits), lives at home, is a first-generation post-secondary attendee, is aged 19-21, attends directly after completing high school, and works outside of university 11-25 hours per week.
- Students who are receptive to assistance offered by the Early Alert team were more likely to pass their course, much less likely to fail, and were able to make more informed decisions about withdrawal.
- Students who were receptive to being contacted by the Early Alert team are much more likely to persist with subsequent semesters of study.
The most common types of referrals that we see are:
- Missed more than one assignment
- Underdeveloped study skills
- Regularly absent or late to class
- Appears to be distressed
- Has disclosed personal problems (e.g. family conflict, relationship issues, financial stress etc.)
- Flat affect
- Exaggerated emotional response that is obviously inappropriate to the situation
- Acts that appear to be motivated by hatred or discrimination
- Sending inappropriate/disturbing emails/communication
How to Familiarize Your Students with Early Alert
One question that has been raised by some faculty is how to familiarize students with the Early Alert program. Our suggestion is to include a brief introduction within the confines of the course syllabus. This would not only serve as a tool for the instructor, but would further student engagement and understanding of the process.
Included below is an example of what you may want to include. This is a variation on what many schools across North America have included in their syllabi.
Early Alert System
During the course of the semester, if I am concerned about your progress, I may use the Early Alert Response System (EARS) to connect you with student services who will work with you to find additional resources or supports that may increase your chances of success. Such assistance may include putting you in touch with am academic advisor, a tutor, financial aid, a counsellor or another faculty member. Please be advised that this information is treated confidentially and is sent because I care about your progress and success in this course. For more information, check the website - kpu.ca/earlyalert