How to boost the effectiveness of early alert systems to prevent first term attrition

Expert Insight

How to boost the effectiveness of early alert systems to prevent first term attrition

Early alert systems are crucial to improving student success. And while many community colleges have adopted some form of early alert system, faculty rarely take full advantage of the tool even though they generally want to help with advising efforts. Only 37% of full-time and 28% of part-time faculty members report submitting alerts; the majority of faculty do not submit alerts at all.

Why the low faculty participation? One problem is that faculty often misunderstand their role in the early alert process. Some faculty report only academic issues because they may not be aware that they can use the system to notify advisors about non-academic problems. They also worry that notifying a student’s advisor may violate the confidential faculty-student relationship.

Additionally, faculty report that early alert systems are not user friendly. They represent an additional time commitment, and many faculty members don’t know how to use the systems. Better system design and usability can help remove barriers to greater faculty involvement.

Better user experience can lead to better participation

Intentional design of both the technical and non-technical elements of the early alert system can encourage faculty adoption. The tool should be easy to use and only take a moment to send an alert, without requiring major decisions by the faculty member.

Initial training is important for adoption, but more support is needed for wide-scale adoption. Targeted training for faculty in high-risk courses, bonuses and recognition, and feedback on student outcomes have boosted adoption at community colleges with successful early alert systems.

How to evaluate your alert system

To make the most out of your early alert system, use the Early Alert Checklist. The Checklist incorporates the best practices of many of your community college peers, and is part of our study Getting to the Next Phase in Student Success.

Early Alert Checklist

Download this tool, along with the rest of the toolkit and best practices, to help you better diagnose the challenges of your early alert system and promote timely and purposeful faculty intervention. Download the full study and toolkit

Interested in this topic? Read the full study

In order for community colleges to meet ambitious completion goals, faculty must play a large role in student success efforts—but first, college leaders need to ensure that faculty understand their role and are engaged. Explore our new study Getting to the Next Phase in Student Success to discover the three critical aspects of faculty engagement: making strategic goals meaningful for frontline faculty, increasing faculty participation in mitigating student risk, and elevating committee and task force performance. Download the full study

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