UW Oshkosh Early Alert
Early Alert is a process that provides students with an Early Grade Report from instructors. Early Grade Reports indicate if students have academic performance or attendance issues and provide specific steps they can take and resources available to help them improve. It is common for students to be unaware of or over-estimate their academic performance in classes. Early Alert helps raise students awareness early of their progress and provide strategies for academic success.
Purpose of Early Alert in the USP
Early Alert is part of our effort to further fuel students’ academic success by acculturating students to their higher education journeys; increasing their self-awareness and responsibility; and connecting them to resources as early as possible.
Participation of all USP Courses in Early Alert
Collaboratively, the USP teaching community decided that participation in Early Alert would be standard procedure for USP courses. All courses approved by the USP Faculty Senate Committee included information about Early Alert* and at least one assignment to be graded in the first four weeks of the semester so that the Early Alert grade can be derived.
Students’ Need for Early Alert
Generally, first year college students self-report that they expect to do well academically before the semester begins. In the first few weeks, many express surprise that there is “not much work to do for my classes.” It is common for first year students to experience this mis-perception because in many of their high school classes there was a lot to do, including near-daily homework or quizzes. Close or substantive reading [“studying”] may also not have been necessary in many high school classes or time may have been allotted during classes for that type of activity. The initial college load can appear light to students – “Only a few exams and a paper or presentation? Nothing due until mid-October? Well, then, I don’t need to study,” the first-year student may conclude. “Nothing is due.”
Early Alert Necessitates Early Graded Assignment(s) and Attendance Records
To assist first-year students, USP instructors are including include early assignments in our course design. These early assignments can help acculturate students to the value of reading and the ongoing critical analysis of texts and course materials that we call “studying.” As those who teach in the first year, we are teaching more than our subject matter. We teach habits of mind to our students. We cannot assume that all first-year students already know what is expected for their “out of class” academic work.
Students’ attendance in their USP courses in the first four weeks of the semester is another important indicator of their potential academic success and retention in college. USP instructors need to take attendance so that they are ready to provide that information for the Early Alert report. In addition, whenever possible, USP instructors should contact students who are not in class. Quest I instructors and peer mentors should call or email students who miss a class session to inquire about their well-being and reinforce the importance of being in class.
With the launch of the USP and our dedicated USP teaching community, we will be using this important practice of early graded assignments and early grade reports. Retention of our 1780 fall 2013 students is our utmost priority. Early Alert can make a difference.
Early Alert Process for USP Teaching Community
In the fifth week of class, you will be asked to provide grades for students and they will receive an email revealing their academic performance in each USP course. The email they receive will also include links to resources to assist them.
The primary reason instructors give for not participating is that they have not yet given (or graded) any assignments. This reality is the primary problem. If a first-year student is here for four weeks and has not yet had the expectation for a graded learning endeavor, that student is likely to assume that they are doing well and that they do not need to be “studying” (that, according to MAP-works survey data and other first-year student research). As a teaching community encountering students in their first year of college, the expectations we create teach them how to be college students. You can help by…
- Planning graded assignment(s) in the first three weeks (to allow yourself time to have them graded by the end of the fourth week)
- Telling students that the early assignment(s) will comprise their Early Alert grade
- Keeping attendance records and emphasize the importance of attending class through personal contact and reinforcing policies
- Mentioning the Early Alert grade report email in class during weeks four and five
- Conversing with students in class discussion and one-on-one if possible (Quest courses) about their Early Alert email report and the resources available to support their academic success
- Talking directly and regularly about the expectations for “out-of-class” preparation, studying, reading, and investment in learning
- Directly and regularly referencing academic resources (in your syllabus, on your course D2L page, during class time, etc.)
*Sample USP Syllabus Language
"After the third week of class, you will receive a grade for your overall progress in
this course and each of the courses you are taking in your first semester. This
process is called “Early Alert.” You will receive this information in an email during
the 5th week of classes. Early Alert is designed to help you evaluate your study skills
and your class attendance so that you know if you are on the right track. If you need
to make some changes, there are resources available to support your academic
success. These Early Alert grades are not permanent and will not appear on your
To read the first email your students will receive about Early Alert, please click here.