Help Students Stay On Their Path
- Systems/procedures to identify students at risk and provide needed supports
Implementing Holistic Student Support: A Practitioner’s Guide to Key Structures and Processes (posted 4/5/2018)
This three-part framework outlines key features of holistic student support at community colleges and broad-access four-year colleges. (Community College Research Center and MDRC)
PRACTITIONER, PRESIDENT, AND PARTNER PERSPECTIVES
Dale Hayes, Director of Advising Services, Indian River State College, Pathways College (posted 4/5/2018)
We’ve just unveiled this week a new tool that will show the advisors from week zero students who are at risk of not being successful in a course so that they can be more proactive in pushing these resources and supports to the student and not have to wait for a faculty member to identify that a student might be experiencing those challenges. The advisors will now be able to view their caseload in terms of what — which of my students are doing well, which of my students are kind of taking a downward or upward trend, and which ones are really in trouble and finding out from the first week, the ones who are most at risk. Starting to build that relationship, kind of the 80/20 — you spend 80 percent of your time working on 20 percent of the students, but now we’ll know earlier which 20 percent to really focus on, and I think that’s gonna be a huge game changer for us.
Tina Hart, Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services, Indian River State College, Pathways College (posted 4/5/2018)
There are certain things set up in our systems that the advisors use that send them alerts that help them to know. We use data in a very big way with the advisors. We have a retention by advisor weekly report that the advisors monitor. I get a copy of it, their supervisor gets a copy of it, and it monitors retention by advisor for those cohorts in their caseload when it comes to registering for the next term. So they can be monitoring, did the student re-register yet? If not, they’re going to be reaching out to them.
We also have and this is, this is also when students stop out they just disappear. We have five employees that are called completion coaches. Their job all day is on the phone calling cohorts of students that have disappeared to find out why. And they also have been equipped to offer completion scholarships. If they have six credits or less before they were due to graduate and they walked away, we have a scholarship for you. And there’s a couple of criteria, and I was just looking at the completion rates for those students that were, walked away when they were so close to finishing, so something happened, maybe they pushed math off till the end and then failed math and gave up, but they get them back, offer them a scholarship and the academic support resources so that they don’t risk having the same failure, you know, even though they got the scholarship but if they, if they want to be, they’ve got to be successful. And those rates are very high, it’s like 85 percent completion rate for those students that we brought back that had disappeared. We called them. We went after them. So that’s also been very positive.
Jeff Rafn, President, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Pathways College (posted 4/5/2018)
We try to find out what our students need before they come to us. In fact, a lot of students won’t come to you for help, or if they do, by the time they come it’s almost too late to do anything, you know. And I think that’s normal. I think a lot of people want to believe that they can do it on their own and somehow if they don’t do it on their own that that’s an admission of weakness or that they’re not smart.
And I think first off we start to talk to students right from the very beginning about seeking help and asking questions is all part of the learning process. And you know, we often compare it to the fact that Aaron Rodgers has a coach, and you know, he is a star quarterback, and of course in Green Bay he’s venerated as you would expect. So we want to make sure that students understand that.
We actually gather information before a student even starts their program, about some of the concerns that the student may or may not have or some of the things that the student is working through that they may not even think will be a problem, but would be for us. So, you know, we might have a student that says, “Well, I’m working 40 hours a week. I’m going to be taking this course, and you know, I want to be a nurse.” And we will sit down with him and say, you know, “When you get into those clinical rotations it is almost impossible to work 40 hours a week and then also do those clinical rotations. So let’s talk about how you will get yourself prepared for that and what we can do.”
Or it’s not uncommon for students to tell us, you know, “I suffer from depression.” Or, you know, “I’m really anxious about this. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do it.” So we will reach out to those students before they even start classes and have some conversation and get them connected with other folks at the college.
Once they are in the program, we have in the — we call it the first four weeks but within those first four weeks, we will be — between the faculty and advisors — be watching what’s happening with that student and making sure that student is engaged, and we will use a product called Starfish, it’s our early alert system. And that early alert system then — through that in the first four weeks we will let the faculty do this, the faculty will let the advisors know, “Hey, you know, Joe hasn’t showed up for 50 percent of the classes. I don’t know what’s going on.” Or you know, “I have noticed that Joe has taken his first test, and you know, he failed that first test.” And we will then reach out to that individual. The advisor literally will call that individual or make contact with them, encourage them to come in and to work with them well before, you know, the student says, you know, “I failed the first test, but I’ll pass the next one.” And we also — we’ll send that information to our academic coaches and our instructors that are doing supplemental instructions, and they will also make a reach out to those students.
And we’ve set goals for ourselves that, you know, initially the idea was, “Well we’ve tried to contact X number of people, you know. If we didn’t contact them, well at least we tried.” Now, our goals are, “No, we want a one-on-one conversation to occur, ideally face to face.” If that doesn’t happen at least by voice, and so that has caused us to look for good texting solutions because our students don’t read email that much. If you have a kid, you probably know the best way in which to communicate with them these days is to text, and that’s the way it is with my sons. So, we — you know, we are routinely texting these students, and we get a more immediate response with the texting. So we’ll continue to do those kinds of things.
The instructors are pretty well knowledgeable. They pay attention to everybody. If they see you’re having problems with the class, they’ll flag it, and they’ll refer you to the counseling center. We have a counseling center. We have several people that can counsel you, or advise you. Help you out, and if you have any problems at home, at school, work, play, you know. Different stuff. They have been very, very helpful as far as in my case. I’ve used the counselors. Sit and talk about different things and how your life is going. How your classes are going. If you had problems, they’ll work ’em — help you work through ’em to get you back on track for your classes. The instructors are told behind closed doors that everything is getting better. You can go back and continue on with your schoolwork. It’s helpful.
If we’re not making progress, or we’re failing or not showing up, we get — we have something called Starfish. We get notifications in there. We get a flag. You also get Kudos. If you’re doing well, they tell you good job.
My College 101 instructor, she noticed I was doing so well in the course. Getting stuff turned in on time. She said, “Yeah, good job!” Then for my continuous improvement course, I didn’t turn in an assignment. I turned it in late. I said I’d have it in to him by the deadline the next day. He said, “Well, I’ll take the flag off. You’re all good.” Then for my college chem class, my instructor, she noticed I didn’t do so well. She gave me a reference to academic coaching. She said that you could use some help with chemistry. I’ve been going to chemistry. Ever since then, it’s just I know it. I’m getting it. I’m getting everything down that I need to know. I feel like I should do well in chemistry from here on out because she — all because she sent me that one message. In that email on Starfish. She just knew that I could use some help, and I’ve been doing that.
If we were to have a problem and we never spoke up about it, what our teacher would do is they would send over an email to our navigator, and then our navigator would reach out to us to see what we could do. Typically, what the navigator would do was just see if you’re okay, and then, if you’re okay, then they would suggest you go over to the Center for Student Success. It’s like a tutoring center, really. You go in for really any class and there’s someone there that can help you.
There are a lot of safety nets. If you start falling, there’s — I mean, there’s your classmates, who you get to know, just cuz you’re there every day with them. And like if you start to struggle, they usually say, “Hey, what’s going on?” Your teachers. The counseling. Your advisors. Everyone kind of has a hand. If you’ve fallen down, everyone helps pick you back up. There are so many safety nets and contingency safety nets. The support system is really great here.
The red flags means that once—if you miss too many class, your instructor can flag you to let your advisor know that this student is missing this many class, so maybe we should be reaching out to that student and see if he or she is in problem, need anything that we can help with. Another red flag could also mean that your grade is also dropping, and we’re wondering why. All of a sudden your grade’s dropping. We want to see, is there any way we can help? That’s usually what the red flag means. But then there’s also the good flag, where it goes—they call it the kudos, where if you are doing good in the class and you are meeting—you’re going to class. Attendance is good. Grades are good. Then your teacher or instructor send out the kudos, where your advisor will see that you are doing academically good in your classes and showing that at this point you’re not having any struggles. But they definitely will send an e-mail to you, ʺDefinitely keep with the good work. Do let us know if we can help you in any way.ʺ That’s what those two main flags are for.