Early Warning Systems

In March of 2005, the topic of early warning alert systems was brought up on both the FYE and the FYA-lists. This archive integrates both conversations. On the FYE-list, the conversation was begun by Danielle Stayzer of McMaster University in California who was interested in developing a program to measure overall first-year student success, focusing on academic and social integration. Christel Taylor also addressed the list as she developed an academic alert system. On the FYA-list, Gerry Cherry of the University of Central Oklahoma (UCOK) requested information on early warning/tracking systems for first-year initiatives. These discussions yielded a number of rich responses from list members, many describing in detail the various early alert/warning systems in place and the technology (such as WebAdvisor and Early Alert) that they employ to carry out their interventions.


Danielle Stayzer (read FYE post or send email) stayzer@MCMASTER.CA
Molly Alvaro (read FYE post or send email) MBAlvaro-Smith@MAIL.WVU.EDU
Gerry Cherry (read FYE post or send email) GCherry@UCOK.EDU
Randy Swing (read FYE post or send email) swing@FYFOUNDATIONS.ORG
Joe Cuseo (read FYE post or send email)
Christel Taylor (read FYE post or send email) ctaylor@UWC.EDU
Mary Higgins (read FYE post or send email) mhiggins@CREIGHTON.EDU
Marcie Pospichal (read FYE post or send email) mpospichal@FLSOUTHERN.EDU
Nicolette Campos (read FYE post or send email) ncampos@METHODIST.EDU
Kathie Wentworth (read FYE post or send email) wentworthk@TRISTATE.EDU
Margaret Puckett (read FYE post or send email) mpuckett@NCSTATECOLLEGE.EDU
Keri Fadden (read FYE post or send email) keri.fadden@ALLEGHENY.EDU
Dan Freidus (read FYE post or send email) freidus@UMICH.EDU
Keri Fadden (read FYE post)
Keri Fadden (read FYE post)
Bob Nash (read FYE post or send email) bnash@COASTLINE.EDU
Karyn Schulz (read FYE post or send email) KSchulz@CCBCMD.EDU

March 28, 2005 12:53PM
Original message (FYE): early warning systems

Good afternoon - there are many strategies used to identify students at academic risk in the classroom and in residence halls, but in some cases, we hope students self-identify and seek out the support and resources they need on their own initiative. I've read the discussions on this listserv about that and the challenges of it.

In a slightly more general way, I'm looking to develop a program to be delivered at the 4 - 6 week mark of the first academic term that is directed at measuring overall first year student success. I'd like to address the issues of making a successful academic and social integration to the university and help students decide for themselves if these two things are happening and if not, what to do. Does anyone currently run a program with this purpose or are there activities done in FYE courses that address this? Any ideas would be welcomed.

Thank you,

Danielle Stayzer
Manager, First Year Experience Office
McMaster University
Commons B101B
Ph. 905-525-9140, ext. 26292
Fax 905-525-2413

March 28, 2005 1:04PM
Re: early warning systems

We have an early alert system in place. I have been at this job for 2 years. Currently, faculty and resident directors identify students who are having challenges in the course, not attending class or have low skill abilities. There is no specific FYE target. Students then have a personal appointment with me to discuss how we may be able to remedy the situation. (We are a small 2-year college.) The system is not perfect. Some faculty do not participate and some wait until near the end of the semester to turn in an early alert. Since the service is voluntary, some students fail to follow through with their appointments. However, my experience in working with these students has been positive. They may need tutoring or strengthening of academic skills. Most of them already can identify their deficits, but are intimidated to initiate help. Again, the system is not perfect and I am constantly working to make adjustments. However, when it works, it is very effective.

Molly Alvaro, MA/LSW
Coordinator/ Academic Success Center
Potomac State College
101 Fort Avenue
Science Hall 116
Keyser , WV 26726

April 26, 2005 3:52PM
Original Message (FYA): early warning results

Dear Colleagues,

We are attempting to gather data supporting an early warning system for first-year students at our university, as part of our mandate to increase retention through the Title III grant.

If you have tracking information on any first-year interventions you have tried, please share the information.

Thank you.

Gerry Cherry
Activities Director, Title III
University of Central Oklahoma

April 26, 2005 8:33PM
Re: early warning results


An early warning/intervention based on class attendance is documented in one of the essays on the Policy Center on the First Year of College's Web site. You can find it at:

Hope this helps.



Randy Swing, Ph.D.
Co-Director and Senior Scholar
Policy Center on the First Year of College
(828) 966-5312 FAX (828) 883-4093
New e-mail address:
Alternative e-mail address:

May 2, 2005 1:52AM
Re: early warning results

Gerry (and other interested parties):

This constitutes a somewhat belated response to your request for "tracking" information and data supporting first-year "early warning/intervention systems." As I see it, there are three major forms of proactive strategies that have been used for tracking and intervening with students who may be at-risk for academic failure or attrition:

1. "Red Flags"- tracking student behaviors that may indicate intent to withdraw (e.g., failing to pre-register for next-term classes).

2. Early-Alert (Early-Warning) Systems-formal, proactive, feedback systems though which students and student-support agents are alerted to early manifestations of poor academic performance (e.g., low in-progress grades) or academic disengagement (high rates of absenteeism), such as:

(a) Midterm-Grade Reports: formal reporting of poor academic grades at midterm.

(b) Pre-Midterm Alert Systems: identifying and connecting with students who exhibit disengagement very early in the term-before midterms grades are calculated, processed, and disseminated (e.g., students who miss class regularly, who are chronically tardy, who consistently fail to turn-in their assignments, or who rarely are prepared for planned class activities).

3. Instruments Designed To Identify Academically At-Risk or "Withdrawal-Prone" Students at College Entry-Attempting to identify at-risk students by assessing their self-reported attitudes and behaviors at college entry (e.g., at orientation or during the first week of class).

I've attached a file* that contains more detailed descriptions, illustrations, and empirical investigations of these different strategies. Hopefully, some of this information may be useful to your implementation of the Title III grant.

Joe Cuseo
Professor of Psychology
Marymount College

*This document can be accessed by visiting the FYA archives and scrolling to the bottom of the page.

July 8, 2005 8:24PM
(FYE) early alert questions

My campus retention committee wants to pilot an early alert system. I would like to know how a couple things work, though, to help us out. When faculty notice that a student is not attending class or is having academic problems, who (or what office) is that information given to? And after that person/office has the information of students who need assistance, what is done to actually help the student? At this point, we are interested in hearing multiple ideas.

Thanks in advance,


Christel Taylor
Assistant Coordinator, Engaging Students in the First Year
University of Wisconsin Colleges
1500 N. University Dr .
Waukesha , WI 53188

July 9, 2005 12:22PM
Re: early alert questions

At about the four or five week mark of each semester, we send a listing to each faculty member of the freshman and sophomore students enrolled in each of the faculty member's classes. The instructor checks the appropriate column for "attendance" "performance" or "attendance and performance" if there is concern in any of these areas. As soon as the referral is received, a letter is sent to the student conveying the specific concern expressed by the instructor. The letter encourages the student to meet with the professor immediately and to demonstrate excellent attendance. It provides tutoring and other academic resource information. If all else fails, the student is reminded of the last date to withdraw from the course.

Mary Higgins

Director of Student Retention
Creighton University
Omaha , NE

July 11, 2005 8:10AM
Re: early alert questions

Dear Chris and Other Colleagues:

Florida Southern College is a small, 4-year, private college with a strong liberal arts core, with an enrollment of 1,800. Faculty send concerns (nonattendance, poor performance, behavioral misconduct) to me, Director of the Office of Academic Support. My office contacts students by phone and email and tries to get them in to see us. Messages point out the academic difficulty the student is in and recommend several actions: (1) talk to professor to see if can pass the course; (2) if so, make attendance perfect from here on and do what professor requires to catch up; (3) seek tutoring. If they cannot pass course and there is still time to drop without grade penalty, we tell them the steps for doing so. For behavioral issues, the professor often dismisses the student from class until I avow the student has met with me for discussion.

We don't just wait for referrals, though. In the first week of classes, we contact students coming to us with some suspected academic risk, including residential students 16 years old and younger because they often have additional adjustment issues, and let them know who we are and about other campus resources.

In the third week of contact we email all Freshman Seminar professors requesting referrals for attendance, performance, and possible difficulty adjusting and then contact those freshmen for one-on-one discussions.

In the fourth week we contact our new transfer students to see how they are making adjustment to a new institution.

In the seventh week we contact all students receiving 2 or more Ds/Fs in 100- and 200-level courses to help them problem-solve.

We also meet students who are on Strict Academic Probation the 1 st - 2 nd weeks of school and again at midterm to track progress.

Of course we see students who are self-referred or who are referred to us by parents.

At midterm we send out mass postcards with academic tips and advice and do donut and handout giveaways to let everyone know about campus resources.

Finally, we have a multi-departmental crisis prevention team that meets ever Monday during the regular school year and during the summer as needed. I meet with the Vice President for Student Life, Director of Residence Life, Director of the Student Counseling Center, and Director of Campus Safety. Each of us brings names of students for whom we have concerns and discuss possible interventions. This way we are all primed to watch for students who may already "have a lot going on" to help them along multiple domains as necessary.

My office has one other full-time person and an Office Manager whose time I get half of, and we also oversee several other big programs (Freshman Seminar; Registration; significant components of Orientation; Peer Tutoring Program) so even with a small staff a lot of contacts can be made.

Hope some of these ideas help!

Marcie Pospichal
Florida Southern College

July 11, 2005 8:40AM
Re: early alert questions

Hi Chris,

We just began a system last semester so I do not have a great deal of wisdom for you. However I thought I would share the process. Instructors call me (Assistant Dean for Academic Services) and I call the student's advisor who meets with the student to discuss the problem and to make a plan of action. Advisors are great referral agents on our campus (we are a small, private, liberal arts college of just over 2,000 students). Unfortunately the system was not taken advantage of. Either that or our students had no academic difficulties :O)

I hope this helps some.

Nicolette Campos
Assistant Dean, Academic Services
Methodist College
Fayetteville , NC

July 11, 2005 9:44AM
Re: early alert questions

Here at TSU, faculty submit missed attendance and deficiency reports electronically whenever a student misses two consecutive days or is earning a D or F in a course. These reports can be submitted at any time during the semester. They come electronically by email to me, director of academic support. I contact the student by phone or email or real mail, if necessary. I suggest possible solutions for the situation-tutoring, extra work with the professor, writing center, etc.

Once I have processed the report, I forward the report to the student's academic department with any information I have gotten from the student. It also goes to the coach if the student is an athlete.

Once faculty have clicked on the form, much of the information is filled in automatically. Here is a copy of the form:

Assisting students in overcoming academic deficiencies can lead to student success.

Please use the following form to notify the Director of Academic Support Services when a student is earning a D or F in your course. This form is used to serve as an "Early Alert/Early Warning" system to encourage students to address academic deficiencies and to improve their academic performances. Director of Academic Support Services will then contact the student regarding the deficiency and will forward the form to the academic department, student life and athletics, if appropriate.


General Information:

Faculty's First Name


Faculty's Last Name


Student's First Name


Student's Last Name




Course and Grade:



Course Title

Automatic II


D D+ F

Submission Date


Student's Major


Check General Comments if Applicable (Only checked general comments will appear on the final report.)

Schedule an appointment with me in my office.

Schedule an appointment with me in my office to discuss a make-up exam.

Attend all classes.

Complete all reading assignments.

Complete the homework assignments listed below.

Attend scheduled help sessions for this course.

Get involved with a study group.

Take advantage of the TSU math help sessions (Best Hall).

Take advantage of the TSU writing center (lower level of Taylor Hall).

Take advantage of the TSU learning center (lower level of Alwood Hall).

Use the textbook online help site.

Try any of these online sites for additional help: Tutoring links.htm

Constructive comments for the student:


Kathie L. Wentworth, M.Ed.
Director, Academic Support Services
Assistant Professor
Tri-State University
1 University Ave
Angola , IN 46703-1764
260.665.4853 (phone)
260.665.4578 (fax)
For more information access:

July 11, 2005 5:55PM
Re: early alert questions

At North Central State College, the Student Records Office sends out a mid-term deficiency roster half way through the quarter. Instructors mark a deficiency and a reason – poor attendance, poor test, etc. The student is then e-mailed with the notice to call the Student Success Center and talk with his or her instructor. The instructor gets a copy of the e-mail as does the Student Success Center. The Student Success Center is then proactive in contacting the student to see if her or she has talked with the instructor and sought tutoring or some other help for the class. A face to face meeting is encouraged, so that the student can be made aware of options and possible repercussions of continuing on the present course of attendance or testing failure.

Margaret Puckett
FYE Course coordinator/instructor
North Central State College
2441 Kenwood Circle
PO Box 698
Mansfield , Ohio 44901-0698

July 12, 2005 2:02PM
Re: early alert questions

At Allegheny College, we implemented the Academic Performance Report this past year. A faculty member uses our WebAdvisor system to fill out an electronic form for a student. The form is sent to me in the Learning Commons where it is "triaged". We try to determine who the best person is to contact the student- Learning Commons staff, faculty advisor, res life professional, dean of students office, etc. The reports range from missing class to just general concern for a student. Our hope is that we can get the student connected to the right person to help them with what they need, whether it be academic or personal.

Keri Fadden
Assistant Director of the Learning Commons
Allegheny College
Box 6
520 North Main Street
Meadville , PA 16335
814.332.2898 (office)
814.332.2987 (fax)

July 12, 2005 3:08PM
WebAdvisor (WAS: early alert questions)

WebAdvisor is a product of Datatel. Surprisingly, you'd have a very difficult time figuring that out from their web site: but there is info at

Also see

Dan Freidus

July 12, 2005 3:45PM
Re: early alert questions

I am not a technical person so I will do my best to describe it! WebAdvisor is run through Datatel our student information management system. On WebAdvisor there are screens for students, faculty, budget managers, etc. This program is how students choose classes and how

advisors assign grades. We simply added a field to the advisor section called the Academic Performance Report. All the information submitted is then sent to me and is kept on Datatel as student information. Here is the link to at least see what I am talking about:

You won't be able to get far without a user name and password but you can at least get the general idea. Please let me know if you have other questions or if I need to clarify something.

Keri Fadden
Assistant Director of the Learning Commons
Allegheny College
Box 6
520 North Main Street
Meadville , PA 16335
814.332.2898 (office)
814.332.2987 (fax)

July 12, 2005 5:07PM
Re: WebAdvisor (WAS: early alert questions)

I do not have a word version at this time. Here is the basic format though:

Check Box #1
Final Semester Grade
Current Estimated Grade

Check Box #2
Current Status and Recommended Action (check as many as apply):
Please communicate to the student that I am concerned about his or her academic performance.
I have discussed the problem with the student.
The student knows I am sending this report.
I have encouraged the student to contact the Learning Commons for assistance.
I recommend that the appropriate person from the Learning Commons or
Student Affairs contact the student in person or by phone.
FYI ONLY: Please take no action at this time, I am working with student.
Send me a copy of this report.

Check Box #3
Reasons for Concern (check all that apply):
Missed quiz/exam
Failure to turn in assignments
irregular/lack of attendance
Does not participate/appears distracted in class
Poor performance on exam/quiz
Poor performance on written assignments
Failure to respond to my notes/voice messages/email
Other (please elaborate below)

Check Box #3
Suspected Causes (check all that apply):
Needs help with writing
Needs help with reading
Poor study skills
Poor time management
Suffers/seems to suffer from personal difficulties
Level of work seems to difficult
Other (please elaborate below)

Comments Section:
(text box for comments)

When I get the email it also has student information in it, including their advisor, class standing, email, phone, and activities.


July 20, 2005 5:25PM
Re: early warning systems

I had forwarded the first posting on "early warning systems" to one of our institutional researchers. I've pasted his detailed response below...

Bob Nash

Supervisor, Instructional Design
Coastline Community College


Someone from my college forwarded me your posting regarding and Early Alert system. Since we run an Early Alert program, I thought I'd share with you our process and related outcomes. First, we are a two-year associate degree community college based in Southern California. We have about 20,000 enrollments and about 12,000 unduplicated students a semester.

Here is our college's Early Alert website ( Feel free to browse the different pages on the website. This will give you some details on how the program is run, and also what alerts and materials are communicated to students. What is not so clear from the website is how the backend of Early Alert works. Instructors are encouraged to log onto the Early Alert website between the fifth and seventh week. There they can view their current class rosters for each class they're teaching. While the roster is loaded, they can select from different alerts for each student listed. They can check as many necessary, or none at all. Once they submit their alerts for each class, at the end of the seventh week, emails are sent out to the students whose instructors sent them an alert. We have a somewhat "funky" email system, so those students who do not have an email (or valid email) with the college, are sent physical letters containing their instructors alert. Again, you can view all the different alerts available to instructors on the website. The letter to the students is there too. Students are encouraged to view the services listed on the Early Alert website, contact their instructors regarding the alerts, contact the counselor's office, or the college Student Success Center (tutoring and other services are available there).

Regarding the use of the system, we had a handful of instructors use it during the fall. A total of about 200 to 250 alerts went to different students. During spring, a few more instructors used the service. A total of 500 plus alerts went out that semester. It's really hard to account for whether a student sought out help, contacted their instructor, or utilized a service because of the Early Alert letter. I have however, created a short survey and administered it at the end of this past school year. I sent it to the students who received an alert during the past year in order to seek their input and overall opinion about the Early Alert system. A majority of the responses have been positive. I am still collecting the results and hope to have a report by fall.

Our Early Alert system has only been running for about a year. I am slowing trying to integrate it into the college by meeting with instructors, deans, and presenting the system at different meetings (such as the academic senate). There is no mandatory participation for instructors, so the ones who do use it see the system (program) as a useful tool to get certain information to their students. What I'm hoping to accomplish is consistency with the system. We had a version of Early Alert at the college a few years ago. That version eventually stopped (it wasn't an online version). I'm hoping to show the instructors that Early Alert will be around every semester. I would like them to know that they can rely on the program and its benefits. Also, with more advertising (letters, emails, postings next to faculty mailboxes) more and more instructors should begin to use the system.

One more thing, Early Alert runs from an Access Database. Enrollment, instructor, and student information are housed in different tables. The college hired a programmer to setup the database and integrate it into a web based front end. That part required programming I wasn't able to do. I created the Early Alert website and the supporting material. The part where instructors log-in is where the Access backend and the web are integrated.

I hope this information helps. Call me or email me any time if you have any further questions.

Shañon Gonzalez, M.A.
Coastline Community College
Institutional Research

July 21, 2005 9:37AM
Re: early warning systems

Good morning everyone

At The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), we have an Early Alert & Intervention Program that has been in place since Spring 2002. We are constantly tweaking, evaluating and revising it but are pleased thus far.

The basics of our program is very early intervention by faculty (3rd week of classes) with the support of campus coordinators (we are a 3 campus system) and student services. Faculty contact students as early as the third week to discuss lack of progress or attendance issues. An Early Alert Roster is completed by the faculty and the data is entered into Banner (our SIS) and then loaded into our Early Alert database (an Access database, created in-house). This database allows all involved with the program to enter contact information, referral information and follow-up information for each student on the Early Alert Rosters who received an Unsatisfactory in at least on area (Attendance, Graded Assignments, Classwork/Homework). Since we do this at the 3rd week, faculty have discretion for their grading decisions for the Early Alert rosters.

As this information is entered into the database, campus coordinators and eventually academic advisors and counselors, provide extra support for both the faculty member and the students in need. Referrals can be for tutoring, academic advisement, study skills, financial aid or counseling. By having the faculty member be the first point of contact, it "tells" students that the faculty are concerned about what is happening to their students. This has proven to be very valuable when we evaluate student's perceptions of CCBC. Most of our students who are surveyed in the Early Alert sections feel that their faculty member really is aware of their progress and cares.

Retention for the students in the Early Alert database is looking better than general sections/students. We feel that although not all students in a given section are "Early Alert" students, their instructor is making a difference for all students in his or her section.

If you want any more information about the CCBC Early Alert program, please don't hesitate to contact me at (410) 285-9455 or off list at

Good luck!

Karyn Schulz
Coordinator of Learning Assistance
CCBC Dundalk
(410) 285-9455