Academic Alerts

Academic Alert FAQs and Recommended Practices

Why the change in name from “Interim Report” to “Academic Alert”?

The previous term seemed to be a source of confusion to various constituencies, and particularly students. We use the term ‘interim’ for various purposes, most visibly titles for positions. After considering several alternatives, it was decided that “Academic Alert” most adequately aligns with their purpose at Wooster.

What is the purpose of Academic Alerts?

Academic Alerts are an official mechanism of communication within an academic support system. They are designed to communicate with a system of support that is comprised of professionals across campus. Note that the stated purpose is not for communicating directly with a student. While students are informed when they receive an academic alert, the alert itself should not replace the various forms of direct communication that faculty have with students, including but not limited to: face-to-face communication, feedback on assignments (written or electronic), e-mail.

Why are Academic Alerts important

Academic Alerts are one mechanism that the College uses to support students. They offer a way for faculty to share academic-oriented concerns about students with a system of professionals – including the academic advisor. They are not designed to be punitive, but instead they can be used to proactively communicate about students.

When should a faculty member submit an academic alert?

General suggestions:

  • earlier is better – the sooner the support system is alerted, the more time there will be for proactive outreach
  • However, even if it is late in the semester and no previous reports have been submitted, it is still good to do so. It’s helpful for developing a paper trail of communication regarding notifications of students’ standing in a class even when it seems like it’s too late to do anything. It can prepare students for disappointing final outcomes and also make for more informed course selection for the next semester. In this case there is not much outreach that can be done but it is still good information to have.

More specific suggestions:

Time point in semester Common purpose of alert Additional notes
Weeks 1 & 2 Absenteeism - Submitting an alert early in the semester when students are missing classes signifies that attendance is important and it is monitored Weeks 1 and 2 are the standard “add” period. A student can drop a class without petitioning and without penalty during this time and still have time to add another class
Weeks 3 & 4 Participation & Assignment Performance - Within a month, patterns of behavior start to emerge, and this can include performance on early assignments or in-class

Still report for absenteeism or any other purpose

Weeks 5 & 6 Class standing/Performance

By policy, all students should receive feedback on a significant, graded assignment within the first 6 weeks. This offers an opportunity to give timely feedback before the 6-week drop deadline…the point at which students may drop a class without penalty.

Still report for absenteeism, participation, assignment performance, or any other reason

What information should be included in the academic alert?

When writing an alert, it is helpful to provide concrete examples and specific grade information. If there is something in particular a student is struggling with (e.g., specific course material, time management, missing class) or did not perform well on a recent assignment or exam it is helpful to include that information in the report. If reporting class standing, offering the student’s grade AND the class average helps give specific context.

If you have concerns about personal or mental health issues, depression and anxiety in particular, it is best to submit a Care form. The Academic Alert will automatically become part of a student’s record at Wooster, so you should refrain from including any information that may be perceived as offensive or inappropriate (such as a statement about your perception of a student’s health status, etc.). It is best to report information for which you have documented evidence, which will usually be matters related to attendance, class engagement, and performance on evaluative components of the class.

Should professors meet with the students before Academic Alerts notices are sent?

The alert should not replace any form of direct communication with students. Ideally, there will not be anything reported in an alert that the student is not already aware of. For example, if the alert is related to attendance, ideally there would have been outreaches directly to the student in advance. If the alert is about class performance, ideally the student would have received direct and specific feedback on assignments/exams already.

Who receives a copy of the academic alerts?

All alerts reports go to the academic advisor and professor who submitted the report - automatically.strong> The report is also automatically archived in a student records database. A generic outreach letter – informing the identified student that they have received an academic alert – will be shared with the student. In this outreach, it will note that they have received an alert for a specified course (the specific information is not shared directly with students). They may learn of the content by speaking with their advisor or professor.

Academic Alert #1: When a student receives a first academic alert of a given semester, it is shared with their advisor and professor via e-mail. The advisor and professor will have discretion of how to best assess and respond to the interim. For advisors, oftentimes the best response can be gauged by reading the comments that were submitted. The advisor and professor may also forward this information to other College personnel, or even the student if deemed appropriate (note: before forwarding to a student, the academic alert should be read to make sure that the information included is appropriate for sharing).

Academic Alert #2: When a student receives a second academic alert within one semester, it is shared automatically with the advisor, professor, and the Learning Center. The Learning Center will reach out to all students who receive a second academic alert to offer academic support. Staff in the Learning Center are able to view all academic alerts that a student receives, though the Learning Center is only alerted automatically when a student receives a second academic alert.

Academic Alert #3: When a student receives three or more academic alerts within one semester, it is shared with the advisor, professor and the Dean of Student’s office automatically; Class Deans in this office will determine strategies to work with others and support students holistically. Staff in the Dean of Student’s Office are able to view all academic alerts that a student receives, though it is only alerted automatically when a student receives a third academic alert.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact Bryan Karazsia at x2008.