Early alert efforts aim to support underperforming students

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Students who fail to successfully complete at least one course in a given term are likely to leave the university in higher percentages and have a much lower four-year graduation rate than their peers, the UO Student Success Team has found.

Starting this fall, the team will conduct early alert efforts with faculty with the goal of identifying and supporting students at risk of underperforming.

“The Student Success Team has been working over the last two years to understand what causes students to not graduate in four years,” said Ron Bramhall, associate vice provost for academic excellence. “A significant hurdle for many students, both psychologically and technically in terms of credit accumulation and on-track fulfillment of essential prerequisites, is the receipt of a grade of D or F, or withdrawal from a course.”

The team, part of the Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs and Division of Undergraduate Studies, has identified courses with high noncomplete rates. Faculty in those courses will receive an email in the next month asking them to indicate which students are at risk of underperforming. Those students will be referred to advising and academic support services.

“Underrepresented populations and first-generation students are particularly at risk of falling into this category,” Bramhall said. “These students may already be struggling to navigate the university structure or to establish robust support systems, and failing to successfully complete a course can have an outsized impact on their sense of whether they belong at UO. Impacts can also be particularly pronounced for students who receive a low grade in their first term. Students who receive a D or F, or withdraw from a course in their first term, are much more likely to struggle in subsequent terms.”

The team found that faculty have a critical role in student success and are well positioned to make a difference in these outcomes. The Student Success Guide for Faculty outlines simple actions that can be taken to help students succeed.

Faculty members or graduate employees interested in learning how to incorporate proven teaching strategies into their courses to facilitate student success are encouraged to contact program staff with the Teaching Engagement Program. The program provides free and confidential consultations on how to implement custom course strategies.