Partnering with Faculty in Early Alert: A Faculty Perspective

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Bernadette Jungblut of West Virginia University recently spoke to this issue -- from a faculty perspective -- at an April 2015 Academic Impressions webcast.

Now, In this article, Jungblut offers further strategies for partnering with faculty effectively. What follows includes both an institutional case study and Bernadette's own individual responses to questions raised by participants at the webcast.

by Bernadette Jungblut, Associate Provost for Accreditation, Academic Planning, and Assessment, Central Washington University,
West Virginia University

To explore the issue of faculty engagement in early alert in very practical terms, let's review the key challenges (both that I've noted and that participants at the webcast raised), strategies that work, and a case study from West Virginia University.

Engaging Faculty in Early Alert: The Challenge

Challenges noted by webcast participants:
  • "We have difficulty engaging faculty to take part in an early warning system for students who may have difficulty in their courses."
  • "We found that faculty members were more likely to respond to our Early Alert when we were just collecting information on students who were already in academic jeopardy.  When we tried to expand the net to include all students to be preventative as well as just proactive, our response rates dropped from 85% to around 55%."
  • "We have difficulty in having faculty provide assessment feedback to students early enough to inform the need for early alert support."
Challenges I've experienced:
  • In some cases, DFW rates (final course grades of D or F – and the number of students who withdrew from the course after the one-week add/drop period) were used to suggest that faculty members were not "doing their job."
  • Some faculty perceived that DFW rates were used to indicate that students' lower performance was the "instructor’s fault."
  • Some faculty believed they were being punished for being rigorous.
  • Colleagues across campus believed that "Faculty won’t do this…" That is, the faculty would not participate in an Early Alert program.

Engaging Faculty in Early Alert: Strategies

Here are strategies that we have employed at West Virginia University that make a difference in faculty engagement:

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