Retention Early Warning Systems

A retention early warning system. What is it? And how can you use it to help your students learn the skills they need to succeed?

When a student is struggling, even the best educator can miss warning signs. A student can fall through the cracks in a large class. Or quickly flounder from personal pressure outside the classroom. Some of those students don’t have good study skills, or are too distracted to notice when they are starting to get into trouble.

Retention early warning systems are designed to help you spot struggling students before they fail or drop out. It can also alert the students themselves and prompt them to ask for help.

Some of these systems are more complex than others, but they usually look for the same warning signs that you would.

Is the student showing up for class?

Are they participating in the class discussions?

Are they turning in homework assignments?

Are they passing tests?

Most retention early warning systems will scan your learning management system to see if students are logging in to the course site and participating in online discussions. Your LMS grade book provides information about homework, assignments, and tests.

Sometimes the retention early warning system will access information from other data sources that are not so easily available to you. For example, is the student struggling with overall college grades? Are they working full-time jobs? Are there other personal factors? Any of these might put a student at greater risk of failure.

All the information is combined and analyzed to identify at-risk students before they get into trouble in your class.

The better retention early warning systems have been tested to make sure their predictions are accurate. But even the best software isn’t always right. Before you adopt one of these systems, make sure you understand what information it’s using. And how it’s combining that information to form judgments about your students.

Because in the end, a good system should help you improve your judgment. By drawing your attention to critical details, the software can assist you in understanding why a particular student is struggling, and help you make the best decisions for that student. (see more blogs about education technology)

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