Referral program for academic alerts improved

By on January 30, 2013

With a two percent drop in retention rate in 2011, Quinnipiac’s Learning Center is finding new ways to improve student attendance and performance in classrooms with an updated referral program called Retention Alert, according to Associate Vice President of Retention & Academic Success Andrew Delohery.

Using a software called Datatel, the referral program betters the communication between professors and the Learning Center to connect students to their academic advisors.

If a professor senses a student may be struggling, he or she should refer the student to the Learning Center, who then contacts the student to offer any help with tutoring or time management skills, according to Delohery.

“It’s a gentle reminder of a student’s resources for help and support [at Quinnipiac],” Delohery said. “Faculty leading 100-level courses should use Retention Alert to refer students who have excessive or consecutive absences or who have earned a ‘D’ or an ‘F’ on an initial assessment.”

For the past 12 years, professors have used a referral system known as an early warning system, Delohery said.

However, this program was improved to make it more specific for the student. Now all the information is in one place on Webadvisor, Delohery said.

Professor Jonathan Rounds, from the English Department, said the form used to report students is fast and easy to fill out. Rounds said the system lets teachers help their students and is not “just the teacher nagging the student about being absent.”

As part of Quinnipiac’s goal to raise the retention rate from 85 percent to 90 percent, the referral system is directed at faculty leading 100-level courses. This is to keep students from transferring or dropping out of Quinnipiac after their freshman year, Delohery said.

“[This program] is often mostly prevalent with first year students,” Delohery said. “But it is open to all level classes.”

Freshman Tinashe Mazaiwana learned about the referral program from her English 102 professor.

“I think it’s an invasion of privacy,” Mazaiwana said.

However, she said that she understands that the Learning Center wants parents to get their money’s worth and have their kids do well in college.

Freshman Jessica Wharton was surprised when she found out teachers had to report students to the Learning Center.

“I think that I know my schedule and my work load. It’s kind of my call,” Wharton said. “What is it [the Learning Center’s] business if I’m getting A’s anyway?”

According to Delohery, 65 percent of undergraduate students used the Learning Center’s resources. There were 1,790 first year students total in Fall 2012 semester and 1,240 of them made use of Learning Center services to varying degrees.

According to Delohery, based on a student survey, the main reasons students leave Quinnipiac are for financial reasons and/or from missing their families.

The Learning Center also works closely with Student Affairs and Residential Life to create a pleasant experience at Quinnipiac. They look for ways to accommodate students’ needs, whether with tutoring or campus life activities.

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