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Early Alert Warning Systems Used to Thwart Attrition in Colleges Coursework

Today the situation of students’ attrition can be considered as one of the most controversial issues in the sphere of education. The fact is these problems can be predicted by tutors and administration of institutes because the process is gradual. To avoid problematic situations and support the students at risk, it is necessary to implement definite alert warning programs which can prevent their attrition. Moreover, it is important to pay attention to the factors which can contribute to the effectiveness of their implementation.

Early alert system is an intervention model organized as a software program with the help of which instructors and special advisors (student-support agents) can analyze students’ poor academic performance or a low level of persistence in order to predict students’ further problems and possible attritions (The Hanover Research Council, 2008). The most typical early alert systems include lists of students at risk and blanks which are worked out according to definite criteria to help instructors complete them.

Thus, instructors have the opportunity to provide the necessary information about students’ performance in the program. Every time when instructors want to refer to the student in order to provide definite measures, they can complete the blank and give the reasons for referral. An e-mail explaining the character of the problem will be sent to advisors and students (The University of Iowa, 2008). According to the results of the responding team’s work, personal interviews or meetings with students can be organized (UCSEE, 2010).

There are several types of early intervention systems. In the report presented by the Hanover Research Council, the authors analyze four main models (‘red flag’, early alert system, ‘predictive’, and probation assistance models) as the methods to address students’ problems and prevent the attrition (The Hanover Research Council, 2008).

For instance, early alert systems are used in Adelphi University Monmouth University and University of Minnesota. Their programs are based on the principles of on-line communication and e-mails between tutors, advisors, and students with the help of which students and advisors learn the details of students’ difficulties in studying and implement definite measures (The Hanover Research Council, 2008).

It is possible to determine advantages and disadvantages of implementing early alert system models in institutes. The drawbacks of the process are connected with the regularity of providing the necessary control and with determining the main factor according to which this control is provided. It is important to notice that students are always at risk to experience definite challenges in studying because there are several kinds of alerts for students.

They are the alerts which prior to the start of terms (application tests) and occurring during terms (at the beginning, at the middle, at the end) (UCSEE, 2010). The effectiveness of using the program decreases when only one kind of alerts is examined. That is why it is more effective to study students’ results and successes at several stages in order to prevent early difficulties and problematic situations and the development of students’ disappointment with their results or other challenges (UCSEE, 2010).

Early alert systems are often concentrated on students with low grades without paying much attention to other factors. However, Bruce and Bridgeland determine definite significant indicators for the issue analysis. They are the students’ attendance and behavior at lessons as the markers of their interests in studying, and course performance as the indicator of their academic successes (Bruce & Bridgeland, 2011).

The effectiveness of early alert systems is higher when they address not only the fact of low students’ performances but also such issues as student awareness of academic resources, student engagement in large courses, and class attendance (UCSEE, 2010).

Many researchers also determine non-academic issues which can be considered as challengeable for students. They are “academic self-confidence, motivation, institutional commitment, and peer support” (Hobsons, n.d.). Moreover, paying attention to interpersonal relationships, definite financial needs, and health issues in colleges can contribute to providing the intervention system.

After the proper analysis of all aspects, the researchers determined three specific factors necessary for increasing the effectiveness of early alert systems which are “faculty buy-in and involvement, proactive identification of at-risk students, and understanding the factors that can lead students to attrition” (Hobsons, n.d.).

While developing their study, the authors refer to the results of the surveys provided by Lee Greenhouse and Associates Community in 2008 and to the conclusions of the College Survey of Student Engagement of 2008. According to these researches’ results, the satisfaction with the programs is rather low or a mid- to low (stating by 73% of respondents) when the mentioned factors are not used as decisive ones (Hobsons, n.d.).

To make the process of determining the students who require special administration’s attention more effective, the work of those persons who are responsible for implementing the program should be organized correctly.

Many colleges and universities use the system according to which the information provided by instructors is analyzed by academic advisors who can consult academic deans and then work with students in order to overcome the difficulties. Students are informed in writing by the Office of Academic Services and Retention so that they can get the assistance they need (The Hanover Research Council, 2008).

To analyze the peculiarities of students’ persistence, successes and graduation rates, the College Board Study on Student Retention developed the research in which the role of institutions in students’ persistence was discussed (College Board Advocacy and Policy Center, 2011).

The national and regional economic contexts, the role of families, teachers, authorities and institutions are also discussed as significant elements for realizing the early alert systems as effective intervention programs. The examination of the data on institutions’ student retention policies and practices provided by the national four-year post-secondary institutions gave the foundation for the analysis of the methods appropriate for improving students’ performance.

The results of the research accentuate the role of the individual approach to students and paying much attention to investigations of students’ performance in providing the students’ persistence with the help of early alert systems (College Board Advocacy and Policy Center, 2011).

According to the findings, institutions should implement the programs for the regular assessment of students’ performance, their persistence, exploration of possible challenges. This kind of feedback should be properly analyzed by tutors, and the challengeable results should be discussed with students and their parents.

The solution of the problem of can be found in creating an effective and structured retention program for community colleges which can focus not only on the data of monitoring but also on non-academic factors and communication between peers and students and on the successful organization of the usage of monitoring results in connection with needs of definite institutions.


Bruce, M., & Bridgeland, J. M. (2011). On track for success: The use of early warning indicator and intervention systems to build a grad nation. USA: Johns Hopkins University.

College Board Advocacy and Policy Center. (2011). Student retention by the project on academic success – findings report. USA: Author.

Hobsons. (n.d.).The benefits of early alerts on a community college campus: Taking student success to a new level – findings report. Cincinnati, OH: Author.

The Hanover Research Council. (2008). Early intervention models for student success. USA: Author.

The University of Iowa. (2008). Early intervention task force – final report. USA: Author.

UCSEE. (2010). Initiative for student engagement report. USA: Author.

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J., F. (2019, May 20). Early Alert Warning Systems Used to Thwart Attrition in Colleges [Blog post]. Retrieved from

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J., Farrah. "Early Alert Warning Systems Used to Thwart Attrition in Colleges." IvyPanda, 20 May 2019,

1. Farrah J. "Early Alert Warning Systems Used to Thwart Attrition in Colleges." IvyPanda (blog), May 20, 2019.


J., Farrah. "Early Alert Warning Systems Used to Thwart Attrition in Colleges." IvyPanda (blog), May 20, 2019.


J., Farrah. 2019. "Early Alert Warning Systems Used to Thwart Attrition in Colleges." IvyPanda (blog), May 20, 2019.


J., F. (2019) 'Early Alert Warning Systems Used to Thwart Attrition in Colleges'. IvyPanda, 20 May.

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