A national study of student early alert programs at two-year institutions of higher education
Darla Michelle Keel Fletcher, Arkansas State University, United States
Arkansas State University . Awarded
Approximately half of students at the community college level leave the institution before degree completion. Community college students are more likely than four-year students to be first-generation students, attend school part-time, be less prepared academically, work full-time, have family responsibilities, and have entered college later in life (Cohen & Brawer, 2008). These students are also more likely to be disconnected from the community college due to external obligations. Many students never talk to their instructors and are not aware of the student services that could help them.
Administrators have many retention options from which to choose; there can be confusion as to what programs and what actions taken may have the most effect on retaining students. One program, the Early Alert Program, operates by faculty referring information about at-risk students to an individual or team at the college. The individual or team, in turn, will contact the students and try to assist through counseling, tutoring, advising, and other student services. The literature varies on the success rate of the program. There are reports of successes, challenges, and failures in the rather limited research concerning Early Alert Programs.
A national study was conducted to better understand the way student Early Alert Programs operate at the two-year institution level. The two-year institutions in this study were public, non-profit community colleges. An invitation to participate in a Web-based survey was extended to chief academic officers at community colleges. The survey focused on how Early Alert Programs operate in areas such as technology support, assessment measures, communication methods, and intervention techniques. Additionally, satisfaction levels with the program were obtained. Understanding the different ways the programs operate may help other community colleges choose the best methods for their campus communities or assist those community colleges who have an Early Alert Program in place but have a need to improve.
The administrators who reported they were very satisfied with the Early Alert Program and who have had a retention increase and the administrators who reported they were not satisfied with the program and who have not had a retention increase were contacted further for more information on their particular program details. The advice for others who are considering the program from these successful and not successful Early Alert Programs is provided in the results of this study.
A significant relationship was found between the satisfaction level with the program and the length of time the program had been in operation. Additionally, significant relationships were found between satisfaction level and the model; satisfaction level and assessment measures; and satisfaction level and whether or not a retention increase had occurred since program implementation.
Fletcher, D.M.K. A national study of student early alert programs at two-year institutions of higher education. Ph.D. thesis, Arkansas State University.
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