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Early Alert

Update for fall 2022: Navigate

Starting fall 2022 Early Alert will be submitted through Navigate (prior years this was submitted via Banner). 

👉 Open Navigate 


What is Early Alert?

Early Alert is a program that allows faculty to provide academic feedback on student performance during the 4th week of classes, long before mid-term grades are assigned. The intent is to give students a glimpse of their early performance and seek help (or adjust their habits) before it is too late to impact their final grade.

Early Alert sends clear messages to students who frequently assume “no news is good news” if they have no indication of how they are performing at UW. With Early Alert, students can see if they are passing or struggling in individual classes. This alert encourages them to speak with their faculty and/or seek academic support services such as tutoring, SI, office hours, and more.

Students that receive an unsatisfactory Early Alert receive points of contact from their advisors and [if they’re living in the Residence Halls] RAs. The points of contact are used to also encourage the student to seek academic/personal help and discuss their options.  

Why do Early Alert?

  • When “first-year students are not meeting academic expectations at the four-week mark (as measured by attendance, test scores, keeping up with readings, etc.), they are much less likely to earn better than a C in the course, or even graduate” (Dodge, 2018) More on the importance of the first weeks below.
  • Early Alerts aren’t just about grades; they’re about engagement, absences, effort, etc. Grades can be a good reflection of this but not always. If you’ve identified students in your course that are struggling but haven’t yet had an exam in class, Early Alert gives the opportunity for intervention (as a bonus, Early Alert has the potential to “light a fire” under students to buckle down for exams).
  • Even if WyoCourses gradebooks are 100% up-to-date, it cannot measure affect, engagement, or in-class behavior. Early Alert can take those concerns into account and give students one place to see all their feedback from all their instructors.
  • Early Alert works best when the student sees all their courses reported; satisfactory & unsatisfactory. If the student has an unsatisfactory Early Alert in one course, but not yours, they may not think they’re at any risk in your course.
  • The students’ advisors are tasked with reaching out to students that have an Early Alert. Their goal is to have conversations with advisees about a holistic approach to improving academic skills, rather than in just one course.
  • If a student IS struggling in multiple courses it may be indicative of a larger issue that could benefit from intervention.

How do I know which students to flag?

You know what students need to do in YOUR class to be successful – if a student is showing benchmarks of not doing it, they should be flagged. Examples include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Academic performance
  • Behavior (disruptive, missing class)
  • Engagement
  • Not logging into WyoCourses
  • No signing up for conferences/group projects
  • Not registering for online homework platform
  • Missing assignments or “low-hanging fruit” assignments

How to Enter Early Alert launches YouTube video (2 min)


Information on Early Alert for Advisors: tips on maximizing use of Early Alert

Specific information about Early Alert will be provided at the start of each term.

For questions about Early Alert, contact

Lane Buchanan, Associate Registrar ( or

Jess Willford (, Program Manager.

Faculty Voices:

  • "This is a wonderful system to identify struggling students much earlier during the semester and offer advice/resources to improve their learning."
  • "I’m glad we have this system in place. It shapes the way I think about my students’ grades in general, and that has changed some of the language I use about grades in class."
  • "I reached out to one of my advisees due to the Early Alert, and it turned out to be a very pivotal moment to do so."
  • "If the system helps one student to succeed in college, then it is worth my time as an instructor to use it."

 Early Alert & Academic Progress

  • The number of students on academic probation decreased 14% after the first semester of Early Alert (compared to earlier semesters)  
  • The number of students on academic suspension decreased 18% after the first semester of Early Alert (compared to earlier semesters)  
  • Student retention increased 2% after the first semester of Early Alert 

The importance of the first weeks of the semester

We hope this collection of research bits will be helpful.

 “The first six weeks” is an often cited belief in higher education that the end of the first six-weeks of a student’s first term at an institution is a crossroads for success to persistence.  Betsy Barefoot (personal correspondence, 2001), a national leader in first-year student persistence and interventions, held that there was no scientific support this perception of the first six weeks.  Given the contemporary economy, attendance patterns, and diversity of students, that may be truer today.  However, there remains a traditional belief in “the first six weeks” (Borland, 2016, p. 3).

 The Rule of the First Sixes” is that persistence-retention will be influenced and must be improved by interventions within the individual student’s in increments of “sixes” (only six days and weeks included here):

  • “1st Six Days: Have I found all of my classes and felt confident, are the syllabi overwhelming, have I found people I can consider friends, am I functioning ok away from home?
  • 1st Six Weeks: Am I successful a third to a half way through my first term of coursework, am I connecting to this place and the people and organizations, is college for me, can I find answers or support when I need it, do I want to come back for another term?” (Borland, 2016, p. 4).

“The first few weeks present opportunities and pitfalls as new or re-entering students encounter institutional processes that enhance or detract from students’ ability to start right on their path” (Hatch & Garcia, 2017, p. 354).

“[E]engagement efforts by colleges, including advising, at least early on, play a relatively important role in persistence decisions for only a few students who are neither certain nor uncertain about their plans, and for whom academic goals are relatively loosely tied to their persistence intentions” (Hatch & Garcia, 2017, p. 379).

“Research  suggests  that  classroom  absences  are  one  of  the  most  important indicators for early alert systems to track.  Early alert systems commonly track academic indicators, such as grades or classroom behavior. Of these, the most commonly used indicator is attendance, which research suggests is correlated with grade performance.  Undue absences can thus provide a true early warning before students begin to accrue bad marks on assignments and exams.  Some institutions also allow referrals for personal or social issues, although this appears less common at larger institutions (>10,000 students). (Hanover Research, 2014, p. 4)

“[S]home scholars have suggested that  midterm grades do not provide “an effective early alert,” not least because they are often  “not purposed to be reviewed and systematically acted upon by anyone other than the  student,” who may lack the awareness to seek assistance on his or her own” (Hannover Research, 2014, p. 15).

In a study by Upcraft, Gardner, and Barefoot (leading authorities on student success), the “most critical window of opportunity for early intervention is the first 2‐6 weeks” (Simons, 2011, p. 23). Students “can be at risk for departure as early as the first few weeks of a semester” (Simons, 2011, p. 109).


Borland, K.W. (2016). First 100 days persistence-retention plans. Journal of Research, Assessment, and Practice in Higher Education. Borland, Kenneth W. Jr. (2016) "First 100 Days Persistence-Retention Plans," Journal of Research, Assessment, and Practice in Higher Education, 1(6).

Dodge, J. (2018, August 15). Move In 2018: Student success efforts focus on the First Four Weeks and having a Momentum Year.

Hanover Research (2014). Early alert systems in higher education. Retrieved from

Hatch, D.K., & Garcia, C.E. (2017). Academic Advising and the Persistence Intentions of Community College Students in their First Weeks in College. The Review of Higher Education 40(3), 353-390. doi:10.1353/rhe.2017.0012.

Simons, J. M. (2011). A national study of student early alert models at four-year institutions of higher education (Order No. 3482551). Available from ProQuest Central; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global; Publicly Available Content Database; Social Science Premium Collection. (910327556). Retrieved from



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