By Gregory C. Dixon, Department of Political Science and Planning, Thomas B. Murphy Center for Public Service, University of West Georgia.

Prepared for presentation at the American Political Science Association, Teaching and Learning Conference, Washington D.C., January, 2015.

K-12 no longer prepares students for success at the university. This is most clearly seen at the first midterm when significant numbers of students fail. But what if we could find these students in the first two weeks of the course, before they fail that first exam? What if we could refer them to tutoring or other support services? Will this reduce the rates at which students receive a grade of D or F or Withdraw (DFW) in our introductory courses?

To find out, we have begun combining assessment data with early engagement data to identify students at risk of DFW and to refer these students to support services. We combine data already collected as part of assessment efforts with engagement data taken from an online learning platform tied to the textbook (Cengage Learning’s MindTap) to identify at-risk students early in the course. The goal is to reduce DFW rates and to develop college survival skills among the students.

This paper presents our assessment and outcomes evaluation program and how it is tied to the engagement tracking in order to identify students at high risk for DFW. It discusses both the potential use of this information for program evaluation and early intervention and the challenges that face implementation, and it shows that combining learning outcomes assessment with engagement tracking can identify the students who are most at risk of failing a course in the first two to three weeks.

» Read the MindTap whitepaper: “An Ounce of Prevention: Assessment and Engagement Data and Early Identification of At-Risk Students.”