Early Alert – Is Self Generated Better?

April 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm Leave a comment

Our college has an Early Alert program, but I do not use it. I keep all of my grades in my MyMathLab gradebook, so my students can see their current grade any time they want rather than getting a report every 6 weeks. The real question is whether students access and analyze their grades as often as they should. Or ever.

I like to make sure that my students to check their grades on a regular basis, and analyze their performance. Today I gave my students a grade check assignment. Tomorrow when they walk into class they need to have a paper with the following information on it:

  • Name
  • Overall Average
  • Letter Grade
  • MML Quiz Average
  • Test Average

They also need to write a short summary of their performance to date. Are they satisfied with their results? What can they change? What is working for them?

I feel that this is more beneficial than a traditional early alert for a few reasons. First, students have to seek out the information. This is always more valuable than just handing them a grade report, because they are more involved in the process. Another benefit is that each student has to reflect on his or her own performance. Sometimes students do not realize how important the quizzes are to their overall grade – they may be passing the exams and assume that they are passing the course. This report forces them to look at all of their scores at the same time, and prevents the students from having any misconceptions.

It’s important to assign these grade reports a couple of times during the semester. I like to assign the first one around one-third of the way through the semester, while their is still plenty of time for students (who are struggling) to turn it around. I like to give a second one around two-thirds of the way through the semester. This is right around the time students start to lose their motivation, and this can be a good reminder to them to stay on track.

Don’t get me wrong. I do use the early alert system for students who need to referred to counselors or for special services. It’s just that I feel these grade reports are more beneficial to my students.

How do you let your students know how they are doing? Do you require your students to reflect on their performance? On their level of understanding? I’d love to hear about them. Post your ideas as a comment, or email suggestions through the contact page on my website.


I am a mathematics instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. I blog about general teaching ideas every Wednesday. Let me know if there are other topics you’d like me to cover. You can email suggestions through the contact page on my website.


Entry filed under: General Teaching, Math. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Math Study Skills – Creating Practice Quizzes Follow Up – Self Generated Early Alerts

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