Early warning system


The Office of Retention is introducing a new student support system that helps students stay informed and prevents poor performance in the classroom.

Students often blame their  academic shortcomings  on the fact that they are unaware  of their progress in the classroom. GradesFirst is a web-based student performance monitoring system that provides direct communication between students and faculty, according to university officials.  The system monitors students’ attendance and grades and enables simple faculty interaction to pinpoint students who are struggling before it’s too late.

With administrative consent, the GradesFirst Easy Alert system will alert students, and their advisers, when their grades begin to drop considerably or attendance has become a concern.

“We’re trying to identify at-risk students, and this system will help us do that whether they’re having an academic, financial or personal issue,” said Brenda Spencer, faculty administrator for the Office of Academic Affairs.

Students will be able to schedule advising and tutoring appointments through the GradesFirst system, providing a timely solution for students who are struggling academically.

Nia Henderson, a sophomore marketing student from Hollywood, Fla., said the GradesFirst system would be beneficial for FAMU students and faculty.

“Every professor is different in terms of their communication with the class,” Henderson said. “

I think this is a great communication tool that will prevent confusion and strengthen students’ performance in the classroom.”

The GradesFirst Easy Alert system sends alerts in the form of both text messages and email, so students will no longer have to wonder how they’re doing in a class.

As of now, the GradesFirst system will only be open to the students in the School of Business and Industry, the School of Allied Health Sciences and the College of Arts & Sciences.

If the system is successful, FAMU intends to expand it to the rest of university by fall 2013.Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter will be used as communication tools.

“We’re at a point where we’re trying to enhance our retention and graduation,” Spencer said. “The utilization of technology is the missing link, and we can capitalize on it and enhance our retention efforts.”

Konstance Milton, a sophomore biology student from Plant City, Fla., is looking forward to using the GradesFirst system and thinks that it’s advantageous in more ways than one.

“It definitely helps students stay informed, eliminating the possibility of feeling blindsided by poor grades at the end of the semester,” Milton said. “It’s allowing us to take even more responsibility as students.”