WKU finalizing fifth-week assessments

Joanna Williams

Alerting first-year students of how well they are doing after their first month of school could make a difference between who stays and who decides not to come back.

For years, WKU has used the fifth-week assessment as a way to measure a first year student’s performance through the first five weeks of college in any 100-level class in which they are enrolled.

The assessment is available to view on the student’s TopNet and shows if they are either passing or failing a class and if they have had excessive absences.

“If they’re struggling with their absences in the first five weeks, they have a higher percentage of not being retained,” said Kevin Thomas, director of the Academic Advising & Retention Center.

Thomas said there aren’t any major changes that will happen with this year’s assessment or how it is conducted.

The last day for faculty members to submit information is Monday.

Thomas said the AARC is going into dorms to talk to first-year students about the things they can do better.

“That’s above and beyond what we usually do,” he said. “We’re trying to go to them instead of them coming to us.”

Thomas said the AARC plans to continue to work closely with Housing and Residence Life to help students through their first year.

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said the assessment ties into the universities’ goal this semester to retain more students.

He said that the assessment, coupled with students using new software surveys, should be effective ways to see if a student is off to a good start.

Brian Meredith, associate vice-president of Enrollment Management, said meeting students in dorms was a good place to begin when it comes to communicating with students.

“They’re trying to give some guidance to students in this critical junction and time,” he said. “I think the residence halls are the way to start.”

Meredith said he hopes the assessment makes students more aware that if they are struggling with school after the first month they may need help,  which he said the university is there to provide.

“It’s kind of a reality check to them that ‘Hey, I’m in my fifth week of school and I still haven’t gotten the hang of it. I might need some help,’” Meredith said.