Fifth-week assessments taking place this week

Kristen Snyder

First-year students in 100-level courses will find their grades and attendance for the past few weeks monitored closely over the next few days.

Fifth-week assessments are here.

The assessments began in 2004 and are run every semester, said Carol Alicie, academic adviser in the Academic Advising and Retention Center, which collects the assessments.

“The assessment provides three pieces of information for each student in each of their classes: Is their grade currently a D or F, do they have excessive absences, or are they passing?” she said.

Ellen Bonaguro, associate dean over student services and enrollment, said the assessments help with the retention of first-year students and let students know how they’re doing in their classes early so they can get any help they may need.

“This is a retention tool,” Bonaguro said. “As a first-year student, you have all this freedom, and this kind of reins you in and says, ‘This is where you are.’ We have so much academic support on this campus for free.”

It was a strategic choice to complete the assessments during the fifth week of classes, Alicie said.

“It is run early enough during the semester that they still have plenty of time to turn things around,” she said. “They have not had time yet to get too firmly entrenched in bad study habits.”

The assessment is also early enough that students can drop a class and receive a “W” on their transcript if they are doing poorly, Alicie said.

The last day to drop a class with a “W” is Oct. 20. However, students need to remember when dropping a class that they must remain a full-time student with at least 12 hours, or they may lose some of the benefits of full-time standing, she said.

Students can look at their assessments on TopNet to see where they stand in their classes. Also, the AARC sends out targeted e-mails to students who receive “poor marks” in a class, Bonaguro said. The e-mails suggest relevant tips such as utilizing The Learning Center.

AARC Director Kevin Thomas said The Learning Center provides tutoring in more than 100 different subjects.

“They provide a quiet place to work on academics, and they provide support, whether it be by teaching good time management skills or study habits,” Thomas said.

If students receive four poor marks, they will be contacted to set up a face-to-face meeting to find ways to help the student, Bonaguro said.

Last semester, 1,215 students had face-to-face meetings to discuss what they could do to improve on their assessment, she said.

Bonaguro said they know the assessment is helpful because they are seeing higher freshmen retention rates.

“Our first-year students are so important to us,” Bonaguro said. “We want them to stay here to finish their degree and do well.”