Purdue-developed student intervention tech available nationally

October 11, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — An academic technology developed and piloted at Purdue that warns students who are at risk of poor grades and facilitates intervention and support is being released nationally.

"Course Signals" is being made available to higher education institutions through a joint effort by SunGard Higher Education and Purdue University.  

"We found in our research that this can improve student performance an average of one letter grade for many students," said Gerry McCartney, Purdue's chief information officer, vice president for information technology and Olga Oesterle England Professor of Information Technology. "Course Signals is an important step forward for higher education that can be implemented successfully at many universities and community colleges across the nation to improve student success and retention."

Course Signals is built upon a predictive model developed by John Campbell, associate vice president, academic technologies, at Purdue. The solution allows an institution to combine information already available within campus systems (including student information systems, learning management systems and gradebooks) to determine whether a student is at risk of failing or withdrawing from a course as early as the second week of the semester or quarter. 

Based on the data, the solution displays a red, yellow or green signal to students and faculty, indicating a students status in a course in real time. A red light indicates a high likelihood of failing; yellow indicates a potential problem of succeeding; and green signals a high likelihood of succeeding. Students view the signal within the institutions learning management system and also receive it via e-mail. Along with the signal, students receive suggested resources and recommended courses of action from faculty as needed. 

"The predictive model in Course Signals gives students a good indication very early in the course of how they are performing and whether they are starting to lag behind others in the class.  This very early alert to the student is extremely valuable, even in populations where you might not think it is necessary," Campbell said.  "Signals is helping Purdue improve retention rates by identifying underperforming students early on and providing them with course-specific advice on how to change their trajectory."

The effort is an example of SunGard Higher Educations Open Digital Campus strategy which encourages collaboration among customers and with the company.

"Institutions are facing increased pressure to improve retention and graduation rates. In fact, many states are tying improvements in retention and graduation rates to enrollment funding," said Tom Wagner, vice president of product management and strategy for SunGard Higher Educations retention and student success offerings. "Course Signals built-in, customizable predictive model, and its focus on faculty and course-level success, is a critical addition to traditional early warning systems as well as to other retention-related solutions and services from SunGard Higher Education."

For more information about Course Signals, visit www.sungardhe.com/signals 

Writer:  Steve Tally, 765-494-9809, tally@purdue.edu

Sources:  Gerry McCartney, 765-496-2270, mccart@purdue.edu

                   John Campbell, 765-494-1289, john-campbell@purdue.edu

                   SunGard: contact Laura Kvinge, 801-257-4158, Laura.Kvinge@SunGardHE.com

Related Web sites:

SunGard Course Signals website

Purdue Signals website 

"Signals tells students how they're doing even before the test"

"Purdue and SunGard to deliver Signals"  

NBC Nightly News segment on Signals