Early-warning system for student progression issues

Sarah Fletcher, Programme Co-ordinator

School of Medical Education

Faculty of Medical Sciences

What did you do?

The Master of Medical Education programme employs an early-warning system, allowing us to identify students who may be having issues early on and provide support.

Who is involved?

It focusses on identifying early on students who are not attending teaching sessions and/or not submitting/attending for assignments. An escalating series of contacts, by email and formal letter, is put in place depending on how many sessions, assessments the student has missed.

How do you do it?

Attendance is monitored by the Course Secretary, who informs the module leaders and Degree Programme Director of any non-attendances. Email communication on non-attendance is generally sent by the Course Secretary, other than one email that is sent by the Degree Programme Director.

Non-submission is monitored by the Programme Co-ordinator, and is highlighted to the Degree Programme Director immediately following the relevant assignment deadline/date.

The Programme Co-ordinator also does a general check of student attendance and submission statistics at the start of each month, identifying any repeated non-attendance and/or non-submission. If the student meets the level of non-attendance/non-submission where a formal letter is required, this is drafted by the Programme Co-ordinator according to a set template and signed off by the Degree Programme Director.

Why do you do it?

1. For a number of our teaching sessions there is a choice for the students as to which date to attend. For a session for which there are a number of instances to choose between, non-attendance of one instance triggers a reminder email reminding the student to book onto another instance.

2. The student may miss the last instance of a particular session (this includes students who receive email 1 and do not rebook), or there may be only one instance of the session available. If the student misses all instances of a session, a second email is triggered, highlighting that they have missed the session and that repeated non-attendance can be a progression issue. The Programme Administration’s contact details are given in case they have any queries.

3. Each module on this course has on average three study days, or three study days and one group tutorial. If a student misses two teaching sessions on the same module, an email is triggered from the Degree Programme Director highlighting that the student’s progress is unsatisfactory due to ‘missing x sessions’. This email can also make reference to non-submission of assignments. The student is asked to contact the Programme Administration to arrange to meet with the Degree Programme Director to discuss their progress.

4. If a student misses three teaching sessions for a module, a formal letter is triggered, which makes mention of the student not being able to submit for the assignment. The student is again invited to contact the Programme Administration to arrange to meet with the Degree Programme Director to discuss their progress. The student is given a deadline by which to do so. This is usually approximately one month from the date of the letter.

5. If the student does not respond to the above letter by the stated deadline, a final formal letter is triggered which states that if the student does not respond by a stated deadline (also usually approximately one month from the date of the letter) they will be withdrawn. 6. A withdrawal request is submitted to Student Services if the final letter is not responded to.

Does it work?

The above system has had a positive effect on our attendance statistics, as attendance issues are tackled early. There has been a reduction in the number of non-progression letters that we have needed to send out, due to issues being tackled at points 1, 2 and 3 of the process. The effectiveness of the system has been highlighted by our Board of Studies.

The introduction of the clause into the letter in point 4, about students not being able to submit for a module if they have missed ‘x’ amount of sessions, is a relatively new addition. We expect it to tackle what was previously a loop-hole, where students could miss all the teaching for a module but still submit the assignment.

Contact details

Sarah Fletcher, Programme Co-ordinator




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