April 23, 2020
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Faculty often inquire about the importance and process of submitting Progress Reports (e.g., What are they? How do I submit them? Am I required to submit them? Who do they go to?). Here are some answers to faculty's most frequently asked questions (that should be helpful to students too).
Progress reports are academic reports that are mission-critical in helping our students gauge when they might be in trouble (and how much trouble) during the semester, so they can reach out to you, their faculty advisors, the Advising Office, as well as any number of campus resources that might contribute to their academic success (e.g. SASS, MSSC, Writing Center).
It's always surprising when students say they didn't know or realize they were doing so poorly. Progress reports provide them with your thoughts and hold them accountable to academic expectations set at the beginning of the semester. More importantly though, progress reports put students, their faculty advisors, and the Advising Office on alert so that we can reach out and provide additional support as needed.
To be clear, progress reports can also be submitted for strong academic performance, particularly from students who seem to excel naturally as well as students who rebound significantly after faltering early. Positive reports are valuable in offering additional encouragement.
Progress Reports can be filed electronically:
According to the Course Catalog, it's indeed a requirement for "instructors to report academic deficiencies."
Progress Reports should be filed for any student (particularly first-years):
As a way to shift Progress Reports from being definitive sources of negativity and stress, I've encouraged instructors to utilize reports as a way of communicating visible improvement and exceptional talent as well.
Indeed, the instructions state: To be clear, progress reports can also be submitted for strong academic performance, particularly from students who seem to excel naturally as well as students who rebound significantly after faltering early. Positive reports are valuable in offering additional encouragement.
Because students on Conditional Enrollment are working closely with their Conditional Enrollment advisors on monitoring and improving their academic performance, it's extremely important and helpful for them specifically to receive ANY and ALL feedback from their instructors. Positive notes serve as valuable reinforcement for work put forth, and continued persistence.
While it's understandable that you wouldn't want to contribute to anxiety, it's also critical that students: be fully aware of their academic status in a class, obtain critical feedback for improvement, and receive recommendations for resources and next steps. All of these elements are critical to making progress reports useful for students to come to informed decisions.
Depending on your choice of words, what's communicated in a progress report can help empower students to take action and seek help. Moreover, because numerous individuals receive copies of all progress reports, applicable individuals can follow up based on what you choose to share.
In general, I've encouraged instructors to move away from the "Administrators Only" field unless there are particularly sensitive concerns that should be communicated separately. It's helpful for students to know your evaluation of their situation (e.g., if you think a withdrawal [if possible] would be an appropriate course of action, if you perceive that they're not prioritizing their academic work appropriately, if you're concerned about their attitude).
When an instructor submits a Progress Report, the report automatically goes to a handful of individuals, including the Advising Office, Ellen Harbourt (the Registrar), Robin Hart Ruthenbeck (Dean of Students), Chris Kennerly (Associate Dean of Students), and Erin Salva (Director of SASS).
After the report comes in, it is reviewed, recorded and sent along to the student and the faculty advisor, as well as the CE advisor (if the student is on CE) and the athletic coach (if the student is an athlete).
The report is then scanned and filed into Etrieve, which serves as a central repository for all formal documentation, along with add-drop forms, degree audits, etc. These are all internal files, primarily used by advisors, chairs, and the Advising Office.
There are many reasons why Progress Reports are critical and invaluable to advising and support, and here are just a few:
A. Students don't always pay attention to exactly how well they're performing, so it's extremely helpful for them to know if and when they've crossed the line from "performing not so well" to "being academically deficient." Because many students are still new and/or averse to asking for help, specific feedback and instructions to seek help in office hours and with campus resources can be extremely useful in cultivating help-seeking behaviors.
B. Students don't always share information on their performance with important parties. This means that advisors are often out of the loop with regard to knowing how their advisees are doing. The more information that advisors and coaches can have, the more helpful they can be in providing the necessary outreach. And because Progress Reports are distributed to multiple parties from a centralized source, everyone can get on the same page more quickly, knowing exactly what the student and everyone else knows.
C. If a student is doing poorly across all classes or certain types of classes, Progress Reports can help advisors and other parties identify trends in poor performance and outreach to the student accordingly. While emails can serve this role, Progress Reports provide all parties with a critical look at the situation and potential strategies and/or solutions from the instructor's vantage point.
D. With increasing focus on the need for clear and transparent communication with students, and the value of documentation and tracking of concerns expressed (both for accountability and ease of follow-up), Progress Reports serve a valuable role in helping the institution improve record-keeping. Furthermore, if and when parents question whether students were apprised of their academic status in classes, Progress Reports serve a valuable role in confirming that such information was shared in a timely manner.
While you have jurisdiction over when to submit Progress Reports, it's usually most helpful to students to know their academic status after they've completed (and been graded on) substantial assessments (e.g., exam, paper, project).
It's also particularly helpful to students to know their academic status in the week or so leading up to major academic deadlines (e.g., Pass/D/Fail, Withdraw Passing), so that they can make informed decisions regarding academic options.
Ultimately, one rule of thumb is to submit Progress Reports when you feel there is critical information to communicate that could impact how a student moves forward in the remaining weeks. This applies to both negative and positive reports, both of which can be constructive and motivating.