As a sessional teacher you may hear a term used regarding your students that sounds a bit frightening. You may be asked if you have any “students at risk”. At risk of what, you might ask? In this case, it is a risk of failing a course, or in some cases, an entire program of study.
Course Coordinators are responsible for monitoring their students’ academic progress. This is not at all a punitive process but one whereby, as a teacher, you can offer support and advice to a student who may be struggling with their studies and help them do their best.
However, if a student continues to perform poorly, despite extra assistance, support, and/or resources, the Program Manager may decide to exclude them from further studies. This situation is what we want to avoid in the first place by ensuring students get the support they need at the course level. That’s where you come in.
So what’s the process?
1) Know your students. If you don’t bother to get to know them you won’t notice if they stop turning up, stop contributing in class, or fail to submit something.
2) Keep track of grades. Look for students who have non submitted, failed, or only just passed an early assessment. If they continue to get low grades will they pass the course?
3) Keep track of how engaged students are in their studies. Do they turn up to class regularly? Are they completing online activities and participating in webinars? If they are not engaged it is unlikely that they are getting all the information they need to complete their assessment tasks satisfactorily.
4) If a student fails an early assessment or has stopped being engaged, talk to them. Take them aside after class or send them a quick email and ask them how they are. Tell them you noticed that they are struggling and is there anything you can do to support them? This might include explaining assessments in more detail, providing more feedback, pointing them towards more resources, or even something as basic as introducing then to the RMIT Library.
5) Students sometimes perform badly due to problems at home or other areas of their life. They may have been unwell or are living with a disability. It’s not your place to fix these problems but you can point the student in the direction of RMIT Support Services or Special Consideration.
6) Inform your Course Coordinator. A good Course Coordinator will send all their teachers an email requesting to be informed of any students at risk after the results of the first assessment task have been released.
7) If a student is found to be “at risk” of failing or not completing a program of study on time there are other processes in place that are implemented by Academic Services staff, Course Coordinators, and Program Managers.
8) Remember, you are the first responder to a student at risk.
You can read more about the details of managing students at risk in the Assessment Procedures document: https://policies.rmit.edu.au/download.php?id=9&version=2&associated
Other sections of this resources that may help:
- Class Engagement
- RMIT Support Resources