Coastal Carolina University is committed to increasing student retention, persistence, and success. One of the many ways the University can do this is by using the early alert module, Beacon. This module is designed to quickly identify students, who may be at risk of academic difficulty or failure and connect them with campus resources.
Faculty often have the most daily contact with students. As such, faculty may be able to identify alarming academic and non‐academic behaviors that can greatly impact a student’s chance of success. By identifying these behaviors and creating an alert, faculty and staff are better informed to connect students with campus resources such as Academic Advising, Academic Coaching Experience Department, Counseling Services, Accessibility & Disability Services, the Tutoring and Learning Center, the Dean of Students Office, etc.
What is Beacon?
Submitting Success Notifications
Submitting Special Types of Success Notifications
What is a Beacon Success Notification?
Who Sees Success Notifications?
When to Send an Alert?
When to Send an Update?
Tips for Submitting a Success Notification
What Happens Next?
Beacon is an early alert system. Faculty are able to create notifications on students exhibiting at-risk behaviors, while faculty advisors, professional advisors, and others who work closely with students are able to keep advising notes and reference prior notifications.
Beacon allows advisors to develop a heightened awareness of students most in need of support. Generating alerts helps advisors pair students with appropriate campus resources and allows for more effective, honest conversations with students.
Please review the Beacon Faculty User Guide for detailed information on how to submit notifications.
Link to submitting success notifications for students on your current roster
Link to submitting success notifications for students NOT on your current roster
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There may be times when a faculty member would like to submit an alert and direct it to a specific person or department. These require a couple of specific options when submitting alerts.
- Absence Alerts: When creating the alert, select “Class Attendance Alert” under the Categories drop-down menu. This should be selected when students have missed a week’s worth of courses consecutively and have not been in communication with the faculty. Note, these alerts are no longer handled by the Dean of Student’s Office. The Director of University Advising will be addressing these alerts and initiating wellness checks as appropriate. If the student is at risk of failing the course due to absences, but any of the three situations are met: 1. these absences are not consecutive, 2. do not add up to a week’s worth of missed class sessions, or 3. the student is in communication with the faculty member, then select “Academic Alert” under the Categories drop-down menu and “A1 – Class Attendance (significant impact)” under the Reasons drop-down menu.
- Referral to Academic Coaching: When creating the alert, select “Full Network” under the Audience section and select "Academic Coaching Referral” under the Categories drop-down menu.
Success notifications within Beacon include three types: alert, update, or encouragement.
An alert is a success notification sent to the student’s success network requesting that an action be taken with the student. For instance, a faculty member may submit an alert when a student has performed poorly on a major exam. In this case, the student’s advisor could reach out to the student to arrange a meeting or to refer the student to academic resources.
An update is a success notification to the student’s success network indicating any change (or continuing behavior) with the student that does not require action. For instance, a faculty member may submit an update that the student has indicated that they have begun full‐time employment off‐campus. This does not require an advisor to reach out to the student; however, it may be beneficial for the advisor to know for future interactions with the student.
An encouragement is a success notification to the student and the student’s network providing positive, strategy-focused feedback to students to help them feel recognized and supported. Students will be able to view any encouragements that have been submitted for them.
The user creating the notification can select different options for allowing others to view it:
- By default, students cannot see success notifications, with the exception of encouragements. In the future, users may elect to let students view notifications.
- Professional staff – all connected faculty and staff, excluding peer advisors (peer advisors are often graduate assistants)
- Full network – all connected faculty, staff, and peer advisors
- Specific network members – allows the user to select specific faculty and staff that are connected to a student in Beacon, such as advisors, academic coaches, athletic advisors, etc.
- Additional audience members – allows the user to select faculty and staff that are not on the student’s success network, such as Associate Deans, academic coaches, etc.
In most cases, selecting the full network is the most appropriate. Selecting professional staff or specific network members limits the ability of others that may need to assist.
Prior to submitting an alert, faculty should attempt to provide classroom or private interventions. Faculty should continue having open and honest communication with students while using Beacon as a resource to communicate valuable information about a student’s progress and to seek assistance from others on the student’s network.
The earlier an alert is sent, the better chance an advisor has of encouraging or helping the student to overcome obstacles and retain them in the classroom/program. In general, an alert should be sent as soon as a student meets one or more of the following criteria AND action from the student’s support network is being requested:
- Student is in jeopardy of meeting the excessive absenteeism limit (excessive is defined as the number of absences where the student will automatically fail the course)
- Student has below a “C” average
- Student has missed assignments and/or exams that are significantly affecting the student’s grade
General alert submission deadlines:
- Week 3 through Week 5
- Week 7 through Week 9
Some coordinated courses may have other specific criteria. If you are teaching one of these courses, you will receive specific alert submission deadlines from a course coordinator or department chair.
Do not use Beacon to create an alert for a student that has never attended class. Contact the Registrar’s Office or refer to policy STUD-332 Class Attendance for more information regarding mandatory absence reporting.
When it becomes mathematically impossible for a student to pass a course, the following example text may be useful in the description box for the alert: “Strongly recommend dropping the course.” Those responding to the alert will need clear information to assist the student.
Updates do not require any action to be taken with the student. You may document correspondence with a student (emails, in‐person interactions, phone, etc.) using updates. For instance, it might be helpful for an advisor to know that a faculty member has referred the student to tutoring. The advisor will then have the ability to follow up with that student about the referral in future interactions. Sample reasons to send an update might include:
- Student has been verbally referred to tutoring,
- Student has made improvements in course, or
- Student is continuing to struggle in course (once an initial alert has already been submitted).
- Include in your syllabus a statement about Beacon. Here are some Sample Syllabus Statements.
- Before submitting Early Alerts, communicate to your class why you are submitting them and your expectations for students who receive them. Setting the expectations prior to an alert being submitted will make the student more likely to respond.
General guidelines for submitting a success notification:
- Select appropriate categories and reasons. This will help when tracking the student’s progress later.
- Only provide what information is necessary. Information that is necessary but considered sensitive is best shared with follow‐up verbal communication.
- Be mindful of the audience when submitting notifications.
- Speak to the student prior to submitting a notification when appropriate. This will help the student understand that other faculty and staff may be contacting the student about resources and that the student is not in trouble.
- Do not include specific details about a student’s medical, financial, or personal well‐being. Even if the student shares personal details with a faculty or staff member, the student may not be comfortable with having those details shared with others.
Helpful information to include in the notification:
- Any communications you’ve had with the student about the issue
- The name of the course the student is enrolled in
- If the student is allowed to make up work
- Changes that may indicate deteriorating academic focus (disclosure of major life event, drop in attendance)
- Disengagement in the classroom
- Resources you feel could be beneficial to the student’s success
For an alert, the student’s advisor of record attempts to contact the student within 48 hours. The advisor may ask for a meeting or refer the student to appropriate campus resources. The advisor will update and then close the alert. In some cases, the advisor may need to contact the individual that submitted the alert if further information is needed.
For an update, nothing further will happen but the student’s success network will still be notified of the update.
There is no need for a faculty member to lower an alert he or she raised unless he or she is also the advisor for the student.