What is Beacon?

Drew University is committed to increasing student retention, persistence, and success. One of the many ways the University can do this is by using our early alert system, Beacon. This module is designed to increase student awareness of gaps in their academic progress and to facilitate their engagement with campus resources.

Faculty typically have the most day-to-day contact with students. Beacon provides a platform for faculty to communicate feedback regarding a student’s academic behaviors and to refer them to the resources needed to achieve success.   Beacon allows individuals in a student’s Success Network to access this valuable information and affords them the ability to monitor alerts, identify trends and guide students toward appropriate resources.

The student’s Success Network is made up of University stakeholders who frequently interact with a student. Depending upon the student’s major and involvement on campus, these individuals include academic advisors, professional staff advisers, athletic advisors, and academic support staff in the Center for Academic Excellence.  Other stakeholders who have access to Beacon include the Directors of Accessibility ResourcesCounseling and Psychological Services, and Residence Life.

If you need any support utilizing Beacon, please email cae-admin@drew.edu.
Categories of Beacon Notifications

There are three categories of notification that can be accessed in Beacon.  The notation used should reflect the urgency of the situation prompting the communication:

ALERTs are used to communicate concerns about a student’s progress.  Alerts are most effective when course progress feedback (such as attendance, homework, and/or quiz grades) is provided to the student within the first few weeks of the semester allowing for students to be intentionally connected to resources before a negative consequence is experienced.  Alerts are most effective when they include a request for specific recommended course of action on the part of the student and/or the Success Network.

UPDATEs are informational and don’t necessarily require any follow up action.  They are often used for advising notes or to report that a concern, previously communicated as an Alert, is now resolved. In general, the Success Network does not respond to updates.

ENCOURAGEMENTs are a way to recognize student improvement and accomplishments. These can be shared solely with the student or with their entire Success Network.

Faculty serving in the role of a student’s course Instructor and/or the role of the student’s Adviser can submit Beacon notifications, though the mechanisms are somewhat distinct.

What are some reasons for submitting an alert?

Alerts should be used when the student is not responding to other forms of outreach, to raise awareness of a concern, and/or to engage the Success Network in an intervention (helping the student connect with tutoring resources academic coaching, etc).  The following are some common reasons that faculty submit alerts:

  • Missing two or more consecutive classes
  • Missing or incomplete assignments
  • Poor performance on multiple assignments, quizzes, etc.
  • Midterm warnings
  • Recommendations for course withdrawal
  • Signs of distress or disengagement
  • Financial or other personal challenges* (Avoid specific or personal information sharing. This information should be general, but enough to get the information across)

*If the nature of the alert is “sensitive” and entails information that should not be visible to the Success Network, the instructor should contact the Associate Provost/CAE Director directly by email (jredling@drew.edu) or phone (973.408.3327).

Beacon should NOT be used to report

Beacon for Instructors

In their role as course instructors, faculty may submit Beacon notifications via the Faculty Module . Faculty retain full access to their notification history by clicking “Success Notifications” on the landing page. When a concern has been addressed, faculty may also “lower” an alert and, in doing so, should provide a brief note of explanation (i.e. “Student has met with me and now has a plan in place.”).

Please view this brief Tutorial for Instructors.

If a student does not respond to an alert, the instructor can “elevate” their concerns to the next level of outreach by submitting an addition alert.  Beacon is organized so that students with multiple alerts will receive the highest level of attention from the student’s Success Network.

Beacon for Advisers

In their role as academic advisers, faculty may view and submit Beacon notifications via the Beacon Alerts (for Advisers) module.  Advisers may view and comment on an instructor’s alert, as well as submit their own alerts and updates. Particularly in the case of  first-year students or students with an academic standing of Warning or Probation, advisers should respond to an instructor alert by reaching out to the student in question.  Once the outreach is completed, advisers can comment on the Beacon alert, and if the student makes a satisfactory response, an adviser may advise that the instructor lower an alert.  Please note that instructors may view all comments associated with the alert.

If  a student does not respond to an alert an adviser can “elevate” to the next level of outreach by submitting an addition alert.  Beacon is organized so that students with multiple alerts will receive the highest level of attention from the Student Success Network.

Please view this brief Tutorial for Advisers.

What happens after I submit an alert?

The student and Success Network will receive an email notification.  If the alert calls for a direct response from the student to the faculty, faculty should submit an update after approximately one week reporting that (i) the student has responded and the alert can be lowered OR (ii) the student has not responded and now the concerns are elevated.

If the alert calls for intervention by the Success Network, the appropriate adviser or support staff will respond with an update as soon as possible.  Staff may follow-up with the individual who posted the alert, requesting more information. Depending on the volume of alerts received at a particular point in the semester, there may be delays in reporting updates. If you have not seen activity with the alert and would like and update on the specific student, please feel free to contact the Center for Academic Excellence administrative office: cae-admin@drew.edu or call 973.408.3327.