Academic Advisor The University of Mississippi
Director of the Academic Support Center and Professor of Music
The University of Mississippi
Based on data from the study and information obtained from student, faculty, administrator and staff focus groups, an Absence-Based Intervention Project was introduced and piloted during the 2000-2001 academic year in the department of English. The program, which initially involved 589 students, was focused on the reporting of classroom absences and the implementation of subsequent intervention. One goal of the Project was to establish a possible relationship between absences and success in college, specifically the correlation between absences and GPA.
Data from this pilot program revealed a direct correlation
between absences and success at the University. Students who received
intervention showed a significant rate of success, specifically a better
GPA, compared to the students who did not receive intervention.
Data from this pilot program revealed a direct correlation between absences and success at the University. Students who received intervention showed a significant rate of success, specifically a better GPA, compared to the students who did not receive intervention.Out of the total sample of students selected for intervention for telephone contact, 39% qualified for telephone intervention. In addition, 41% of those had two or more absences after only three weeks of classes. Early intervention, then, was crucial to future success during the semester.
Further, data revealed that there were more students in the
intervention group with both midterm and final grades of a "C"
or better. Specifically, 87.4% of students in the intervention group
obtained a "C" or better at midterm, whereas only 62% of
students in the control attained such grades. Final grades revealed a more
drastic difference: 87.4% of the intervention grade ended the semester
with a "C" or better, where as only 55% of those did so in the
Beginning in the Fall of 2001, Freshmen Absence-Based
Intervention (FABI), coordinated by Ms. Catherine Anderson, an Academic
Advisor in the Academic Support Center, was introduced to the campus
community as a program designed with the intent to circumvent student
absences and potential student failure.
With campus implementation, certain particulars of the pilot study
were changed so that program implementation could be achieved on a much
larger scale. Specifically,
based on information from Counselors in the University Counseling Center,
the actual delivery of the intervention was conducted in person through
Resident Hall advisor contact, as opposed to telephone intervention.
In addition, the program had to be embraced by University faculty
since success of the program depended on their complete cooperation.
At the start of the fall semester, faculty received a letter
from the Provosts office introducing Freshmen Absence-Based
Intervention (FABI) as a program coordinated by the Academic Support
Center that targeted freshmen attendance in lower division courses.
This program was not designed to evaluate attendance policies.
Instead, the program stressed the importance of class attendance.
Absences, especially in the freshmen population, can identify
students who may be having some difficulty adjusting to the
responsibilities of being a university student.
In addition to letting students know that the University was indeed
paying attention to them, the contact made with students provided advisors
in the ASC an opportunity to discuss various support units/services
available on campus. Staff in
the ASC asked faculty who taught lower division courses to report on a
secure website freshmen students with excessive absences, emphasizing that
instructors determined what was excessive.
The FABI coordinator downloaded the information provided by
faculty once a week beginning the second week of classes and continued the
download for eight weeks. The
program ended mid-semester since determination of a students standing
in a course was determined at that time by a mid semester grade. After student names were downloaded and carefully checked for
continued class enrollment, student names were then e-mailed to Resident
Hall Advisors (RHA) for one-on-one intervention.
The RHA provided the student an informational packet provided by
the ASC that stressed the importance of class attendance. RHAs were asked to report back to ASC staff as soon as
contact was made. Further,
neither the student nor the RHA knew which instructor reported the
absences. They only knew that
an instructor reported that the student had missed classes.
The RHA contacted a student one time only. Any additional intervention, if necessary, was made directly
through ASC staff either through email or by telephone.
Similar procedures were carried out during the Spring 2002
In Fall 2001, approximately 41 instructors of freshmen
courses reported students with excessive absences. 245 students were contacted concerning excessive absences
through RHA notification. Among
students receiving a letter grade in a course, 58% of students reported
for absences and receiving RHA intervention earned a passing grade, while
42% of students reported for absences and receiving subsequent
intervention failed the course.
In Spring 2002, approximately 53 instructors of freshmen
courses reported students with excessive absences. Approximately 484 students were contacted concerning
excessive absences through RHA notification.
Among students receiving a letter grade, 70% of students reported
for absences and receiving subsequent intervention earned a passing grade,
while 30% of students reported for absences and receiving intervention
failed the course.
This program illustrated in its first year that these
particular students, identified through class attendance, were at risk
when it came to class grade point average.
Although the pilot study (with control and experimental groups)
suggested that such an intervention program does influence attendance and
academic performance, there is not yet enough information to determine
whether the program directly affects classroom success when practiced
campus-wide. Still, it was
clear that this type of campus-wide intervention was indeed necessary in
that it promoted open discussion of the importance of classroom attendance
and University intervention concerning the actions of its freshmen
Administrators, faculty and staff
at The University of Mississippi have demonstrated through numerous
initiatives and stated goals the intent to attract, retain and graduate
its students. For an
institution striving to enhance its national profile and reputation for
high quality programs and academic excellence, initiatives devoted to
helping students admitted under Liberal admissions policies to meet
higher expectations are crucial. While
the freshmen-to-sophomore retention rate at The University of Mississippi
is about 76%, a good rate for institutions in our ACT admissions category,
our Chancellor and Provost have set a goal of 80% freshmen-to-sophomore
retention. We firmly believe the ongoing work of the Freshmen
Absence-Based Intervention program will help us attain our goal.
These comments were posted to the First-Year Assessment Listserv (FYA-List) on August
8, 2002. Recipients are free to forward this message to other interested