Connecting, communicating and monitoring progress (including email templates)

Regular, ongoing and systematic tracking and monitoring of student progress and performance is widely considered as a necessity to provide successful student support (Shaw, 2014; McFarlane, 2016; Thomas et al, 2017). Students welcome this close attention, and regular, proactive follow-up contact. A lack of contact and/or follow up can diminish a student’s perception of the importance of the Advisor-Advisee relationship (Small, 2013; Ghenghesh, 2017; Yale, 2017). This is particularly the case for students who may be categorised as ‘at risk’ or ‘vulnerable’ (Calcagno et al, 2017). Further information and guidance on ‘at risk’ and ‘vulnerable’ students will appear in these pages shortly as we build its content. Also, focus group outcomes with Advisors at Brookes on how ‘at risk’ identification might be most usefully employed in Advising are published as a case study in this collection: Hannam, S. and Dalrymple, R. (2022).

There are many factors which influence student progress and performance (progress and performance in terms of retention, success, attendance and punctuality, value-added and internal progression). These factors can be:

  • Institutional - for example, level of satisfaction on their course and with the university
  • External - for example, level of family support; background and upbringing; socio-economic factors
  • Individual - for example, emotional well-being; strengths and areas for development at the point of starting the course, such as their level of practical and theoretical skills.

Whilst students’ individual characteristics are already formed, it is important for the Academic Advisor to acknowledge them and ask the student how their thinking, approaches and behaviours will impact on, or contribute to their progress. This dialogue will help you to provide effective support for your Academic Advisees, through their studies. 

Key tracking and monitoring activities to improve the success of your students

As an Academic Advisor, you should should ensure that each of your Advisees: 

  • knows that you are their Academic Advisor at the earliest stage possible. Student Advisees and Staff Academic Advisers will be allocated at the start of each academic year. There is an improved dashboard for you to see who your Advisees are.  Please see the Academic Advisor Data Resources document which contains links to the dashboards and supporting guides on how to use them;
  • knows how to contact you, including when and where your student drop-in hours will take place (we strongly encourage using Google Calendar to promote your student drop-in hours as well as putting them on your email signature and on relevant module Moodle sites);
  • has their progress and engagement proactively monitored, with a focus on ‘at risk’ and ‘vulnerable’ students, taking into account the views of all of the staff who work closely with them;
  • is provided with accurate and regular feedback about how they are progressing and agree SMART targets stating what they need to do to improve;
  • experiences a variety of different interactions with you whether they are full-time or part-time, postgraduate or undergraduate living, at university or away. 

The tools to keep your Advisees on track to succeed

The key to keeping your Advisees on track are regular structured interactions in individual Advising tutorials which:

  • constitute two way conversations using Advising skills - for example, active listening and questioning, challenging, reframing and reflecting back and summarising;
  • are based on clear agreed expectations;
  • include effective feedback on progress and SMART targeting;
  • are, as much as possible, led by the Advisee;
  • use a coaching approach (Lochtie et al, 2018, pp.136-152);
  • are informed by institutional data on student attendance and performance (as proxies for engagement).

Further information, support and development on Advising skills and how to undertake effective Advising tutorials are provided through the EXPLORE sessions on Academic Advising. 

Communicating and monitoring progress (email templates)

Regular ‘checking-in’ with your Advisees through email is also essential to check progress, direct them to some of the resources and services available to them and generally make them feel welcome, cared for and able to approach you as their Advisor. Please see below for email templates for your use.

Emails should be sent in the first weeks of study.

Please note, these constitute the 'minimum' contact with Advisees. Likewise, they are templates with suggested content so please adapt and supplement them as appropriate. 

Semester 1

Semester 2