For Faculty


The following are resources and information links for faculty, staff and advisors to facilitate the Early Alert process.

Faculty Helpful Hints

These questions were created to give faculty some information which will make using SAILS a bit easier and more effective in helping students get the assistance they need to be successful.

  1. Be focused about flags! Flag only those students who really need help. In most classes, there are only a few students who are really struggling.  Others may need some verbal encouragement or a nudge now and then, but hopefully the majority of your students are doing fairly well.  Flag only the students who are really struggling and need a referral to other college resources.  For every flag that is raised, an entire intervention process will be activated which is time intensive and involved.  If the student really needs that kind of assistance, then raise the flag.  If they just need a little prodding to remember a deadline or to submit one assignment, think seriously about whether that warrants raising the flag before you do so.
  2. Be frugal about flags! Choose carefully which flag to raise. Every time a flag is raised (except for the General Concern Flag) the student will get an email and the student’s faculty advisor will get an email.  So, if you raise 5 flags on one student – the student and the faculty advisor will each get 5 emails.  Take time to prioritize which is the most pressing issue with the student and raise the one flag that most closely describes that concern.  If there are other related issues, those points can be listed in notes (in the comments section) which you will submit when you raise the flag.
  3. Close the Loop! If you have raised a flag, and the student comes to you to resolve the issue, you can close the loop!  Let us know the concern has been addressed and that we do not need to pursue further efforts to contact the student.  Closing the loop will clear the flag and indicate that the concern has been resolved.  It will keep Counseling from contacting a student about an issue that has already been addressed – and thus reduce potential confusion for the student.
  4. Pause prior to picking flags in progress surveys! Instructors can raise a flag individually at any time they identify a struggling student.  The SAILS alert system also includes periodic progress surveys which are sent out at strategic times in the academic term.  If your students are doing well, that’s great.  Just respond to the survey to inform the system that you have reviewed the roster and no one is really struggling at this time.  Just click “No Feedback” and submit.  You do NOT have to raise flags if there are no pressing concerns with your students, but you do have to respond to the survey.
  5. Gently raise the General Concern flag. General Concern flags should be few and far between. Try to see if another flag will fit the concern before you decide to raise the General Concern flag. Reserve this flag for something other than an academic performance issue. When you raise any other flag, be aware that the notes you include on those flags will be sent in an email to the student.  The one exception is the General Concern Flag.  If you want an email to go directly to the student, do not use the General Concern flag.  Instructors would not use the General Concern flag unless there is really no other flag that can describe the concern. 
  6. Fill in the facts with the flags! Write notes to provide detailed information when you raise a flag. Counseling will review all the flags you raise.  We need to know what you have already done to initially address the concern before you raised the flag. We need to know details about the issue.  We need to know what you think would be helpful to the student.  You are with the student in class and know them the best.  Give information that can help us more effectively ‘pick up’ where you have left off, so as to make sure we can quickly and effectively assist the student.
  7. Make it fit for FERPA! Always remember the student sees the notes you write.  With the exception of the General Concern flag, all notes written in the SAILS system will go as a part of the email that is sent to the student.  Students will read what you write.  Write your notes as if you are directly addressing the student, because you actually are!  Also, remember these notes are disclosable through FERPA – the Family Educational Records Privacy Act—and so you do not want to write anything that you would NOT want to possibly hear in a court of law.  Make it ‘fit’ for public disclosure!
  8. Be flag friendly! Faculty Advisors get a copy of every flag that is sent to one of their student advisees. Keep that in mind as you ponder whether to raise a flag or not. Is this an issue that is of such a concern that it would warrant (1) an email to the student, (2) intervention by a counselor and (3) an email to the faculty advisor as a point of information?  Put yourself in the faculty advisor’s place as well…since you are likely to be one yourself. 
  9. Kindle the kudos! If your students are doing well, you can raise kudos instead of flags. Let students know they are doing well or making improvement.  Fire up those students with positive reinforcement and pats on the back.  Positive feedback is often more powerful and motivating than any other kind!
  10. Ask for help.  As other helpful ideas surface, we will add to this handout and keep you updated.  SAILS is a new resource and we are all learning how it works during this pilot period. If you have questions, please direct them to Alicia Landes at or Sarah Somerville at

Progress Surveys

What are progress surveys?

Progress surveys are used to encourage use of SAILS by instructors in courses with high enrollment.  Simply put, instructors receive an email with a link to complete a survey on academic concerns they have for their students.  When an instructor submits these academic concerns through the survey, automated emails are sent to the student (in the instructor’s name) to help the student address the concern.

Progress surveys, filled out by instructors, allow instructors to raise academic concerns for student’s one class at a time. 

Depending on the length of the course, there may be one or two surveys.  One survey occurs just prior to the census date, and the other just prior to the withdraw date.  Instructors will receive an email reminder to complete the survey.

 How do progress surveys work?

Instructors will receive an email reminder that the progress survey is ready.  Click on the link in the email (or log in to SAILS to see a link for your available progress surveys) to complete them.

 What if I missed the Progress Survey Deadline?

You can still enter academic concerns for your students by logging on to SAILS and manually inputting the information for each student.  Progress surveys dates cannot be extended.

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