News for NMU Employees

New Tool for Academic Advisers

NMU has launched a new tool for academic advisers that combines all relevant data on one page and eliminates the need to pull up multiple screens through Banner. The advisee list on MyNMU now includes an enhancement called the Expanded Student Profile. The ESP provides faculty and staff members with each student’s photo, admission credentials, current GPA, English and math placement test scores, directory information, access to the student’s transcript and degree evaluations, and areas for general notes and meeting notes. The homegrown system has saved Northern from having to invest up to $100,000 in a similar commercial product.

“Advisers used to have to gather information from several different places before a student came into their office,” said Jim Gadzinski (Academic and Career Advisement Center), who developed the tool with technical support from Tony Bertucci (IT-Information Services). “When advisers look at the advisee list, it will appear similar to the older version, complete with email capabilities, but they will notice the ESP button on the left side. When they press that button, they’re taken to the expanded profile. ESP will follow each student throughout their academic career at Northern. If a student switches majors or advisers, the notes will be made available to the next adviser.

A future goal is that ESP will also provide direct access to SIGNALS, an early-warning automated system being tested by 15 faculty members this fall.

“Right now, advisers don’t know how their advisees are doing in their current courses,” said Felecia Flack (IT-Information Services). “SIGNALS reads data from the EduCat grade book and displays either a red, yellow or green icon to indicate the students’ academic progress. If they’re not doing well, the program would generate an email or text to the student, copied to the adviser, suggesting actions they might take, such as going to the tutoring center or writing center. We’re hoping to work out all of that functionality with the pilot group.”

Gadzinski adds, “It’s a great system that’s responsive and provides a timely warning. Or, if all signals are green, it can be confidence-building for the students. Advisers might send an email to those advisees congratulating them on their academic progress. We are hoping to increase faculty participation in EduCat because SIGNALS will depend upon the grade book. The Center for Instructional Technology in Education can help faculty learn and use EduCat effectively.”

Depending on the results of the pilot program, Gadzinski said SIGNALS may be implemented campus wide in fall 2014.