Texas Tech University

Strive FAQs

Faculty & Staff

What should Faculty/Instructors do to better leverage Strive.TTU.edu?

  1. Respond to Progress Reports when received.
  2. If attendance is tracked, please use Strive.TTU.edu to engage the support network and provide for deeper analysis of student performance.
  3. Create Alerts when students are excessively absent, missing assignments, should seek tutoring, etc.

Can TAs be added to STRIVE, since they often keep the attendance records for faculty?

Yes, if anyone is 10% or more instructor in Banner, they already have access in Strive.TTU.edu. Others, once trained, FERPA-certified, and with Confidentiality Agreements on file in HR, can be added to specific sections of the courses they support.

What is an AFR? Who are the appointed representatives from my college? What do they do?

A. Texas Tech's Academic First Responder team is a vibrant group of knowledgeable university personnel who are deeply committed to the collaborative care of Texas Tech students. We recognize that no one person or entity can solely claim that a student is 'theirs', as there are as many beneficial and appropriate relationships available to support each individual student, based on their backgrounds, preferences, needs, and pursuits. Because ownership mentalities create unhelpful barriers and siloed operations, our multi-faceted team seeks to embody a high-functioning network or web.

More information about the AFR team, its members' responsibilities, and the current appointees of each institutional area are all available on this web page.

What is this Progress Survey? Haven't I seen this before?

A. It's a request for you to provide information on the performance of students enrolled in the classes you lead. Yes, you've likely seen it; no, this time it is a little different/better.

Since fall of 2018 SSR has partnered with members of the campus community to minimize the total number of separate requests you will receive this term. To do this, Texas Tech's Academic First Responder team (AFR), comprised of appointed representatives from all academic colleges and many student support programs, has consolidated a substantial number of student lists from their respective areas.

For you this means that, instead of seeing separately generated requests from units like Athletics, Student Disability Services, and certain academic colleges, from this point forward you should only receive two other major requests per long semester. Of course, there will be a few exceptions that fall outside the general schedule (as our case management process sometimes requires additional information due to a more severe student situation), we hope this new process demonstrates deep concern for your time and serious value for the information you possess.

We'll use this information and combine it with three other important sources to take action.

  1. Alerts: Though the Progress Report process is associated only with engaging underperforming students, Strive.TTU.edu allows you to view your enrolled students' profiles and to issue more general alerts (Positive or Negative). Administrators, Advisors, and other Success Personnel use this approach when their work with a student reveals an undocumented situation. You'll find the alert reasons and format look almost identical to the Progress Report format you've already seen via this email. Yes, by the way, specific alert reasons also are provided so you can indicate a student's excellent academic performance in their Strive.TTU.edu records; besides notifying the student with a congratulatory email message, these encouragements allow other university team members to commend students when they meet, further reinforcing the value of student learning via their diligence and excellence in the classroom.
  2. Mid-Semester Grades: As explained more thoroughly in our 'Mid-Terms Matter' campaign each semester, your thoughtful calculation and timely submission of mid-semester grades is incredibly important. In this context, they serve as a proxy for a formal Progress Report. Mid-Semester grades, according to OP34.12, are required for specific students by October 21, 2019 at 5pm. In cases where mid-semester grades are not provided, or where they are not allowed by the online grading system, one additional progress report request email will be distributed at that time.
  3. Blackboard Gradebook:

What happens when I respond?

A. A lot, actually. Since you asked, here's a quick summary of what's happening thanks to the information you provide. Additional detail can be provided upon request.

Based on the information you and your colleagues provide on any individual student, an alert score is created. While all of the alert reasons are important, some types of alerts, e.g., 'At Risk of Failing this Class' carry more import than others, e.g., 'Poor Assignment Quality'. Your input is combined with that of other personnel and, for each student, alerts are calculated into a current alert score for the current review period.

From there the process moves quickly as each case-qualifying alert matures from investigation to initiation to inclusion to intervention to insight.  Each of these phases in the life cycle of a case work to provide the individual student with awareness, guidance, and support, even while providing the institution with an opportunity to understand from the student's experience its own processes, policies, and opportunities for improvement:

    1. Investigation
      Using a tiered approach to define several score thresholds, assigned AFR team members individually review all available inputs to determine if/where/when institutional intervention may be beneficial and appropriate.  In all cases, the AFR member becomes responsible for overseeing the entire alert life cycle.  Accordingly, the AFR member makes the judgement call on the best course of action.  This decision relies heavily on information found in the student's online profile and in the details of the flag's comments that you provided.
    2. Inclusion
      The AFR member uses Strive.TTU.edu to 'assign' various members of the university community to the flag's ad hoc response team, effectively inviting them by email to click, read, and to provide perspective/detail/recommendations. Together the team members contribute to a quick decision on if/what action(s) should be taken to immediately assist the student and thoughtfully invest in the student's long term success as well.
    3. Intervention
      As determined by the included team, intervention efforts are undertaken, and the student's responsiveness to these efforts are documented.
    4. Insight
      Flag clearing reasons are provided by the initiating AFR team member, providing valuable data for institutional analysis and consideration of potential improvement recommendations.

Will my students see my comments or get an email?

A. In short, yes.

Why? Because Texas Tech is dedicated to prepare its students to lead*. Accordingly, we believe that that students are the primary leaders and owners of their own educational experiences. We would, therefore, be remiss to withhold information from these students, particularly vitally important feedback on academic progress provided by their own instructors. Furthermore, though FERPA is best known as the federal legislation that guards student privacy, it is equally responsible for ensuring student access to their own educational records. As such, all reports from faculty members are part of each student's educational record, and are available to them upon request. Providing students with real-time ongoing online access to their own records is more efficient, more empowering, and more ethically sound than any other approach.

Several faculty members have expressed interest in reviewing email notifications that their students receive as part of the flag/kudos notification process. To provide this access, we've put together a web site that lists the different email templates we've programmed into the Strive.TTU.edu system. It should be understood that these templates are, as appropriate, associated with flags/alerts, kudos, to-dos, referrals, and success plans.

At the request of TTU Faculty Senate, the standard system templates have been rewritten to be sent from Joshua Barron, our Senior Director for Student Success & Retention. This is done to ensure students are connected with a real person who can assist them further, should the need arise. The notification emails provide encouraging messages, equip students by introducing them to (or reminding them about) available resources, and expressly share instructors' course-specific comments, the names of instructors and other personnel who raise the items, and a link to My Success Network (MSN).

Within Strive.TTU.edu, MSN is a pesonalized directory of individuals and services who, in the current term, have a defined instructional, support, and/or advising relationship with each student. Entries in each student's customized MSN facilitate connections with network members by providing students with contact details, portrait photographs (from the University ID office), biographical information (configured/maintained by the team member themselves), and online appointment scheduling opportunities (when personnel have completed the calendar sync and availability setup process).

Click to review the content of Strive's email notification templates.

In cases where the situation is so sensitive it warrants the most delicate of approaches, faculty are directed to use submit a 'Students of Concern' report instead of raising flags in Strive.TTU.edu.

What about alerts I'd like to create related to plagiarism, cheating, medical matters, mental health, disability concerns, psychologically-related behavioral issues, safety concerns, student conduct, abuse, sexually-inappropriate situations, or other criminal behavior?

A. Those don't belong in an academic progress report or an alert. Please take action immediately, guided by your copy of the red Students of Concern Resource Folder.
(You receive this each year via campus mail; it is also available online.)

Should I mention Strive.TTU.edu on my syllabi?

A. We see great benefit in students learning about Strive and the Support Network first from the institution's faculty. Instructors are welcome to share information on Strive.TTU.edu and how it will be used in the classroom. To be helpful, the following example text should provide a good starting place for setting grit-worthy expectations, introducing resources, and preparing students for outreach and dialogue with support personnel. Customize this text or use it as-is:

“Texas Tech and I care about your success! Please remember that, in this course, quality learning is our goal. One of the ways we assess learning is through grading your assignments, projects, and examinations. Note that grades are not “given”; they are earned. Because we know that anything worth earning requires effort, throughout the process, you should expect to face difficulty. Especially when you are required to work diligently, you know this process is benefiting you.

Don't be discouraged when it is difficult; academic struggle should not involve suffering.

Do be smart about it; reach out and take advantage of the many available resources.

In some cases TTU will reach out to you. Why? Because this course is part of the TTU Student Success Network. To do this, we leverage an online platform called Strive. Strive.TTU.edu is designed to promote student success through coordination and communication between students, instructors, and support staff.

Throughout the semester you are likely to receive emails regarding your attendance, course grades or other aspects of academic performance. To benefit, it is important that you check your TTU email regularly and take recommended actions. You can always log in directly at Strive.TTU.edu. The campus team may also use phone calls, text messages, or TTU emails as they reach out to support your success.”

What are the characteristics of successful Early Alert Systems (EAS)?

Ease of Use

Effective EAS are easy to use for both instructors and support staff, and those personnel are responsible for utilizing them. When possible, they are integrated into related systems and structures, such as E-Learning systems or other advising or CRM software programs.

Clarity and Consistency of Criteria

Effective EAS have clear and consistent criteria for various categories from which instructors and staff can choose to flag students. These are normally finite in number, (with an option for "other") and can include multiple selections.

Clarity and Consistency of Intervention Processes

Effective EAS have clearly defined plans for interventions with students, and these are consistent across campus (e.g., a student flagged for poor early work grades in the College of Business is treated largely the same as a student flagged for poor early work grades in the College of Arts and Sciences). The rule of thumb in effective EAS is "respond to the student, not the problem."

Formal Systems for Follow-Up and Feedback

Effective EAS do not simply "intervene" with students; they follow up, document, and provide feedback to those who flagged the student. This requires a high level of coordination and communication across diverse units and is often most effective at smaller institutions.

Earlier Interventions

Effective EAS recognize that the most effective interventions come early in the semester, placing an emphasis not just on academic performance but on academic and social engagement as well, particularly in the first three weeks of the semester. Many effective EAS also begin prioritizing and intervening with students before the semester begins, through orientation and early term programming.

Prioritizing Target Populations

Effective EAS recognize the need to prioritize the students who are most at-risk and who will benefit most from interventions. Many institutions focus on particular students who are more likely to be at risk based on factors like high school GPA or those who miss more than one course in the first two weeks of the semester; others focus on courses with high D/F/W (drop/fail/withdraw) rates, but all successful EAS prioritize.

Workload, Responsibility, and Accountability

Effective EAS have a designated person who is responsible for coordinating campus-wide early alert efforts. At smaller colleges and universities this is often a registrar, associate registrar, or a member of the institutional research team. At larger campuses, the position is often a direct report to an Associate Provost for Student Success or similar position. Some campuses also have Early Alert "teams" or committees whose job it is to coordinate activities for the entire campus.

Results-Driven Resource Allocation

Effective EAS are supported with resources based on their ability to demonstrate results in the areas of retention and student success. Given the resources necessary to sustain programs that combine effective interventions with consistent communication, coordination, and follow-up, tying them to results encourage stakeholders to be timely and effective while documenting and assessing their efforts. Effective EAS programs are able to demonstrate the budgetary impact they make by retaining and graduating students who go on to become alumni and donors.

I keep grades and attendance information in Blackboard. Doesn't responding to progress reports require me to duplicate that effort?

This table attempts to provide a detailed response to this integration-focused question by providing a current position and future outlook for each component of our Strive.TTU.edu alerts system.

Strive.TTU.edu Features Highlighted in Faculty QuickStart Guide

Current Situation

Future Outlook

Assignments

Regarding integration with Texas Tech's current Learning Management System (LMS), we have just completed a formal RFP-driven procurement process and implemented Hobsons Starfish as the application running Strive.TTU.edu.  Integration with Texas Tech's current Learning Management System (LMS), Blackboard, was a key component of our user's requirements.  We are pleased to report that, as of June 1, 2020, the new version of Strive.TTU.edu fully integrates your recorded Blackboard gradebook items, automatically generating some reports and making grades visible to appropriate members of the campus community.  

 

We are currently in the formal stage of a Request-for-Proposal (RFP) process; this process will culminate next semester in a renewal of the existing vendor's contract, or its replacement. In its mandatory system requirements section, the RFP stipulates that proposed systems must, from beginning of the go-live period, provide appropriate integration with Texas Tech's current Learning Management System (LMS), Blackboard, to accommodate assignment details, comments, and assigned grades, plus display and analysis of mid-term course grades, final course grades, attendance details, and tardy reports.

Believing integration will substantially increase the likelihood of faculty participation, we are eager to have such a solution in place.

Attendance

Attendance information recorded in Blackboard will be automatically incorporated into the student alert profile of Strive.TTU.edu.

Learn more about this function in Bb's online help documentation.

We are currently in the formal stage of a Request-for-Proposal (RFP) process for enterprise-wide classroom engagement technology.  This process will culminate in Fall 2020.  

Believing integration will substantially increase the likelihood of faculty participation in attendance tracking, we are eager to have such a solution in place.

Office Hours Appointments

To our knowledge, office hours are currently provided to students in, at best/most, the following ways: syllabi content, instructor announcements, instructor emails, course web sites, course/section Blackboard content, and signage posted on instructors' office doors.  A random review of current syllabi reveals a substantial number of instructors whose office hours read simply, "By appointment only."

Beyond multiple email interactions aiming to find commonly available times, we are not aware of any institutional system other than Strive.TTU.edu that provides students with a straightforward way to quickly and easily schedule time with a particular instructor.

We are hopeful that increased awareness (of student anxiety regarding instructor office visits) and increased training (to facilitate knowledgeable use of Strive.TTU.edu features) will encourage faculty adoption of important student-centric changes in their standard 'Office Hours' policies and processes.

Current (and future) technologies, already used by students for advising, tutoring, and other appointments, are presently able to handle appointment logistics, provide clearly visible walk-in availabilities, and eliminate frequently fruitless and time-consuming email exchanges.

Increased instructor use of these technologies should therefore facilitate student-instructor interactions, leading to an overall decrease in the perceived/actual thresholds that inhibit these valuable relationships.

Ad Hoc Alerts (Not associated with a specific course)

Not being associated with specific course/section involvement, this type of general academic alert is duplicated only when an instructor accidentally submits issues to the Students of Concern web site.

The Students of Concern form is intended primarily for use with students whose medical, mental, physical, sexual, or conduct-related situations require review and intervention by the Dean of Students and/or related university offices in Student Affairs.

Better integration and coordinated/clarified communications to simplify faculty use of these two complementary systems should functionally eliminate faculty confusion and any duplication of effort with regard to the appropriate reporting and correct routing of submitted issues.

Beyond improvements to web site content, printed mailouts, instructional text, and redirected submissions, a coordinated introduction of these systems by the system owners should likely be an essential element of all New Faculty Orientation events.

This recommendation has recently been submitted for review to the Provost's Task Force for Student Success & Retention.

Responding to Progress Surveys

Specific alerts, kudos, and instructor comments combine to provide incredibly valuable qualitative categorized inputs that are quickly routed to the most appropriate resource(s). Admittedly, as with any written professional communication, these alerts do require instructors to thoughtfully examine student performance and invest time in composing relevant, personalized commentary for an intervention team's benefit.  Additional effort is required if an instructor should undertake even more detailed planning; improved timeliness and relevance of progress report responses can only be achieved through the coordination of course assessment schedules with the institution's new progress reporting cycle.

Despite the many challenges to increasing quantity and quality of participation, it is hoped an instructor's perceived 'costs of participating/responding' can be offset through improved communication. In addition to the previously-mentioned faculty training and orientation efforts, we have recently implemented a "closing-the-loop" communication effort. At the point of case closure, involved personnel are now sending appropriately-detailed summary emails to each alert initiator.

We are hopeful these messages will further improve the engagement of invested administrators, faculty members, and other personnel by making them more aware of the interventions and outcomes made possible thanks to their timely and detailed progress reporting.

 

What types of flags can be raised?

A. Several different types are available. The current list, including comprehensive workflows created by the AFR team members, is posted online in a secure area of our web site. Follow this link to learn more.

If you have difficulty logging in, please submit a request for access to ITTeamWeb@ttu.edu.

What should Advisors & Associate Deans do to better leverage Strive.TTU.edu?

  1. Using calendar synchronization with O365, provide online scheduling of all advising appointments, and posting of walk-in availability.
  2. Where appropriate, utilize the check-in kiosk system to maximize efficiencies and facilitate a consistent student experience that promotes the many available services in all university locations.
  3. Document all advising interactions using the Advising Appointment Report. Utilize 30-Second Risk Profile to assist in preparing for student appointments.
  4. Send student communications via Strive.TTU.edu for a consistent student experience and long-term storage in the student's academic records.  Alternatively, include ".success" in student email addresses to have the same effect, e.g., firstname.lastname@ttu.edu becomes firstname.lastname@success.ttu.edu.
  5. Create Alerts when students are academic jeopardy, discussing drops and withdrawals, should seek tutoring, etc.

What should Tutoring Programs, Learning Labs, Support Programs, etc. do to better leverage Strive.TTU.edu?

  1. Using calendar synchronization with O365, provide online scheduling of all advising appointments, and posting of walk-in availability.
  2. Where appropriate, utilize the check-in kiosk system to maximize efficiencies and facilitate a consistent student experience that promotes the many available services in all university locations.
  3. Document all tutoring interactions using the Tutoring Appointment Report.
  4. Send student communications via Strive.TTU.edu for a consistent student experience and long-term storage in the student's academic records.  Alternatively, include ".success" in student email addresses to have the same effect, e.g., firstname.lastname@ttu.edu becomes firstname.lastname@success.ttu.edu.
  5. Create Alerts when students are in academic jeopardy, discussing drops and withdrawals, missing assignments, etc.