Course Signals is an educational technology tool that can help improve student achievement and lead to better student retention.

Course Signals is an educational technology tool that can help improve student achievement and lead to better student retention.

A Purdue University-piloted tool that uses educational technology—and online “signals”—to warn some students that their grades are dropping, offer study-habit suggestions, and provide positive reinforcement to students who are acing quizzes and exams is being released nationally.

Course Signals” is being made available to higher-education institutions through a joint effort by SunGard Higher Education and Purdue University to help increase student achievement. Course Signals was developed at the university and piloted for three semesters before its 2009 launch. (See “Tech helps students adopt good study habits.”)

“We found in our research that this can improve student [achievement] an average of one letter grade for many students,” said Gerry McCartney, Purdue’s chief information officer, vice president for information technology, and Olga Oesterle England Professor of Information Technology. “Course Signals is an important step forward for higher education that can be implemented successfully at many universities and community colleges across the nation to improve student retention and success.”

Course Signals is an educational technology solution that is built upon a predictive model developed by John Campbell, associate vice president for academic technologies at Purdue.

The solution allows an institution to combine information already available within campus systems (including student information systems, learning management systems, and gradebooks) to determine whether a student is at risk of failing or withdrawing from a course as early as the second week of the semester or quarter.