Sometimes issues outside of the classroom can cause a student’s work inside the classroom to suffer. RiverSupport Resources can provide students with easy access to many different types of services to help address personal and academic challenges.
IRSC provides students and their families access to the RiverSupport Online Resource Guide, a collection of on-campus and community-based resources on topics that range from finance to physical health, academic support to time management, child and elder care to literacy, and more.
The College’s RiverSupport network activates when an instructor notices a challenge and sends out a “ReachOut” to a student’s advisor. A ReachOut is meant to provide support to students who might need assistance because of a temporary setback or an ongoing difficulty that puts their academic success at risk. ReachOuts may identify frequent absences, missed assignments or exams, or poor performance in class. An advisor will contact students to discuss the ReachOut and offer to connect them with resources and support.
Effective Practices for ReachOuts (reported by IRSC Faculty)
Include a statement about the RiverSupport ReachOut system in your syllabus
Here is a sample statement that you can insert in your syllabus or place on BLACKBOARD:
This class uses the RiverSupport/ReachOut system. I will notify your academic advisor if you have struggled with academic concerns, excessive absences, incomplete work, difficulty with the course content or other issues affecting your coursework.
This warning is not an official grade, yet it indicates concerns about your progress that need to be addressed immediately. Since the ReachOut provides essential notices by email, a course requirement is that you check your RiverMail account frequently and respond quickly if you receive an email message regarding a ReachOut from RiverSupport.
If you are contacted by an advisor regarding a ReachOut, please respond to that individual and also visit me during my office hours, so we may talk about strategies for how you can be successful in this class.
Make class announcements
Before submitting ReachOuts, communicate to your class reasons you may be submitting them and your expectations for students who receive them. Some faculty have created a homework assignment or have offered extra credit for students who complete DLAs (Directed Learning Activities) related to the ReachOuts, such as extra-credit points for using ASC services or creating an action plan.
Use CATs (Classroom Assessment Techniques) or other measures (syllabus quizzes, homework) early in the semester to identify “at-risk” students.
For the initial student contact, consider using the “Meet with Instructor” email referral
to determine what is going on with the student. As instructors, we see behavioral traits that are symptomatic of “at-risk” students:
tardiness, missed homework, poor quality of homework submitted, missed classes, disheveled
appearance, etc. We see the behavioral indicators that students are struggling, but
we often do not know the reasons that lie beneath the behavioral indicators. Instructors
have found the “Meet with Instructor” referral email, via Blackboard or RiverMail
to be effective as the initial referral to meet with the student and review the situation.
Here is a sample email that you can adapt for your class and/or student:
Hello (student first name),
I am glad that you are enrolled in my class (course name/number). Success in college can sometimes be challenging, and I want you to know that I am here to support your academic goals. I am concerned that you are not experiencing the level of achievement in my class that you expect and want you to know that IRSC has many support services to aid your efforts.
Please come and see me ASAP, so that we can discuss strategies for your success in this course. Below are my office hours and location, as well as my phone # and email. I look forward to working with you over the next several weeks.
After discussing what is going on with the student, the instructor can best determine if the student needs additional resources and can initiate a ReachOut if necessary. If contact is not made with the student after several attempts, a ReachOut can also be sent to aid in getting the student the information needed.
Students who have been referred early in the semester have a better chance of turning around their grades. Don’t wait until the latter part of the semester when students do not have time to turn their grades around.
The best time to make a ReachOut is from Week 3 to 7 in the Fall and/or Spring semester.
Sending a ReachOut means the student is AT-RISK OF FAILURE. You should only send a ReachOut AFTER you have worked with the student on ways to be successful and feel that other outside interventions are needed.
RiverSupport is a communication system between the faculty member and the advisor. It is not a way to communicate directly with the student. Students will never see information that is placed in the ReachOut Details form.
Each ReachOut initiates three (3) automated emails:
One to the student’s assigned advisor with the details of the ReachOut
One to the student from their advisor
A confirmation email back to you as the instructor
Allow the advisor three (3) business days after the ReachOut has been sent to work on contacting the student. It is not necessary to send an additional ReachOut for the same issue while the advisor is in the process of contacting the student. Give them time to make contact and send you a response regarding the challenge.
Each time the advisor responds to the ReachOut, you will receive an email detailing the action(s) of the advisor and the student’s response. There may be questions for you from the advisor; read the comments and respond if the student begins to make progress, if you see a change in the student's success or if there is other follow-up information needed. You can easily respond to the advisor by replying to the RiverSupport Advisor Response email for that particular student.
Once the ReachOut challenge has been resolved and no more actions need to be taken, the ReachOut will be closed by the advisor. You will be notified that the ReachOut has been CLOSED and given details regarding the final outcome of the ReachOut challenge.
The Early Alert system is still available and will function as normal. Please feel free to continue to use the Early Alert system as you are accustomed.
As a faculty member, you are the most influential person students come in contact with. Therefore, you are the best person to recognize when and if your students are experiencing academic or personal difficulties. Your awareness of and timely response to potential student academic problems is the foundation of our RiverSupport System.
Reasons students are at risk of failure:
- Has poor attendance or tardiness
- Misses tests/quizzes
- Exhibits a low level of engagement
- Fails to obtain required textbook and/or course materials
- Submits substandard work
- Exhibits a low level of reading comprehension
- Experiences academic or personal difficulties that are interfering with classroom success
- Exhibits inappropriate behavior that warrants concern
- Is not performing well on tests/quizzes
A ReachOut to an advisor means that this student is having issues that need other resources and support over and above your own interventions and efforts. We encourage you to submit ReachOuts as early as the first few weeks of classes if you feel a student needs intervention beyond what you as an instructor can offer.
ReachOuts and RiverSupport do not replace your own classroom management or student engagement techniques. RiverSupport is simply another layer of protection for the student to get needed support when they are at risk of failing.
The first six weeks of the semester are critical to being proactive and getting your students on track; however, we encourage you to submit early and often, throughout the semester. ReachOuts will be functional throughout the entire semester. Many times, a student stops attending or struggles later in the semester.
Advisors are contacting students based on the information that you provide in the ReachOut, especially in the comments section. Students will not see any of this information ,so feel free to give the advisor as much information as possible. It is also good to offer your own suggestions as to what the student should do to improve. Advisors have been told to contact you, the Instructor, for clarification if needed, so be as detailed as possible.
When you submit a ReachOut, students will receive an email to their RiverMail from their advisor. The general purpose of the email is to reach out to students and inform them that we are concerned about their progress in your course. The email communication will list general referrals to your contact information, the ASC Lab and Smarthinking Online Tutoring. We encourage you to provide as much information as possible in the comments area. This information will not be provided directly to the student; however, it will greatly assist the advisor when contact with the student is made to discuss the specific challenges.
In addition to the student receiving an email communication, you will receive a confirmation email. An email detailing all this information is also sent to the student’s assigned advisor.
This would greatly depend on the situation. There are many laws that govern abusive situations. First and foremost, IRSC is in complete compliance with the Protection of Vulnerable Persons law which states that if you know or have a reasonable belief to suspect that a child (a person under the age of 18 years)
- is abused by an adult or
- is the victim of childhood sexual abuse or
- is the victim of a juvenile sexual offender,
you must immediately notify the Department of Children and Families (DCF) Abuse Hotline.
Notification must be made by calling, faxing or emailing the Florida DCF Abuse Hotline
Florida DCF Abuse Reporting Website; http:// www.dcf.state.fl.us/abuse/report/
A violation of the law is a 3rd degree felony! If you have questions or need guidance
on the notification process, contact:
There may be other abuse situations where you might feel students could use some other support or assistance from their advisor. This situation could warrant a ReachOut, as well as a personal conversation with the assigned advisor to get the student the proper assistance.
- Log into RiverSupport, find the student in your caseload and add any Special Service Groups (special designators or NONE if there are no designators in Mariner), Referral Sources & Reasons for Service.
- Make contact with the student, preferably as soon as possible but at least within three (3) business days, and respond to the ReachOut documenting the type and result of the contact.
Always feel free to contact the instructor who sent the ReachOut, and ask for more information and/or clarification as to what specific needs or challenges exist. You are the second line of defense, the faculty being the first. It is always okay to ask for more details that can assist you in working with the student.
I have contacted my ReachOut student several times but have not gotten any return response from the phone calls or emails. How many times should I try to him/her before I close the ReachOut.
- Each student should receive at least three (3) separate contacts within a six (6)-day
period. Try and vary the times of day that you attempt to make contact, and be sure
to document each contact by waiting for a response to the ReachOut in RiverSupport.
— ReachOut was received on Monday, phoned and emailed student and left message, detailed in ReachOut Response.
— Wednesday, contacted student a second time via phone and email and emailed instructor to assist in contacting student, detailed in ReachOut Response.
— Monday, contacted student a third time, closed ReachOut as unresponsive, detailed in ReachOut Response.
Be creative, but always aware of FERPA laws when making contact and leaving messages or emails. The goal is to reach out to the student to offer your support. After the third point of contact, close the ReachOut, and change the student’s status to Non-Participating.
- If the student is not responding, contact the faculty who initiated the ReachOut to see if the student is either back on track or no longer capable of success. Close ReachOut with appropriate response, or continue to contact if required.
You can change to Non-participating status as soon as their ReachOut has been closed. Once you have responded to and closed the ReachOut, highlight the student in your caseload, and click on the Stop Sign above the student status. Choose Participating, and select remove ReachOut from my case load.
Oftentimes students are hesitant to speak about things that might be affecting their academic performance. Try asking the student open questions that are not too invasive. Open questions force people to open up. The answers to open questions give valuable hints to what questions to follow up with, and in many cases a period of silence by the questioner will elicit further response. “What” questions are the least threatening as they seek understanding about behavior and the environment, e.g., ”What were the circumstances?” “What did you think?” “What can we do about it?” We know that so many outside pressures and stresses can affect our students’ academic endeavors, and we want to try to provide as much assistance as possible. Sometimes it helps students to work through challenges and make a plan by voicing their concerns. Once they know you are a partner in their success, they will be more willing to discuss issues they are facing. Whatever the case, make sure that you always give the student information regarding RiverSupport Resources located at www.irsc.edu. There they can privately search for needed resources and support that could help them overcome some of the challenges they may be experiencing. If you feel that there will be no further contact with the student or that the issue is resolved and no other follow up is needed by you, close the ReachOut; however, be aware that the instructor may again send another ReachOut for the same student if the issue persists in the course.
We have asked that the instructors provide feedback to the advisors of their ReachOut students via email letting you know if the students made contact and of their progress. Always feel free to email the instructors if you would like more information regarding a ReachOut student. As we move forward with RiverSupport, we will be branching out to include other departments that work directly with students to help with providing this feedback.
Questions Frequently Asked by Students
You will receive information regarding the ReachOut from your assigned advisor through RiverMail, as well as by phone. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you activate and check RiverMail often, and pay special attention to messages from River Support. Make sure that IRSC has all of your current contact information, so you don’t miss out on these important notices.
When your IRSC advisor contacts you to discuss the ReachOut, he/she will offer to connect you with resources and support that can assist you with whatever challenges you may be experiencing. Be sure to make contact with your advisor.
A ReachOut is meant to provide support to students who might need assistance because of a temporary setback or an ongoing difficulty that puts their academic success at risk.
Receiving a ReachOut does not necessarily mean that you are failing. Speak to your instructor as soon as you receive the ReachOut. Clarification from your instructor will give you a better idea as to where you stand in the class and what areas need improvement. It is also important to contact your assigned advisor who wants to help find resources to assist you.
Information sent to RiverSupport is in no way associated with your academic record. Information within the system is not accessible by anyone other than authorized advisors directly involved in supporting your success.
We have lots of help for struggling students. Your first step is to visit the Academic Support Center (ASC). An ASC is located at each IRSC campus. There you will find information on tutoring, the Writing Center, the Math Lab and Student Success Workshops. There is also a list of campus and community resources available to students through RiverSupport. If you still need assistance, contact your assigned advisor who can direct you toward the needed support or resources.