Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Nyunt, Gudrun

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


This dissertation examined the decision-making experience of students receiving an early alert notification at a community college and what influenced students’ responses to the alert. Early alert programs are identified as a high impact persistence practice and may involve significant financial, technology, and personnel investments. Examining how students engage or disconnect from an early alert program may help maximize the institution’s investment and fulfill the program’s intent. Utilizing a qualitative case study, informed by Pascarella’s (1980) Student-Faculty Informal Contact model, this study sought to fill a gap within the persistence and early alert literature. The study also provided participant-driven guidance toward maximizing student engagement with the institution’s early alert program. Seventeen participants were interviewed at a Midwestern community college located outside a major metropolitan area. Four primary themes emerged from the interview data analysis: students’ self-efficacy influences response decisions; relationships influence students’ response decisions; clear, caring, and actionable messages foster positive student responses; and students’ desire for personal conversations following an early alert. The study prompted a new conceptual model for early alert student decision-making.


121 pages




Northern Illinois University

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In Copyright

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