What to do about students who “disappear” from your class

November 17, 2020 | Claudia Stanny

What to do about students who “disappear” from your class

Has a student ever “ghosted” your class? Years ago, a student enrolled in my class, who had done quite well on the first course exam, suddenly stopped attending class. After a few missed classes, I sent him an email. When he failed to show up for the next scheduled class exam, I emailed him again and asked how he was doing and offered to schedule a make-up exam. He never replied. He disappeared for the remainder of the term; he never withdrew from the course. This student did not need to fail my course, but he did. 

Students can drop out of sight for a variety of reasons. With the right intervention, many of these students can get back on track or, at least, withdraw and protect their academic standing. 

What actions can faculty take when a student suddenly disengages with class? 

A first step is to contact the student by email. If the student does not respond, faculty can now send an alert through Navigate. The information you provide generates a referral to the appropriate offices on campus and enables staff to contact the student and help address whatever challenges the student is facing.

Minimize the chance that the student perceives your referral as a punishment by contacting the student via email and letting them know you made a referral because you are worried about them and want to help them succeed at UWF. 

The Navigate report will request information from you about why you are making a referral. This request helps direct the referral to the appropriate staff:

Academic Advisors will reach out to the student to discuss issues related to course attendance, problems with academic performance/grades, and COVID-related needs to shift to remote instruction.

Dean of Students staff reach out to students who have been referred because of behavioral issues, troubling disengagement with course activities, personal issues (transition to college, home or family issues), medical concerns, conflicts with a roommate or other housing issues, and similar concerns.

Financial Aid staff will reach out to students with identified financial needs such as problems with financial aid or other emerging financial challenges.

Based on initial outreach, staff might refer the student to the Campus Care Team.

Faculty can learn more about how to make a referral through the Navigate system by consulting the information page in Confluence (link below).



McCaul, J. (2020). Issuing an alert in Navigate. Confluence page. https://confluence.uwf.edu/display/BPL/Issuing+an+alert+in+Navigate

11/17/2020 ajc