Thrive Priority Support Network

The Thrive Priority Support Network helps students who are facing challenges get the right support at the right time.

Enhancing advising at UCalgary through the Thrive Priority Support Network

Unexpected challenges and difficulties can and do come up for students. These problems, whether at home, at work, or at school, can sometimes impact the academic success of students, especially if no one’s there to reach out to offer help early on.

Thrive works by detecting significant drops in academic performance during the current semester on in-course work (exams, quizzes, papers, assignments, etc.) and incorporates a voluntary faculty report form covering academic concerns. With Thrive, Academic Development Specialists don’t have to wait for final grades to notice students who appear to be struggling; now, they can reach out to students throughout the term, find out what’s caused the change in their performance and connect students with timely supports to address their challenges.

Faculty Reporting Form

Refer students to the SSC

Thrive requires the cooperation of teaching staff to use their gradebooks to record grades as the semester progresses. Online instruction to set up the D2L gradebook is available. Faculties also have in-house Educational Technology Coaches who can help.

Questions or concerns

Roxanne Ross
Director, Student Success Centre


FAQs for Faculties

Early alert programs are fast becoming a best practice at many universities and colleges in both Canada and the United States. Other Canadian examples include the University of British Columbia and McGill University. The development of an early alert system is an identified priority in the Comprehensive Institutional Plan, and the Campus Mental Health Strategy. Thrive is a custom early alert system developed by the Student Success Centre and IT to fit the University of Calgary context.

This program is currently available to students in all undergraduate programs except undergraduate medical and veterinary medical students, and undergraduate law students. The program is currently unavailable to graduate students or students in Continuing Education programs. Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Law, and Graduate Studies assess students in significantly different ways from most undergraduate programs. Therefore, the Thrive team must work with these faculties to develop a model of student identification that is appropriate and responsive to their context. This phase two development will begin in 2016.

While this program only provides outreach to the programs specified above, all University of Calgary Students are welcome and encouraged to access the Student Success Centre’s services at any time.

Until Thrive launched, Academic Development Specialists used final grades to drive their outreach, contacting students who underperformed at the end of term to help them get back on track in the next term. Thrive data accelerates the Academic Development Specialists’ ability to identify students who are starting to struggle and help them access the support they need sooner to manage personal challenges and develop the academic skills to stay on track. 

Students who are experiencing a significant drop from their normal range of academic performance are probably facing some sort of challenge in their life, whether it’s academic and personal. For students anywhere past their very first term of university, we compare academic performance across multiple courses to their own GPA history—what’s normal for them.

For students in their first semester in university, we don’t have a historical view of their GPA, but since they had good enough grades to get into the University of Calgary, we watch for failing grades in a number of courses. The voluntary faculty report form also plays a key role in helping us identify students who may be struggling.

Grade performance and reporting form submissions are used as indicators that a student may need support. The primary tool for identifying students who may need help is a risk score, not course grades. A risk score is calculated by comparing current grades in D2L with historical GPA information in PeopleSoft. It also takes into account the number of courses in which the student is experiencing a significant drop from baseline. The voluntary faculty report form is also scored.

This form focuses on the following observable academic behaviours that may indicate a student is struggling:

  • Marked changes in quality of work
  • Student has stopped responding to communications
  • Noticeable decline in participation
  • Pattern of ongoing requests for concessions (for example, asked to defer two or more test or due dates)
  • Late or missing assignments
  • Pattern of late arrival/departure or low attendance
  • Pattern of disengaged classroom behaviour (watching tv, sleeping, etc.)
  • Not completing formative assessments
  • Lacks essential writing, math, reading and/or study skills
  • Substandard work

If you are concerned that a student may pose a risk to self or others, please contact the Student At Risk team at

Privacy is extremely important.  All student information communicated through the THRIVE Priority Support Network is collected under the authority of the Post-Secondary Learning Act. This information is treated confidentially and is used with the goal of supporting the student's success in the course.

Other than the student and professor whose course it is, the Thrive Administrator and the Academic Development Specialist from the Student Success Centre who contacts a student has access to students' in-course grade information. However, the primary tool for assessing who may need help is a risk score, not course grades.  

Information about Thrive outreach is stored separately from a student’s other records and it will never become part of a transcript or general academic record.

Faculty can choose not to participate in Thrive by changing course settings in D2L or by contacting the Thrive Administrator. Participation in Thrive is the default setup in D2L.

Thrive is an optional support program. Students do not have to accept help when an Academic Development Specialist makes an offer of support. They can book an appointment, decline the support, or simply ignore the email.

  • It streamlines the referral process by reducing the need for faculty to keep track of every service and support available to students, and connects students with the timely, high-quality support offered across campus.
  • By combining information from aggregate D2L grade data and voluntary faculty report forms, Thrive is designed to be responsive to the University of Calgary’s varied teaching and learning contexts, and provides instructors with multiple avenues to participate.
  • It supports faculty by helping less academically prepared students develop the learning and personal skills to tackle academic content

Outreach to students is based on their combined risk score (D2L grades and faculty report forms). Advisors contact students saying that their overall Thrive data indicates that they might be struggling and invite them in for a meeting. If the student is curious whether concern forms are a part of their risk score, the advisor will tell them.

If you want to notify a student that you think they could use some help, a suggested email template is available here for you to send to the student encouraging them to connect with available resources.

No. If you use the gradebook, we are able to include your class data in each student’s Thrive risk score calculation. We identify students for outreach once per week, so timely inputting of grades helps us the most, but we designed this system to be responsive to your needs as an instructor.

You are also encouraged to use the voluntary faculty reporting form if you want to alert us to a student in you class who you feel would benefit from Thrive.

Resources for gradebook setup can be found on the UCalgary Elearn site. Faculties also have in-house Educational Technology Coaches who can help instructors set up their D2L gradebooks.