Thrive Priority Support Network

Helping students facing challenges to get the right support at the right time.

About the Thrive Priority Support Network

Thrive enhances the teaching and learning experience at UCalgary 

Unexpected challenges and difficulties, whether at home, work or school, can negatively impact students’ academic success, especially when they don’t seek help early on. Thrive works through the D2L Gradebook to detect significant drops in academic performance on in-course work (exams, quizzes, papers, assignments, etc.) during the current semester. 

When significant drops are detected, academic support staff from the Student Success Centre (SSC) reach out to students throughout the term who appear to be struggling. This way, students can be connected to timely support — such as study groups, writing workshops and tutors — to address their challenges. The SSC can also provide resources to students to support them with other stressors, such as mental health, food insecurity and social isolation. 

More about Thrive

Launched in 2016, Thrive is a custom early alert system developed by the Student Success Centre and IT to fit the University of Calgary context. The development of an early alert system was a priority of UCalgary’s Campus Mental Health Strategy. By identifying signs of academic difficulty early and connecting students with the right resources on campus, we can contribute to a caring campus, where students are supported with identifying challenges and can build strategies to achieve their full potential. Thrive also aims to help course instructors and teaching assistants (TAs) by streamlining campus referral processes and augmenting the support they currently provide to students who may be dealing with issues related to academic

4 ways course instructors and TAs can enhance Thrive and support students

Course instructors and TAs can help support Thrive and student success by:

Using the D2L gradebook

Thrive requires the co-operation 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. 

Set up D2L Gradebook

Regularly submitting students’ grades

By entering student grades on time throughout the semester, Thrive can work faster at identifying and reaching out to students. This way, students have time to seek support during their semester. 

Referring students to the Student Success Centre

If your student could benefit from academic advising or building skills in writing or studying, and you want to reach out to them yourselves, we've developed a template email with information about the Student Success Centre.  

Download e-mail template

Providing additional information to Thrive

If teaching staff are concerned about specific student or students and think they could benefit from Thrive, there’s a short form available that includes a 10-item checklist of concerns, plus the student’s UCID number and email. 

Form to express concern

Thrive FAQs

Course instructors and TAs are in close contact with students and may be the first individuals to recognize and identify those academic behaviours that are associated with academic challenges. By keeping your grades up to date, reaching out to students or submitting a report form, you are contributing to your students’ success and contributing to a caring community. 

Normalize the Thrive network and help-seeking behaviours by familiarizing your students with the program. This can be done at the start of your course when you speak about academic support or when you are going over your course outline statement and reach a section on student mental health. The Campus Mental Health Strategy has created a sample section on mental health for course instructors to use in course outlines.

Students who are experiencing a significant drop from their normal range of academic performance may be facing some sort of challenge in their life, whether it’s academic or personal. We compare students’ academic performance across multiple courses with their own GPA history — what’s normal for them. 

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

The primary tool for identifying students who may need help is an Outreach Score, rather than course grades.  

An Outreach Score is calculated by comparing current grades in D2L with historical GPA information in PeopleSoft. It also takes into account two or more courses in which the student is experiencing a significant drop from baseline or in-course grades below a 2.0 GPA. The voluntary report form is also scored. 

No. 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.  

Information about Thrive outreach is accessed by SSC academic support staff for the purposes of contacting students about available supports. 

  • It streamlines the referral process by reducing the need for course instructors and TAs to keep track of every service and support available to students, and it connects students with 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 UCalgary’s varied teaching and learning contexts, and provides course instructors and TAs with multiple avenues to participate. 

  • It supports educators by helping less academically prepared students develop the learning and personal skills they need to tackle academic content. 

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

  • Marked changes in quality of work. 

  • No longer responding to communications. 

  • Noticeable decline in participation. 

  • Pattern of ongoing requests for concessions (for example, asking 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 (cellphone use, sleeping, etc.). 

  • Not completing formative assessments. 

  • Not demonstrating essential writing, math, reading and/or study skills. 

Outreach to students is based on their combined Outreach Score (D2L grades and report forms). Advisors contact students and indicate to them that their overall Thrive data indicates they might be struggling, and offers an invitation for a meeting. If the student is curious whether report forms are a part of their Outreach 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 for you to send to the student encouraging them to connect with available resources. 

Thrive is not set up to handle concerns beyond the scope of academic support. If you are concerned that a student may pose an immediate risk to themselves or others, please contact the Student at Risk Team at For more resources to support a student in distress, access the quick reference guide for recognizing distress and further resources to support students.  

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 at UCalgary. 

Other than the student and professor whose course it is, only the Thrive administrator and academic support staff in the SSC have access to in-course grade information.  

They 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 academic support staff reach out. They can book an appointment, decline the support or simply ignore the email. 

No. If you use the D2L Gradebook, we are able to include your class data in each student’s Thrive Outreach Score calculation. We identify students for outreach once per week each semester, 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 you to use the reporting form if you want to alert us to a student in your class who you feel would benefit from Thrive. 

The D2L Gradebook should already be set up. If not, resources 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. 

This program is currently available to students in all undergraduate programs except Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Law. The program is also currently unavailable to graduate students or those in Continuing Education programs. This is because Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Law and Graduate Studies assess students in significantly different ways.  

Despite the exceptions noted above, all UCalgary students are welcome and encouraged to access the Student Success Centre's services at any time. 

Until Thrive launched in 2016, academic support staff used final grades to drive their outreach, contacting students who underperformed at the end of term to help them get back on track for the next term. Thrive data accelerates the 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 they need to stay on track.