Date of Award

Fall 12-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

David F. Ayers

Committee Member

Laura Smithers

Committee Member

Helen Crompton

Committee Member

Carrie Klein


The purpose of learning analytics is to improve and optimize learning using student data (Siemens, 2013). An early alert warning is learning analytics designed to promote student success (Baneres et al., 2019; Foung, 2019; Lawson et al., 2016; Villano et al., 2018). An early alert has an intervention component that includes, at minimum, an email that provides information about college resources to address the issue (Arnold & Pistilli, 2012). Some early alert interventions include a personal outreach by a staff member at the college through a phone call or text message (Choi et al., 2018).

At Care Community College, when faculty raise an early alert, the system sends an email to the student at risk of failing a course. The email intervention can initiate a relationship between the student and the faculty member or an advisor. In this study, I examined formation of the successful student subject through students’ experiences with an early alert and the interactions and building of relationships between students, faculty, and advisors with the early alert phenomenon.

Previous studies have focused on the outcome of an early alert intervention, such as retention or course grade (Calvert, 2014; de Freitas et al., 2015; Lourens & Bleazard, 2016; Miller & Bell, 2016; Villano et al., 2018). Instead, I wanted to focus on human interactions to view what happens with an early alert learning analytic.

This post-intentional phenomenological study focused on connections between students, faculty, and staff involved in the danger of failing alert at Care Community College, a community college in a mid-Atlantic state. Using Vagle’s (2018) post-intentional phenomenology methodology, I analyzed the data using Foucault’s (1975/1995, 1976/1990) power/knowledge as my theoretical framework. I discovered that power operated to form knowledge to shape at-risk students as successful college students.

Findings reinforced literature about the role of interventions and the importance of relationships for student success (Felton & Lambert, 2020; Tinto, 1993). Results also supported Foucault’s (1975/1995, 1976/1990) power/knowledge framework that both poles of biopower create knowledge. The interaction of power and knowledge shaped at-risk students into successful students.


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Copyright, 2022, by Sue Ann Cecilia Curran, All Rights Reserved.