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Interpret course signals

The Course Explorer surfaces the courses at your institution with the largest enrollments and the most significant effect on a student’s likelihood to persist or graduate from your institution. 

A course with a designated course signal is shown as a white bubble with a colored icon. Course signals show that a certain course has a characteristic that makes it unique relative to other courses taken during the same year.

You will notice that certain courses in the Course Explorer have an icon that distinguishes them from the rest. These are course signals, which highlight a course's most notable qualities. Possible course signals are:

Yellow Flag

Definition: Earning a C in a certain course is a Yellow Flag signal. Students with a C in the course tend to persist, but they graduate at a rate far lower than students who receive higher grades in the course.

Action: Many institutions associate earning a C with successful course completion. For courses with a Yellow Flag signal, it may be necessary to understand the difference between a C and an A or a B. What is the competency gap and what effect does it have in future courses? Identify the students who received a C or below and follow up with them in subsequent terms to ensure they are on a path to graduation.


Definition: A high percentage of Ds, Fs, and withdrawals in a certain course which also contributes to a reduced likelihood in graduation is a Challenge signal. The percentage of students with Ds, Fs, and withdrawals in a certain course is much higher than the average course, and these students are far less likely to graduate than classmates with higher grades.

Action: While Ds, Fs, and withdrawals may already be a red flag at your institution, a D, F, or W in this course is more impactful than similar grades in other courses. Examine the prerequisite skills and learning objectives for the course and provide additional academic supports to these students. Understand and emphasize the core competencies and behaviors that students must master to pass the course.

Late Hurdle

Definition: The impact of grades in this course relative to other courses taken in the same year is a Late Hurdle signal. Students usually take this course in their third year or later, and their grades are twice as influential as those in other courses taken the same year.

Action: Focus advising and faculty resources to ensure that students currently enrolled in these courses are supported. Understand what proficiency or mastery in this course looks like and what skills contribute to graded assignments in the course. Encourage students to focus their efforts on these courses to ensure that they make it to graduation.


Definition: Earning an A in a certain course is a Qualifier signal. Only students with an A have an above average chance of graduation compared to their classmates. A grade of a B or below, in these courses, is an indicator that students may have content or skill gaps that will impact them later in their academic careers.

Action: This course may require more academic resources such as tutoring or extra teaching staff. Identifying students who have earned a grade below an A in this course and reaching out in later terms will be key to getting them to graduation.

Other high impact courses are shown as solid colored bubbles. These courses are very predictive of persistence or graduation at your institution, but they don’t fall into a specific course signal category. Many of these courses surface closest to the top of the Course Explorer, showing significant potential for impact and a large enrollment population.

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