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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Low Starfish use prompts administrative feedback

The Hawk Newspaper

When students are struggling — missing class, not handing in or turning in subpar work, for example — instructors have the option to alert administrative staff in support areas through Starfish, St. Joe’s retention management system. But, more often than not, professors are not doing that, according to the university provost.

During the 2022-23 academic year, 67% of students who withdrew from a course or received a failing grade weren’t flagged by their professors in Starfish, wrote James Carter, Ph.D., interim provost, in a Jan. 23 email to faculty.

The email, which described professors’ use of Starfish as “critical to student success and retention,” encouraged faculty to use Starfish since students flagged by professors in the system are referred to additional resources, like staff in the Office of Student Success.

Academic check-in surveys in Starfish will be sent throughout the semester, the email said, and faculty are encouraged to fill them out. Check-in surveys will be sent Feb. 5 for first seven-week courses, Feb. 13 for 15-week courses and March 25 for the second seven-week courses.

Kim Allen-Stuck, Ph.D., assistant vice president of student success and educational support, said Starfish flags set in motion a plan of action to assist students.

“Beyond the Starfish flag coming in as an email, we’ll follow up with something more personal with resources,” Allen-Stuck said. “If I’m reaching out to a student who’s struggling in accounting, I’ll write back and make sure they’re aware of tutoring for accounting and [Supplemental Instruction] for accounting and learning strategy consultations and leave it open- ended, like if there’s anything else going on, happy to talk with you.”

Allen-Stuck said using Starfish is also important because it allows St. Joe’s to identify students who have transferred schools, dropped classes without telling their professors and added classes late, in addition to helping the university manage federal financial aid.

“If we think a student is here, because we’ve never confirmed they’re not here, and we accept their federal financial aid, it’s a real process to go back,” Allen-Stuck said.

Support staff can also indicate in Starfish when attempts to reach students have been unsuccessful. Students get notified of the flag as well.

“When a faculty member fills out the form, the student gets an alert saying, [for example], ‘your professor said you have an attendance concern,’ and it provides some resources,” Allen-Stuck said.

Faculty utilize Starfish for various functions. Stacy Olitsky, Ph.D., associate professor of teacher education, wrote to The Hawk she uses it for scheduling and communication with students.

Ann Green, Ph.D., professor of English, said in a written response to The Hawk that although she “[prefers] talking with students directly and getting them to the right person/office to help” that “Starfish has made it easier to reach out to students with attendance problems and the like.”

Starfish is not solely used by professors to alert about academic struggles, however. Professors can also use Starfish to send students “kudos,” or alerts telling them they’ve been doing well in a class. Allen-
Stuck said in fall 2022, faculty members raised 5,127 flags and gave 5,990 kudos.

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Hannah Pajtis
Hannah Pajtis, Features Editor
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