Early progress reporting underway through Starfish

Janet Schulenberg
September 06, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Starfish, Penn State’s new suite of academic advising and early progress reporting tools, is designed to facilitate communication among academic advisers, instructors, students and others who support student learning.

Now through Sept. 12, instructors will use Starfish to provide students early feedback about their progress in courses. Instructors may add comments to a standard message that students and their assigned advisers receive via email.

David Smith, executive director of the Division of Undergraduate Studies and associate dean for advising, coordinates Starfish’s implementation and its use to support students.

“Starfish provides a unique opportunity for Penn State to improve student success by strengthening the outreach and communication with students,” Smith said. 

The earlier students are alerted to successes or areas for improvement, the more chance they have of taking appropriate action.

“As a large institution with many students making significant transitions, Starfish allows advisers and others to understand the challenges and successes that individual students experience during their time at Penn State,” said Smith.

Starfish provides a robust platform for maintaining a record of interactions with students, an essential element for facilitating continuity in a student’s educational development. Faculty and staff in particular educational relationships with students can create and view these notes.

Since May 9, more than 700 individuals have documented more than 65,000 notes in Starfish, including 27,325 meetings.

While students do not need to interact with Starfish to receive its primary benefits, an increasing number of advising centers across the University are using Starfish to allow students to schedule appointments online. Faculty and others who interact with students can use Starfish to list their office hours and preferred method of contact. Information for student users is available on the Starfish for Student Success website. All users can log in to Starfish here.

Currently, Starfish is used primarily by academic advisers and instructors, but a roll out of its features continues. Under Smith’s lead, the implementation team is working with other units, including Penn State Learning, Career Services, and the Graduate School, on activating additional functions.

“We are looking forward to continued efforts to expand how Starfish is utilized at all levels of the University,” Smith said.

More information about Starfish, including updates, campus and college contacts, resources, and training materials, is available on the Starfish for Student Success website.

The Division of Undergraduate Studies, a unit within the Office of Undergraduate Education, is Penn State’s largest unit of enrollment for first-year students. It leads the development of advising policies and practices, manages the University-wide academic information network, and provides general academic advising for current and prospective Penn State students.

Last Updated September 13, 2016