Mid-semester progress report window to open in Starfish on Oct. 4

October 01, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The fall 2021 Starfish mid-semester progress report window will open Oct. 4 and conclude on Oct. 13, giving Penn State instructors the opportunity to raise flags or give kudos to students as feedback on their performance. 

Last fall, more than 67,000 students received feedback via progress reports from instructors, or 88% of the undergraduate student body.

“During the challenges of last fall, we saw high participation in progress reporting,” said David R. Smith, associate dean for advising and executive director of the Division of Undergraduate Studies. “Even though the circumstances of this semester are different, the problems we were responding to then still exist now. We are grateful to the instructors and academic advisers who help us achieve our goal of helping students holistically.”

Flags are intended to draw attention to a concern and can be viewed by academic advisers, who are then expected to clear flags when certain criteria are met, such as having a conversation with the student and developing a plan of action. Students are encouraged to respond to flags by reaching out to their instructor or academic adviser. Academic advisers can help address issues students may have or activate the larger support network within Penn State. Kudos let students know they are on the right track and accounts indicate that receiving instructor feedback through kudos can be a powerful motivator. 

The mid-semester progress reporting window is crucial for giving students feedback on their performance so they can plan for the future and ideally improve their grades. It occurs at a critical part of the semester when many students take mid-semester exams. It precedes the course registration window for spring 2022, which opens on Oct. 14 for undergraduates, and the late-drop deadline of Nov. 12.  

Many factors can affect a student’s performance. Flags from multiple instructors can signify deeper problems that might need to be addressed by a wider support network. Progress reports allow academic advisers and Penn State support networks to address issues of high importance to the University, such as food and housing insecurity, access to technology, textbooks, transportation, and health and safety concerns. Sometimes underlying issues are more straightforward, such as students not knowing how to use software and systems at Penn State such as Canvas or Zoom.  

“Even when the impact of raising a flag or kudo is not immediately apparent to the instructor or academic adviser, we find that students are often working behind the scenes to correct the problem by reengaging with coursework or seeking tutoring,” Smith said.

The Division of Undergraduate Studies is part of the Penn State Office of Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at undergrad.psu.edu.


Last Updated October 04, 2021