Starfish FAQs

  1. What is Starfish and how does it support student success?
  2. What is a Flag?
  3. What is a Kudo?
  4. What are progress surveys and when are they sent?
  5. Do I have to raise an academic progress item (flag or kudo) for every student enrolled in my course?
  6. Can I raise progress items (flags & kudos) outside of the progress surveys?
  7. What happens when a flag is raised in Starfish?
  8. I am an academic advisor and have received a flag for one of my advisees. What should I do with it?
  9. When should I put in a note?
  10. What are To-Dos and Referrals and when should I use them?
  11. How do I get more detail on a student?
  12. Why can’t I see students who are not in my classes or my advisees?
  13. Including Starfish on your syllabi
  14. How do I change how and when I am emailed by Starfish?
  15. What is a Student Success Network?
  16. How do I access my student’s Success Network?

What is Starfish and how does it support student success?

Starfish is a retention software that allows for a clear collaborative effort among faculty, advisors, administrators, and staff, allowing us all to engage in the active process of supporting student success and retention.

While it certainly does not replace individual outreach or face-to-face conversations with students, this new technology platform does promote important interactions and provide the space for quick and simple notification of advisors or Center for Student Success staff when there is a concern about a student. This enables these support providers to reach out in a timely and effective way, leading to more efficient student support services and increased student success.

Ultimately, Starfish supports the retention efforts at the University of Mount Union by providing an intentional, efficient method of sharing critical information across divisions, tracking students about whom there are concerns, and providing impactful outreach and support services.


What is a Flag? And what happens when a flag is raised?

A flag is a Starfish notification designed to raise an alert that a student is not meeting expectations in some way. Flags can be raised by various people for many reasons, including class attendance, poor academic performance, general concerns, financial concerns, health concerns, and many more.

When an instructor shares a concern about student in Starfish by raising a “flag,” the system alerts staff and faculty who can respond to that flag and provide the resources and support needed. Some flags also generate an immediate notification to the student outlining the concern and directing them toward campus resources.

Flagging a student in Starfish creates a transparent communication trail that allows all individuals working with the student to see a clear picture of the student’s performance. All flags are stored in Starfish, even after they have been “cleared” or “resolved.” All flags will be cleared at the end of each semester, but some flags are cleared as the student performance improves or an issue is resolved.

To see details about each flag, including who can raise or view a flag, and who gets notified please view the “Flag Descriptions and Notifications” sheet.


What is a Kudo? What happens when a kudo is raised?

A kudo is another type of Starfish notification that is designed to send positive feedback to students. Faculty, staff, and administrators are able to send kudos to students for various reasons. Students are sent an immediate notification outlining the kudo and reason for it.

Kudos and the notes related to them are stored in Starfish, even when a kudo is “removed.” They can be viewed by going to the tracking tab in the student information window –click “both” in the Status section to view active and inactive tracking items.

To see details about each kudo, including who can raise each type, please view the “Kudos Description and Notification” sheet.


What are progress surveys and when are they sent?

Progress surveys provide instructors a quick way to share information about a student’s performance in their class. These surveys will be distributed to all faculty at the beginning of week 5 of each semester. Though that is the only time progress surveys will be used for all students, we have the capability to implement additional progress surveys for specific groups of students if needed.

Progress surveys do include all students in each class an instructor is teaching. They allow for flags and kudos to be created for each student as well as for comments to be included for each of those items.


Do I have to raise an academic progress item (flag or kudo) for every student enrolled in my course?

You do not need to raise a flag or kudo for every student enrolled. The progress surveys do include the opportunity to provide feedback for all students in your class, but you are able to skip, or not provide feedback, for any students not need a flag or kudo raised.

When you receive the survey, you should provide feedback for all the students who need a flag or kudo raised, and then click submit. If you have no feedback for any of your students (i.e. you are not worried about any of their performances nor wish to provide kudos to any of them), you can click nothing in the survey and hit submit. That will tell us that, in fact, you have no concerns about the students in your class.


Can I raise progress items (flags & kudos) outside of the progress surveys?

Absolutely! You can log into Starfish at any time to raise a flag or kudo for a student – you do not have to wait for a progress survey. To learn more about this, visit the How-To page!


I am an academic advisor and have received a flag for one of my advisees. What should I do with it?

If one of your advisees receives a flag, we recommend you reach out to them. The Flag Description and Notification spreadsheet will give you an idea of who else might have been notified and could reach out to the student, so it might be a good idea to communicate with those people as needed.

Having said that, not all flags warrant immediate outreach. For instance, if a student receives a general academic concern in just one class, and that concern is low-level (i.e. Would like to see more engagement and participation in class), there may not be a need to provide outreach. However, if there is a more high-level concern or multiple flags for one student, that would warrant quick outreach.

It is our hope that these early alerts will make students more aware of areas in which they can improve, but also improve communication between students and staff, advisors, and instructors. Any outreach you can provide, which might be as little as an email letting the student know you are there to help or as much as setting up a meeting to provide direct advice and support, will be helpful to the student!

If you do meet with a student, please record the results of that meeting by adding notes to the flag so that others working with the student can have that update. For more detailed information about how to do that, or resolve the flag if you feel the issue has been addressed, see the How-To webpage!


When should I put in a note?

Notes can be helpful, particularly when having advising meetings with students. You can input information that the student shares about their academic progress as well as future plan. The Center for Student Success uses these liberally, as they are a great way to share information with others a student may be working with when a flag is not needed.

In fact, notes are often what we use to share information that does not warrant a flag but does warrant disclosure to others in the support network. For example, I may not need to raise a flag for a student who is considering changing their major from psychology to sociology, but I would create a note detailing this.


What are To-Dos and Referrals and when should I use them?

To-Dos are generally very specific tasks you would like to assign to a student. They are anything from “Meet with Career Development” to “Apply for Graduation.” Think of To-Dos as true assignments for your students.


Referrals, on the other hand, are designed more to direct the student to a particular service. For instance, if you know a student is having trouble finding reliable sources, you could refer them to Library Services. If they express a concern about struggling with written assignments, you can refer them to the DWOC. Referrals are more of a suggestion to a student rather than an assigned task.

To-Dos and Referrals can be raised by a variety of people based on their content. There are also different notification rules for each one, depending on the area of concern. However, a student will always be able to view and receive an email about these tracking items being raised so they can complete the task or visit the referral.

For more information, please view both the “Referrals Descriptions and Notifications” and the “To-Do Descriptions and Notifications” pages.


How do I get more detail on a student?

Within the Starfish system, you can search for a specific student, or visit your “Students” tab. Anytime you see a student’s name as a hyperlink, you can click on that to go to the student’s folder. This folder contains the following information:

  • The student’s contact information (bottom right corner)
  • General information (information tab)
  • Courses in which the student is enrolled
  • Tracking items (flags and kudos) and associated notes raised for the student [which tracking items you can view depends on the permission of your specific role]
  • Meetings the student has with you
  • Notes shared by you or others [notes by others can only be viewed by some roles in the system]
  • Student’s Success Network


Why can’t I see students who are not in my classes or my advisees?

Starfish provides you with viewing options only to those students with whom you have a direct relationship. For faculty, these relationships are created with students in your courses or who are your advisees. Administrators or specific service providers may have access to all students or specific groups of students within the context of the work they do with students.

If you think there is a student with whom you should have a relationship but who is not present in your list of students, please be sure to, first, ensure that no filters have been inadvertently set, and then reach out to the Center for Student Success for help by emailing


Including Starfish on your syllabi

Instructors are welcome to share information on Starfish and how it will be used in the classroom. An example is included below:

Starfish is an early alert system used to information you of specific concerns and support systems in place to help you succeed in this course and generally at UMU. If you receive an email with {STARFISH} in the subject line, please be sure to take note. The email may provide positive feedback about a job well done, a Starfish kudo, or may indicate an opportunity for improvement in the form of a “flag” being raised. If you receive a flag for this class, please come to meet with me to discuss the concerns. Other resources that might be helpful are your advisor or staff in the Center for Student Success. There is a wide variety of support at Mount Union, so please take advantage of it!


How do I change how and when I am emailed by Starfish?

Starfish will send you a daily summary email of academic progress items (flags or kudos) activity for the students with whom you have a relationship in the system. You can change these settings by clicking Profile, and navigating to the Email Notifications tab.


What is a Student Success Network?

A student success network is the group of faculty, staff, and resources a student has a relationship with on campus. This includes the student’s advisor and all of their instructors. It may also include their residence hall director if they live on campus or coach if they are an athlete. Resources such as Counseling Services, Academic Support, and the DWOC may also be a part of the student success network.


How do I access my student’s Success Network?

To view the Success network, simply open the Student Folder by clicking on the student’s hyperlinked name and click on the Network tab. This will list all relationships the student has for the current term.

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