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Starfish FAQs

Below are frequently asked questions regarding Starfish.

Starfish FAQs

  1. I'm a student, how do I get started using Starfish?

    It's easy! Just open Starfish and sign in using your UMU username and password. For more detailed information, check out the "Getting Started Guide" for students. You can also check out this short Starfish Basics video or one about Updating your Starfish profile.

  2. How do I get started as a faculty, staff, or administrator?

    In order to get started, you will need to set up your profile, add office hours, and learn about flags. Check out the "Getting Started Guide" for more information on these steps.

    You can also check out these four short videos:

  3. What is a flag? 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 a 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 learn how to raise a flag, check out Raising Flags and Giving Kudos. 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.

  4. 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, and staff. 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 learn how to give a kudo, check out Raising Flags and Giving Kudos. To see details about each kudo, including who can raise each type, please view the Kudos Descriptions and Notifications sheet.

  5. 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 of visit the referral.

    For more information, please review Sending To-Dos and Referrals, as well as both the Referral Descriptions and Notifications and To-Do Descriptions and Notifications pages.

  6. What do all these emails getting sent to students look like?

    We have created all of the templates the system will send out to students, which you can review here: Message Templates for all tracking items.

  7. 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. This short video will help you respond to a progress survey.

  8. Can I raise tracking items (flags and 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, review the FAQs related to flags and kudos, which are above!

  9. 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, view the FAQ for notes. You can also learn how to resolve the flag if you feel the issue has been addressed in this short video about Closing the Loop (or clearing a flag).

  10. How do I connect Starfish to my Outlook Calendar and use it to allow students to make appointments with me?

    Starfish allows us to connect our Outlook Calendars to the software and use it to have students set appointments with you. For more information about this, check out the User’s Guide to Starfish Connect.

    There are also directions for students to set-up appointments in Starfish as well as a short video about adding office hours in Starfish.

  11. 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. 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. Learn how to add notes here.

  12. 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
  13. 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 Student Success for help by emailing

  14. How do I include Starfish on my syllabus?

    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 inform you of specific concerns and support systems in place to help you succeed in this course and generally at Mount Union. 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 Student Success. There is a wide variety of support at Mount Union, so please take advantage of it.

  15. 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. 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.