STARfish SuperSTARSSubmitted by Dr. Vicki Atkinson, Dean of Student Development and Matt McLaughlin, Associate Dean, Student Success Initiatives & Director of Title III

Starfish has been with us for a while, but you may be wondering how Harper College has expanded the use of Starfish as a tool to support students who are case managed by assigned advisors. Since case management began in Fall 2017, the number of students receiving this service has increased by over 25%. As of Spring 2019, over 70% of currently enrolled, credential-seeking students are assigned an advisor and are in the Starfish system. This equates to over 7,300 students!

While Starfish is leveraged by our advisors to manage and document their student outreach and success strategies, it is also a tool for you to utilize to communicate academic progress with students in your classes, identify resources that might be helpful to their success, and provide them positive feedback on improved progress.

Among the users of Starfish – case managed students, advisors and faculty – the goal is to create a community of support for each and every student providing them with the opportunity to succeed.

While you may raise a flag of concern, a referral, or a kudos at any time during the semester for any of your students who are case managed, a couple of times during the semester you will be asked to complete a Starfish Progress Survey. Progress Surveys include only a subset of your students that the College is asking you to provide feedback. Progress Surveys are easy to complete and students are organized by class section, which allows you to easily raise flags and give kudos for multiple students at once.

While there has been tremendous growth the past year and a half in regard to the number of students who are in Starfish, there has been a slight decrease in faculty Progress Survey participation. In Fall 2018, 68% of faculty who received a Starfish Progress Survey responded to at least one survey compared to 75% who did so in Fall 2017.

We can’t do this without your participation and support! Using Starfish as a tool to catch students early in the semester to provide them opportunities to improve and connect them with other campus resources has tremendous impact. Year after year, we see a 23-25 percentage point increase in student course completion and persistence rates for flagged students who subsequently follow up with their assigned advisor to discuss strategies for success as compared to flagged students who do not connect with their advisor.

As we review our efforts and continue to refine processes, we are grateful to all but want to take this opportunity to specifically thank some standout SuperSTAR users of Starfish who have been some of the most active users of the system – flagging students because of concerns and offering kudos or positive encouragement to students.

SuperSTAR thanks to:

  • Marie Farber-Lapidus and Laurie Cox – Business & Social Science
  • Enrique D’Amico and Cindy Miller – Career & Technical Programs
  • Holly Jarovsky and Victoria DeGuia – Health Careers
  • Stephanie Adair and Jacqueline Andrews – Liberal Arts
  • Charlotte Schulze-Hewett and Faiza Asghar – Math & Science

Starfish is simply one tool to increase communication among faculty, students and advisors. It is the resulting student engagement among their “Network of Support” that makes all the difference in the world! If you haven’t used Starfish much, or want a refresher, let us know! We would be happy to provide some desk-side training to support you. Just email us at