Reference for Instructional Staff

Logging In and Getting Started

  • What is Starfish?
    Starfish retention software facilitates meaningful communication among students, faculty and staff. It provides an easy interface for faculty to provide feedback to students and for all users to actively engage in a student’s opportunities for success at EMU.
  • What are the benefits of using Starfish?
    • Starfish is a central platform that displays a comprehensive student “picture”, allowing you to be more informed about how your students are doing overall.
    • Raising a flag or kudos for a student will be shared with multiple campus service providers
    • Reaching out to your students has never been easier; simply raise a flag and Starfish sends the appropriate message.
  • How to Access Starfish

    Login to my.emich Portal

    1. Click on the “Faculty” tab.
    2. Click on “Starfish”.

    Profile Set-Up Guide

    1. Within Starfish, click on your name (at the top left) to access profile settings.
    2. Click on “Institutional Profile”.
    3. Upload a photo in JPEG format to ensure others can identify you.
    4. Optional: Write a “General Overview” message and a “My Biography” message. Other users view this information by clicking on a staff/faculty member’s photo within a Student’s Success Network on Starfish. This will become more widely utilized when we turn ‘on’ the student interface to Starfish and add the referral to campus resources option (slated for Su’19).
    5. Click “Submit” to save changes.
  • What is a Progress Survey?

    Progress surveys keep track of student academic progress in a course throughout the semester. This allows instructors to acknowledge students who are succeeding in a course and report on students who may be struggling. Once an instructor completes a Progress Survey, the University can proactively intervene through outreach from Success Coaches, Academic Advisors, Honors staff and/or Student Athlete Support Services (SASS) staff.

  • When are Starfish surveys sent out?

    There are a total of three times/semester you will be asked to provide feedback within the Starfish system. The first one will happen toward the end of the second week of classes and will only ask for you to identify students who have not shown up to any class sessions (“no shows”) for the first week.

    After this, you will be asked twice/semester to complete Progress Surveys in Starfish. These surveys are a simple way to provide academic feedback about the students in each of your classes. The first progress survey will typically be sent out around week six of the semester and the second around week 11, and each will be open for one and a half to two weeks.  

  • Progress Survey Instructions

    Starfish Faculty Progress Survey Instructions [PDF]

    Progress surveys can be found in Starfish by logging into the my.emich portal, clicking on the "Faculty" tab then "Starfish". Each progress survey has numerous options for you to indicate concerns related to academic performance/attendance or offer praise (kudos). Students are organized by class section, which allows you to easily raise flags and give kudos for multiple students at once. Progress surveys can be found in Starfish by logging into the my.emich portal, clicking on the "Faculty" tab then "Starfish”. This shows when Starfish surveys are sent out.

    Each of your course sections can be found by clicking the drop down "Survey" menu from the ‘Home’ screen. Be sure to provide feedback for all of your courses so students are aware of their academic progress.

    The default for each student is to provide "No Feedback." If the student meets one or more column criteria (flags), such as an Attendance Concern or Missing/Late Assignments, check the relevant box(es) for that student. You can also give students Kudos through progress surveys by choosing feedback like "Keep Up the Good Work." If you click on a flag/kudo for a student you did not mean to, uncheck the box to return to the default "No Feedback" in that row.

    Selecting a Flag or a Kudo on a particular student will also give you the chance to add a note about why you've provided said feedback, which can be accessed by clicking on the note icon in the column next to the student's name. Just like when raising a flag, the student and other relevant parties will receive an email alert, including the comments you provide in the note (except “Confidential Academic Concern” which will only be seen by academic advisors or the student’s particular cohort advisors including Honors, Athletics and EDGE).

    After providing feedback in each course section, click "Save Draft" at the bottom of the page. Do not click "Submit" until you have provided feedback for every class: you will not be able to re-enter the survey.

Flag and Kudos Logistics

  • What are flags and kudos?

    A flag is an alert raised by a faculty member to indicate a concern about a student in regards to academics or other aspects of college success. Once a flag is raised, the appropriate office or person at EMU will be notified so the student can quickly receive assistance.

    Kudos are a way for faculty to provide students with positive feedback about their academic performance.

  • What are EMU’s flag/kudos options?

    Flag Options

    • Never Attended: Raise flag if the student has never attended your class.
    • Missing/Late Assignments: Raise flag when a student is missing or late with assignments.
    • Attendance Concerns: Raise flag when the student isn’t attending your course regularly.
    • At Risk of Failing: Raise flag when student is in danger of not passing your class.
    • Cannot Pass: Raise flag when student is unable to pass your class.
    • General Academic Concern: Raise flag to express any general concerns you have about the students’ academic performance.
    • Confidential Academic Concern : Raise flag to confidentially make advisors/support staff aware of your concern(s) without notifying student. (Student does not receive a notification.)

    Kudos Options

    • Keep Up the Good Work: Raise this kudo for students who are performing well in your course.
    • Showing Improvement: Raise this kudo when a student has shown improvement in your course.
  • How do I raise a flag or kudo?

    Within your Starfish progress surveys (for each ug course you teach), the following options are presented:

    • Never Attended (Note: This option only appears on the first progress survey of the semester.)
    • Attendance Concern
    • Missing/Late Assignments
    • At Risk of Failing
      Cannot Pass
      General Academic Concern
    • Confidential Academic Concern (student does not receive notification)
    • Shows Improvement
    • Keep Up the Good Work

    Simply click on the option that most closely matches your concerns for each student. Note: You do not need to click something for every student. The system is intended to help address concerns throughout the semester. If you don’t have concerns for some students, simply skip them or consider choosing a ‘kudos’ option instead.

  • What happens after a flag is raised? Who address the concerns?

    After raising the following flags, the student is responsible for reaching out to the instructor to begin the conversation about a solution.

    The instructor is responsible for “clearing” the flag after the problem has been addressed/solved for the following flag:

    • Missing/Late Assignment(s)

    Athletics, honors, EDGE staff or academic advisors (college or UACDC based on student’s major) are responsible for reaching out to the student to develop a solution for the following flags:

    • Never Attended
    • Attendance Concern
    • At Risk of Failing
    • Cannot Pass
    • General Academic Concern
    • Confidential Academic Concern

    Note: All support offices (Athletics, honors, EDGE and academic advisors) as well as the flag raiser (instructor) have the ability to “clear” the flag after concerns have been addressed.

  • Can students raise flags?

    Not at this time. However, this will be an option once the student interface and resource referral components have been set up in Starfish (slated for Su’19).

  • How do I find the flags I personally need to address?

    The easiest way to view active and resolved tracking items and flags is by clicking on the "Students" tab then "Tracking." The options below allow you to filter which items are visible.

    This picture shows how does one find the flags they personally need to address.

    • Student Field: Search for a specific student. Refresh the page to clear the search and view all students.
    • View Field: This shows which type of tracking items you will see. You will most frequently use "Flag Inbox" to see a student’s flag(s)/kudos history or "Created by Me" to see flags you have personally raised.
    • Connection Field: Choose to filter by "All My Students," which are students you currently have as an "Instructor," students in a specific class, etc.
      • Instructor: You will see all types of flags related to students in the classes you're currently teaching. If you have one of your advisees in a class, you will see all the flags related to that advisee unless you use "additional filters" to only view flags relevant to you as an instructor.
      • Specific class: You will see the flags relevant to that course, but also all types of flags for an advisee if they are in that specific class.
    • Additional Filters: Look for a specific type of flag, such as "Attendance Concern," by clicking "Add Filters" to show the screen below. (After filters are applied, the box will change to read "Edit Filters.")

    This picture shows the additional filters menu.

    Note: Filters will remain intact until you clear them, even if you log out and back in to the system.

  • When to use filters

    Example 1

    An instructor wants to see how many of their students have active “Attendance concern” flags for their ENGL 121 classes.

    In the tracking tab, choose “Instructor” in the Connection box. Click “Additional Filters” and select “Attendance Concerns” as the only Item Name to view, and in “Course Context,” type “ENGL 121.”

    Example 2

    An advisor is getting ready to meet with a student about how classes are going for the semester and wants to check the student’s history of flags and kudos.

    In the tracking tab, type the student’s name into the “Student” box and choose “Active and Resolved” in the “View” box to see all flags and kudos the student has received. Hover over the flag/kudos icon next to the item name, then click “Details” to see the history of comments and resolution(s).

  • When and how do I comment on a flag?

    Comments need to be added to a flag any time you meet with a student to discuss a solution for a concern. Commenting on a flag will provide other people who can view the flag (Academic Advisors, Athletics, EDGE, Honors, Teaching Assistants, etc.) with documentation about what has already taken place, and provide a historical record of solutions to concerns in the event that the same flag is raised more than once in a student’s time at EMU.

    There are two methods of making comments in the Starfish system (both are fine – simply use whichever method you find easiest):

    Method 1

    • Tracking Tab: Search for a specific student or sort by which type of items you want to see using the “View” drop-down box.
    • Hover over the orange flag icon next to the flag you want to clear/comment on, and you will see an option to “Comment” on the flag if you have permission to do so.

    Method 2

    • Home Tab: On the right side of the home tab, flags will be listed in the “Recent Changes” box. You can sort by which type of tracking items (flags) you want to see, as well as how recently they’ve been updated.
    • Hover over the orange flag icon next to the flag you want to comment on, and you will see an option to “Comment” on the flag if you have permission to do so.

    When commenting on a flag, you have the option to email a copy of the note to yourself, the student or to whoever raised the flag (if someone other than you).

    Note: It is important for anyone recording comments regarding a student to understand that these notes are part of the student’s education record and subject to FERPA. Please consult the University FERPA information page as well as the Faculty FAQ [PDF] for additional information.

  • How is a flag cleared or “resolved”?

    Method 1

    • Tracking Tab: Search for a specific student or sort by which type of items you want to see using the “View” drop down box.
    • Hover over the orange flag icon, next to the flag you want to clear, and you will see an option to "Clear" the flag if you have permission to do so.
    • You can also check the box next to the student’s name/picture and select the "Resolve" option from the top row.
    • If you do not see a "Clear" option in this screen, it is another individual’s responsibility to clear the flag.

    Method 2

    • Home Tab: On the right side of the home tab, flags will be listed in the “Recent Changes” box. You can sort by which type of tracking items (flags) or appointments you want to see, as well as how recently they’ve been updated.
    • Hover over the orange flag icon next to the flag you want to clear, and you will see an option to "Resolve" the flag if you have permission to do so.
    • If you do not see clear option in this screen, it is another office’s responsibility to clear the flag.
  • How do I search for a specific student or group of students?
    • Click on the “Students” tab at the top of Starfish
    • Select the “My Students” tab option
    • In the “Connection” drop down box, you can select to view all students related to you as an advisor, Instructor, or a specific class.
    • The drop down options under “Term” allow you to sort by semester.
    • If you know the specific student you are looking for, type either their name or EID into the search box. You can also use “%” to conduct a ‘wildcard’ search. For example, searching sm% or %ith will both return any student with the last name “Smith.”

    This image shows how to search for a student on Starfish.

    • To conduct a more refined search, select "Add Filters" on the right side of the screen
    • Click “Attributes” from the menu on the left
    • Click at the top of the box
    • Click the drop down arrow to select an option (Major, Athlete, EDGE Student, etc.)
    • Click Submit to apply the filter.

    Note: Filters will remain intact until you clear them, even if you log out and back in to the system.

    This image shows how to use the attribute component of the additional filters feature.

  • Do I need to run my class differently because I’m using Starfish?

    With the possible exception of placing a statement regarding Starfish in your syllabus (see next section) which lets students know you will be using the system, you still conduct your courses as you normally would. Starfish is only meant to enhance your communication with your students.

  • Example Syllabus Statement

    We Care About Your Success!

    [Insert Course] is taking part in a student success initiative at Eastern Michigan University called Starfish. Throughout the semester, you may receive emails from instructors or staff through Starfish, updating you on your academic progress, recommending referrals to specific support services on campus, or praising you for a job well done! Please pay attention to these emails and information in Starfish and consider taking the recommended actions. They are sent to help you be successful in [Insert Course].

    You can login to Starfish through the my.emich portal (my.emich.edu).

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