Retention: How Can Faculty Help?

By Madonne Miner

Aug. 21, 2017

By now you’ve likely heard that WSU is moving full-steam ahead with plans to help students (and the institution) by proactively reaching out to students who are in danger of failing or dropping out of school. 

Research consistently shows that students respond positively to messages of concern. Letting students know we care and directing them to appropriate resources provide a genuine benefit to students who are at risk.

Introducing Starfish

We have purchased a software tool, Hobson’s Starfish, to help us chart students’ progress. In support of this tool, Academic Affairs has committed funds so each college can hire a new advisor (seven total across the university) to ensure retention interventions occur. 

For the advisors to succeed, however, they will need information from faculty about students. We are doing everything possible to make it easy for faculty to provide this information.

Getting Started

There are some key ways faculty can assist as we get started using this tool: 

  • Create a faculty profile in Starfish. This takes three quick steps:

    1. Log into Starfish from your eWeber portal or Canvas.

    2. Click on the drop down menu next to your name in the upper right corner.

    3. Select "Institutional Profile," and update your information.

  • If at all possible, use CANVAS, at least for attendance and basic grade records. Information entered into CANVAS can be shared easily with Starfish. We've created a CANVAS tutorial to help you get started.

Fall 2017 Pilot Program

For this coming fall semester, we will be running a Starfish pilot. We ask faculty who are teaching First Year Experience, Developmental Math or Developmental English, as well as any faculty who have an athlete or international student in their course, to do the following :

  • Respond to Starfish queries. You will receive an email query from Starfish that asks you to identify any concerns you might have about students in your classes (or compliments you might want to deliver to students). Your response will prompt an advisor to identify any appropriate intervention.

  • And overall: Keep on doing what you’ve already been doing: paying attention to students’ progress in learning what they need to learn in your classes and supporting them as they do so.

Thank you, sincerely, for your help in making WSU even more supportive of student success.

Do you have questions or comments about this article? Please contact Madonne Miner at