Starfish at Gallaudet FAQ

What is Starfish Retention Solutions?

Starfish Retention Solutions is an Early Warning and Student Tracking System. 

Student concerns can be manually flagged when observed or through periodic student progress surveys.

Automatic flags are raised based on the online grade book data and use of Attendance Tracker.

Concerns and recommendations are communicated directly to the student in customized emails.

Appropriate personnel are informed of flags raised and cleared.

"Close the loop" enables communication with faculty and staff when progress is made.

All in a centralized data system. (From: Starfish Retention Solutions)

I am new to Starfish.  How do I get started?  

Welcome to Gallaudet and Welcome to Starfish!  We are glad you are here!

To get started with Starfish, check out the "Starfish Getting Started Guide for Faculty and Staff".

New and returning faculty will find the following information available in the "Getting Started Guide":

  • Accessing Starfish:  Instructions on how to access Starfish through BlackBoard (
  • Starfish Profile:  Each student is able to see their instructors Starfish Profile in their Starfish Student Success Network.  Information in the Starfish Profile includes contact information, office hours, and a general overview or biography page. This is a great way to introduce yourself to your students and to stay visible on the students Starfish dashboard.
  • Office Hours:  Learn how to set up your office hours and provide students an easy way to schedule appointments with you during your office hours.  You can also sync your office hours and appointments to your Gallaudet Google Calendar and Email to alert you when students have scheduled appointments with you.  Students report that they love being able to schedule appointments through Starfish and want to do this with their instructors. Starfish provides an easy way to do this while also providing you a means for to keeping track of student appointments and notes on the outcomes of your meetings with students in a centralized database.
  • Progress Surveys:  Learn how to submit an Academic Progress Survey.  Each semester, faculty will receive an email asking them to fill out an Academic Progress Survey on their students.  These surveys are sent during Week 2, Week 4, and Week 6 of the semester and are an easy way for faculty to let students know how they are doing in the course.  Instructions for filling out and submitting the survey are included in the guide.
  • Raise a Flag or Kudos: Academic Progress Survey not available?  No problem!  Learn how to raise a flag or kudos at any time during the term!  

In addition, you will learn how to set up your email notifications and how to review a students folder.  You'll be amazed at what Starfish can do for you so check it out and explore the features!  Have a question or want to learn more, submit a request to HELPDESK and request a Starfish review or training, either one-on-one or with a group.  

BlackBoard Grade Center and Starfish: "Grade Average Below 70%" Automated Alert

When a student course average falls below 70% in BlackBoard Grade Center, Starfish will generate an automatic message to alert the student.  

To ensure that Starfish is reading the correct column in BlackBoard Grade Center, faculty need to "set" the column they are using for the course grade average as the "external grade" column.

The default column "set as external grade" in BlackBoard is currently  the "Total" column.  

If a faculty member is using a different column  than the "total" column for the grade average, such as "weighted total", then they need to "set" this column as the "External Grade Column" to ensure Starfish reads the correct column for sending an alert.

For instructions on how to set up the course grade average column in BlackBoard Grade Center, click here: BlackBoard Grade Center: How to Set Course Grade Average Column as External Grade.  

You can also contact HELPDESK and request help for setting up the appropriate column in BlackBoard Grade Center for Starfish alerts. 

What is the Starfish Attendance Tracker and how do I use it?

Starfish provides an electronic attendance tracking tool for instructors to use to track student attendance.  

Click on this quick Two Minute Tip: How to Take Attendance (cc) to learn how to use the Attendance Tracker.  You can also use this visual guide: Starfish Attendance Tracker Visual Guide

New in the Fall of 2015, students are able to see their attendance in Starfish.

When a student is marked for 3 or more unexcused absences in attendance tracker, he/she and the instructor will receive an automatic alert from Starfish notifying the student that they have missed 3 or more classes. The alert also reminds students of the relationship between class attendance and student success and refers students to review the course syllabus and meet with their instructor.

I am concerned about my student.  How do I raise a flag and share this concern?

There are two ways to raise a flag on a student.

First, academic progress surveys are emailed to Undergraduate and ELI faculty 2-3 times prior to midterm week, usually at Week 2, Week 4, and/or Week 6 of the term. The progress survey asks faculty to report on the academic progress of students in their classes.  If a faculty member is concerned about a student, he/she has an opportunity to share this concern in the survey.  These concerns are sent directly to the student and copied to the students advisor and other critical student success staff.

To learn how to respond to a progress survey, check out this visual guide: Responding to a Progress Survey.

You can also view the: Two Minute Video: Responding to a Progress Survey (cc).

Second, if a faculty member needs to share a concern at any other time during the semester, he or she can submit a flag manually in Starfish.

For a visual guide to raising a manual flag in Starfish, click here:  Visual Guide to Raising a Flag in Starfish.

Faculty are also encouraged to share kudos to recognize a student's positive academic performance or improvement in the course. The process for submitting a kudos is the same as for submitting a flag.

IMPORTANT: When you raise a flag or a kudos, the student receives an email directly from you communicating that you are concerned about their performance in your class. In both the flags and kudos templates, faculty have an opportunity to outline details of the specific concern or praise in the comments section. The message template also encourages the student to see you to discuss the concerns.  A copy of the message is sent to the student's Advisor and other key student success staff who are tracking the concern.  

What are the flags and kudos in Starfish?  

To see list of the descriptions of the flags and kudos available to faculty, click here:  Starfish Flags and Kudos Descriptions

What do students see when they receive an email from Starfish?

To see an example of the email template sent to students when you raise a flag or kudos, click here:  Starfish Email Templates to Student - Flags and Kudos

I would like to clear a flag.  How do I do this?

Instructors and/or Faculty Advisors have permission to update or clear manually raised flags.  

To clear the flag or close the loop, click on this video tutorial for instructions:  Close the Loop in Starfish

We recommend that flags ONLY be cleared if there is clear evidence of improvement from the student or if the flag was raised in error.  

PLEASE NOTE: Automatic or system raised flags (attendance tracker or grade center flags) cannot be manually cleared.

To clear an attendance tracker flag, update the information in Attendance Tracker.  To clear a Grade Center Flag, update the BlackBoard Grade Center.  

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