Academic Success Center launches Starfish, network to assist students

Category:  News
Wednesday, September 21st, 2016 at 9:27 PM

Degreeworks? Title IV? Live text? It’s easy to be intimidated by the number of icons on the MyEdinboro website, but the latest icon, Starfish, aims to solve students’ problems.

Starfish is an interactive program aimed to fit the individual needs and academic plans of every Edinboro student. The program was launched by Edinboro’s Academic Success Center, and takes important student information, such as the names of academic advisors and coordinators, and puts it in one place.

“Starfish is a comprehensive network for success. It’s tailored to each student’s needs. Say, for example, you’re an athlete; you’ll see information about your professors and advisors, but there will also be information about your coach as well,” said Academic Success Coordinator for Humanities Aaron Hunsinger.

Upon opening Starfish, students are greeted by a Facebook like setup. The home screen, or dashboard, alerts students of any pending appointments or notifications. A left hand column lists six links, which inform students of the courses they are taking, along with information about their professors and faculty advisors.

Another useful icon students can access is the “Raise Your Hand” feature, which allows students to virtually raise their hand and message academic success questions about schedules, classes, or even roommate troubles.

Academic Success Coordinator Brenda Abreu Baker said, “I had a student message me asking for help with Math 208. I was able to get that student the information they needed and e-mail them the schedule for tutoring.”

“Students want to be able to text us, [and] the ‘Raise your hand’ feature allows students to comfortably reach out and get the help they need,” Hunsinger said.

The “Schedule Appointments” icon is another link for students to be aware of. It gives students the option of being able to schedule appointments with professors and advisors (who use the feature) all through Starfish.

Starfish doesn’t just provide easy access to students, “It allows professors to flag students who’ve not been doing so well, whether it be missing too many classes or something else, so that we can reach out to them and help.” Hunsinger said.

Yet, Abreu-Baker pointed out that it’s important for students not to think of Starfish as a means for punishment.

“Professors can not only go in their [Starfish] to flag a student, but they can also give students ‘Kudos’ points. So Starfish can work as early detection for struggling students and acknowledgment for good students.”

Starfish also plays hand-in-hand with another resource from Academic Success — its fall student success workshops.

The workshops, which are a joint venture between residence life and academic success, will have four sessions a month, from 6-7 p.m. in Highlands 2, and are designed for freshman students to transition into college life and prepare them for the rigor of a college level work. Each session will be headed by a specific coordinator from academic success.

“The workshops aren’t meant to be like a class, they’re very relaxed,” Hunsinger said.

Abreu-Baker emphasized the helpfulness of the workshops by saying, “A lot of students are flagged on Starfish and end up needing help with things we go over in the workshops.”

The workshops are tailored towards freshman, but all students are encouraged to attend.

A detailed list of the Academic Success Center fall workshop dates can be found on the university’s events calendar on Edinboro’s website or on Page 2. 

Shayma Musa is a staff writer for The Spectator.

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