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Starfish - Early Alert

About Starfish

Since Fall 2012, we have been using an application called Starfish to improve student success and retention. Starfish provides faculty of selected courses with an easy-to-use tool to help identify students who may be having academic or attendance issues or both. Students are made aware of their at-risk status and informed of services and resources available to help them succeed. The Centers for Learning manages follow-up action with students and coordinates as needed with other campus faculty and staff. Starfish instructors can also send kudos, which are positive messages of recognitions and/or encouragement. With both types of messages, the goal is to retain students so they can complete their pursuit of their goals and degree plans at UMass Lowell.

Though the initiative started with just College Writing I and Calculus I/IA courses, there are now over 40 courses that we survey each semester, including:

  • Chemistry I
  • College Writing I
  • College Writing II
  • College Writing A ESL
  • College Writing I ESL
  • College Writing II ESL
  • Values & Creative Thinking
  • First Year Experience Seminar (FAHSS)
  • Introduction to Public Health
  • Human A & P Lab I
  • Human A & P Lab II
  • Physiological Chemistry Lab I & II
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Management Pre-Calculus
  • Management Pre-Calculus SI
  • Management Calculus
  • Management Calculus SI
  • Calculus IA
  • Calculus IB
  • Calculus I
  • Calc. for the Life Sciences I
  • Professional Communications
  • Physics I (recitations)
  • Physics II (recitations)
  • World Languages (levels I and II)
  • Business 101
  • The Freshmen Difference Maker Seminar
  • Basic Clinical Microbiology & Pathology (lab)
  • Introduction to Statistics
  • General Physics I & II (recitations)
  • FYSH - First Year Seminar in Honors
  • Lowell as Text 


We have been surprised by how happy students are to receive the kudos: one student emailed us back after receiving it: “thank you very much for the uplifting remarks” and “thank you so much for providing me with this recognition” were typical responses to the kudos. Even students receiving flags often take the messages in stride, taking the initiative to speak with their instructors, schedule an advising appointment, visit the Tutoring Center, or other measures.


Project Sponsorship

Kerry Donohoe - Dean of Academic Services
Centers for Learning, Advising & Student Success

Sheila Riley-Callahan - Executive Director of Academic Services & Special Programs
Phone: 978-934-2936

Douglas Cooper - Coordinator of Retention Services
Phone: 978-934-4548