University honored with Starfish 360 award

University honored with Starfish 360 award

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been honored for being an exemplary institution in the effective use of Starfish Retention Solutions’ platforms to ensure student success.

Nebraska shared the honor, which is awarded annually following a review by a panel of independent judges, with Columbus (Ohio) State Community College and Helena College at the University of Montana.

The university has worked with Starfish, a leading student success company, since 2011. It makes use of the company’s Enterprise Success Platform to support a campuswide initiative to improve the six-year graduation rate to 70 percent by 2017.

To do so, Nebraska launched several specific goals, including improving campus coordination and academic advising, developing an early-warning system to identify and support students and facilitating academic messaging and planning.

The major result was the launch of MyPLAN, which stands for My Personal Learning and Advising Network. MyPLAN provides a way for students to communicate with faculty and staff. Students can schedule with instructors and advising support staff and search through available campus resources. Faculty and advising staff can follow students through their UNL careers, recording notes, scheduling appointments, accessing basic student information and communicating with campus staff and faculty.

“The implementation of MyPLAN has been a key campus investment to support retention and to transform our advising culture,” said Amy Goodburn, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and interim dean of enrollment management. “MyPLAN has fostered transparency and accountability for advising services, created new partnerships across multiple units, and enabled systematic and intentional tracking and support of student progress for time to degree.”

The university is now tracking measurable improvements in four- and six-year graduation rates, a decline in the number of students on academic probation and increased service utilization by identified at-risk populations such as undeclared students.

Bill Watts, director of University Advising and Career Services, said that when the university began using MyPLAN, the initial hope was that advisers would begin to use the system to document their advising interactions with students.

“Little did we know that MyPLAN would enable us to be more experimental and curious about how to support student success and to use data to continuously improve,” Watts said.

Vanessa Roof, a retention analyst who oversees the MyPLAN administrative support team, said the university is continuing to build out new services to connect faculty and staff to students. For instance, she said, this semester there is a pilot program called HuskerScan, a system for tracking student participation with academic resources.

"The data feeds to MyPLAN, giving us a picture of which students are, and aren't, taking advantage of these resources," she said.

For more information on the Starfish 360 award and Nebraska's engagement with the Starfish platform, click here.