In alignment with the University of Idaho’s Strategic Plan 2016-2025, VandalStar is an initiative focused on student success and increasing graduation completion rates. VandalStar, powered by Starfish, is a web-based retention and advising tool that provides an efficient way to offer coordinated support to all students, ensuring they receive the right type of assistance/intervention to keep them on track.
Student success is a significant lift for all of us who are supporting and teaching our students. VandalStar simply helps us understand who is at risk early and gives us the tool to intervene and build communication and consistency across campus.
VandalStar is an information hub that will allow the university to collect information in one place and enable faculty and advisors to send alerts if there are concerns about academic performance, “kudos” to acknowledge good performance and referrals to additional support services. VandalStar also allows for online appointment scheduling with faculty, advisors and support service offices.
It will also help engage our students in their own progress by not only keeping them informed, but also prompting action even before they know they are overwhelmed.
In alignment with the University of Idaho’s Strategic Plan 2016-2025, VandalStar is a university-wide initiative focused on student success and increasing graduation rates. Powered by Starfish, VandalStar is a web-based advising, retention, student tracking, early alert and appointment scheduling application that supports student success and engagement.
VandalStar provides an efficient way to offer coordinated support to all students, ensuring they receive the right type of assistance and intervention to keep them on track. The online system helps students connect with instructors, advisors and staff, as well as enhance communication across campus departments.
VandalStar is based on the premise that a university community engaged with a student will lead to that student's success. Effective campus engagement happens through collaborative efforts between faculty, advisors and support offices. Individual outreach to students and face-to-face conversations are critical to letting students know that there are people at the university who care about their success.
VandalStar promotes these important interactions by providing a quick and simple way for faculty to notify advisors and support offices when they have a concern about a student, enabling these support providers to reach out to students. More effective support is expected to lead to increased student success, which in turn will lead to improved retention and graduation rates.
VandalStar will be available university-wide in fall 2018 with a soft launch August 6. Additional features will be implemented over the following semesters.
The benefits of VandalStar for students include a “Raise Your Hand” function that alerts appropriate parties to academic concerns. VandalStar is a communication tool that allows students to connect with instructors, advisors, and student service staff. Additionally, VandalStar can allow for an enhanced advising experience. It provides a tool for scheduling appointments with staff or faculty members.
Benefits for faculty include, but are not limited to:
- A central platform that gives you a comprehensive look at your students, allowing you to be more informed about how your students are doing;
- One click shares your student concerns with multiple campus service providers;
- Reaching out to your students has never been easier; simply raise a flag and VandalStar sends the appropriate message;
- Office hours sync with your Outlook calendar (two-way communication);
- Students use VandalStar to schedule appointments based on your preferences;
- Manage and interact with your students by role: advisor, faculty or both.
You still conduct your courses as you usually would. Faculty are encouraged to place a VandalStar statement in the syllabus to let students know that they are using the system. VandalStar should not change any of the best practices you use in your classroom and does not replace face-to-face conversations about progress. VandalStar is simply a tool to enhance communication with your students.
Recommended Syllabus Statement:
This class will participate in VandalStar, which promotes student success through coordination and communication among students, instructors, advisors, and campus support service departments. If I observe that you are experiencing difficulties in the course (attendance concerns, low test scores or participation, in danger of failing, etc.), I may send an email to your vandals.uidaho.edu email account through the VandalStar system. My message will tell you about my concerns and ask you to meet with me or an academic advisor. Your advisor, TA, and/or I will work with you to create success strategies to address any difficulties you are having. In addition, if I observe that you are doing well in my course, you may also receive “kudos” from me acknowledging your efforts.
VandalStar may involve taking advantage of various campus support services, such as academic tutoring or advising. If I recommend that you use campus support services, I or your advisor will redirect you to that support office so they will be better prepared to assist you. VandalStar provides essential notices by email and through your dashboard at www.vandalstar.uidaho.edu. Please check your vandals.uidaho.edu account or VandalStar account frequently and respond quickly if you receive an email from VandalStar.
Flags are designed to inform students when their performance is not meeting expectations. Faculty are encouraged to raise flags based on poor performance and/or attendance concerns. Raising a flag generates an automated email that is sent to the student, on which faculty can enter additional comments. Once a student has been flagged by a faculty member, academic support/advising is notified with an automated email in VandalStar. Flagging a student through VandalStar creates a transparent communication trail that allows all individuals working with the student to see a clear picture of the student’s performance.
Faculty members can use flags for students to signal different concerns. These flags generate an immediate notification to the student outlining the concern and directing them to support resources on campus. In addition, advisors or other support providers at the college may be notified, depending on the type of flag.
Kudos are course-based indicators that faculty (or teaching assistants) can send to students to encourage positive performance in class.
During spring 2018, a pilot group will report midterm grades via VandalStar through a feature called “progress survey” to test the functionality of the tool. Early warning grades in Fall 2018 will be reported through VandalStar’s progress survey feature.
Faculty and teaching assistants can view student information related to the courses they are teaching.
Academic support staff — including faculty and professional advisors — can view student information if they have an educational need to know for the student.
Each individual flag, kudo, to-do, and referral will give faculty and support staff the option to allow the student to view their respective information.
No, VandalStar is a tool that brings some student information together. VandalWeb is the system of record for student information and the Banner interface for faculty and staff.
The VandalStar implementation team is still exploring this option. The goal is for BBLearn to be integrated into VandalStar starting spring 2019 at the earliest.
Yes. DegreeAudit is a student’s official degree requirements checklist.
Students, faculty and staff will access VandalStar through several avenues:
1. Directly through www.vandalstar.uidaho.edu
2. Through VandalWeb once programming is complete
3. Through BBLearn
4. Through the VandalStar resource website at www.uidaho.edu/vandalstar
Powered by Starfish Solutions, VandalStar is a hosted software-as-a-service application provided by Hobsons, Inc. System data is stored outside of the university and maintained by Hobsons. The university has completed a comprehensive security assessment to ensure the vendor facilities, products and processes comply with industry guidelines for protecting personally identifiable information. Per the company's website, “Database and application servers are hosted in audited facilities with state-of-the-art infrastructure, constant monitoring, and established operational policies. All communications to these servers use secure protocols.” Access within the VandalStar application is driven by a powerful role-based security scheme that ensures users can view data only for students with which they have a scholastic relationship. The university controls authentication, determines what data to send to Hobsons and grants end user access and privileges in the VandalStar system.
FERPA allows the university to designate campus officials that can be allowed to see portions of a student’s education records: “A school may share education records, or information from education records, with anyone it has deemed a ‘school official’ and has determined to have a ‘legitimate educational interest’ in that information.” Learn more about FERPA here.
Different information will be viewable depending on your relationship with the student, such as if you are a faculty member or an advisor.
Anything maintained electronically associated with a student’s file is considered confidential. Only staff (faculty, advisor or administrative) who have a need to see it will be able to see it. Any notes on a student can be subpoenaed by law.
Institutions are now recognizing that the data that they have can allow them to be proactive in supporting students. Information from student information and course management systems, combined with analytics tools can help identify students at risk. Outreach to those students can point them to resources such as tutoring, counseling or other campus services designed to help them persist and be successful. The VandalStar system provides those capabilities for the University of Idaho. Access to the predictive information can be restricted to those in roles that have been identified to provide support and that are part of a planned strategy to use that information in ways that encourage students toward completion. Predictive analytics will not be available for Fall 2018. However, we will be evaluating how our university will best use it to support our students in the near future.
It depends on how much you would like to use the tool within your course. Faculty members are encouraged to send flags and kudos after the first major assignment, for early warning grades, and following midterm exams/projects and prior to finals. Faculty may send additional flags and kudos throughout the duration of the semester, or whenever they deem it necessary.
Please reach out to VandalStar Coordinator Lisa Ormond for general questions, to request VandalStar training, and to offer suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 208-885-8787. We welcome your contact and look forward to working with you!