Harper College

Fast Facts

Starfish in Action

Improving Student Persistence Campus-Wide

Harper College Judith Marwick

Judith Marwick, Ed.D.

“The Starfish pilot was implemented as a statistically designed experimental model to determine if the intervention using the Starfish software made a significant difference in student retention and success. After a two-year pilot implementation period we found that the answer was a resounding yes.”

– Judith Marwick, Ed.D., Provost, Harper College


Harper College launched “Project Success” as a two-year pilot beginning in the fall 2011. A primary component of the program was the use of the Starfish® Enterprise Success Platform™ to identify at-risk students as early as possible and connect them with support resources on campus.

The College reports that students identified through the Starfish platform who subsequently met with a counselor during the semester were significantly more likely to complete their courses and register in the subsequent semester. In addition, during the pilot period:

  • Faculty participation was strong. On average, 68% of faculty used the Starfish platform to communicate a concern about a student or to acknowledge a student’s good work.
  • Students took action based on communication from the Starfish platform. In the first year of the pilot, 56% of students were identified for needing extra attention, and of those, 77% met with their counselor. In the second year of the pilot, 63% of students were identified, and of those, 74% met with their counselor before the end of the semester.
  • Student persistence has improved. In the first year of the pilot, 80% of the students in the program persisted fall to spring, compared with 70% of students who were not in the program. In year two, the fall-to-spring persistence rate for students in the program was nearly 83%, while the College average was 76%.

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