Professors Voice Their Displeasure Towards Starfish


Some Pace professors won’t even bother to use Starfish due to complications

Sean Browne, Editor in Chief

Pace University has implemented Starfish, a software were students have direct communication with the faculty so that they can see their success and weaknesses in the classroom since fall 2016.

However, Starfish is anything but a success, according to some professors.

“I refuse to use Starfish,” said Marie Werner, Associate Professor of  Sociology and Anthropology. “It is too complicated to use, and it’s just a pain in the butt.”

According to the Pace Universities information technology  website, Starfish sends notifications to students, advisors, coaches, and others when an alert or a praise is raised by faculty. These notifications are triggered by multiple items including notes and/or flags that alert us to something that threatens student success or praise in the form of kudos.

One of Werner’s biggest issues with the site is that if a student is not doing well in class then they are sent to their academic advisor. However, Werner believes that the advisors are not trained in helping the students if the students problem is caused by a learning problem.

“A lot of these kids are not diagnosed with anything and they come into your class and they don’t do well, ” Werner said. ” So to send them to a advisor who is trained in diagnosing a student is wrong because the advisors aren’t trained in dealing with a student who may have a learning disability.”

Werner has also claimed that in the past, she would receive messages about one of her students from another professor because they had a same student.

“If you flag a student for not doing well in their class, it will then go out to all of their other professors,” Werner said. “Its designed to see if a student is having a pervasive issue, I shouldn’t know how a student is doing in another class.”

Barbra Farrell, Professor of Accounting who also doesn’t use Starfish, has gotten messages in the past about students who have never even been in her class.

“I have found that I am getting emails about students who I don’t have in class and I am getting reports about a student’s progress and when they fail a quiz,” Farrell said. ” It makes me extremely uncomfortable because I don’t know this student and I have no reason to get this information and it makes me concerned.

Farrell tried to express her displeasure at a faculty council meeting a year and a half ago. But she said that she was never given an explanation as to why it was happening and she still gets these messages.

Beth Gordon, Assistant Vice President for Information Technology Services help operates Starfish on Pace assures that faculty can no longer see how a student is doing in another class.

“Faculty can no longer see the alerts from other faculty members,” Gordon said. “When we first had it set up that was one of the features, but now it is changed.”

Gordon believes that Starfish is a good way for advisors to keep track of students  in the event that they are doing poorly in their class.

“Before we had Starfish, then a student might be struggling in a lot of classes but when you ask the student they might not know that or want to share it with the advisor,” Gordon said. “Now an advisor can see through the system if a student is in danger of failing a number of  classes and the advisor can take action.”

But in order for Starfish to work properly, a professor has to share a student’s progress  with an advisor, and Werner and Farrell do not know a single professor on campus who uses Starfish because of its complications.

Werner and Farrell both prefer to speak with a student directly if they are doing poorly in class.