After a summer pilot, the BlueStar advising system is now in use across DePaul.

More than just a tool to aid advising, BlueStar is a digital support system that enables faculty and staff to help students make academic progress. It combines several existing tools into one platform, including the advising dashboard, the academic progress report and attendance verification. New functionality allows for online scheduling of appointments with students.

"The university's adoption of BlueStar speaks to the DePaul promise that we are committed to each student's success," says David Miller, interim provost.

The BlueStar initiative is integral to a key goal of the Vision 2018 strategic plan - to focus the entire university community on student learning and success. BlueStar also is a significant effort of Foundations for Success - DePaul's quality initiative for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association's Open Pathway reaccreditation process.

"The most exciting feature of BlueStar is that it gives instructors an easy format for providing feedback to their students about their academic performance - feedback that could greatly have an impact on a student's progress toward graduation," says Caryn Chaden, associate vice president for Academic Affairs. 

Starting this fall, instructors will receive surveys from BlueStar. The first survey will ask instructors to verify student attendance (or online participation) during the first week of the course. This survey ensures that DePaul complies with requirements to remain eligible to award federal and state financial aid. More importantly, it notifies students who meant to drop a class that they need to do so and helps the Financial Aid Office work with students whose financial aid awards require review.

After the third week of class, instructors will receive the BlueStar Academic Progress Survey, which enables them to raise academic concerns or offer praise for each of their students. If there is nothing to report on a student, no action is needed. Students are the primary audience for comments reported through the survey. They receive emails sharing the instructor's comments, which can let them know that they are doing well in class or alert them to an issue with missing or late assignments, low grades or poor class attendance or participation.

The power of the BlueStar Academic Progress Survey is that it benefits all undergraduates - not just targeted populations as was the case with the former academic progress report.

In addition to responding to surveys, instructors and advisors can go into BlueStar at any time to provide feedback for a student. All communication that happens through BlueStar regarding a student is saved within the system. This means all advisors working with a particular student can see each other's notes about that student.  

With one central online resource - the student's "Success Network"- BlueStar allows important communications to be accessed and shared with the student and those who can help have an impact on the student's success.

What is the advantage to instructors and advisors for using BlueStar? It is simple: to be an advocate for student success.

Details can be found online at go.depaul.edu/bluestar and http://teachingcommons.depaul.edu/Technology/bluestar.html.

Story by Sandra Chaplin