Starfish at DCTC

DCTC and Inver Hills partnered to implement student success platform

Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College partnered to implement Starfish, a communication platform that gives faculty and staff the means to offer students timely and direct feedback about their academic progress. A part of EAB, a global consulting firm focused on education, Starfish also provides students with a central location to access academic and counseling support resources on campus.

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness (IE) at DCTC and Inver Hills is responsible for administering the Starfish student success software. Wendy Marson serves as IE director at both colleges. Wendy reported that over the summer of 2022 a work group representing both institutions collaborated to make sure Starfish would unfold as the ideal platform to help enhance an informed, proactive, and connected campus community centered on promoting student success.

More about implementing Starfish…

Allison Reeck is the IE management analyst. Allison pointed out that the partnership between the two colleges offers a number of advantages.

“Our partnership gives us an immediate group of peers working with similar students—sometimes the same students—with whom we can share ideas and practices for achieving the best Starfish outcomes,” she said. “While each college has a distinct culture, we’ve found that cross-pollination of ideas provides opportunities for both schools to enhance our student support repertoire.”

Allison noted that Starfish on the front end provides a single, integrated place for students to connect with support resources, including faculty and staff support, e.g., advisors, tutors, and specialized areas such as TRIO and Veteran Services.

“Starfish also enables different support resources to connect, which means when an instructor refers a student to tutoring, that instructor will receive a notification when tutoring has reached out to the student,” Allison said. “On the back end, Starfish enables us to look at student use of support resources and explore how that relates to their academic success. This helps us focus our efforts on interventions that provide the most benefit to our students.”

Heather Hohenstein is the Starfish administrator and enrollment analyst in IE. Heather related that Rebecca Jacobson and Aria Kronebusch, academic and financial aid advisors at DCTC, served on the Starfish implementation team. In fact, Rebecca attended CONNECTED21, the EAB national conference, in Orlando, Florida, in November 2021.

Heather pointed out that the Starfish Intake Survey came online March 1, 2023, for new incoming students at DCTC. The survey consists of 13 questions to match individual students to many different campus resources, including:

Heather added that students are connected to the Center for Student Success indirectly when they see the profile and appointment option for a tutor, lab assistant, or advisor via the Starfish Success Network. Students are connected directly when an instructor or advisor gives the student a Starfish referral to the center. Referrals to college services and resources are sent through Starfish as applicable.

“Starfish is the way to connect students to their ‘success networks’ for a better experience right out of the gate of their college journey,” Heather said. “Work on Starfish relates directly to the 2021–2027 Strategic Plan shared by both DCTC and Inver Hills. Goal Two of the Strategic Plan is centered on improving student success—bringing together effective learning, access, persistence, and completion—by enhancing a culture of student belonging and integrated support.”

More about Starfish…¹

Students succeed when they are engaged with an informed, connected, campus community

The Starfish student success platform helps colleges and universities scale their student success efforts so more students can achieve their academic and life goals.

At its foundation, Starfish’s platform helps higher education institutions implement reliable data to pinpoint areas of concern and opportunity within courses and student populations, as well as institutional programs and services.

Upon identifying these opportunities, the platform enables staff to connect students with helpful resources on campus and also allows administrators to refine their student success strategies.


Starfish Training Videos

Student Profile
Success Network
Upcoming Items
Dashboard & Messages

You can watch all five videos by visiting:


Learn more about the Starfish student success platform at DCTC and Inver Hills by contacting:

Heather Hohenstein
Starfish Administrator/Enrollment Analyst
Office of Institutional Effectiveness
Dakota County Technical College

Allison Reeck
Management Analyst
Office of Institutional Effectiveness
Dakota County Technical College

¹ SOURCE: EAB Acquires Starfish