Dunn and Herbert to serve as SOC student retention ambassadors

Professor Kimberly Herbert

By Courtney Young and Alexis Goodwin

Starting in the fall semester of 2017, Dr. Scott Dunn and Professor Kim Herbert will serve as ‘flag managers’ in Starfish, a new online system being used by Radford University, to help with student retention.

Starfish serves as a median between professors, students, and advisors. Professors or advisors can put up a ‘flag’ on a student’s Starfish profile, relaying the information about attendance issues, continuous low grades, and matter of that nature, to Herbert and Dunn.

The Starfish system has only been in place since the fall 2016 semester, but after further consideration from faculty and staff, there was a need to have designated members of the staff to make the system more manageable.

Knowing what it is like to manage students in a classroom and in the advising setting, Herbert explained that other professors were utilizing the Starfish system to the point where there was an overwhelming amount of information, or flags, calling the need for a more structured and facilitated form of retention.

According to Dunn, the School of Communication has decided to take the data made available by this program and use it to improve student retention.

Being a professor and an advisor, Herbert has high hopes for the retention program with the goal being to direct students to other options rather than withdrawing from a course or failing a course all together.

“I’m not going to do their work for them, but just point them in the right direction with the appropriate resources,” Herbert said.

 “All universities are concerned about student retention, changing majors, and failing from classes,” Herbert said, “the more intervention the better.” 

20160802-Dunn-Scott-faculty page
Dr. Scott Dunn

With this new retention system in place, and more resources for students to get educated about their options, School of Communication students have more opportunities to be successful.       

Other measures have been brought up to help with retention including making changes to the curriculum. A 100-level writing class for all majors has been brought to the table as an opportunity to give students hands-on work in a small class setting.

“We are going to offer some sections of this class in the fall to see how it goes, and if it goes well we’ll consider requiring it in the future,” Dunn said.

Dunn believes that getting students more engaged with their major earlier on in their time at Radford would help to keep students in the program and at the university.

“As I’ve become more aware of the importance of retention, I’ve also tried to really work with students who are in danger of failing the [Introduction to Communication] class to work on strategies for bringing their grades up to passing,” Dunn said.

Dunn concluded emphatically, “We owe it to our students to provide any resources we can to help those who are willing to work for it succeed and graduate.”

Feb 27, 2017
School of Communication