MAP-Works Helps Students Adjust Behaviors, Results in 10% Retention Jump at University of Southern Indiana

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MAP-Works®, the leading student success and retention program from Educational Benchmarking, Inc., (EBI), helps students compare their perceptions to reality and align their behaviors with successful outcomes. As a result, students at the University of Southern Indiana who participated in MAP-Works in the 2010–2011 school-year experienced a 10% higher fall-to-spring retention rate than their fellow students who did not participate, EBI announced today.

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..students got feedback through the student report within 24 hours—and that’s what we think really made a difference in retention.

MAP-Works®, the leading student success and retention program from Educational Benchmarking, Inc., (EBI), helps students compare their perceptions to reality and align their behaviors with successful outcomes. As a result, students at the University of Southern Indiana who participated in MAP-Works in the 2010–2011 school-year experienced a 10% higher fall-to-spring retention rate than their fellow students who did not participate, EBI announced today.

The MAP-Works survey helps promote student success by identifying at-risk students early in the school-year, then providing schools with the infrastructure to manage critical support and intervention efforts. After completing the survey, all students receive a customized student report that helps them each gain a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses in areas essential to their persistence at school. The student report allows survey respondents to view their behaviors in context and to connect their actions to consequences. For instance, students learn that while perfect attendance correlates to high GPAs, missing even an occasional class is statistically linked to earning an entire lower grade lower than students who did not miss classes. They also learn what percentage of the previous year’s first-year class achieved A’s, B’s, and C’s so they can benchmark their own performance relative to their peers.

“Most first-year students expect higher grades than they actually earn in their first semester,” said Sherry Woosley, Ph.D., Director of Analytics and Research at EBI. In research conducted by EBI , more than eight out of 10 respondents indicated they expected to earn a grade point average of at least a 3.00, but only 50% earned it. Although less than 3% of respondents expected a GPA below 2.50, about 30% earned it. Only 11% of respondents earned a GPA in a category higher than the category they expected, and one-third of respondents earned a GPA two categories lower than they expected. “By providing students with clear, specific feedback on the relationship between their behaviors and the likely outcomes, the MAP-Works student report helps these students recognize, adjust, and improve this behavior early in the semester,” Woosley continued.

In addition to academic behaviors, such as study skills, time management, and seeking help for challenging courses, the MAP-Works survey probes students’ development on issues such as social integration and financial concerns, which research has shown to correlate highly to student persistence toward degree completion. According to EBI’s analysis, students who display low measures of social connectedness, campus involvement, and sense of belonging are more likely to drop out of school. As a result, the MAP-Works system emphasizes the importance of getting involved on campus and outlines ways in which students can get started. The survey results also identify students who feel concerned about their ability to pay for tuition and living expenses, then lists on-campus resources and urges students to take the first steps to address their financial situations, before lack of funds becomes the deciding factor in their plans.

The impact of MAP-Works on student behavior is especially clear at the University of Southern Indiana (USI). Although USI had been participating in MAP-Works for the past four years, the 2010–2011 school-year was the first time they distributed the survey to all 2,098 incoming freshman. According to Dr. Katherine A. Draughon, Executive Director of Planning, Research and Assessment and Associate Professor of Sociology at USI, the campus saw an impressive 62% response rate.

Examining the results, Draughon and her colleagues found a remarkable disparity: Among MAP-Work participants in the freshman class, the fall-to spring retention rate was 89%, while among non-participants, the fall-to-spring rate was merely 79%. “This was the first semester USI expanded MAP-Works to include all new freshmen, despite not having the staffing to provide a personal response to all students, especially those whose MAP-Works survey indicated they were at higher risk of not returning for the fall semester,” Draughon explained. “But students got feedback through the student report within 24 hours—and that’s what we think really made a difference in retention.” Although the populations of MAP-Work participants and non-participants had some demographic differences, such as a higher percentage of commuters among the non-participants, Draughon believed the 10% gap in retention stemmed from more than just demographics. “It’s rare that students get such immediate and concrete feedback,” Draughon pointed out. The USI staff believed that students utilized the assessment and advice contained in the survey results to realign their behavior—and to chart a course toward a successful first year.

For the coming year, USI will capitalize on the value of MAP-Works to increase communication throughout the freshman class. All students will be required to participate in the survey as part of the school’s mandatory Assessment Day, which Draughon hopes will produce over 95% participation. The school has mustered a full system of support, consisting of trained faculty and academic advisors, student development staff, and counseling staff, to reach out and aid at-risk students. Because MAP-Works has been so powerful on the USI campus, it will replace an omnibus assessment across departments and become an essential aspect of the first-year experience for the 2011–2012 school-year.

Said Draughon, “We really see the value of assessment at USI.” And with clear, early behavioral feedback, so do their students.

About MAP-Works

MAP-Works is a comprehensive program that enables colleges and universities to improve student retention. Designed for both two-year and four-year institutions, MAP-Works offers a suite of management tools that capture and report on student satisfaction and other issues throughout the school year. It provides an “early warning system” for students who are at risk for a variety of reasons beyond academic difficulty. The program was developed over two decades by Ball State University and has been refined by EBI, which owns and administers the program nationwide.

More information on MAP-Works is available at http://www.map-works.com or by calling (417) 429-0081.

About Educational Benchmarking

Educational Benchmarking, Inc. (EBI)) provides comparative assessment instruments and analyses to support improvement of program quality in many areas of higher education. In addition to MAP-Works, EBI also offers comprehensive assessments of academic programs, student affairs programs, and custom assessments tailored to the needs of educational institutions.

More information on EBI is available at http://www.webebi.com or by calling (417) 429-0081.

About the University of Southern Indiana

Established in 1965, the University of Southern Indiana (USI) serves over 10,000 students and offers over 70 undergraduate academic majors, 10 master’s programs, and one doctoral program. USI is an engaged learning community, advancing education and knowledge, enhancing civic and cultural awareness, and fostering partnerships through comprehensive outreach programs. Its mission is to prepare individuals to live wisely in a diverse and global community.

More information on the University of Southern Indiana is available at http://www.usi.edu.

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Lisa Hickey
EBI
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