An innovative tool for improving student retention is proving successful with SUNY Buffalo State’s first-year students, according to a report included on “Promising and Practical Strategies to Increase Postsecondary Success” on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
Making Achievement Possible (MAP) is a program that identifies first-year students who are at risk of dropping out of college during their first semester by means of an online survey. The survey is a product of Educational Benchmarking Inc. and is called MAP-Works.
“We piloted the program in fall 2008,” said Eileen Merberg, retention and leadership specialist in the Campus Life Office, “and we implemented it in fall 2009.”
The benefit of the program is that, by identifying at-risk students, faculty and staff can intervene through programs, first-year courses, and services. Student participation is optional.
Among students who do participate, improved retention (measured by returning for the second year of college) is significant. Retention rates for MAP-Works participants were five percent higher than non-participants from fall 2009 to fall 2010, 11 percent higher from fall 2010 to fall 2011, and 10.2 percent higher from fall 2011 to fall 2012.
“Staff reached out to students through the residence halls and the Financial Aid Office,” said Merberg, “and faculty reached out to students in first-year courses such as Foundations of Inquiry and College Writing I.” Student participation is essential, and Merberg said that ensuring that participation through in-person and online outreach has been an important part of the initiative.