AASCU Innovations Exchange
Your Source for Innovations in Public Higher Education

Buffalo State, SUNY - logo
Project Title:First-Year Student Success and Retention: Making Achievement Possible with MAP-Works Institution Name:Buffalo State College Innovation Category:Student Success Project Director:Eileen Merberg, Retention and Leadership Specialist, Campus LifeContact Information:(716) 878-3407, merberen@buffalostate.eduWebsite:http://www.webebi.com/retention
Project Description:

MAP-Works® (Making Achievement Possible) is a program that identifies first-year, at-risk students early in the term and efficiently and effectively provides faculty and staff the information they need to coordinate interventions, empowering the campus to positively impact student success and retention. The program consists of an online survey first-year students complete, assessing their transition to Buffalo State College. Faculty and staff then gain access to this information, and implement interventions for students who are struggling. A report is also generated for the students themselves, allowing for insight and an understanding of the elements that impact social and academic success.

MAP-Works® is a product of Educational Benchmarking Inc. (EBI®)


The primary objective of Making Achievement Possible is to increase the retention rate of first-year students by:

·         Identifying at-risk students early in the term

o   Encourage first-year students to participate in the online survey, administered in the 4th week of the fall semester.

·         Gaining insight into first-year student issues related to their transition to college

o   The survey includes questions related to a variety of transition issues, including social integration, academic habits, and financial stability. Faculty and staff who are directly connected to first-year students (such as BSC101 instructors, residence hall staff) have access to the information.

·         Planning effective outreach for interventions and support

o   Integral to the program is the outreach once issues and concerns are identified.




 ·         In fall 2009, 744 first-year students participated (49%) in the survey. The overall retention rate for first-year students from fall 2009 to fall 2010 was 5% higher for those who participated in the survey compared to those who did not.


·         In fall 2010, 1,036 first-year students participated (70%). The overall retention rate for first-year students from fall 2010 to fall 2011 was 11% higher for those who participated compared to those who did not.


·         We are currently in our third year of full implantation. In fall 2011, 1,141 students participated (81%).


·         Overall student retention rose 2.5%, from 2009 to 2010. In 2011, the program’s second full year, student retention rose an additional 1.6%.



Challenges/Problems Encountered:

Related challenges included:

  • Gaining buy-in from key faculty and staff;  those who work most closely with first-year students
  • Getting students to actually take the survey
  • Encouraging faculty and staff to follow-up with students based on the survey data


All challenges were dealt with gradually, from year to year, and we continue to troubleshoot. We were able to obtain the faculty and staff buy-in through repeated communication and presentations on the value of the program. Student participation gradually increased from 49% to 81% over three years, due to classroom presentations, residence hall staff encouragement and e-mail reminders.

Evaluation Approach:Inherent in the MAP-Works® software are all the elements needed for the evaluation of its effectiveness. It provides a robust management tool that measures impact, ensures accountability and ultimately measures improvements in student success and retention. MAP-Works® utilizes a heuristic algorithm to identify students at risk, and integrates both profile and student experience data to ensure accurate identification of at-risk students.
Potential for Replication:MAP-Works® is a product that can be purchased through Educational Benchmarking Inc. (EBI), and the program can be replicated on any campus. There is a base price charge and a basic licensing fee per year, plus a student charge. These charges are determined by institutional size and negotiated with EBI. Although we have not yet analyzed the savings in higher retention rates compared to the costs associated with using MAP-Works®, using the program has allowed us to see a 12% increase in student retention. As such, we are committed to its continued use for the foreseeable future.
Additional Resources:

MAP-Works® — a product of Educational Benchmarking Inc. (EBI)


CEO-to-CEO Contact:Howard Cohen , Interim Presidentcohenh@buffalostate.edu
(716) 878-4101
Date Published: Monday, March 5, 2012Date Revised: Thursday, April 12, 2012