CMU spends $40,000 on MAP Works although some question its significance

The MAP Works program is an integrated early-intervention support system that helps new students become successful in college.

Short for Making Achievement Possible, MAP Works is a survey designed to measure how students are adapting to their environment through questions regarding their course work, roommates and level of anxiety.

“MAP Works is one initiative to try to make sure we help every single student that comes here be as successful as they can be,” said Jason Bentley, director of Central Michigan University’s First Year Experience program. “When a student starts at CMU, our goal is that every student has a conversation with somebody about their hopes and dreams, and what it is that they want to achieve.”

There is a base fee of $12,000 for a school to use the MAP Works program, and an additional fee is added for each student who is loaded into the system.

“Since CMU contributes to research, we get a discount. On a given year, the contract for the program is around $40,000,” Bentley said.

MAP Works combines the information that the school knows about students when they’re admitted with their individual responses to survey questions. First-year students aren’t required to take the survey, but it’s highly recommended to be taken in the fall and again in the spring.

CMU has been using the MAP Works program for four years. The program is licensed through Education Benchmarking, Inc. EBI licenses MAP Works through Ball State University, where the program originated.

As a benefit of using the program, CMU benchmarks with other institutions like Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University and Saginaw Valley State University that use MAP Works to compare results.

“We were one of the first institutions to focus on what we could do to support students in a more active way, but other Michigan institutions are starting to do the same thing,” Bentley said.

Each student who completes the survey receives a customized report based on his or her answers. The results provide recommendations to offices and services at CMU to help the student achieve success.

“We use the results to inform all of our support services, and we look at students who have risk markers,” Bentley said. “We reach out to students to try to get them to connect so we can talk with them about strategies to limit the chances for having academic or transition difficulties that go with being a new student in college.”

First-year students have a different outlook on the MAP Works program.

“MAP Works was repetitive and literally made zero difference in my life,” said Ludington freshman Mitchel Brody.

Johannesburg freshman Amanda Nickert said MAP Works hasn’t helped her, either.

“I feel that the survey was pointless,” she said. “It hasn’t helped me succeed in anything, or not yet anyways.”

Bentley said about 80 percent of new students this year have completed the survey.

“We want to be able to be a human GPS system,” he said. “We want to know your end destination and we want to help get you there. If you’re off track, we want to help you recalculate.”


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