Student success predictor gives university leaders actionable information

New York college uses Skyfactor Mapworks to gain unparalleled retention and completion insight

A siloed approach rarely works for any effort on higher ed campuses, much less student success and retention. Yet five years ago at Manhattan College, located in the Bronx in New York City, academic assistance was handled individually by each of the institution’s five schools.

“Then the college implemented a Center for Academic Success and hired me as a student retention coordinator to manage academic referrals and early alerts,” says Brother Michael Shubnell.

But getting information about the institution’s 3,600 undergraduate students was a challenge. Shubnell knew a centralized approach was best: A solution where all of the information on a student could reside. A solution that allows administrators to act and provide assistance at the institution level.

“Every student should receive help if they need it, regardless of which school they are enrolled in,” says Shubnell.

A singular system
Manhattan’s assistant provost recommended Mapworks by Skyfactor, software he had used at a previous institution with excellent results. After researching Mapworks and similar programs, Shubnell knew the recommendation was the right one.

Mapworks is a predictive student retention and success system that uses performance indicators to analyze individual students’ probability for retention and completion. Students who need assistance in order to succeed are flagged in a simple administrative dashboard.

High school transcripts, college course load and grades, residence status, and even an identification photo are all housed in a single platform that allows university leaders to get the whole picture of a student in one place.

Everyone a student interacts with, from residence life advisors to department chairs, can record information in Mapworks.

“If everyone can communicate and be on the same page, help can be directed to students in one approach from one place,” says Shubnell.

Mapworks was piloted at Manhattan in Fall 2015 with the 900 freshman students.

Valuable insight
One of the most valuable components of Mapworks is the student survey, Shubnell says. Students are asked to describe their background, the history of how they study, how they get along with their peers and more.

“This is deep information that is not going to come out when you interview a student,” says Shubnell. “It gives them a voice and gives me a sense of how they perceive themselves.”

At-risk students are directed to the Center for Academic Success for intervention. Mapworks interprets survey data and lets Manhattan administrators know about a student’s habits before they even arrive at the Center.

“We can see in Mapworks if a student has trouble with time management and address that right away at the Center instead of discovering that later on,” says Shubnell.

The plan is to expand Mapworks to all Manhattan students for the 2016-17 academic year.

“I am happy with Mapworks and the information it gives us,” says Shubnell. “Now we can ask: What is the intervention we need to do, now that we have this information?”

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