Mapworks helps remove barriers to student success (via UAA Green and Gold News)

By: Written by Tracy Kalytiak, University of Alaska Anchorage | Mar 27 2017

Cheyenne Mathews grew up in the picturesque Southeast Alaska community of Ketchikan, a place where people take a five-minute ferry ride from one island (Revillagigedo) to another (Gravina) to reach the airport, where hemlock and massive spruce adorn the mossy landscape, where every face in town and at school was a familiar one. Last summer, Cheyenne moved into a UAA residence hall and launched her college career. At first, it wasn’t easy: “I think people forget how diverse geographically Alaska is,” she said. “I talked nonstop about how different Anchorage was, until it became a constantly recurring theme.

Molly Orheim poses for a photo in the Hub on the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) campus in Anchorage, Alaska Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

Cheyenne — a UA Scholar — dove into campus life. The journalism and communication major enrolled in classes, joined Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and Seawolf Debate, scored the assistant features editor position at The Northern Light, and began training as a KRUA-FM volunteer.

Along the way, she took a Mapworks survey because it gave her a chance to win an iPad.

“One of the reasons I knew about it was because one lady came into a lot of my general requirement 101 classes and gave talks about how taking that survey would actually benefit you,” Cheyenne said, “because they’ll give you feedback on what your areas of improvement should be. If you have big glaring errors in your academic progress, they’ll connect you with resources.”

‘We know our students at UAA struggle’

Mapworks is a transition program that, last fall, focused on first-year UAA freshmen, with the goal of using detailed survey data to tease out and address problems that could derail their education.

“We survey them four times a year,” said Molly Orheim, UAA’s director of career services, who previously served as student retention and Mapworks coordinator. “We ask them 200 questions steeped in retention theory — such as, are you studying, are you sleeping, are you working. The program tells me which of our students are struggling based on how they answer, gives risk indicators, helps us reach out to the students who are struggling most.” … Read the entire article at UAA’s Green and Gold News.

(Photo of Molly Orheim, Director of UAA Career Services, by Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage)