Transfer Policies and Implications: Views From the Trenches

Report
Transfer Policy and
Implications
Views from the Trenches
Bonita Jacobs, Ph.D.
Marc Cutright, Ed.D.
Amy Fann, Ph.D.
Janet Marling, Ph.D.
University of North Texas
“Examining the efficacy of
state transfer law and policy
through large-scale
qualitative inquiry”
Funded by a grant from
TG Public Benefit Program
2
A bit about transfer…

60+% of bachelor graduates have credit
from more than one institution

Despite transfer “swirl,” state focus is on
conventional community college-touniversity transfer

Trends and conditions suggest this will
accelerate

The regulatory environment is increasing
3
Common State Policies
• General education common core
• Common course numbering
• Statewide major articulation
• Block credit transfer
• Transfer associate’s degree
•WICHE, 2010
4
A Bit About Texas
• 90% attend public institutions
• 52% are in community colleges
• 6 four-year systems
• 50 local elected boards for CCs
• 1 board for 8 technical colleges
• 4 single university systems
5
About Texas
State Policies
• Common course numbering system
for the community colleges (but not
the 4-year institutions)
• 6-drop rule
• 30 excess-hour rule
• Field of study core curricula (but 4-yr
institutions have some leeway)
• Associate’s degree will transfer core
complete
• Top 10%
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Establishing the Context
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Caveats on findings


Data subject to deeper analysis
and researcher collaboration and
consensus, including grad
students
However, researchers agree that
this iteration of findings will
endure in some shape or form
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Methods
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Methods
• Statewide qualitative study
• 12 Institutions
• 6 universities/6 feeder community
colleges
• Criteria for selecting institutions
– Number of transfer students
sent/received
– Geographic diversity
• Graduate student
involvement/training
– Yearlong course developed
• Study timeline Fall 2010-Fall 2011
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Interviews with
Administrators
• Administrator interviews at 12
campuses
– 4-7 individuals per campus
• 67 individual interviews
• 5 small focus group interviews
• Interviews tape-recorded and
transcribed
• Basic protocol with administrators:
“Which state policies help you with
transfer student success, which do
not?”
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Student Focus Groups
 Two student focus groups at 12
campuses
 12 focus groups at the university
level
 4-15 students per group (125 students)
 12 focus groups at the community
college level
 6-15 student per group (128 students)
 Criteria: Transfer intent
students/students who had
transferred
 90 minute focus-group interviews,
including brief questionnaire
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Policy Themes
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Themes – Community
Colleges

There appears to be little
incentive for Texas community
colleges to shape student
course taking for most efficient
transferability

It's simply not part of the
fiscal reward system
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Themes – Community
Colleges cont.

Community colleges must abide
by the common course
numbering system, but not
universities


Makes it easier for senior
institution evaluation of
transcripts
But more difficult for CC
students and advisers to
navigate without error
15
Theme - Transcripts

Lack of a common transcript
form and lack of transparency
across institutions is an
impediment


Delays transcript evaluations
Inhibits student ability to
comparison shop
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Themes - Universities

Texas universities believe they
should get more fiscal credit for
completion by non-originating
students


Fiscal credit is awarded
primarily for first-time, firstyear starters-completers
Several Texas universities
admit more transfer students
than native students
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Themes – Universities cont.

Texas universities believe they
should get more fiscal credit for
completion by non-originating
students


Fiscal credit is awarded
primarily for first-time, firstyear starters-completers
Several Texas universities
admit more transfer students
than native students
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Theme - Credits

While acceptance of transfer
credits has improved, there are
persistent issues. High among
these is spotty application of
earned credits toward degrees,
even in the face of evidence of
equivalency in content and rigor


Possibility of untested prejudice and
discrimination against CC credits
Unwillingness or inability of institutions
to get faculties to engage in
meaningful disciplinary discussions
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Theme – Six Drop Rule

The Texas six-drop rule is believed
by many to inhibit transfer as
much as it encourages individual
student efficiency
Legislative mandate in 2007.
Cost containment and degree
efficiency
Negative effects are perceived to be
rigidity upon transfer,
punishments for life changes,
etc.

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Theme – Available
Assistance

Students find that even advertised
and promoted assistance for transfer
is unavailable and ineffective



State law mandates university
report on transfer efforts (but not
for community colleges)
There is no audit or requirement for
submission of the effect of these
efforts
Students find out-of-date info, learn
of services that effectively do not
exist, etc.
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Student Themes
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Student Focus Group
Themes
• Transferability of classes
• Advising “Luck of the draw”
• Need for comprehensive student
advising
– Starting from scratch
• Teaching students how to use information
– Orientation
– Student success courses
– Special program
• Online transfer information
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Transfer of Classes
• Overall, biggest complaint, transfer
of credits, especially at the
departmental level
• Having to repeat courses
• Applied v. academic courses
• Not knowing, or not knowing in
time about petition process for
challenging transcript evaluation
– Some advisors pro-active in informing
students about options while other
students have found out on their own
and have to “push” advisors to provide
paperwork and or help them petition 24
Advising: “Luck of the
draw”
• “It seems like the advisors really don’t
tell you…in the college of business, you
just kind of get the luck of the draw.
They don’t tell you exactly what you
need.”
• “you can’t choose who your counselor is
so you’re getting different information,
it’s really confusing.”
• “I would tell a new transfer student to
ask questions, and don’t believe one
person. Make sure you hear it from two
or three people before you believe it.”
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Comprehensive Advising
Model: Starting from
Scratch
• “I told [the counselor] I wanted to do business
management and they didn’t ask me if I
planned on transferring, they didn’t ask me if I
wanted a 2 year or 4 year degree, they didn’t
ask me anything, they just grabbed the
[degree plan], and it was an Associate of
Applied Science, it’s not an Associate of Arts...
I got half way through and I went to talk to a
[university] recruiter and he said, “we’re not
going to take half these classes because they
are technical vocational classes.” What was the
point of getting a degree plan and following it
if half of these classes aren’t even going to
transfer? Essentially I started over…”
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Comprehensive Advising
Model: Teaching Students
How to Use Information
– “They don’t tell you exactly what you
need but they say, “this counts.” That
doesn’t really show you how it fits into
the structure.”
– “[Getting] loans and financial aid was a
complicated process and confusing, and
[the counselors] didn’t help much, they
just tell you go to this website and fill it
out. They don’t tell you what to fill out
or what you needed or anything.”
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Comprehensive Advising
Model: Orientation
 “I found registration [orientation] really
helpful because they kept saying things
over and over and over again.”
 “[students] need to sign up for a transfer
session to see your advisor and to
[select] your schedule, everything about
it was good. It wasn’t that long”.
 “ I wish I had gone to orientation. I was
a transfer student with more than 30
hours and I didn’t have to make it…I felt
frustrated that I didn’t know where things
were.”
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Comprehensive Advising
Model: Student Success
Courses
 “The student development course that I took…was the
most helpful thing because other than that, everything
else I did on my own, searching for myself.”
 “My instructor was really helpful, she walked us around
the transfer center, told us where all the offices were, told
us where to look for stuff on our own without having to
wait in line. It was really helpful. She helped us find a lot
of resources on the [college] website because it’s kind of
wild sometimes. She helped us figure it out and that’s
what I’ve been basing my curriculum on, what I learned in
that class”.
 “…I got to know my counselor more…my counselor was my
student development teacher. Through the information
from that class and building that connection…it’s easier to
go down there and tell them, I need help with this. You
get to know them better and it’s easier to ask questions,
you’re not asking a stranger you really don’t know…”
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Comprehensive Advising
Model: Special Programs
• TRIO, honors, athletics…
• “I got into the SSSP [Student
Support Services Project] they
offer text book lending, laptop
lending, personal counselors to
help you transfer [and]to help you
sort through personal issues...
They’re really helpful, but there is
usually a waiting list for that one,
it fills up really fast.”
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Online
Transfer
Information
• Knowing it exists and finding it
• Determining whether information is
current
• Understanding what it means
– “I got all of my information from the
Internet…that was helpful to an extent
because some of the classes weren’t on
there.”
– The website is not easy to navigate. It’s
easier for me to Google something and
then get the results than search for it.
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Implications for Practice
• Need for advisor training and
communication across departments
and institutions
• Need for comprehensive college
advising
– Begin in high school
• Need for more and better funded
specialized programs and services
that help students build transfer
capital
• Need for better course articulation at
departmental level
• Need for up-to-date, user friendly
Online information
33
Implications of Research
• Proactive vs. Reactive
• Student Voice vs. Examining the
numbers
• No need to act alone or reinvent
the wheel
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National Context
• Texas-specific study
• Implications for other states
• Replicable design
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Questions?
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Contact
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
National Institute for the Study
of Transfer Students
http://transferinstitute.unt.edu
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