Year of Publication

2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Education

Department

Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Jane Jensen

Abstract

Statement of the problem. Appalachian community colleges are dealing with a dynamic transfer policy environment and implementing practices that either foster or impede transfer student success. The problem in this dissertation is to discern how Appalachian community colleges are making sense of transfer policy changes and conducting practices to address student transfer success. Although individual factors must be considered by community colleges, they often are out of the control of the institution. This study focused on the institutional factors, including the ways that organizational structures and transfer policies contribute to the success of a community college’s transfer program.

Design. This companion study was conducted by a four-member research team. In order to describe the transfer population and institutional characteristics, a quantitative analysis was conducted for the student population, which included 338 spring and summer 2009 Associate in Arts and/or Associate in Science (AA/AS) graduates from four Appalachian community colleges. This analysis indicated that individual student characteristics did not explain the differences in institutional transfer rates. Two of the institutions were identified as statistically significant institutions promoting transfer success. Students from these high-impact community colleges were found to be at least two times more likely to transfer than students attending the low-impact institutions.

Each member of the research team looked at a different aspect of the transfer experiences of the cohort. Two components explored institutional perspectives by interviewing 27 faculty, staff, and leaders from the four community colleges. The other two components examined student perceptions of their community college transfer experiences.

Major conclusions. My individual component of the companion study examined transfer perceptions of 27 community college faculty, staff, and college leaders from four Appalachian community colleges. Negative and positive transfer practices were discovered in response to how community colleges make sense of the college mission with regards to Appalachian student desires and economic opportunities. Findings indicated that negative practices were the norm as Appalachian community colleges viewed most students as being better served socially and economically through nontransfer programs or transfer programs housed on community college campuses.

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