Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type





Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Jane Jensen


Statement of the problem. Too few community college students who intend to transfer and earn a baccalaureate degree actually do. This is a problem because postsecondary education is a key factor in economic mobility, and community colleges enroll a disproportionate number of nontraditional, part-time and low-income students. 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 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. One component of the companion study examined the interplay of informal and formal organizational structures of community colleges in the context of successful transfer. A typology model was created to illustrate the interface of structural elements that plays a role in the differentiation between high-impact and low-impact institutions. Findings indicated that two elements seem to make a difference in a community college’s ability to impact successful transfer: (a) the existence of strong internal and external ties, and (b) the level of integration of transfer services.



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