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Asking the Right Questions in Community College Pathways Research

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Works in Progress: Curricula and Pathways

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Sarah E. Parikh Foothill College

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Sarah Parikh is a professor at Foothill College where she teaches courses in engineering and physics, and she currently serves as the Department Chair for the Engineering Department. In addition to teaching, Sarah leads several programs that provide support to students including coordinating a newsletter and a speaker series. Sarah received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2011.

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Lori Silverman Foothill College

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Lori Silverman is a Math Professor at Foothill College. She is the current Principal Investigator for STEMWay, an NSF STEP grant (DUE #1161220). STEMWay provides a comprehensive out-of-the-classroom support for student success. She has a Master's Degree in Mathematics and a PhD in Education.

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This work in progress proposes answering the research question: How do we measure success for community college transfer programs? This paper will provide background information on the current state of data collection for community colleges and pose questions regarding next steps in data collection and analysis.

We need more engineers and community colleges may be able to provide additional students (Engineering and Council 2005; PCAST 2012). The pathways to engineering via community college should be re-examined and potentially improved. Metrics should be established in order to assess the current rate of success and identify areas of improvement in community college transfer pathways.

Engineering students at four-year schools are identified through their applications. Measured outcomes at four-year schools include persistence in the major and obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in engineering (Ohland et al. 2008).

Unfortunately, the data that are available to determine success of community college transfer programs are severely lacking (Baker 2015; Ogilvie 2014; Blash et al. 2012; Engineering and Council 2005), and the availability of data is getting worse (Commission 2011). Thus with limited available data, this proposed work can provide a unique perspective on metrics for success.

Considering the input and feedback from the Educational Research and Methods Division, the proposed work could include surveys, questionnaires, interviews, registration information, and data from state or national databases. The collected data will be analyzed to give a measure of the success of the community college transfer pathway to engineering degrees. Having a measure of success will identify room for improvement in the community college engineering transfer pathways and provide a baseline for assessment of the effectiveness of future improvements to the transfer pathway programs. Increasing the number of engineering graduates will address the increasing demand for engineers.

Parikh, S. E., & Silverman, L. (2016, June), Asking the Right Questions in Community College Pathways Research Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26286

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