New Orleans, Louisiana
February 20, 2022
February 20, 2022
July 20, 2022
Diversity and CoNECD Paper Sessions
Keywords: Broadening Participation in Engineering and Engineering Technology; Transfer; Undergraduate, Two-year institution
Strengthening the community college to four-year institution transfer pathway has been identified as a strategy that is not meeting its full potential with respect to broadening participation in engineering. Much research has focused on credit equivalencies and articulation agreements to understand how students’ credit loss can be minimized. This prior work has sought to ensure curriculum is in alignment across institutions so that courses may transfer in ways that enable continued progression to degree without needing to re-take required courses. A growing body of literature, including from our own group, has focused on some of the on-the-ground ways in which advisors at both the community college and four-year institution as well as smartly delivered information from other sources can help students build knowledge about the transfer process to ensure seamless transition. This accumulation of “transfer student capital” has been shown to be important as students navigate between institutional settings. Once a student successfully transfers to a four-year institution, they must engage in a variety of different adjustment processes, including academic adjustments, social adjustments, and psychosocial adjustments. These post-matriculation adjustments are just as important as the pre-matriculation factors that help determine students’ persistence in engineering and ultimate timely degree completion.
In this session, we will focus on how engineering and computer science students worked through these different adjustments to the four-year institution. Unlike prior research that has focused on the pre-matriculation and immediate post-matriculating timing, we focus on engineering transfer students who have been at the four-year institution for one or more full academic years. Such an approach will allow our findings to illuminate the long transition process so that we may understand whether or when students no longer think of themselves as “transfer students” but instead as fully integrated members of the community.
Our session will draw on data collected from the Virginia Tech – Network for Engineering Transfer Students (VT-NETS) program, which is an early integration transfer partnership between Northern Virginia Community College, Virginia Western Community College, and Virginia Tech‘s College of Engineering. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Scholarships for STEM Students program (S-STEM), the program aims to broaden participation in engineering for minoritized, low-income, and first-generation students by improving the transfer pathway in engineering through early integration programming and advising structures that help to streamline vertical transfer. VT-NETS enables program participants to receive scholarships in each of four years of participation—full tuition coverage for two years at the community college, and $10,000 annual scholarships at Virginia Tech post-transfer. Beyond receiving the scholarship, VT-NETS students also gain access to intentional pre-transfer programs and activities including cohort-building, intrusive advising, university visits, a study abroad experience, and undergraduate research. Although only participation in the cohort-building activities and intrusive advising are required, the majority of students take advantage of most other opportunities. VT-NETS students also have access to advisors and faculty at both the community colleges and Virginia Tech. Each of these pre-transfer programs provides support and experiences to smooth the transition between institutions. Following transfer, students have access to College-level student support services and have maintained their connections with their peers in their cohort.
Our session will present findings from interview data with the VT-NETS participants after they had been enrolled at Virginia Tech for at least a full academic year. The primary area of exploration for these interviews with students was to better understand the impact of intentional interventions on the trajectory of former community college transfer students enrolled in the Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering and extend our understanding of transfer student capital in the trajectory of students who began at a community college. Topics that we will report on include how students felt they adapted to a new academic environment, physical location, and connected with the larger community through activities such as co-curricular engagement. We prompt students to specifically describe how elements such as prior classes, faculty, advising, the scholarship program, and co-curricular activities either facilitated or inhibited their transition processes. Lastly we ask students to retrospectively indicate whether the transfer path could or should have been adjusted as well as describe shifts in and plans for future career trajectories. In combination, these interviews shed insights on the post-matriculation segment of the transfer process, which can often be overlooked in the literature.
Knight, D. B., & Richardson, A., & Grote, D. M., & Lee, W. C., & Watford, B. A., & Hall, J. L., & Glisson, H. (2022, February), Completing the engineering and computer science transfer pathway: Transfer students’ post-matriculation experiences through a four-year institution Paper presented at 2022 CoNECD (Collaborative Network for Engineering & Computing Diversity) , New Orleans, Louisiana. https://peer.asee.org/39108
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