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Experiences Of Engineering Transfer Students: From Community College To University

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Retention Strategies in Action Part I

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.553.1 - 15.553.17



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Paper Authors


Frankie Santos Laanan Iowa State University

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Frankie Santos Laanan is associate professor and director of the Office of Community College Research and Policy at Iowa State University. His research focuses on the role of community colleges in educating and training scientists and technicians.

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Dimitra Jackson Iowa State University

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Dimitra Jackson is a doctoral student and research associate in the Office of Community College Research and Policy at Iowa State University. Her research interests focus on underrepresented students in STEM fields.

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Mary Darrow Iowa State University

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Mary Darrow is program coordinator for an NSF funded project focused on the pathway from community colleges to engineering and a doctoral students in higher education at Iowa State University.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Experiences of Engineering Transfer Students: From Community College to University


Research on students who transfer from community colleges into engineering majors is limited. The National Science Foundation funds millions of dollars to community colleges to build inter- institutional linkages to create seamless transition for women and minorities to pursue STEM majors. The purpose of this mixed-method study is to understand students’ community college academic preparation and their subsequent academic experiences as transfer students in engineering majors at a research university in the Midwest. Using data collected from the Transfer Students’ Questionnaire (TSQ), this study links survey data to students’ academic transcripts from the Office of the Registrar. The TSQ instrument measures student demographic characteristics, community college experiences, and four-year experiences. The community college variables include engagement with coursework, faculty interaction, and skill development. The four-year component measures academic and social engagement, adjustment issues, and level of satisfaction.

In addition to the quantitative data, a qualitative component will provide rich, in-depth descriptions of student experiences. Specifically, this component of the analysis will illuminate the experiences of students; how they describe the role of community colleges in preparing them for the academic rigor and transferring into an engineering major. Findings will also address how students describe the factors that facilitate their success as engineering students. The goal of the study is to contribute to the research literature about the relationship between students’ community college academic preparation and their subsequent experiences at the four-year university. The authors discuss implications for practice, policy and research.

Introduction and background

American community colleges enroll nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates and half of all first-time freshmen each fall.6 As part of their comprehensive mission, these two-year institutions play an important role in providing the academic preparation necessary for students who aspire to transfer to a four-year college or university. Arguable, the “transfer function” serves as a critical point of entry toward the baccalaureate for a growing number of students.9 Findings from a recent study of the transfer behavior of community college students in Cornwull indicated that among students who were awarded their associate in arts (AA) degree in fiscal year (FY) 2002, 67 percent had transferred to a four-year institution within three years.9 Cornwull’s Regent Universities enrolled one-half to nearly three-fifths (50%-60%) of these 2002 AA awarded recipients. Of particular interest in fall 2006, Cornwull University enrolled more Cornwull community college transfer students than any other four-year institution in Cornwull.3

Community college students who transfer to four-year colleges and universities tend to be faced with a plethora of new changes. Early studies of students identified the phenomenon of “transfer shock” as one of such challenges.4 Transfer shock was defined and measured by the drop in

Laanan, F. S., & Jackson, D., & Darrow, M. (2010, June), Experiences Of Engineering Transfer Students: From Community College To University Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16282

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015