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Transfer Student Transition: Lessons Learned

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Two-Year College Division Transfer Topics Part I

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1266.1 - 23.1266.7



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Paper Authors


Gail D. Jefferson University of South Alabama

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Dr. Jefferson earned a B.S. in Mathematics from Spelman College in 1997, a B.S.M.E. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1997, an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2003 and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Florida A&M University in 2005. She served as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Aerospace, developing models and test methods to examine the behavior of advanced non-metallic, nanostructured material systems. Dr. Jefferson is currently (since 2008) an Assistant Professor at The University of South Alabama, where she is also the faculty advisor for the USA Launch Society and the National Society of Black Engineers.

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Sally J. Steadman University of South Alabama

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Dr. Steadman received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Wyoming in 1969, an M.A. in Mathematics from the University of Denver in 1973, and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wyoming in 1994. She served on the UW faculty from 1984 - 2003, where she made use of her interest in engineering computer applications as well as student recruitment and retention. She is a part-time instructor at the University of South Alabama where she is also a faculty advisor for Tau Beta Pi and for Mortar Board Senior Honor Society. Dr. Steadman is a past national president of Mortar Board.

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F. Carroll Dougherty University of South Alabama

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Transfer Student Retention: Lessons LearnedMany students do not effectively make the transfer from a two-year college to an engineeringcurriculum at a four-year institution. A comprehensive program has been developed to addressissues associated with the transfer process. This student success initiative, XXX-LINK, is anNSF funded program that stimulates enrollment, enhances retention in engineering programs atthe university, and increases the technical workforce. Important lessons have been learnedduring the early stages of the program.A key component of the program is a seminar that assists in the transition process. The XXX-LINK seminar includes student support activities designed to enhance the academic success oftransfer students. Academic success skills (such as time management and study skills) areintroduced in the seminar through small-group discussions and resources for homeworkassistance are actively discussed. The students explore engineering majors through problem-based applications, gaining essential experience with engineering problem solving. The seminaralso focuses on social involvement and interpersonal skills. Students are introduced to careersand research/internship opportunities and to job placement skills so they are well prepared toenter the technical workforce.An important factor in student retention is the sense of community that a student develops, whichis enhanced through the seminar. The XXX-LINK program incorporates a community-buildingmodel to build a cohort among the participants. Each XXX-LINK student is assigned a PeerMentor and a Faculty Mentor. These triads meet regularly to assist in the student’s transition toand involvement in the university.Preliminary results indicate that the program has been successful in recruiting and retainingtransfer students and that the seminar is a key component. A focus group was held with theXXX-LINK students at the end of the first semester. Several issues were identified: advising,faculty approachability, homework and exam frequency, campus resource availability, as well aspersonal/family problems. For many students, even high academic achievers, the communitycollege experience does not adequately prepare them for the rigor and pace in the engineeringcurriculum.Some of these issues can be addressed by better advising. Hence we have identified a specificadvisor in each department to deal with all transfer students; these advisors are also betterequipped to handle personal/family problems. Other issues can be addressed in the seminar sotransfer students are more aware of university procedures and resources. We have recommendedthat all transfer students be offered the opportunity to take the seminar.Additionally, we are working with area community colleges to address these issues. Theseschools can provide orientation session(s) for students transferring to 4-year schools.Community college faculty need to be better acquainted with curricula for each engineeringdegree, so students are better prepared for the transition. Articulation meetings have beeninitiated with area community colleges to facilitate these conversations.On-going assessment of student retention is being conducted to validate program outcomes.Assessment will also examine the role of student participation in undergraduate research,internships, and co-op experiences to determine the effect on retention.

Jefferson, G. D., & Steadman, S. J., & Dougherty, F. C. (2013, June), Transfer Student Transition: Lessons Learned Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22651

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