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What Makes First-time Transfer Students Different from First-time-in-College Students

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 3: Diversity and Multicultural Influences in the First Year

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1728.1 - 26.1728.12



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Paper Authors


So Yoon Yoon Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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So Yoon Yoon, Ph.D., is a post-doctoral research associate at Texas A&M University. She received her Ph.D. and Educational Psychology with the specialties in Gifted Education and Research Methods & Measurement, respectively from Purdue University. Her work centers on P-16 engineering education research, as a psychometrician, program evaluator, and institutional data analyst. As a psychometrician, she revised the PSVT:R for secondary and undergraduate students, developed the TESS (Teaching Engineering Self-efficacy Scale) for K-12 teachers, and rescaled the SASI (Student Attitudinal Success Inventory) for engineering students. As a program evaluator, she has evaluated the effects of teacher professional development (TPD) programs on K-6 teachers’ and elementary students’ attitudes toward engineering and STEM knowledge. As an institutional data analyst, she is investigating engineering students’ pathways to their success, exploring subgroup variations.

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Monica M Cortez Texas A&M University

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Monica M. Cortez, Ph.D., is the Director of the Texas A&M Engineering Academy and Workforce Development Programs at Texas A&M University. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work focuses on the development of two- and four-year partnerships to enhance the educational continuum for students beginning at the two-year institution. The development of these co-enrollment programs and working with pre-existing certificate programs at community colleges to help bridge the gap toward achieving an Engineering degree is her primary focus toward meeting existing workforce needs.

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Teri Kristine Reed Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Teri Reed is assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs for engineering academic programs in the Texas A&M System and an associate professor in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering in the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University, 3126 TAMU, College Station, TX, 77843-3126;

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P.K. Imbrie Texas A&M University

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What Makes First Time Transfer Students Different from First Time-in-College Students in Engineering: One Year SnapshotA recent report by the National Research Council and National Academy of Engineering (2012),titled Community Colleges in the Evolving STEM Education Landscape: Summary of a Summit,has provided a renewed focus on the importance of community college pathways to four-yearinstitutions and the state and national impact gained through the successful transition, retention,and graduation of these students. A few studies to date identified some differences betweenengineering first time transfer (FTT) students and first time in college (FTIC) students. Forexample, one study indicated that FTIC students academically outperformed the FTTcounterparts and that female students were less likely to utilize engineering transfer pathways.Another study showed a gender and ethnicity difference in the percent of transfer students thatgraduate with an engineering degree with, 83% male, 40% Asian, and 31% white. The authorsalso noted that on average, the time to completion for an engineering degree was 6.5 years andthey did not see a correlation in the number of transfer credits to early graduation. If we are tofocus on increasing engineering growth and diversity by paving these pathways, a greaterunderstanding of these paths is needed. Therefore, increasing awareness of the factors that mayor may not impact student success in engineering and how these factors differ between FTTversus FTIC students is important in increasing the success rates of both student populations.This study explores characteristics of the first time in college students (FTIC) and first timetransfer student (FTT) and compares them in terms of their demographics, the first yearengineering (FYE) common course credits, and graduation outcomes. In detail, we raised thefollowing research questions: (a) how are the demographic characteristics of the FTT studentsdifferent from the FTIC students?; (b) how are the FYE common course credits different for eachpopulation?; (c) how are the graduation outcomes (e.g., time to graduation and graduation rates)in engineering different for each population?; and (d) how are the graduation outcomes of theFTT and FTIC students different by subgroups (e.g., sex and race/ethnicity)?The participants of this study were 2,271 freshmen, who started their first semester in thesummer or fall of 2006 in an engineering program at a large southwest public university. Wedefined them as the 2006 cohort for the purpose of this study. Among the 2006 cohort, 1,989students were FTIC students (87.6%) and 282 students were FTT students (12.4%). The 2006cohort students’ course credits and graduation status in engineering were tracked for 16semesters (i.e., fall 2006 – spring 2014) through the data retrieved from the university archive. Inthis study, students’ course credits were categorized into two groups: transfer course credits andcredits from within the university. Students’ graduation status was categorized into one of threegroups: graduation in engineering, graduation in non-engineering, and no graduation. Descriptivestatistics were used to identify trends in the FTIC versus FTT data.The results showed that the 2006 cohort students were quite different by the types of admissionin terms of demographic characteristics, the FYE common course credits, and graduationoutcomes. As we expected, the average age of FTT students was 20.82 (SD =3.23), which wasabout 2.8 years older than the average age of FTIC students (M = 18.04, SD = 0.43). In terms ofacademic preparation, there was an apparent distinction in types of course credits between FTICand FTT students in the five first-year common courses in engineering: Calculus I, Calculus II,Chemistry, Mechanics, and Electricity and Optics. While on average, about 72 % of FTICstudents achieved credits on the courses by taking the courses at the institution, about 62% ofFTT students achieved the transfer credits on the common courses. Figure 1 shows accumulatedgraduation rates across years. After 12 semesters of their entrance to the university, FTT studentshad a 70.6% graduation rate in engineering while FTIC students had only a 51.7% graduationrate. As there has been a lack of research on FTT students, the findings of this study will helpeducators/admission people identify policies that may deter transfer students’ success anddevelop policies or support programs to enhance their success in engineering. Also to bepresented are graduation outcomes of the FTIC and FTT students by subgroups (e.g., sex andrace/ethnicity).Figure 1. The 2006 Cohort students’ graduation rates in engineering by admission type (FTT vs.FTIC) across years

Yoon, S. Y., & Cortez, M. M., & Reed, T. K., & Imbrie, P. (2015, June), What Makes First-time Transfer Students Different from First-time-in-College Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.25064

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