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ERIC Number: EJ835416
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 25
ISSN: ISSN-1195-4353
Learning the Ropes: A Case Study of the Academic and Social Experiences of College Transfer Students within a Developing University-College Articulation Framework
Gawley, Timothy; McGowan, Rosemary A.
College Quarterly, v9 n3 Sum 2006
The number of articulation agreements between Canadian colleges and universities has been increasing steadily since the early 2000s. Though various implications of these agreements have been discussed, missing are the students' grounded transfer experiences. This paper discusses the academic and social experiences of college transfer students at a Southern Ontario university. Using multiple methods, this paper identifies the following issues regarding the college transfer experience: transfer shock; expectations about university life; the social aspects of the college transfer experience; and student concerns about college transfer credits. Student-based recommendations for the development and assessment of college transfer processes are also presented. Across Canada, community colleges and university relationships are structured according to two arrangements. British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec pioneered the development postsecondary systems in which direct university and college collaboration have been encouraged. Subsequently, the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba have also developed stronger links between colleges and universities (Stanyon, 2003). In Ontario, the community colleges and universities have traditionally maintained relatively separate roles with community colleges being established to fulfill the demand for technical training while universities have provided career-oriented preparation for professions and knowledge-based occupations (Beach, Boadway & McInnis, 2005, p.10). However, Ontario has recently moved in the direction of the latter provinces in initiating formal articulation links between university and college programs (Stanyon, 2003). In Ontario, a growing number of college students are now pursuing post-graduate studies at universities. In 2004, over 4100 Ontario college graduates enrolled in university studies within six months of completing their college studies (ACAATO, 2005). In addition, a recent study indicates that over 20% of Ontario college students intend to pursue university and/or further college studies (ACAATO, 2005). According to the Ontario College University Transfer Guide, these students currently have 217 transfer agreements from which to choose (OCUTG, 2006). 173 of these agreements are bilateral (versus multilateral or direct entry articulation categories). The most common type of articulation agreement in Ontario is the degree completion arrangement (N = 156) in which "[a]college(s) and at least one university negotiate an articulation agreement whereby graduates of a diploma program receive specified transfer credit for a completed diploma program toward a degree and then complete a specified number of additional credits at the university in order to qualify for the baccalaureate degree" (OCUTG, 2006). The success of these college-university articulation arrangements depends, in part, on an understanding of the experiences, challenges and motivations of students who transfer from one type of institution to another, as well as the experiences of staff who oversee the implementation of the articulation agreements. This paper is one in a series of two papers which focuses on the college transfer experience from the student's perspective; the companion paper describes the experiences of university staff. Relatively well-established research in the United States has identified a range of student and institutional issues related to the transfer experience. Some of the issues include the effects of transfer upon student grades commonly known as "transfer shock" and "transfer ecstasy" (Carlan & Byxbe, 2000; Cjeda, 1997; Fredrickson, 1998; Glass & Harrington, 2002; Laanan, 2001; Rhine, Milligan & Nelson, 2000), student withdrawal rates (Minear, 1998 in D.S. Peterman, 2002; Van Middlesworth, Carpenter-Davis & McCool, 2002), student perceptions of the cultural differences between college and university (Davies & Dickmann, 1998) and institutional remedies to enhance the success of transfer students (Rhine, Milligan & Nelson, 2000). The importance of understanding the factors and processes that contribute to the experiences of college transfer students has important implications for the retention, graduation and overall success of students. While there are statistical analyses and reports detailing the mobility of students from college to university (ACAATO, 2005), their grade patterns, graduation rates and withdrawals (Chan, 1995), we know very little about the qualitative experiences of college transfer students, particularly in a Canadian context. This paper presents the results of a case study that analyzes the academic adjustment and social activities of college transfer students at a medium-sized university campus in Southern Ontario where college transfers constitute approximately 20 percent of the student population. The goals of this paper are threefold. First, it attempts to identify whether the "transfer shock" phenomenon is evident among students at this university institution. If transfer shock is evident, then a finer-grained analysis is performed to examine if the phenomenon is specific to certain academic programs. Second, the paper explores the perceptions and experiences of college transfer students to better understand the ways in which university and college experiences are similar and the ways in which they are different, and the implications of these similarities and differences for a successful transfer experience. Finally, the paper identifies the difficulties, if any, faced by college transfer students and subsequently proposes recommendations for established and prospective transfer arrangements in other postsecondary contexts. (Contains 2 tables.)
Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology. 1750 Finch Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario M2J 2X5, Canada. Tel: 416-491-5050; Fax: 905-479-4561; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada