ERIC Number: EJ993117
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Reference Count: 10
Elements of Effective Transfer Associate Degrees
Kisker, Carrie B.; Wagoner, Richard L.; Cohen, Arthur M.
New Directions for Community Colleges, n160 p5-11 Win 2012
In recent years, a convergence of several forces--increased legislative involvement in higher education, governmental and philanthropic pressure to increase postsecondary degree and certificate production, demands for a highly trained workforce, and fiscal belt-tightening at colleges and universities across America--has resulted in efforts to significantly reform community college-to-university transfer and articulation processes. One increasingly popular method of reform is the implementation of transfer associate degrees: statewide pathways or degree programs that allow students to both earn an associate degree from a community college and transfer seamlessly into a state university with junior status. The reasons for implementing transfer associate degrees are myriad. From an efficiency standpoint, states view these transfer pathways as vehicles for aligning lower-division general education and premajor curricula across two- and four-year institutions, thereby reducing course overlap and the need to repeat similar courses after transferring. Transfer associate degrees are also desirable from a student's standpoint. They provide recipients with greater flexibility and more options in transfer, as these degrees are based on general education packages and lower-division major pathways that are common across a state's community colleges and public universities. Finally, transfer associate degrees are viewed by lawmakers and system leaders as key to increasing the number of community college-to-university transfers, as well as boosting the number of bachelor's and other postsecondary degrees awarded annually. Of course, transfer associate degrees are not a panacea, and the individual and institutional challenges that have kept transfer rates hovering around 25 percent nationally for the past 30 years (Szelenyi, 2002) will not be eliminated by this reform strategy. This chapter draws from a report the authors published in April 2011 titled "Implementing Statewide Transfer & Articulation Reform: An Analysis of Transfer Associate Degrees in Four States" (Kisker, Wagoner, and Cohen, 2011). The purpose of that project--which was generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates and Walter S. Johnson Foundations--was to examine the political processes, actors, and associations involved in systemic transfer and articulation reforms in four states (Arizona, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington) in order to describe implementation strategies that may be successfully utilized in states that are currently embarking on or planning for similar reforms. Their analysis of the elements of effective transfer associate degrees, presented in this chapter, emerged from site visits, examination of relevant documents, and roughly 60 in-depth qualitative interviews with policymakers, system leaders, college presidents and key administrators, faculty, and others involved in implementing transfer associate degrees in the four states under review.
Descriptors: General Education, Articulation (Education), Associate Degrees, Educational Legislation, Community Colleges, Educational Change, College Presidents, Universities, College Transfer Students, Interviews, Qualitative Research, College Faculty
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Two Year Colleges
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arizona; New Jersey; Ohio; Washington