2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 187-1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM


WOLFE, Benjamin A., Academic Support Center, University of Kansas Edwards Campus, 12600 Quivira Rd., Overland Park, KS 66213, VAN DER HOEVEN KRAFT, Katrien J., Physical Sciences, Whatcom Community College, 237 W. Kellogg Road, Bellingham, WA 98226 and WILSON, Carolyn, American Geosciences Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302, ben.wolfe@ku.edu

In 2013 and 2014, the Geoscience Student Exit Survey administered by the American Geosciences Institute was used to investigate the transfer experiences of students who attended a two-year college (2YC) for at least one semester during their postsecondary education. Combined, over 27% of recent geoscience graduates reported having attended a 2YC for at least one semester. These graduates were invited to identify which factors allowed them to be successful in transfer to the receiving four-year college or university (4YC). Commonly identified success factors included personal motivation and articulation of 2YC coursework. Other identified success factors included support from family, friends, and academic advisors. Graduates were also invited to share transfer challenges and obstacles faced at both the 2YC and 4YC. Survey responses were coded and four main categories emerged: Organizational culture (transfer receptivity and transfer shock), Capital (cultural, academic, and transfer), Affective factors (motivation and emotions), and Student Engagement (academic and social). Most commonly identified obstacles were related to lower levels of student engagement by graduates due to the need to balance personal issues relating to time, jobs, family, and money. This was followed by academic challenges in courses, particularly in math and science, and institutional barriers including course scheduling, poor academic advising, and articulation of courses. While some of these challenges are true for all students, some of these issues may be more acute for students transferring in from a 2YC. Open access polices and low tuition at 2YCs bring a rich diversity of students from racial, ethnic, cultural identity, socioeconomic background, and age, who use 2YCs as their entry point to higher education. Many of these students may be new to the academic process, balancing work and family obligations, and may be academically underprepared for college requiring developmental coursework in mathematics. These factors can present a challenge in navigating transfer to the receiving 4YC. Upon transfer, practices in the 4YC may preclude these students from completing their degree. Partnerships with 2YCs and developing a transfer-friendly climate can help reduce some of these challenges and promote greater student success.