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Building a culture of transfer. . . .with a little help from friends beyond our borders. Cliff Adelman, Institute for Higher Education Policy, July 30, 2007. You can take your seat belts off now. ‘Cause it ain’t transfer any more: it’s mobility. And there sure is a lot more of it.

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Building a culture of transfer

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Building a culture of transfer

. . .with a little help from friends beyond our borders.

Cliff Adelman, Institute for Higher Education Policy,

July 30, 2007

You can take your seat belts off now

‘Cause it ain’t transfer any more: it’s mobility

And there sure is a lot more of it

  • Not just in the U.S.

  • Not just within national borders

  • Not just vertical

  • Not just one stop

    We’ve got a new universe of student behavior in an era of looser ties to institutions.

    And contradictory government policies that both encourage and impede mobility.

So it’s time to sort out the dynamics of student mobility

  • To establish the formal nature of transfer as a contractual change-of-venue

  • To establish this change-of-venue as part of the normative stream of academic behavior

  • To redirect what would otherwise be random inter-institutional movements of students into a more structured, but limited, set of options

  • To build a culture of transfer alongside the laws of transfer

In the culture of transfer, transfer is not the bottom line. . .

It’s the consummation of transfer by subsequent student history in the four-year sector that tells the tale.

Reference: transitions v. vertical (from CC) or horizontal (from 4-Yr) transfer

Basic observations

  • No matter where they start, traditional-age students are more mobile

  • The rate of transitions is higher than the rate of transfer (Oh, we knew that!)

  • The highest transition and transfer rates are found among traditional-age students who start in community colleges

  • Is anyone in the house surprised?

Taking “transitions” one step up to “mobility histories”---traditional age only

  • Migration, or permanent change: 21%

  • Nomadic, or traffic without resolution 5

  • Discovery, or nomadic with resolution 5

  • Excursion, or very temporary transfer 11

  • 2+ schools, but no story line 8

  • Incidental student, no story line 12

  • Limited participation, no story line 10

  • No mobility 28

Let’s condense this by type of institution first attended

So what does that say to us?

  • 4-year students dominate excursions

  • Community college students dominate both migration and fragmentation

  • Nobody dominates discovery

  • SO: we anticipate the fragmentation pattern among community college students and strengthen the culture that moves them toward either migration or resolution (discovery) in a credential

What do we know about the pre-college histories of students whose college careers are fragmented?

  • 40 percent never reached Algebra 2 in high school (versus 25% for migration & discovery)

  • Only 11 percent accumulated any acceleration credits (dual-enrollment, credit-by-exam), versus 19% for migration and 24% for discovery

  • Only 32 percent earned 20 or more additive credits in their first calendar year of enrollment, versus 60% for migration and discovery students

    Now that tells us something about where the culture of transfer has to begin for traditional-age students: in high school

What does a culture of transfer mean in the guidance of high school students?

  • That the community college is a normal first step toward a bachelor’s degree and this is part of the standard guidance vocabulary, hence

  • That you prepare for the community college in the same way you would prepare for the four-year college, hence

  • You bust your chops to get through—and beyond—Algebra 2, and

  • You come out of high school with a minimum of 3---and preferably 6 or more---dual enrollment credits taken at the community college

What does the culture of transfer mean in administrative processes?

  • That it is prominent on the Web sites of school districts, community colleges, and four-year colleges

  • And by “prominent” is meant on the first link sequences from portal pages

  • That the community college and a 4-year college develop an alliance agreement, and present a joint admission option, with details, on both their Web site portal pages and under the “college options” link on the portal pages of school districts

  • That an intersegmental monitoring group of senior administrators be empowered to ensure that the transfer theme is maintained and elaborated in the communication environment

What does a culture of transfer require?

  • Continuous reflection on content components, process, and direction

  • Intersegmental curricular teams and monitoring, e.g. the Cal-PASS deconstruction of Algebra

  • Data flow and information platforms that plot progress and identify intervention points

  • Continuous interaction with and feedback from students

  • A change in vocabulary that keeps the vertical movement in every reference

The world discovers “short cycle” degrees, and with those, transfer

  • Education systems in other countries have figured out that the labor market demands mid-level technicians, who are essentially “symbolic translators” in “fields related to medicine,” business, and design, and have created short-cycles degrees to match

  • But those same systems also allow for vertical mobility, and with it, a de facto transfer phenomenon

Learning something from the Brits: the “Foundation” degree

  • It’s like an Associate’s, but is always in a specific field, academic (e.g. biological sciences) or occupationally-oriented (e.g. what we would call Allied Health), i.e. there is no General Studies

  • It’s got 2 tracks based on enrollment intensity: a 2-year full-time (50% completion rate) and a 3-year part-time (48% completion rate)

  • “Progression from Foundation to Honors degree program,” i.e. transfer rate: 54 percent.

  • But that “transfer” can take place within the same institution, i.e. it’s vertical only in the sense of degree level

So what topic have the Brits just opened up for us? Among the traditional-aged:

And what does that say to us?

  • CC students are very likely to be part-time at some time (We knew that!)

  • Part-time CC beginners are less likely to transfer than full-time (We knew that, too!)

  • Among part-time CC beginners who do transfer, the 8.5-year Bachelor’s degree completion rate is much, much lower than that of the full-time CC beginners who transfer (We probably knew that, too, but the degree completion rate for the full-time transfers is stunning!)

Does that mean part-time is the kiss of death for both transfer and degree completion?

No! It means that we have to learn how to work better with part-time students to move them toward transfer

What did the Brits find that might help us? Part-time students. . .

  • Rely less on peer groups as a resource, and , need more face-to-face contact with faculty

  • Are more price-sensitive, so try waiving fees

  • Do not use student support services as much as they should, so intensify monitoring and regular contact

  • Are engaged in “more complex and diverse” patterns of attendance and course work that we have to examine more closely and understand better

And what questions should we be asking for that understanding?

  • What’s the most effective mix of satellite location, distance delivery, and central campus delivery on the transfer behavior of part-time students?

  • How does that mix differ by urbanicity of the community college? by proximity of the four-year college? by season of the year?

  • Does the student’s preferred field of study (e.g. Nursing versus Business) drive the complexity and diversity of attendance behavior?

And speaking of seasons, summer counts---big time!

Remember: migration is the classic (and desired) transfer pattern

So significant summer work adds octane to the transfer momentum---and this works for part-time students, too.

The culture of transfer

  • Incorporates all these turning points in its presentation to students: both those in high school, those who enter as adults, those who return as adults

  • It shows itself as the most flexible of pathways to the Bachelor’s degree in terms of entry points, time-and-space calendars, and diversity of curricular lines

  • And pivots on the principles of transparency and recognition, i.e. what you do in the community college is understood and recognized in the 4-year

Time to learn something from other countries again. . .

This time from the Bologna Process, the most comprehensive reform of higher education ever undertaken---under way since 1999 in 46 countries.

Bologna “recognition” procedures

  • Apply to degrees, but the principles are those of transfer of credit

  • Students have the right to a fair assessment

  • Acceptance/rejection of credit is based on empirical documentation of “substantial difference” between courses (but see next slide)

  • Substantial information on the sending institution, its programs, and courses is provided

  • The receiving institution keeps a record of recognition decisions for purposes of precedent

And credits are not credits are not credits---at least as you understand them

  • ECTS are based on student workload, not faculty contact hours

  • A mechanical computation, but far more transparent of what is required for learning

  • Supposed to reflect level of subject and outcomes, but doesn’t---not yet

  • Evaluated for transfer in context-related terms, i.e. in the framework of the student’s total program

Recognition and the language of transfer

  • Confronts an environment of anecdote and rumor

  • Most traditional-age students and their parents will not follow the transfer path unless the culture of transfer tells an honest story

  • Older beginning students are savvy enough to ask the questions, e.g. on the Nursing path

  • And an honest story will show a record of recognition decisions

So where have we been, and what do we want to take away, Part I

  • Transfer is a critical sub-set of mobility

  • Within student mobility patterns, we seek to turn nomadic and fragmentary behavior into genuine migration and discovery

  • The challenges of doing this are different for part-time and full-time students, with the former dominating community college enrollments to begin with

So where have we been, and what do we want to take away, Part II?

  • The culture of transfer is built on an all-encompassing language,

  • a language that tells a consistent story of the pathways from a community college to a bachelor’s degree

  • and tells that story, with appropriate variations in emphasis, both to high school students and those who, later in life, use the community college and its flexible pathways to degrees.

  • And is best governed, executed, and monitored by intersegmental teams of faculty and administrators.

Now that’s a decent start, but

what would you add to the elements of a culture of transfer?

And, for your World Café, 3 assignments to ponder

  • Designing a logical information tree for your Web sites that can lead potential transfer students still in HS through each step to provide maximum momentum

  • Identifying and prioritizing features of advisement for vertical transfer, reverse transfer, and horizontal transfer

  • Outlining intersegmental strategies for successful vertical transfer in nursing/allied health, business, and engineering/engin tech

Nice work if you can get it. . .

So make it part of breathing in---and breathing out!

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