Notes from Transfer Students Task Force


Notes from Transfer Students Task Force

Notes from Transfer Students Task Force


Attending: Susan Arreguin, Debbie Beard, Sydney Beeler, Becky Bergman, Larry Bunce, Cheryl Carpenter-Davis, Amy Cole, Sandy Gault, Judy Jellison, Ginny Miller, Lisa Minis, Whitney Molloy, Gene Pegler, Lisa Power, Kati Toivanen, W.C. Vance, Sue Vartuli, and Wayne Vaught

After introductions for new task force members, W.C. Vance shared information about the Community College Luncheon which provided background on UMKC’s academic programs with community college advisors. SusanArreguin from JCCC confirmed that it was a good experience, and she loved being on campus. W.C. wondered about the drop in transfer students coming to UMKC and other 4-year institutions from community colleges, noting that community college enrollment remains very strong. Money is an issue, but there must be other causes as well.

  1. Follow-up discussion on data issues

Larry Bunce continued the conversation about data from the previous meeting on February 18. He indicated the option of using the UMKC “decision theater” to explore the basic types of transfer data that are available there. The task force, he noted, has the option of coming up with variables we need to study, and we can ask for those pieces of data to be tracked on a regular basis. Larry suggested that perhaps a “transfer button” is needed under the student button in the decision theater so that the data on transfers are more easily isolated. Using the decision theater, however, raises questions about how to get the data to the community college members because use of the decision theater requires a UMKC single sign-on.

Cheryl Carpenter-Davis asked whether there is a regular process for reporting on transfer students to the UM System, and Larry replied that there is not a standing process. First-time full-time students are easy to report on, he stated, because they are “the same” for data purposes; transfer students are not the same and are “messy” for reporting purposes.

Larry urged that we meet in the future in a location that would allow the task force to access the decision theater. He will speak with Andrew Draker, who runs the decision theater as part of his role at the University, about any limitations of the decision theater.

Larry also urged that the task force contact aspirational peer institutions (such as the University of Cincinnati and Temple University) to learn more about how they attract and retain transfer students. That will require direct contact because there is not a database that will provide information from their programs. Kati Toivanen suggested that the task force begin with those institutions that have been identified as having good transfer programming and that we identify them as a group. Sydney Beeler suggested University of Missouri-St. Louis as having a record of success in handling transfers. She also noted that Temple University has a transfer seminar course that would be good to investigate.

W.C. Vance pointed out that UMKC’s Admissions site contains transfer (articulation) agreements and also course equivalencies, which are different and more complicated. It is not the role of Admissions, he stated, to update those documents; Admissions can only react and post documents once the Provost’s Office has made sure the academic decisions are made to update the documents.

Kati Toivanen asked to clarify the difference between articulation agreements and course equivalencies. Articulation agreements are contracts (Amy Cole) between two-year institutions and out-of-country institutions with UMKC which document the programs and courses that transfer to UMKC. Sandy Gault noted that out-of-country agreements will grow for dual degrees as international connections with UMKC grow. The course equivalencies may not always match based on the program, though the attempt is made to keep them up to date with all the institutions from which transfers come.

Lisa Minis asked if courses are transcripted once they come into UMKC from transfer institutions. Amy Cole stated that they are. Once UMKC initiates USelect, transfer students will have better access to what courses transfer to what programs. Amy indicated that USelect is in the testing phase right now, and the hope is to have it in place before fall. That way, students can compare and determine the transferability of their courses to each institution that has USelect. They could also use USelect to audit multiple programs for transferability. Lisa asked if it would be possible for community college representatives to see a demo of USelect, and it was confirmed they could.

Sandy Gault noted that, in a glossary of terms (which we proposed at the last meeting), we should note that an MOU is the academic term for an articulation agreement.

In identifying other institutions to study for their policies/practices, it was suggested that we look for schools in the A2S group as exemplars. Lisa Minis stated that successful completion of their programs by transfers is really the best success indicator. A2S has data for the systems (like UM) that are involved, and we could identify some institutions in that group that do particularly well with students. It would be important to know if students in these A2S institutions are more likely to complete their program with an AA or a certain number of transfer hours.

Debbie Beard provided information on scholarships for transfer students and how that is related to program completion. She noted that UMKC has a transfer scholarship for students with 40 or more hours and certain GPA requirements. A competitive scholarship is available with an AA degree, and that provides a higher level of scholarship dollars. It has been shown that students who get a higher level of scholarship funding are more likely to complete.

Sydney Beeler indicated that the UM System used to say that AA achievers are more likely to complete a 4-year program and be successful. She asked if this research is still being done. Larry Bunce indicated that those were the data. Lisa Minis wondered if those data were communicated to students.

Susan Arreguin reported on her visit at Arizona State University, which offers incentives to students who enroll at a community college with the intent to transfer to ASU for degree completion. These students sign a contract, and that locks them into a fixed tuition rate. Special scholarships are available to the students. Lisa Minis noted that they even receive a special ID and invitations to events at the campus. Wayne Vaught asked what the contract consists of. Apparently it is non-binding but applies if a student meets certain requirements.

Kati Toivanen raised the issue of getting a unified approach across campus to honor articulation agreements. W.C. Vance reiterated that the importance of getting the academic side of the University through the Provost’s Office to handle articulation agreements so transfer students don’t feel “the community college lied and UMKC lied” about what coursework will be accepted. There needs to be transparency on both sides of the equation. It is important that individual faculty not be able to say “no” to coursework that is approved in articulation agreements.

Cheryl Carpenter-Davis noted that a problem is that the articulation agreements haven’t been discussed, and there may be competing missions between the two types of institutions, community colleges and 4-year universities. Sue Vartuli noted that her Early Childhood program is competency-based, and the level of discussion between community colleges and the University has to be at the level of competencies. Sydney Beeler stated that the conversation about articulation may be different school by school, and there has to be communication among all parties.

Whitney Molloy spoke to the need for an attitude of customer service, that the parties working together and communicating can resolve any issues. Kati Toivanen asked whether the small group dealing with articulation issues could recommend structures for communication to the Provost and then to the Deans. Then eventually department/division chairs could have a conversation with their faculty indicating, “this is how we will do it” going forward.

Larry Bunce wondered how much of the concern about quality of coursework between community colleges and universities is a myth. Is there a myth that community college coursework is easier? In his personal experience he taught the same course with the same information at both a community college and a university, and the community college coursework would not transfer at the university level. Could we undertake a study of several courses that are taught at both the community college and university level and compare the student outcomes of both groups of students?

Wayne Vaught noted that the information we have on course equivalencies doesn’t break out the information on learning outcomes, only brief course descriptions.

Lisa Minis stated that at one time MCC wouldn’t accept transfer coursework across their campuses, so this isn’t a new problem.

Larry Bunce reinforced the notion of dual enrollment with MCC students, that as soon as they indicate they want to complete a B.A. degree, they can already meet with a UMKC advisor.

Sue Vartuli stated that, if community college courses have a common assessment with university courses, transfer problems are alleviated. The conversation about those assessments (and the competencies they represent) can be a positive collegial process.

  1. Small group task assignments

It was decided to share e-mail addresses in the small groups so they can stay in touch. Work time for the small groups will be provided at each meeting.

Sydney Beeler reported that she has information prepared by a graduate student that could help us in our research of other institutions. She can have the student do follow-up research if we have additional questions we would like to ask. Questions proposed were:

  • What is the internal process to get articulation agreements and course equivalents updated? Who does it? Is it one person? Is it led by Student Affairs or Academic Affairs? What is the title of the lead person, if there is one?
  • Do all of the contacts have articulation agreements, and if so, how many? In what areas?
  • Do the contact institutions have data on transfer students’ success rates?
  • Do the contact institutions have a transfer course? TRIGS?
  • Is transfer orientation mandatory? Is it tied to enrollment?
  • What is the definition of a transfer student?
  • How are articulation agreements updated for the catalog?
  • How often are articulation agreements revised? Is it a mass revision or only as components change?
  • Who does the advisement of transfer students?
  • What types of support services are provided for transfer students?

Lisa Minis indicated that she thinks we need to have a definition of transfer students for the purposes of the task force work. She also indicated that we need demographic data on transfers, including ethnicity and SES.Larry Bunce stated that he is doing the demographic data work for the A2S initiative.

As a final item, Kati Toivanen recommended that each task force member present select one institution for study and check out its website through the lens of a transfer student, looking to see how easy it is to navigate, how informative it is, whether articulation agreements are easy to find, whether other helpful information is readily accessible, etc. Assignments of those institutions are as follows:

Temple UniversitySue Vartuli

University of Alabama-BirminghamCheryl Carpenter-Davis

University of CincinnatiJudy Jellison

University of Illinois-ChicagoLisa Minis

University of PittsburghSusan Arreguin

Virginia Commonwealth UniversityLisa Power

Arizona State UniversityWhitney Molloy

Missouri State UniversityKati Toivanen

State University of New York-BuffaloBecky Bergman

George Mason UniversityGene Pegler

South Florida UniversityDebbie Beard

UMSLAmy Cole

Georgia State UniversityW.C. Vance

University of Massachusetts-BostonGinny Miller

Upcoming scheduled meetings of the task force are: March 18, April 8 and 22