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Collins, Jerry C.
Associate in Science (AS) to Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) transfer students :
b an analysis of student characteristics, engagement and success
h [electronic resource] /
by Jerry C. Collins.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 199 pages.
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2009.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: This study sought to examine and comprehensively describe transfer students who have earned a two-year technical or occupational Associate in Science (AS) degree at the community college and entered the university to pursue the Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS). The BSAS degree is a specialized baccalaureate degree program created to allow AS degree holders an opportunity to efficiently transfer into the university affording them full recognition of their two-year degree. This statewide articulated program at the University of South Florida is the first of its kind in the state of Florida. The program only began admitting its first students in the fall term of 2003. Prior to the creation of the BSAS degree, most AS degree holders were not admissible to the university. If they did meet admission requirements based upon competitive freshman admission requirements, only about 15-18 credits of the 60+ credits earned through their AS degree were transferrable.Before the BSAS there were no efficient means for most AS degree holders to pursue higher education beyond their two-year degree. The first five years of this new bachelor's degree program have been very successful. The BSAS program has consistently experienced enrollment growth every year, and the specialized "areas of concentration" have continued to expand offering even greater opportunity for AS degree holders to pursue meaningful baccalaureate studies in support of their academic, professional or personal goals. The AS-to-BS transfer students represent a relatively new student population at the university and this population is steadily growing. The university has historically had little experience with them, and consequently we know little about them. This study was an analysis of AS-BSAS transfer students to determine their characteristics, engagement and success at the universityThe study revealed that they are, in fact, a unique student population at the university who are generally disengaged with university life, but performing very well academically. Their average age is 37 years old. They are predominately working adults with family responsibilities. They are conscientious students who are persisting and completing their bachelor's degree in less time than the national average for all transfer students. Overall, the results of this study suggest that we may need to make adjustments to our transfer and articulation policies, our admission practices, and closely examine the broader services of the university to ensure we meet the holistic needs of this new, exclusive, atypical, workforce focused, and growing population of students at the university.
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Advisor: Thomas Miller, Ed.D.
Career ladder degree
x Higher Education
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Associate in Science (AS) to Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) Transfer Students: An Analysis of Student Characteristics, Engagement and Success by Jerry C. Collins A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Adult, Career and Higher Education College of Education University of South Florida Major Professor: Thomas Miller Ed .D W. Robert Sullins, Ed.D. William Young Ed .D. Donald Dellow Ed .D. Date of Approval: April 28, 2009 Keywords: adult learner, articulation, capstone degree, career ladder degree, occupational degree, non tradi t ional student vocational education Copyright 2009, Jerry C. Collins
Dedication I dedicate this dissertation to my loving wife, Theresa, for her undying support throughout this arduous process of completing my Ph.D. This manuscript is the culmination of my man y hours of work and sacrifice but the burden was certainl y a shared one I know this overwhelming project detracted from my family obligations but Theresa always covered me. Throughout this entire educational process, I was never once made to feel that my missing in action status was a concern from my wife o r anyone else in my family Consequently, I owe my greatest debt of gratitude to my wife for defending my absence from family events; for allowing me to take the time ; for always accommodating me when it really wasnt convenient for her ; for perpetually st anding by me ; for compelling me to do it well; and for encouraging me to hurry up and finish. From the onset of this pursuit she has willingly taken on additional duties in our home so that I could commit the necessary time to attend classes, conduct research and compose this manuscript. She has always stood firmly behind me every step of the way and she has been the catalyst for my every success. This milestone I share with her, because I know that I would never have achieve d it without her love, support and devotion. I am truly blessed.
Acknowledgements This manuscript would not have materialized with out the support and encouragement from my many mentors, professors, colleagues friends and family members I would like to thank all those who influenced me to begin this worthy educationa l pursuit, and to persevere through its completion First and foremost, I am most grateful to Dr. Robert Sullins who initially inspired me to pursue the Ph.D. He motivated me to start it, to stick to it, and he remained a staunch advocate and steadfast optimist that I w ould, in fact, complete the arduous journey. I am very thankful for his influence and mentorship. The other influential source of professional support and guidance was offered to me by Dr. Thomas Miller He was an invaluable coach providing me with the roadmap for completing this research with efficiency, purpose, and scholarship. I am truly grateful for his service as my Major Professor, and I will be forever beholden. Throughout m y academic, professional, and collegial interactions at the university, I have been very fortunate to know Dr. William Young and to have him serve on my committee. His sincerity, insight and willingness to help me with this phase of the education process have been truly appreciated beyond words. I am also very gra teful to Dr. Donald Dellow for his time and effort as a committee member for my dissertation. His background and experience with th e subject s of my research provided the professional acumen and sound reasoning I needed. Finally, I would like to thank my ma ny fellow colleagues and classmates who have shown me the way. Your encouragement and your overt compassion for me have been inspiring and very much appreciated.
i Table of Contents List of Tables .................................................................................................................... iii Abstract ............................................................................................................................. vi Chapter One Introduction & Background ..........................................................................1 Statement of the Problem ........................................................................................5 Purpose of the Study ...............................................................................................7 Research Q uestions .................................................................................................8 Design of t he Study .................................................................................................9 Methods .................................................................................................................10 Definitions .............................................................................................................11 Delimitations of the Study ....................................................................................15 Limitation of the Study .........................................................................................15 Outline of the Study ..............................................................................................15 Chapter Two Review of t he Literature ............................................................................16 The Nontraditio nal Student .................................................................................20 Adult Learning ......................................................................................................23 Social and Cognitive Development ......................................................................27 Transfer and Ar ticulation ......................................................................................37 Summa ry ...............................................................................................................44 Chapter Three Research Meth ods ....................................................................................46 Purpose of t he Study .............................................................................................46 Research Qu estions ...............................................................................................47 Methods .................................................................................................................52 Statistic al Measures ..............................................................................................54 Sequence of t he Study ...........................................................................................56 Data Collection .....................................................................................................57 Analysis of th e Data ..............................................................................................61 Validity .................................................................................................................63 Researchers Bio graphy ........................................................................................64 Summary ...............................................................................................................66 Chapter Four Results ........................................................................................................67 Sequence of the Study ...........................................................................................68 Archival Data ........................................................................................................69 Survey Data Collection Process ............................................................................76
ii Survey Results Demographics ...........................................................................79 Survey Results High School Reflections ...........................................................81 Survey Results Community College Reflections ...............................................90 Survey Results University Reflections ............................................................105 Narrative Statements by BSAS Students ............................................................120 Comparisons Across the K 20 Experience .........................................................124 Responses to Research Questions .......................................................................134 Conclusion ..........................................................................................................139 Chapter Five Findings, Conclusions, Implications, and Recommendations .................141 Method Summary .................................................................................................142 Summary of Findings ..........................................................................................145 Conclus ions .........................................................................................................156 Limitations ..........................................................................................................157 Implications for Practice .....................................................................................158 Implications for Research ...................................................................................161 Summary Statement ............................................................................................166 Refer ences .......................................................................................................................168 Appendices ......................................................................................................................178 Appendix A: Florida A S to BS Statewide Articulation Law ........................179 Appendix B: Outline of BSAS Degree .............................................................182 Ap pendix C: BSAS Transfer Student Survey ..................................................184 Appendix D: Career Ladder Agreements .........................................................192 Appendix E: Focu s Group Email .....................................................................193 Appendix F: Survey Email ...............................................................................194 Appendix G: Info rmed Consent Form ..............................................................195 Appendix H: High School Career Intentions of BSAS Students ......................198 A bout the Author .................................................................................................. End Page
iii List of Tables Table 1 Distribution of BSAS Students by Age .........................................................70 Table 2 Distribution of BSAS Students by Gender ....................................................71 Table 3 Gender Distribution among BSAS Areas of Concentration ..........................71 Table 4 Distribution of BSAS Students by R ace/Ethnicity ........................................72 Table 5 Race/Ethnicity Distribution among BSAS Areas of C oncentration ................3 T able 6 Comparison B SAS Students Transfer and University GPAs ....................74 Table 7 BSAS Graduates Overall Grade Point ........................................................75 Table 8 BSAS Graduat es Total Credit Hours Ear ned ..............................................76 Table 9 BSAS Students High School Grade Point Average .....................................82 Table 10 Students Pleased with High School They Attended ......................................83 Table 1 1 High School Curriculum Relevancy to Personal Goals ................................83 Table 1 2 Relationship s with High School Faculty .......................................................84 Table 1 3 R elationships with High School Peers ..........................................................84 Table 1 4 Engagement in High School Extracurricular Activities .................................85 Table 1 5 Satisfaction with High School Performance .................................................87 Table 1 6 Significant Effort in High School ..................................................................87 Table 1 7 Interaction with High School Counselors /Advisors ......................................88 Table 18 Interaction with High School Faculty ...........................................................88 Table 19 Completion of High School Homework ........................................................89 Table 2 0 Capable of Performing in High School Setting .............................................89
iv Table 2 1 Capable of Using High School Library Resources .......................................90 Table 2 2 BSAS Student s Community College Grade Point Average .........................91 Table 2 3 BSAS Students Self Assessment of CC Environment .................................91 Table 2 4 Why Attend a Community College ...............................................................93 Table 2 5 Distribution Enrollment Hours/Semester at Community College ..............94 Table 2 6 Age Began Pursuing A ssociates Degree ......................................................95 Table 2 7 Age Completed Associates Degree ..............................................................95 Table 28 Intended Occupational Area of Study at Community College ......................97 Table 29 Contributing Factor s for Community College Performance .........................99 Table 3 0 Study Habit s I mprovement High School to Community C ollege ............101 Table 3 1 Motivation to Complete AS D egree ............................................................102 Table 3 2 Interaction with Community College Advisors ...........................................104 Table 3 3 Age Transferred to University .....................................................................105 Table 34 BSAS Students Occupational Goals ...........................................................106 Table 35 Commute to University Cam pus .................................................................107 Table 36 Credit Hours/Semester at University ............................................................108 Table 37 Hours/Week Spent on University Assignments ...........................................109 Table 38 Why Students Pursue the BSAS Degree .....................................................111 Table 39 Factors Contributing to Students University Performance ........................112 Table 40 Universit y Study Habits Better than Community College ..........................113 Table 41 Motivation to Complete BSAS Degre e .......................................................114 Table 42 BSAS Degree Completion Mentors ............................................................115 Table 43 Self Assessment of University Performance ...............................................115
v Table 44 Students Effort at the University ................................................................116 Table 4 5 Interaction with University Advisors ..........................................................117 Table 46 Interaction with University Faculty .............................................................118 Table 47 Capable of Performing at the University .....................................................119 Table 48 BSAS Anticipated Graduation Grade Point Average ..................................119 Table 49 Comparison Amenability Toward S chool Environments ........................126 Table 50 Comparison Curriculum Relevant to Personal Goals ...............................126 Table 51 Comparison Faculty Relationships ...........................................................127 Table 52 Comparison Peer Relationships ................................................................128 Table 5 3 Comparison Extracurricular Activities .....................................................128 Table 54 Comparison Academic Performance ........................................................129 Table 55 Comparison Satisfaction with Academic Performance ............................129 Table 56 Comparison S elf Assessment of Effort ....................................................130 Table 57 Comparison Participation in Study/Work Groups ....................................130 Table 58 Comparison Interaction with Counse lors and Advisors ...........................131 Table 59 Comparison Interaction with Faculty .......................................................132 Table 60 Comparison Completion of Reading/Homework Assignments ...............132 Table 61 Comparison Self efficacy .........................................................................133 Table 62 Comparison Information Literacy ............................................................134
vi Associate in Scienc e (AS) to Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) Transfer Students: An Analysis of Student Characteristics, Engagement and Success Jerry C. Collins ABSTRACT This study sought to examine and comprehensively describe transfer students who have ear ned a two year technical or occupational Associate in Science (AS) degree at the community college and entered the university to pursue the Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS). The BSAS degree is a specialized baccalaureate degree program created to allow AS degree holders an opportunity to efficiently transfer into the university affording them full recognition of their two year degree. This statewide articulated program at the University of South Florida is the first of its kind in the state of Florida. The program only began admitting its first students in the fall term of 2003. Prior to the creation of the BSAS degree, most AS degree holders were not admissible to the university. If they did meet admission requirements based upon competitive freshman admission requirements, only about 1518 credits of the 60+ credits earned through their AS degree were transferrable. Before the BSAS there were no efficient means for most AS degree holders to pursue higher education beyond their twoyear degree The first five years of this new bachelors degree program have been very successful. The BSAS program has consistently experienced enrollment growth every year, and the specialized areas of concentration have continued to expand offering even
vii greater opportunity for AS degree holders to pursue meaningful baccalaureate studies in support of their academic, professional or personal goals. The AS to BS transfer students represent a relatively new student population at the university and this population is steadily growing. The university has historically had little experience with them, and consequently we know little about them. This study was a n analysis of AS BSAS transfer students to determine their characteristics, engagement and success at the univer sity. The study reveal ed that they are, in fact, a unique student population at the university who are generally disengaged with university life, but performing very well academically. Their average age is 37 years old. They are predominately working adul ts with family responsibilities They are conscientious students who are persisting and completing their bachelors degree in less time than the national average for all transfer students. Overall, the results of this study suggest that we may need to mak e adjustments to our transfer and articulation policies, our admission practices, and closely examine the broader services of the university to ensure we meet the holistic needs of this new, exclusive, atypical, workforce focused, and growing population of students at the university
1 Chapter One Introduction and Background The articulation and transfer of the community colleges two year occupational, professional and technical degrees into upper level baccalaureate degree programs is a relatively new development in higher educa tion. Higher education authorities have begun to support this recent shift in thinking about the transferability of these previously viewed two year terminal degrees, and four year institutions are now being persuaded to develop new and efficient pathway s for their transfer into baccalaureate programs Consequently, this creates a population of transfer students at the university with whom we have had little experience, and about whom we know very little. This study will examine this student population an d provide a comprehensive description. This recent change in transfer policy illustrates the growing involvement of the state in transfer and articulation issues related to their statewide educational systems, statewide workforce development and state budgets. Such involvement by the state in higher educations transfer and articulation processes between two year and four year institutions was very limited several decades ago, but more recently, states have increased their involvement to guarantee educa tional opportunities for the broader interests of the state (Robertson & Frier, 1996). Transfer and articulation is now a priority concern for state legislatures. Efficient educational systems that provide a seamless advance between primary, secondary and
2 tertiary levels of education are important in an era of state budgetary limitations, important to the provision of greater educational access and opportunities to citizens; and important for meeting the needs of states current and projected workforce. It is understandable that states now regularly promote transfer and articulation between their institutions as a means of increasing system efficiency (Ignash & Townsend, 2000). Florida is a state that has been recognized for its long standing and exemplary transfer and articulation policies (Bender, 1990). Since the 1960s, the Florida legislature has continued to provide statutory statewide transfer and articulation processes. Over this period, statutory policy has primarily focused on the transfer of the community college Associate in Arts (AA) degree. It was not until 1998 that the Florida legislature began to address the transfer and articulation of Associate in Science (AS) degrees into baccalaureate degree programs (1998 Florida Senate Bill 1124, Flor ida Statute s 240.115). Unlike that of most states, the AS degree and not the Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree, has been the career/workforce degree in Florida It is still the primary degree for the vast majority of the states technical and o ccupational fields of study. The AAS was not introduced until very recently in Floridas community college history, and there is very little difference in the curricular content between many of the AS and AAS degrees in Florida. In most cases, in fact, the only difference is a single general education course. The most significant discriminator between the Florida AS and AAS is whether the courses within the degree are taught by faculty meeting the credentialing requirements of regional accreditation standa rds a Masters degree and at least eighteen graduate hours in the area of study. Generally, the career/workforce
3 degrees with courses taught by faculty who do not meet regional accreditation standards are designated as AAS (Furlong, 2007). Even consider ing the slight difference between the AS and AAS degrees, there are no indications that Florida will attempt to broadly articulate transfer of the AAS degree in the near future to the same level of articulation afforded the AS degree. To date, however, onl y a few of Floridas senior institutions have actually developed an unobstructed pathway from the twoyear AS degree into their four year degree programs, but the current momentum generated through continued workforce influences, public pressures, and legi slative mandates will likely compel more senior institutions to create viable 2 plus 2 programs for Floridas two year occupational, professional and technical degrees. As the Florida legislature continues to make a strong connection between highe r education and workforce development, the state may also experience a significant increase in the number of occupationally focused two year degree programs designated for transfer into baccalaureate degree programs. The promotion and growth of these trans ferable technical/occupational degree programs will also likely increase the number of students who find these degrees more attractive, and opt for the occupational, technical and professional AS degrees over the liberal arts AA transfer degree. After all, the majority of todays college students already state that their primary reason for obtaining a college degree is to get a job and make more money (Berkner, Horn & Clune, 2000; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005, p.45) The issue of junior college students tr ansferring to senior colleges has been ongoing for over a century when the first community college was established in Joliet
4 Illinois in 1902. As early as the 1950s, a study was initiated by the Joint Committee on Junior and Senior Colleges, and scholars began studying transfer student performance and retention as early as the 1960s (Knoell & Medsker, 1964). Recently, scholars have examined institutional processes for dealing with transfer students (Davies & Casey, 1998; Britt & Hirt, 1999), while still ot hers such as Cohen (1982), Bender (1990), Kintzer (1996), and Ingash and Townsend (2000) have also examined the policies and practices of articulation and transfer. However, few past studies have focused on a descriptive analysis of the previously termina l, occupationally focused, twoyear degree transfer student. In the past few years, there have been a modest number of studies examining the AS/AAS transfer phenomenon, but no known study has focused on developing a thorough description of these students. This void in the research is reasonable since these students were previously limited in their ability to transfer to four year degree programs and their minimal numbers presented little impact upon the policies and practices at the four year institutions Now, d ue to recent articulation, the introduction of this significant and growing population into the university creates a need for contemporary research There are unanswered questions about this growing population of transfer students: Who are they? W hat are their characteristics? What are their backgrounds and experiences? Are they capable and prepared for baccalaureate study? How do they perform at the senior institution? These questions are relevant to higher education administrators, policy makers and students. The answers to these questions can guide our future policies and practices related to AS/AAS transfer and articulation. Of course, no study provide s all the answers to all relevant questions, but any relevant question without an answer make s evident the need for research. Such relevance
5 and need is the impetus for this research, and the ensuing descriptive study will contribute to our understanding of th is unique transfer student population. The resulting information about the ir demographic and academic characteristics, their educational engagement and their success is important for the advancement of our institutional knowledge about the technical, occupational, and professional twoyear transfer students Such understanding is important for negotiating our perceptions about them ; and beneficial toward the construct of future policies and procedures for serving them Statement of the Problem Nationally, a majority of states have created statewide articulation agreements to guide the tr ansfer of Associate in Arts (AA) degree holders into baccalaureate programs. Florida has had such a statewide agreement for decades. Articulation agreements for the Associate in Science (AS) and Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degrees, however, are fairly recent nationally and have only existed in Florida since 1998. The initial statewide articulation agreement in 1998 pertaining to Florida AS degrees was quite limited and only addressed the transfer of career ladder AS degrees in business, radiography nursing and cr iminology for transfer into the baccalaureate degrees in business, radiography, nursing and criminology respectively. A more recent Florida statewide agreement has expanded to include other career ladder, capstone and inverted degree options within specific programs at various four year institutions (Appendix A). In 2003, the University of South Florida was the first among the state universities in Florida to expand AS BS articulation beyond the initial three career ladder programs (busine ss, nursing and criminology) available at the university by offering the AS to Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) permitting a student to transfer with any
6 Florida AS degree into a number of academic concentration areas to compliment previous st udy or to pursue a career transition (Appendix B). A few of Floridas baccalaureate granting institutions now offer transfer into a degree program with a specific AS degree area of study (career ladder) while only a few offer entrance with any AS degree an d some AAS degrees (inverted/capstone) The number of participating institutions and transfer options is still quite limited, but growing. The University of South Florida has admitted several hundred AS transfers since its inception of the BSAS program in 2003 with approximately 120 graduates to date. As prospective Florida community college students become more aware of these growing transfer options, AS enrollment can be expected to grow at the community college s which in turn should continue to precipi tate more AS degree holders transferring to the four year institutions. The growing AS to BS phenomenon and the influx of technically and occupationally focused students at the community colleges and universities will impact our entire higher education sy stem. It is important that we examine this phenomenon now to determine its future impact on workforce development, institutional practices, enrollment, curriculum, states articulation polic ies and system wide budgetary impacts AS to BS articulation and transfer is relatively new for many higher education systems which contributes to the deficit in research on this specific transfer student population. We do not know much about their sequential performance across the educational system. The university generally does not require information about the high school background of upper level transfer students. Thus, we know little about their development while at the community college; and with the exception of their admission
7 application information and col lege transcripts we know almost nothing about their lives or their past educational experiences. There have been numerous research projects studying AS to BS articulation and transfer policy, but few have examined the AS/AAS transfer students themselves. This study will execute an in depth analysis of AS transfer students to begin filling some of the informational voids about them. A rigorous and thorough analysis of these students is a necessary step to improve our understanding of this population at the university, to advance our articulation and transfer policies, and to identify potential institutional issues that may be specific to this group of transfer students. Purpose of the Study The specific purpose of this study was to analyze the student ch aracteristics, engagement and success of Associate in Science (AS) degree holders who have transferred into the Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) program at a major southern research university Little is know about this relatively new student population within the university This study examine d the current population of AS transfer students and accessible graduates (approximately 250 persons ) who transferred into the BSAS program since its recent inception in 2003. This is a descriptive study of a particular population ( BSAS students ) Some of the resulting student descriptors may be viable for compar ison to other similar student populations for whom generic data already exists but this was not the intent of the researcher In such cases wher e the researcher anticipated the opportunity to e xecute minimal comparative analyses to determine likenesses and differences to
8 undergraduate counterparts those opportunities were identified or promoted as potential areas for further study This study inc reases our understanding of this specific student population within the four year institution, provide s insight for institutional leaders to better meet these students potentially distinct academic and developmental needs, and better inform s future AS to BS articulation and transfer policies. A case study method was used to collect and analyze qualitative data derived from focus groups and a comprehensive student survey. Student information w as drawn from student data available within the institutional da tabase, which extend ed the researchers ability to compare and contrast other limited statistical and quantitative data points through frequency, means and standard deviations of data such as age, persistence to ward degree completion and grade point average According to Yin, the embedded case study is a research strategy, an empirical inquiry that investigates a phenomenon within its real life context. The case study method can mean single or multiple case studies to include quantitative evidence, multiple sources of evidence and prior theoretical propositions (Yin, 2002). Research Questions The following three research questions guide d the scope and design of this study: 1. What are the demographic and academic characteristics of BS AS transfer students? Student characteristics w ere determined by a comprehensive descriptive analysis of student demographics academic background such as age, race, gender, BSAS major, transfer GPA, transfer hours, university GPA, university credit hours earned, residences distance to campus, test scores, marital status, family education al
9 level, socioeconomic status, and other factors revealed through the survey that l help ed define this student population (APPENDIX C). 2. How have BS AS transfer students engaged in the ir educational processes and connected with their academic institutions ? Student e ngagement included students perceptions about the relevance of curriculum to their career goals; their relationships with faculty and peers their involvement and engagement with academic activities, institution al /student organizations/membership, and perceptions about their past and current experiences as a student This question evaluated engagement through student s self reported assessment of their development and the cha nges they incurred over time and across educational settings (APPENDIX C). 3. A re BS AS transfer students succeeding at the university ? Student success in this study was measured by grade point average, persistence, degree completion and survey responses These data afford ed minimal quantitative analysis of information drawn from institutional archival data to describe academic performance through analys e s of community college grade point average, university grade point average and persistence (APPENDIX C). Design of the Study The research design used in this study was the embedded case study. The dominant design of this study relied upon a qualitative analysis of the AS transfer student at one large U.S. urban university in the South utilizing the survey method to determine demographic and academic characteristics student engagement, and employ ed a limited quantitative analysis of information drawn from the survey and institutional student databases to describe student success
10 According to Yin (2003), an embedded case study contains more than one subunit of analysis and provides a means of integrating quantitative and qualitative methods into a single study. The identification of these sub units provides a more detailed level of inquiry and allows for an empirical research design appropriate for descriptive studies to describe features, contexts and processes of a phenomenon. In an embedded case study, the goal is to achieve a holistic understanding of the case(s) and the different units of analysis w hich require the use and integration of quantitative and qualitative methods to achieve the goal ( Scholz & Tietje, 2002). Methods A unique strength of the embedded case study is its reliance on multiple sources of evidence to add breadth, depth and richne ss to the description of a phenomenon which contribute s to the validity of the research (Yin, 2003). An extensive survey instrument was designed using specific and relevant questions to identify the characteristics of the AS transfer student (Appendix C). The student survey primarily consist ed of qualitative responses expressing indi vidual student characteristics and their engagement with past and current educational pursuits. According to Kuh (2005a), student engagement is the amount of time and effort students put into their studies and other activities that lead to the experiences and outcomes that constitute student success. The annual administration of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE ,19992007) and the Community College Survey of St udent Engagement ( CCSE 20032007) have assessed student engagement for the purposes of identifying how institutions may better allocate resources to improve undergraduate learning opportunities, but these surveys have not focused on particular subgroups w ithin the undergraduate population such as the AS population. This
11 study examine d student attributes similar to those measured by the NSSE and CCSE, but with a more narrow scope of inquiry toward the AS to BS students concentrat ing on their particular expe riences, engagement, success and development across the P16/K20 systems. Quantitative data w as also collected from the survey and the universitys institutional databases to describe the AS transfer students demographic and academic characteristics. A p re liminary focus group w as employed to further develop the survey instrument and validate that it contain ed the necessary questions to reveal the most comprehensive and holistic description of student characteristics, engagement and success The focus group discussions w ere conscientiously recorded and audited to that ensure all questions and data elements identified for inclusion in the survey were valid, and to identify necessary editing and refine ment of the survey instrument prior to the broad distributio n to the BSAS population. The inquiry process and methodology are described in great detail in Chapter 3. Definitions For the purposes of this study, the following terms are defined to ensure an understanding of the concepts pertaining to articulation and transfer: Andragogy is a theory of adult learning that emphasizes the self directed character of adults and focuses on the process of learning rather than content (Knowles, 1975, 1980, 1984). Articulation is the process by which schools, colleges and universities coordinate their programs and services to facilitate the movement of students through the educational system (Florida Community College System, 1997).
12 Articulation agreement is a written guideline between and among secondary and postsecondar y institutions that facilitates a smooth transition for students, eliminating duplication of courses or content from one educational environment to another (Just & Adams, 1997). Associate in Applied Science degree (AAS) is a program designed to lead the individual directly to employment in a specific career. It is strongly suggested that one third of the work for the associate in applied science degree shall be in general education. While the titles given these degrees vary considerably among community colleges, the most common title is associate in applied science. Although the objective of the associate in applied science degree is to enhance employment opportunities, some baccalaureate degree granting institutions have developed upper division programs to recognize this degree for transfer of credits. The associate in applied science degree programs must be designed to recognize this dual possibility and to encourage students to recognize the long term career possibilities that continued academic study w ill create (AACC, 1998). Associate in Arts degree (AA) prepares the student to transfer to an upper division baccalaureate degree program. [it] gives emphasis to those majoring in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and similar areas. It is recommende d that a substantial component of the associate in arts degrees, three quarters of the work required, shall be in general education (AACC, 1998). Associate in Science degree (AS) gives emphasis to those majoring in agriculture, engineering and technology, and the sciences with substantial undergraduate requirements in mathematics and the natural sciences. It is recommended that a large component of the associate in science degree, onehalf of the work required, shall be in general education. Students awar ded associate in arts or
13 associate in science degrees should be accepted as junior level transfers in baccalaureate degree granting institutions (AACC, 1998). It is important to note, that the Florida AS degree is dissimilar from the AS degree in most sta tes. It was not originally designed for transfer to a four year institution, and it is still a limited transfer degree. The Florida AS degree is only slightly different than the Florida AAS degree, usually only requiring an additional three credit hour ge neral education course beyond the AAS prescribed curriculum. Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree is a program designed to capstone a previous technical or professional twoyear degree with emphasis on applied skills and experience (Saint Petersburg Co llege catalog, 2006). Bachelor of Science in Applied Science degree (BSAS) is a degree program designed for AS graduates who desire a bachelor's degree for self enrichment, advancement in their current career or to qualify for higher level employment in other settings. AS graduates looking for a flexible Bachelor's degree program will find the BSAS degree recognizes the value of academic work already completed, and requires only 60 additional credit hours beyond the AS degree (University of South Florida catalog, 2006, Appendix B). Capstone degree is a degree that gives occupational students who have changed their educational and occupational goals an opportunity to pursue a four year degree; is an alternative option for obtaining the four year degree req uiring no more than two additional years of college (60 credit hours); and seeks to recognize the similar objectives in both twoyear occupational programs and four year baccalaureate degree programs (Southern Illinois University catalog, 2006 2007).
14 Career ladder degree is a two year degree designed to transfer from a specific academic discipline, such as an Associate degree in nursing into a bachelors degree in nursing. Inverted degree is conceived as a sort of an upside down transfer degree, with mo re specific/career based studies in the first two years and more general studies taken in the junior and senior year at university. The first two years of the program are completed with an Associate degree (AS or AAS) largely focused on technical or occupa tional course work not traditionally transferable toward baccalaureate education. The general education course work and a concentration in a discipline based study area make up the last two years of upper division work (Washington State Community College T ransfer Guide: Whitworth College/Evergreen State College 2007) K 20 education system is designed to connect K 12 and postsecondary education by increasing learning at all levels and readiness for postsecondary education without remediation. Florida's edu cation system shall be a decentralized system without excess layers of bureaucracy. The system shall maintain a system wide technology plan based on a common set of data definitions (Florida Statute s, 1000.03, 2006). Transfer is the actual student movement from one institution to another, or from one academic program level to another. Students may reverse transfer from the senior institution back to the community college, or double transfer from the community college to the university and back to the c ommunity college. Transfer also pertains to the procedure by which student credit hours earned at one institution are applied toward a degree at another institution (Education Commission of the States, 2006)
15 Delimitations of the Study The study only execu te d a description of AS transfer students in a single baccalaureate degree program at one large southern urban university. Limitations of the Study The following were considered limitations of this study: Although the survey questions w ere designed to ma ke them as easy to understand as possible, each person surveyed may have interpret ed the survey questions differently or ha d difficulty selecting an accurate response on Likert scaled items. Generalizations may be limited to the Florida community college s ystem and the Florida State University System. The Florida AS degree is somewhat comparable to other states AAS degrees, but minor differences could preclude an accurate one to one comparison. Outline of the Study In this study, a review of the literature is presented in Chapter Two including a brief history of articulation and transfer in higher education, theories relative to the nontraditional college transfer student, adult learning, and postulations about student engagement and success Chapter Th ree outlines the research methodology, the design of the study, participant coordination and communication, data collection procedures and methods of analysis. Chapter Four offers the results of this study providing a comprehensive analysis of the data col lected and a review of the research process. Chapter Five summarizes the study by emphasizing findings, and outlining implications of the study for future practice and future research.
16 Chapter Two R eview of the Literature Students with an Associate in Science (AS) or an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree are predominately working adults who have completed study at a twoyear college degree in various scientific, technical, occupational or professional programs. Upon completion of their twoye ar degree, many of these students enter the workforce and years may pass before they realize the need to advance to the bachelors degree for career advancement or to pursue an alternate career path. Other AS/AAS students may desire to transfer directly to a senior institution upon the completion of their twoyear degree to achieve their personal and professional goals. In view of this general understanding of the AS/AAS transfer student population, the following literature review examine s the theories rel ated to the nontraditional student, adult learners, social development, cognitive development and transfer articulation policies. It is u nfortunate that senior academic institutions and state educational systems have not historically provided efficient tr ansfer pathways for technical, occupational, and vocational associate degree s. Many institutions and educational systems throughout the United States, in fact, have long regarded such twoyear curricula as career training This led them to be considered as nontransferable two year degrees, and few state systems legislated them for transfer to baccalaureate programs of study. According to Cohen and Brawer, in the 1970s, the U.S. Office of Education popularized the term career
17 education. Th is term collective ly encompassed occupational, vocational and technical studies. Career education was originally conceived as an essential component of terminal study education for students for students who would not go on to further studies (Cohen & Brawer, 1996, p.22) AS/AAS students who transfer to a senior institution are routinely categorized as nontraditional adult students defined here as students aged 24 or older. This is due to the fact that m any of these students completed their AS degree and directly entered the workforce. After a period of time on the job, they often encounter opportunities for career advancement that require a bachelors degree. Others realize the need for further education to effect a career change. Still o thers may desire further education for personal enrichment. Regardless of their reasons, many of these nontraditional adult students now seek re entry to higher education. This situation is not new. Since the 1970s, young workers have been entering the job market in entry level positions and finding it difficult to climb the occupational ladder. They encounter what has been termed the promotional squeeze (Best and Stern, 1976). In this instance, occupational ladders become so congested that people seek alternatives to their current o ccupation which may require additional education. This phenomenon ultimately impact s higher education because new technologies and changes in the workforce demand new curricula. In 1978, a study estimated that nearly forty million Americans were in a state of career transition; sixty percent indicating they were planning to seek further education (Arbeiter, et. al., 1978). For many AS/AAS degree holders, however, their twoyear degree has historically been viewed as the final education and training plateau for their profession. It was identified as a terminal degree, because the student was not expected to require nor
18 pursue any further higher education for his/her profession Although these students may have demonstrated persistence through often rigorous academic programs to achieve their two year degree; although they may have matured chronologically and experientially ; and although they may have exhibited the motivation and sense of purpose for successfully pursing a bachelors degree, they have often be en denied access to the senior institutions due to the nontransferability of their AS/AAS credential. Their vocationally oriented degrees often carry lower status and do not find any easy counterpart at four year colleges (Townsend & Twombly, 2001, p.1 32,). There is also a subjective discernment that community college students are inadequately prepared, both academically and socially, for college level learning (Howell, 2001). Earlier notions of the terminal degree, as an alternative for students who m ight not be suited for the university degree, may prove difficult to overcome by those with a traditional mindset about higher education. Further compounding the negative perceptions of these students is a historically jaundiced generalization of community college students. As Cross (1971) illustrates: By the time the community colleges were developed, most young people from the higher socioeconomic groups and most of the high aptitude aspirants were going to college. The majority of students entering the open door community colleges come from the lower half of the high school classes, academically and socioeconomically (p.7). And terminal degrees were meant for the student who was never expected to transfer, thus potentially keeping unfit students out of the university (Townsend, 2001, p.64).
19 These perceptions are rapidly changing for todays AS/AAS degree holders. Many states now advocate improved articulation and transfer of these career degrees. In Florida, there is strong state support for a seamles s K 20 lifelong learning system. As the case in many states, the Florida community college system serves as the open access portal for higher education as well as the primary provider of career education. Collegiate transfer education and career education have generally resided within the community college as two distinct missions throughout their past, but student behavior documented by Palmer (1987) decades ago, as well as recent statewide articulation for AS BS transfer have blurred this distinction. Cohen and Brawer (2003) note that changing demographic patterns and public perceptions about the purposes of the community college have led to a blending in the uses of vocational and collegiate education (p.31). Community colleges are now expected to meet the demands of changing civic, social and vocational needs of a community, and the blending of these demands has created both the environment and the need for AS BS articulation and transfer. The following review of the literature covers the dominant sc holarly themes relevant to this study of AS BS transfer student s This chapter outline s the prevailing literature on nontraditional transfer student s theories of adult learning, post ulations about student development and student engagement, a nd a brief hi story of articulation and transfer issues that have lead to Floridas current statutes regarding AS to BS trans fer. It is anticipated that each of these themes will be useful for providing a consolidated framework for the description and understanding of t he BSAS student population.
20 The Nontraditional Student Most adult learners (also called nontraditional students) are 24 years of age or older and may have been out of school for a period of time. The nontraditional student is an adult who returns to school full or part time while maintaining responsibilities such as employment, family, and other responsibilities of adult life (Benshoff and Lewis, 1992). A more comprehensive review of the literature and research on the non traditional student reveal s that there are more subtleties to their identification leading to a need for categorization to further define the adult/nontraditional student. In 1987, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) developed four categories: 1) adu lts who enter or re enter higher education with a prior major break in their formal involvement in learning; 2) students enrolled in academic studies who represent specific chronological age categories (such as over 25); 3) adult students who enter higher education on the basis of mature life experiences (gained through work, family life, or community involvement); and 4) adults who have completed a higher education degree at an earlier stage and now re enter for professional updating or to pursue a second academic area of expertise (OECD, 1987). Information on the increasing number of nontraditional learners was provided by a 1997 survey of private college students in Florida, which indicated that fifty eight percent were nontraditional students. More spe cifically, nineteen percent were in their 30s, twenty percent in their 40s, and eight percent in their 50s. Of these, forty five percent were at least 30 years old before they returned to school; eighty percent were
21 female; fifty percent were single and ha d never been married; thirty eight percent were married; and eleven percent were divorced or separated (Kinsella, 1998). The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES, 2000) showed that adult learner enrollment had risen by seven percent between 1990 and 1999, and projects a further increase of nine percent during the period 19992010. These increases will likely occur in students seeking occupational or professional curriculum. Figures from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education indicate that academic courses of greatest interest to the adult student are recreational or vocational in nature. The subject areas of interest to adult learners were broken down as follows: hobbies/recreation 42 percent, vocational subjects 35 percent, business 22 percent, engineering 15 percent, health care 13 percent, philosophy/religion 7 percent, and education 7 percent (U.S. Department of Education, 1998). Relating the AS student to the general community college population may not fully capture their unique characteristics as a sub population within the community college, but a well founded generalization can be useful as a point of reference. Clifford Adelman (2005) offers such a basic description of the community college student with an emphasis on four primary characteristics: age, institutional type, transfer, and educational expectations. Adelman suggests that the first and foremost concern in describing community college students is differentiating the population between age groups. The second di stinction should be the kind or type of twoyear institution. The third important descriptor is how they transfer. He points out that transfer students now engage in increasingly complex enrollment patterns and the definition of transfer must be tightened
22 up. Finally, students aspirations should be compared to their real level of educational attainment (Adelman, 2005). According to Cohen and Brawer (2003), the growth of community colleges, their expansion of programs, opportunities for part time enrollment and demography have had a profound impact on the enrollment of adults. The authors cite that the mean age of students enrolled in credit courses in 1980 was twenty seven years of age. By 1986, the mean age of these students had climbed to twenty nine ye ars of age, and it remained at twenty nine through the late 1990s (Cohen and Brawer, 2003, p.39). Th e research concludes that the undergraduate non traditional student population is growing in numbers and in age. And as state policies continue to expand their opportunities for admission and transfer, we should prepare for even more nontraditional students in the years ahead. Recent trends in the articulation of the AS/AAS degrees have created another new pipeline for the nontraditional student which shoul d induce even more adults to come to university campuses. Within higher education, however, there may still be some who hold innate institutional perspectives about the non traditional student which are inconsistent with the institutions growing adult clientele. Kasworm (1990) captures some of these concerns as she points out: There are serous questions raised regarding the legitimacy of adults to participate in undergraduate studies. This perspective is perhaps best stated by Boyer (1974), who argues that higher education has perceived adult students as misfits in a strange and foreign land, viewed as retreads in a kind of salvage operation, sadly out of step with the learning cycle and even with the life cycle itself (p.6).
23 Kasworm further recognizes tha t there are leaders in higher education who would argue that these adults already had their chance (and passed it up) for an undergraduate education in their early years. And yet further, in an extensive review of adult learner research, she notes that a g reat many of the earlier studies of adult students were conducted as an image of implied deficiency examining their inferior academic performance or age limiting factors to their cognitive performance (Kasworm, 1990). Regardless of ones perceptions about the suitability of nontraditional students to be at the university, they are here. They are here in large numbers. Of the 12.7 million undergraduates nationally, thirty nine percent are categorized as non traditional. Thats about 5 million students (N CES, 2002). So regardless of their preparedness for university study, the university will need to be prepared to teach them. Adult Leaning According to the National Profile of Community Colleges (2000), nearly half of all enrolled community college studen ts in 1997 were twenty five years of age or older. Of these, thirty two percent were at least thirty years of age or older. Fifty percent worked full time and eighty percent worked part time. Adding further impact to this profile is the extended time to degree for community college students as many of those under the age of twenty five at the time this data was compiled were likely over twenty five before completing their associates degree. On a national level, the number of AS/AAS students is quite large Nearly a half million associate degrees were conferred in 1997 and over half of these were technically, professionally or occupationally oriented degrees (National Center for Educational Statistics, 1999). Townsend (2001) also noted
24 that in the 19961997 academic year, associate degrees conferred in applied fields nearly doubled that of the liberal arts degrees (p.66). This researcher presume d that the Florida AS transfer student will likely mirror th e generic community college student profile, and the re searcher further speculated that the AS transfer student would be more predominately full time working adult students than those in the broader national profile. This suggest ed that an understanding of the adult learner was requisite for an appropriate ana lysis of this transfer student population. Consequently, understanding adult learner theory and its applicability to the AS/AAS students in the higher education environment would be useful for determining how the university might adjust policies, procedure s and allocation of resources for this student population. According to Malcolm Knowles, the stage at which an individual assumes the self concept of being self directed is the point he/she becomes an adult. This is also when the person attains a psychological need to be perceived by others as a self directed individual. Failing to recognize this aspect of self directedness in the educational process may create tensions for the adult learner resulting in resentment and resistance to learning processes they perceive as treatment for children (Knowles, 1978). Differentiated from child learning pedagogy Knowles adopted the term andragogy to represent his theory of adult learning that emphasizes the self directed character of adults and focuses more on the process of learning rather than content (Knowles, 1975, 1980, 1984). His notion of adult education (conceived as a process much different than youth education) conveys the adults social responsibility,
25 community engagement, and personal motivation t o learn (Tawney, 1920; Lindeman, 1926). John Dewey (1859 1952) and others supported this notion that adults will seek learning that will help them cope with life. Learning must be connected to their lives, provide useful knowledge, increase their self este em, or aid in dealing with an experience or an anticipated life changing event (Dewey, 1938; Rogers, 1969; Cross, 1981). Some contemporary theorists have suggested that andragogical theory is problematic within the mainstream positivist paradigm. Instead o f a focus on processes, they argue that adult learning methods should employ an interpretive approach within a postmodern perspective embracing the adults experiences, circumstances, and interests (Candy, 1991; Brockett, 1991; Jarvis, 1992). As Speck (1 996) points out, a dults will commit to learning when the goals and objectives are considered realistic and important to them. Application in the 'real world' is important and relevant to the adult learner's personal and professional needs. They want to be the origin of their own learning and will resist learning activities they believe are an attack on their competence. They need to see that learning and their day to day activities are related and relevant. Adult learners come to learning with a wide range of previous experiences, knowledge, self direction, interests, and competencies. Adult cognitive development represents the shift in psychological inquiry from a behavioral focus to a cognitive focus beginning in the 1950s. Early scholars such as Lashle y (1923) pointed out behaviorism's inadequacies, and in the 1950s Chomsky demonstrated the power of grammar to make sense of language (Chomsky, 1955; Gardner, 1985). Miller (1956) described the constraints of human memory; Bruner,
26 Goodnow, and Austin (1956) characterized the how people use their cognitive resources; and Broadbent (1958) developed a model of human information processing to account for adults intake, use, and storage of information. Newell and Simon's (1972) work demonstrated the vastness of the cognitive puzzle. Important work in the area of metacognition was conducted by Garner and others (Garner,1987; Garner & Reis,1981; Garner, Wagoner, & Smith, 1983) in a series of investigations into the comprehension monitoring strategies of good and poor comprehenders. An interesting aspect of this work was the use of tutoring as a context in which students verbalized the strategies they used to overcome obstacles to their comprehension (Garner & Reis, 1981) and to answer questions (Garner et al., 1983). Jean Piaget (1896 1980), a Swiss scholar in philosophy and epistemology, received his Ph.D. at the early age of twenty two. He became very interested in the fields of inductive reasoning and experimental psychology. Throughout most of his career he observed genesis of intellect in children using various experiments. Most interestingly, Piaget noted that a childs intelligence operations were formed by sensory motor actions long before the acquisition of language. This suggests that hands on learni ng is a fundamental human way of knowing. Originally trained as a biologist, Piaget considered himself as a genetic epistemologist with a primary interest in how one comes to know. Piaget eventually came to believe that the most important influence on a childs cognitive development was their interaction with peers. Peer interaction invariably leads to cognitive conflict resulting in debate/argument among peers, and this conflict causes the child to consider
27 their peers point of view, examine the pos sibility of the alternate reality, and ultimately make a judgment or adjustment to their own point of view. Piaget identified four stages of cognitive development ranging from rudimentary reflex actions to complex abstract thinking. Although his work p rimarily focused on the biological and genetic aspects of cognition, he later acknowledged the inescapable social influences on cognition as he noted, There are no more such things as societies qua beings than there are isolated individuals (Piaget, 1932, p.360). These scholars address adult learning, its relevance to the type of student who relates educational processes to their work and life experiences. Adult learning theory may be closely linked to the applied science student. The AS/AAS student is more likely an adult, a full time worker and a part time student. A dult learner theory and the AS/AAS student are analyzed and the consequential connection to BSAS students are discussed in Chapter Four and their implications are discussed in Chapter F ive Social and Cognitive Development A critical aspect of this study w as the examination of AS transfer students engagement in their educational processes as they ha d migrated across the K 20 educational system. Integral to human development are o nes cumulative life experiences, associations and influences. It is similarly postulated that the environment in which one exists plays an important role in their perception of the world. An understanding of these students perceptions and their individual transformation s over time afford the researcher a more potent descriptive analysis of the AS transfer student and their preparedness for baccalaureate study. These analyses of student engagement
28 across the K 20 system are grounded in the fundamental theories of social and cognitive development outlined herein. Emile Durkheim (18581917) was one of the first social scientists to use an empirical method in his studies of societal issues in Europe, and specifically in his study of suicide rates. Durkhei m is credited by most with making sociology a science. He created the term anomie a retreat from social control and provided a comprehensive examination of society showing that the aspects of a society are much like the integral parts of a machine. This concept has since been labeled functionalism representing the paradigm of most sociological study today through the investigations of real life within organized society. Two of Emile Durkheims works directly reflect his contemplations on the inter connectedness of education and sociology. In Education and Sociology (translated in 1956), he explicates his notion that society, in fact, dictates the manner in which we conduct education, "The man whom education should realize in us is not the man such as nature has made him, but as the society wishes him to be; and it wishes him such as its internal economy calls for" (Simpson, 1963, p. 99). In the other, The Evolution of Educational Thought (translated in 1977), he urges teachers to prepare students for the future knowing that there are societal pressures to influence them from open thought: He [the teacher] must be on his guard against transmitting the moral gospel of our elders as a sort of closed book. On the contrary, he must excite in them a desire to add a few lines of their
29 own, and give them the tools to satisfy this legitimate ambition (Collins, 1977 p.162). John Dewey (1859 1952) was a student of philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy who was considered a functionalist interested in the functi on of behavior. Influenced by Darwin and his views of the social realm, he adopted the functionalist idea that societies evolve and education was one of the most important instruments for its evolution (Berliner, 2002, pg. 9). Dewey believed there was an intimate connection between the holistic environment in which humans exist and their psychological processes. He concluded that as our history, evolution, and culture pass through our societies we socially create the reality for the next. In My Pedagogic Creed Dewey clearly stated his beliefs regarding the educational process and outlines the interdependence of society, education, and individual human development. Focusing on the individuals connection to their own world, Dewey identified the social life of the individual as the primary basis for all education. He wrote: I believe that the social life of the child is the basis of concentration, or correlation, in all his training and growth. The social life gives the unconscious unity and the backgr ound of all his efforts and all his attainments (Dewey, 1987, Art. III). Lev Vygotsky (18961934) held the position that all human psychological functions are socially manifested from the environments in which we are integrally intertwined. Social origins and cultural heritage are critical to mental development in
30 human beings. This is explained further by Coles and Wertschs interpretation of Vygotskys work: Newborns are, of course, ignorant of the meanings of the artifacts they encounter and the ways i n which those artifacts (including words of the language as well as diapers, mobiles, and pacifiers) are to be incorporated into action. At birth the cultural past is, literally, thrust upon them (Cole & Wertsch, 2003, pg.4). The above representation of artifacts can be extended well beyond newborns to include all persons and all aspects of our historical, social, cultural, environmental, and political (and so on) influences throughout our lives. And the artifacts, as interpreted by those before us, are generally accepted as THE correct symbols, words, labels, and meanings form which we confirm or build new understanding of our world. Vygotsky was a twentieth century Russian educational psychologist who employed sociocultural theory founded in the Marxis t tradition of social theory. He believed that we acquire our ways of thinking through observing the behavior of others and interacting with others, and he believed that ones thoughts and behavior would certainly vary between cultures (Berk, 1994). Jero me Bruner, one of the most influential figures since post World War II on educational policy in the United States, postulated that curriculum design was the paramount in the learning process. In The Process of Education (1960), Toward a Theory of Instruct ion (1966), and The Relevance of Education (1971), his work has focused on a structuralist approach where pragmatic teaching and learning of structures and relationships are intended to make subsequent learning easier. According to Bruner,
31 gaining knowled ge is a process heavily predicated on curriculum structure and sequencing: To instruct someone... is not a matter of getting him to commit results to mind. Rather, it is to teach him to participate in the process that makes possible the establishment of knowledge. We teach a subject not to produce little living libraries on that subject, but rather to get a student to think mathematically for himself, to consider matters as an historian does, to take part in the process of knowledge getting. Knowing is a process not a product (Bruner, 1966, pg.72). More recently, Bruner has come to fully appreciate how culture can impact our development. In The Culture of Education (1996), he reflects on this transformation in his earlier thinking, Culture shapes the mind it provides us with the toolkit by which we construct not only our words but our very conception of our selves and our powers (Bruner, 1996). Even with this later shift in the assessment of culture as an important factor in an individuals development, Bruner would probably not abandon his notion that curriculum design should have a priori status in the learning process. Curriculum design would merely need to account for these culturally based conceptions of students as the students are taught to learn the processes for gaining knowledge. Maybe one can not occur without the other, because our social environment provides us with our language, symbols, values and shared perceptions of the world Bruners toolkit? Albert Bandura recognized that the process of student development often occurs through interaction and observation of others. Banduras brand of social learning theory
32 generally focuses on the modeling of behaviors, attitudes and reactions of others. As a student of behaviorism, Banduras methods are founded in scientific measurement and manipulation of variables to see their effects on one another. Through his observations he has certainly become a proponent of a theory that ones environment causes ones behavior, but he also convincingl y suggests that behavior may reciprocally cause ones environment. He labels this as reciprocal determinism in which people create comprehendible symbols and meanings of their environment that actually contribute to the construction of their world. Ba nduras later work is based on his earlier analyses of psychological modeling and social modeling behavior with an emphasis on social cognition. His underpinnings with regard to self efficacy and social learning have led him to become more of a social cogn itivist. In Social Learning Theory (1977) he offers this following statement that endorses the significance of learning through the observation of others behaviors: Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely s olely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action (Bandura, 1977, pg.22). A theoretical perspective that more closely relates to the applied sciences, and thus more applicable to the Associate in Science (AS) and Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degrees, is pre sented by Jean Lave. Her roots are social anthropology and social theory. She has concentrated much of her work on understanding how education occurs
33 through social practice. Lave suggests that situated learning is the learning that normally dominates most learning that occurs. It is learning that takes place within an activity, within a context and within the culture. Learning is situated because it happens within a specific social arrangement or community of practice, which is generally in contras t with abstract, out of context classroom learning. Situated learning requires significant social interaction and collaboration in authentic settings. This involves the actual practice of doing and participating as a general theory of knowledge acquisition (Lave, 1988). Lave perceives that the acquisition of knowledge occurs in the contexts of shared relationships or various situations of coparticipation. Working with Etienne Wenger, she has evaded cognitive processes in favor of examining the kinds of social engagements necessary for learning and development to take place. By observing that this occurs as we participate as members of a community, and by presuming that we construct our identities in relation to our communities, Lave adopts the view that there is a significant link between our learning and our human development through social engagement. William Perry (1970, 1981), through extensive interviews with Harvard students, developed a conceptual map of students development. He asserted that st udents developed sequentially along nine specific stages and that their progression along these stages occurred through discovery and reconstruction that can be experienced at later points in the life span. Perry suggests that in the earlier stages of his scheme, individuals utilize a dualistic manner of perceiving the world good or bad, right or wrong derived from knowledge provided by authorities. These dichotomous views of the world passed
34 on by the authorities are considered absolute. In the latte r stages of Perrys scheme, individuals begin to perceive alternative points of view and undeterminable Truth as well as the relative nature of knowledge and values (1970. p.57). In How College Affects Students (1991, 2005) Ernest Pascarella and Patrick Terenzini offer an extensive overview of prominent studies on student development and provide numerous models and taxonomies of development theory. They acknowledge, however, that their work is primarily related to the traditional college student as an ado lescent or young adult. Regardless of their focus, this text provides an extraordinarily thorough summary of the existing theoretical and conceptual foundations of examining student development and quite useful in identifying sources for college student at titudes. Vincent Tintos (1975, 1987 and 1993) theory of student departure is perhaps the most commonly referred to model in the literature on student retention. His longitudinal studies, grounded in Durkheims model of suicide, relate rewarding encounter s within the academic and social environments to greater student integration and persistence. Conversely, according to Tintos studies, ones negative experiences within the academic environment can cause the individual to avoid integration and depart or w ithdraw. This theoretical perspective may prove useful should this research reveal concerns about retention of the occupationally focused students. Nancy Schlossberg (1989, 2000, and 2001) has focused much of her work on the issue of how adult learners cope with their transition into the educational environment. S chlossberg notes how the s ocial and cognitive development of the adult population is very disparate, and how educational institutions need to better understand this growing population with the uni versity to better serve them. She identifies the differing
35 experiences of adults moving in, moving through and moving out of higher education, and cites the lack of synchrony between th is vast variability of adults and the educational bureaucracy. She su ggests that the needs of adult learners differ drastically depending upon whether they are moving in, through or out of the institution, and that higher education needs to overcome their inherent obstacles to change. She identifies Lundquists five major obstacles (Lundquist, 1978) as inertia, traditional socialization, inadequate information, traditional structures and rewards, and fear of the unknown (Schlossberg, Lynch & Chickering, 1989). Schlossbergs work may prove useful in correlating the AS trans fer students experiences to their engagement and development across the higher education environment. A theory often cited for providing a framework for understanding student development is provided by Arthur Chickering and Linda Reisser in Education and Identity (1993). Similar to the aforementioned work by Pascarella and Terenzini, Chickering and Reisser categorize the vast inventory of existing theories on student development into four categories: psychological theories, cognitive theories, typology theories and personenvironment theories. Unlike Pascarella and Terenzini, however, Chickering and Reisser recognized the need for such a theory to be applicable to both adolescents and adults (p.44). The y subsequently developed the seven vectors of stude nt development which were intended to illustrate the level of an individuals development The seven vectors are 1) developing competence, 2) managing emotions, 3) moving through autonomy toward interdependence, 4) developing mature interpersonal relations hips, 5) establishing identity, 6) developing purpose, and 7) developing integrity (Chickering & Reisser, 1993). This theoretical framework may have utility in
36 understanding the adult AS to BS transfer student, but the complexity of applying this theory ba sed upon self reported measures for determining levels of development across each vector may prove too difficult for application within this study Routine survey responses in the narrative form would be difficult to evaluate for their application to any one vector ( or m ultiple vectors ) and the degree of development within and across each of these vectors is too subjective for utility in this study. Where appropriate, the researcher include d findings as they correlate d to this theory in Chapters Four and F ive Contemporary student development theory is now often viewed in terms of student engagement as outlined by George Kuh and others (1994, 1995, 2005, 2006 & 2007). Understanding how s tudents connect to t he ir environment and how the environment aff ects them can provide insight that accounts for the environmental impact on social and cognitive development. H ow students engage and succeed in the academic environment align s well with many of the traditional theoretical perspectives of s ocial and cognit ive development as outline earlier in this chapter Understanding the social and cultural environment s of academic institutions in which the student s have developed socially and cognitively along with and understanding of other social and cultural dimensio ns of the adult learners diverse home, work and recreational environments can certainly help to inform us about their overall development as students and citizens Kuhs work on student engagement and success relies upon a survey (the NSSE) to determine student s perceptions about their experiences in the ir undergraduate academic environment and to measure their level of engagement with in the academic environment. Through the NSSE, students respond to survey questions that assess their
37 level of integratio n, participation, and effort. The survey also measures the students perceptions about their learning experiences. The NSSE is an adequate instrument for the purpose of identifying institutional shortfalls and assessing the conditions necessary for enhancing the educational environment, but it does not fulfill the needs of this study to provide a rich and comprehensive description of the BSAS student assess student engagement, and identify how students have developed preparedness for success in baccala ureate study Consequently, the researcher has designed a survey instrument that incorporates the general scope and design of the NSSE with questions structured specifically for the AS transfer student that address their unique circumstances and alternativ e academic pathway to the baccalaureate (APPENDIX C). This study relied heavily upon Kuhs conceptual framework of student engagement with a significantly modified version of the NSSE as the basis for determining how the AS transfer student s have transiti oned and performed across the K 20 system. Transfer and Articulation It is important to understand how transfer and articulation have evolved and led to the development of the AS to BS phenomenon. According to Ignash and Townsend (2001) the dif ference between articulation and transfer may best be described as the who and the what. Transfer is the student flow among institutions who, and articulation is the movement of the students credits from one point to another what. Cohen and Braw er (1996) further explain: Articulation is not a linear sequencing or progression from one point to another. It covers students going from high school to college; from two-
38 year colleges to universities and vice versa; double reverse transfer students, who go from the twoyear college to the university and back again; and people seeking credit for experiential learning as a basis for college or university credit (Cohen & Brawer, 1996). Since the inception of the community college, transfer and articulation have been arbitrary and have varied widely among institutions (Knoell & Medsker, 1965). Early issues over transfer and articulation began as concerns between individual institutions rather than concerns of the state (Bender, 1990; Coley, 2000). But as Ame rican society evolved and higher education shifted from being perceived as a privilege to a public right state level involvement began to expand (Bender, 1990). According to Ignash and Townsend (2001), most early efforts to promote articulation and trans fer were institution driven and it was not until the mid1980s that transfer and articulation became a stronger issue for the state (p. 175). Although the community college was dominated by liberal arts curriculum and the transfer function since its incept ion, an occupational function of the community college has always coexisted within its mission. Eaton (1994) maintains that the two year colleges did not develop exclusively as preparatory institutions for the four year college s but as multipurpose insti tution s serving the collegiate and occupational functions. Eaton notes that early leaders of the community college movement, such as Koos, Ells and Campbell, acknowledged the strength of collegiate transfer education over occupational education, but still advocated the mission of providing terminal occupational programs for students unable to attend the university (Eaton, 1994).
39 The research reveals that prior to the 1960s articulation had been conducted on a voluntary basis between institutions (Rifkin, 1998; Coley 2000). By the mid 1960s, disputes over courses accepted by the university began to result in strengthened institutional policy statements, local agreements and inter institutional committees, but the development of more formalized agreements was beginning to be brought about by the intervention of educational governing entities of the state (Cohen & Brawer, 1996; Ignash & Townsend, 2001). In the Spotlight on the transfer function: A national study of state policies and practices, Bender (1990) re vealed that almost every state, in varying dimensions, had developed a policy statement regarding the transfer of credit among their institutions. These varying dimensions of articulation policies among states are somewhat understandable since there are si gnificant dissimilarities in educational governance among the states, dramatic variations in expenditures and differences in institutional services and expectations regarding access and student flow (Rifkin, 1998, p.5). Contributing to this dynamic is the changing face of the transfer student population. High school graduates are simultaneously completing their high school diploma and associate degree through dual enrollment and college acceleration policies; two year terminal and career education degrees are being articulated for full and complete transfer to the senior institution; and adult learners are returning or transferring for career change or career advancement. The changes in the transfer student population are an emerging concern for transfer and articulation practice (Rifkin, 1996). The applied associate degrees come in many forms. Depending how a state identifies its associate degrees, applied degrees can include the associate of applied
40 science (AAS), the associate of applied arts (AAA), t he associate of science (AS), the associate of specialized business (ASB.), or the associate in specialized technology (AST) (Bender, 1991). A few states began articulating specific applied programs to transfer into specific bachelors degree programs. For instance, Arizona was the one of the first states to initiate a statewide articulation agreement that included a pathway from an AAS in business to a bachelors in business, and North Dakota developed similar agreements for the AAS in nursing, constructi on and industrial technologies (Ignash and Townsend, 2000b). Twenty years ago, James Palmer (1987) conducted research addressing the perception that vocational students pursue discrete occupational tracks at the subbaccalaureate level, and that they opt to pursue such programs bypassing the traditional liberal arts curriculum because they are less academically capable. His findings, however, suggested that community colleges have interwoven the vocational courses with mainstream academic courses in the con struct of vocational degrees, and although these vocational students academic ability varied greatly they generally perform equally well in the vocational and non vocational curriculum. Palmers research also suggested that the intentions of vocational s tudents warrant strong consideration. As they pursue such vocationally oriented curriculum for jobrelated objectives, they also express an ambition to transfer to the baccalaureate. Consequently, community college programming and statutory policies shoul d recognize these dual intentions of vocational students to prepare for immediate employment and to transfer (Palmer, 1987).
41 Debra Bragg (2001) outlines the new challenges of vocationalism facing community colleges. She notes that the changing economy has resulted in the proliferation of jobs at the subbaccalaureate level requiring a skill set much different than the vocational jobs of the past. In many cases, the vocational careers offer substantial salaries and opportunities for advancement. Vocat ional work in the new economy is more technological, requiring greater analytical and problem solving ability, and exists in a constantly changing environment that demands continuous learning. As community colleges strive to serve the needs of the workforc e, they must also recognize the need to integrate academic and vocational curriculum that prepares successful employees to be lifelong learners. Integrated vocational education, according to Bragg, must subsequently be created to fit within K 16/20 educati onal systems emphasizing career ladders and continuing educational opportunities (Bragg, 2001). Articulation in Florida dates back to the development of their community college system. Floridas first two year institution was Saint Petersburg Junior College, founded in 1927 as a private twoyear college. The first two year public institution, Palm Beach Junior College, was established in 1933, and remained the only public two year college in the state until 1947. By the end of 1948, a community college s ystem had emerged consisting of four publicly funded colleges Saint Petersburg Junior College, Palm Beach Junior College, Chipola Junior College and Pensacola Junior College. By the 1950s, an articulation agreement existed that guaranteed the transfer of general education credits between the community colleges and the states four year institutions (Florida Department of Education, 1997; Wattenbarger, 2005).
42 In 1971, the Florida legislature enacted a statewide articulation policy, which by Statute, guaran teed the full transfer of the Associate in Arts (AA) degree. Throughout much of the early developmental period of higher education in Florida, many of the states universities were conceived and built exclusively to receive upper level students from the c ommunity colleges. Although the state eventually outgrew this concept, under this original design only the University of Florida, Florida State University and Florida A & M were to teach their own freshmen and sophomores (Palinchak, p. 18, 1988). Florida later established broader systemic requirements between and among the states universities, community colleges and school districts in 1973 through Rule 6A 10.024 of the Florida Administrative Code which also called for acceleration mechanisms, exchange of ideas and improvements for academic programs and general education (Palinchak, p.19, 1988). Prior to 1998, further articulation legislation covered the transfer guarantee for their thirty six hour general education component and established the common course numbering system to insure similar courses maintained equivalency for transfer. During the 1998 legislative session, Senate Bill 1124 passed which amended Florida articulation law to include the transfer of Associate in Science (AS) degrees into vario us university Bachelor of Science programs, according to standards established by the Articulation Coordinating Committee (Florida Department of Education, p.1, 1998). In 2002, the Florida Board of Education developed its Strategic Plan for the K 20 Edu cation System. Section 01, Chapter 1007 of the Florida Statute s states that it is the intent of the Legislature to facilitate articulation and seamless integration of the K 20 education system by building and sustaining relationships among K 20 public
43 or ganizations, between public and private organizations, and the education system as a whole and Floridas communities. The purpose of building and sustaining these relationships is to provide for the efficient and effective progression and transfer of stude nts within the education system and to allow students to proceed toward their educational objectives as rapidly as their circumstances permit (Florida Statutes, 2002). The development of the AS to baccalaureate is integral to the concepts of a seamless sy stem. Increases in the number of baccalaureate degree holders are viewed as important to building and maintaining a competitive workforce. Floridas Articulation Coordinating Committee has thus been very pragmatic and conscientious in their review and approval of new programs, but the Committee has been very receptive and responsive to new proposals. The introduction of new AS BA/BS programs, however, has been inexplicably sluggish. Many of the universities have not yet expanded their offerings, nor activ ely promote the AS transfer option. Florida a rticulation policy outlines the specific career ladder and capstone options available for students in the State of Florida. According to the Statewide Articulation Manual: AS to BA/BS and ATD to AS, th e current articulated AS degrees available for transfer to a Florida university BS degree are in Nursing, Radiography, Hospitality, Electronic Engineering Technology, General Business, Applied Science, Computer Engineering technology, technology education, and criminal justice technology (Appendix D). Not all AS BS career ladder options are available at all institutions. The only career ladder o ptions available at the University of South Florida are Nursing, Hospitality, General Business, Criminal Justice a nd Applied Science. The capstone
44 program, the Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) affords students with any AS degree to transfer with a guarantee of sixty hours transferred. Th is is different than the career ladder options which require the stu dent to hold the specific AS degree identified for transfer (Appendix D). This study focus es only on the AS transfer students in the BSAS program. Other than the AS to BS in Nursing at the University of South Florida, the BSAS is the only AS to BS program with a significant ly large number of registered students. All other statewide articulated AS to BS options at the university have only a minimal enrollment through admi ssion of AS transfer students. Summary A university degree is a prerequisite for an inc reasing number of occupations in most societies (Altbach, Berdahl and Gumport, 1999). Florida students with an A S degree now have an opportunity to acquire a university degree We have begun to eliminate the terminal two year degree. With this advance in s tatewide articulation there is a growing number of students coming to the university about whom we know little. As a relatively new sub population within the university, the quantity of research about them to date has been meager and the literature about them scant. We are then relegated to rely upon suppositions about who they might be, and turn to the theories that are the most applicable to the students they most resemble the nontraditional, adult learner. E merging vocational education programs to meet the needs of the new economy and the new workforce may require significant changes in higher educations theory and practice as it relates to the AS to BS student University and community college leaders need to create partnerships and collaborate wi th their communities to address new educational requirements for a new workforce, outdated perceptions about terminal two -
45 year degrees instructional practices and the integration of vocational education into the broader public agenda of education for the workforce (Bragg, 2001). With the recent and major shift in articulation and transfer policy, the wave of AS/AAS transfer students is far from reaching its crest. As more AS/AAS degree holders become aware of this new opportunity to re enter higher educati on, we can anticipate their numbers will grow. And as new students enter the community college with the advantage of now pursing a career oriented degree that is not terminal, we can expect to observe significant increases in the number who make that choi ce over the AA transfer degree. This review of the literature informs us of the nature of the non traditional student and the adult learner The scholars reviewed herein espouse the importance of understanding the universitys environment al impact upon st udents social and cognitive development And many have tracked the political e volution and utility of transfer and articulation polic ies These theoretical notions about the community college transfer student population have guided our policies and the tr eatment of transfer students for many years but the student population within higher education is undergoing dynamic and significant change For most of our history, technical and occupational students at the community college were not accommodated nor ex pected to transfer to the university Now they are! It is time to examine who they are so that we are better informed to serve their needs and adjust our policies and our teaching as appropriate
46 C hapter Three Research M ethods This study examine d the Associate in Science (AS) transfer students at a major research u niversity in the South pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) degree. The primary focus of th e study was a qualitative inquiry based upon George Kuhs ( 2005a, 2005b, & 2007) conceptual framework of student engagement to ascertain relevant attributes of this baccalaureate student population within the university This comprehensive description of BSAS students w as accomplished using a case study research design to deter mine the demographic / academic characteristics, engagement and success Purpose of the Study As a relatively new transfer student population within this university, little was known about these students. This research yielded a comprehensive descriptive a nalysis through the collection of data and student s narrative accounts to begin building an inventory of knowledge about them. This body of knowledge can be used to better understand these students and to better inform higher educational leaders and polic y makers how they might better align policies, instruction al programs and services to meet students needs and the broader future needs of the workforce
47 The researcher s intention was to thoroughly describe student characteristics, engagement and succes s of AS degree holders who have transferred into the BSAS program at the University of South Florida. Research Questions Three research questions guide d the scope and design of this study. The purpose of each question is explained in detail below, and the relevance of each question is substantiated in the following expanded sections of this chapter The questions are: 1. What are the demographic and academic characteristics of BS AS transfer students? Student characteristics will be determined by a comprehensive descriptive analysis of student demographics, academic background such as age, race, gender, BSAS major, transfer GPA, transfer hours, university GPA, university credit hours earned, residences distance to campus, test scores, marital status, fami ly educational level, socioeconomic status, and other factors revealed through the survey that will help define this student population (APPENDIX C). 2. How have BS AS transfer students engaged in their educational processes and connected with their academi c institutions? Student engagement will include students perceptions about the relevance of curriculum to their career goals; their relationships with faculty and peers, their involvement and engagement with academic activities, institutional/student orga nizations/membership, and perceptions about past and current experiences as a student. This question will also evaluate engagement through students self reported assessment of their development and the changes they incurred over time and across educationa l settings (APPENDIX C).
48 3. Are BS AS transfer students succeeding at the university? Student success in this study will be measured by grade point average, persistence, and degre e completion. These data afford minimal quantitative analysis of information d rawn from institutional archival data to describe academic performance through analyses of community college grade point average, university grade point average and persistence (APPENDIX C). So, w hat are the academic and demographic characteristics of AS t ransfer students? The first research question seeks to reveal the attributes of these students. As a group, are the y coming to the university with sound academic preparation? What w ere their major s at the community college? How did they perform academicall y in their previous academic settings? How old are they? What is their socioeconomic status? Are they predominat e ly male or female, minorities, first in family to attend college, working full time, married or single living on campus or off campus ? What a re their intended areas of study and why? Much of this information can be compiled from archival and historical data retrieve d from institutional databases. D ata addressing this research question w as compiled through student responses to the survey reveal i ng information that was not be contained in archival data yet was determined to be used as a compliment to existing data or to confirm existing archival data. As Katherine Boswell (2004) and other researchers (Aldeman, 2005; Cohen & Brawer, 1996) point out, community colleges have long been the institution of choice for older students returning to school, students of color, and those from less affluent family backgrounds. She further notes that these institutions enroll the highest proportion of students of color, new immigrants, part time, commuting students who hold down full or part time jobs while pursuing an education, and eighty five percent are employed, 54
49 percent full time (p.1). Do AS transfer students mirror this description? The answers to these demographic type questions will provide a rich description of the AS transfer student population. The second research q uestion s ought to determine how student s have engaged in their various educational settings. It wa s intended to draw upon students views of their migration across the K 20 educational system, their reasoning and motivations to attend college, their relationships outside and within the classroom, changes in their attitudes, personal and professional goals, and levels of satisfaction. Have the ir nature and forms of engagement changed over time? Answers to this research q uestion relied upon qualitative responses from the survey to describe student engagement As Pascarella and Terenzini (2005) note, the research indicates that students generally experience significant changes in their cultural, aesthetic and intellectual attitudes through college attendance, and in all cases they indicate a movement toward greater individual freedom, whether artistic and cultural, intellectual, politica l, social, racial, educational, occupational, personal or behavioral (p.273). In these previous studies, however, these affects were the result of research conducted on traditional college students and the degree of change that occurred between their fres hman and sophomore years at four year institutions. It will be beneficial to know if the se nontraditio nal AS transfer student s reveal attitudinal changes by education al settings and experiences over time. This research question serves that purpose. As th e research indicates, the environment in which one exists plays an important role in his or her human development (Dewey, 1897; Bandura, 1977; Vygotsky, 1978; and Bruner, 1996). It is thus presumed that the differing social, cultural and educational enviro nments of
50 these students account for differences that are important to the AS transfer students teaching and learning processes. It is clear that environment and developmental processes contribute to students engagement and success. Relating to these de velopmental issues are a students past institutional exposures and processes. Have the majority of students taken remedial courses during their AS degree? How has their career focus changed through life experiences or as they have moved across the K 20 sy stem? Do they consider themselves better learners now than in past educational settings ? These and other developmental issues were relevant to the holistic description of the BSAS student population and future institutional integration of new AS transfer s tudents. Analysis of survey responses provide d answers and a better understanding about how they have engage d the different academic environment s The third research question sought to determine students levels of success. T his question focus ed on student s performance and also examine d success across the differing educational environments. Transformational processes leading to success and students perceptions of their academic ability, intellect and behavior were examined through quali tative responses an d narratives. Acknowledging that these students may have had different academic origins and different educational/occupational intentions than their university counterparts infers that their secondary and community college experiences were probably not sim ilarly focused (as compared to traditional students) on preparing to attend the university and achieve academic success This research question intended to identify students academic goals, and to determine success through measures of grade point average, persistence, goal attainm ent, and narrative explanations from the surveyed BSAS population.
51 Th is final research q uestion investigate d how AS transfer students are performing academically at the senior institution and how they viewed their success with u niversity curriculum. This question is quantitative in nature revealing grade point averages, persistence and degree completion rates, but the additional component of this assessment w as the qualitative responses about student effort, conscientiousness tow ard studying, completion of assignments, engagements with academic advisors and additional comments or factors contributing to each. Consequently, this question require d responses from the survey to be evaluated against data drawn from archival sources to see whether student responses compare d and match well to archival data. This information contribute s to a comprehensive description of student performance and students perceptions of their performance verified through institutional archival data Th ese d ata are presented descriptive ly, not analytical ly, by reporting means of community college grade point average s university grade point average s, persistence to degree completion, as well as self reported institutional and organizational membership s and pa rticipation Other quantitative data on performance was further ex amined in terms of self reported student effort relating to hours of study per week, personal evaluation s of effort, and students conscientiousness toward the completion of assignments. Th e predominant existing sources analy zing student success such as Adelmans (2005) study and others rely on data about students academic performance, attendance patterns and degree attainment ; not on social, cultural or psychological variables. Such quant itative analyses cannot provide full accounts of attitudes, beliefs, peer groups, mentoring or counseling, or social activities that may have played significan t roles (Adelman, 2005, p.1).
52 This research has spawn ed responses and information that inspire further inquiry and analyses beyond the scope of this study. Such revelations from this study are identified and addressed in Chapter Five In the process of this research, a dditional questions about this student population emerged, but they were not part of this study. Such questions include: Do these students career oriented backgrounds and education create a difference in their perceptions of the university from that of other undergraduate students? How well d o BSAS students assimilate into the univer sity culture ? Are they engaged in university activities at proportional levels with other student subpopulations? Are they employed (full time/parttime) at levels commensurate to other student populations? Do they live on campus? How does their credit hour enrollment compare each semester and overall to other students ? At what rate do they persist in comparison to their undergraduate counterparts? The answer s to these questions many also impact AS BS articulation or influence future policy Any informatio n that may guide institutional actions in service of this unique transfer student population at the university is warranted. Unfortunately, t he researcher had to reasonably limit this study to descriptive results acknowledging that a 100 item survey instr ument was already probably pushing the boundaries for adequate student participation. Methods The research design used in this study was the case study. The case study is the preferred research strategy when the focus of the study is a contemporary phen omenon within a real life context and when the researcher has little control over events (Yin, 2003). This type of research can offer insight, enhance understanding, and provide meaningful guides for practice (Strauss and Corbin, 1998).
53 More specifically this research employ ed the embedded case study method. According to Yin (2003), an embedded case study contains multiple units of analysis and provides a means of integrating quantitative and qualitative methods into a single study. The identification of these subunits provides a more detailed level of inquiry and allows for an empirical research design appropriate for descriptive studies to describe features, context and processes of a phenomenon. In an embedded case study, the goal is to achieve a holistic understanding of the case(s) and the different units of analysis which require the use and integration of quantitative and qualitative methods to achieve the goal ( Scholz and Tietje, 2002). In Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods Patton ( 2002) acknowledges the practice of combining qualitative and quantitative data as a research methodology. He states: Research and evaluation studies employing multiple method s including combinations of qualitative and quantitative data, are common. At the simplest level, a questionnaire or interview that asks both fixedchoice (closed) questions and openended questions is an example of how quantitative measurement and qualitative inquiry are often combined (p.5). A limitation of the case study is its we akness regarding generalization. The study of a particular case may not generate results that correlate well to the peculiarities of another. However, as Stake (1995) points out, we do not study a case to understand other cases. Our first obligation is to understand this one (p. 4). Participants in the study include d all two year transfer, AS degree holders, who have transferred into the BSAS program a t a major research university in the South. Approximately 300 currently enrolled students and 100 gradua tes of the BSAS degree
54 were included in the population. The total population, including graduates, consist ed of 407 students. The BSAS program has only existed for approximately four years, so all graduates are fairly recent and were expected to make a si gnificant contribution to the overall BSAS population study. To the extent that q uantitative data w as presented in this study the data was primarily drawn from historical/ archival information maintained in i nstitutional databases and select items from t he survey instrument Further explanation of these areas of inquiry that were categorized and quantified are discussed in greater detail in the following section Statistical Measures This study relied upon multiple sources of evidence to conduct a rich descriptive analysis of AS transfer students. Utilizing the embedded case study as a research method, the researcher was afforded the opportunity to examine various factors and determinants of AS transfer students which provide d greater depth and breadth to the study. This comprehensive approach supported by many scholars advocates that a qualitative researcher studying a single phenomenon should be aware of the criticality of considering all the multiple forces that shape the phenomenon (Creswell, 2002). Statistical Measures Within this embedded case study, there are several observations and variables such as age, ethnicity, and grade point average that are described quantitatively (or using descriptive statistics). Observations from narrative responses i n the survey instrument were best presented as nonanalytical quantitative data report ed via nominal scales (such as gender ) ordinal scales (such as those that assign a ranking) or ratio measurement scales. W here appropriate, these type data were presented using range, frequency
55 distribution, mean and/or mode and standard deviation. The survey instrument (Appendix C) is annotated with the researchers identified measurement scale(s) to be used for each survey question. A unique aspect of this study i s an analysis of students self reported measures of engagement and developmental change that they may have encountered over their multiple experience s in secondary school, community college and the university. Relating to Schlossbergs (2000) work, learners incur changes in attitude and undergo developmental growth as they encounter issues and cope with adult life. The researcher believe d it was valuable to know if positive changes occurred across the continuum of students secondary, community college and university life experiences An a ppropriate measurement design for this type of research is a comparison of means in which observations are observed on the same variable over several different experiences or occasions (Glass & Hopkins, 1996, p. 572) The within subjects comparisons assume d independence of observations among subjects, homogeneity of variance, and sphericity (compound symmetry). Sphericity refers to the equality of variances in repeated measures and occurs when the variances for each set of scores are equal. In accordance with these stipulations, students independently report their experiences across all three levels of education, each question is formulated for Likert scaled response s (homogeneity), normality of error is controlled throug h Liker t scaled responses for each question, and sphericity is insured by all subjects response s to each question being limited to only one of five possible Likert scaled responses for each of the three academic levels of experience measured These survey questions have been
56 annotated on the survey instrument (Appendix C) as meeting the criteria for a comparison of responses (COR) Similar to the comparisons that were used for the sets of three observations there were several questions designed to gene rate a comparison of experiences over time for only two observations. An appropriate statistical measure for two sets of correlated observations such as before after paired data, is the paired t test. In the end, this analysis was not required as the pa ired data were simple explanatory survey responses indicating either a yes or no answer. Sequence of the Study The sequence of the study occur red as follows: 1. Retrieve d archival data. Collect ed applicable (secondary data) available from institutional datab ases for AS transfer student populations. 2. Develop ed the survey. Designed the survey instrument which consist ed of 100 items of inquiry ( open ended questions and Liker scale statements) to identify AS student characteristics, levels of engagement and levels of success 3. Conduct ed a focus group. A focus group of approximately six BSAS students w as convened to conduct a pilot v alidation of the survey instrument and to recommend survey instrument modifications. 4. Administer ed the survey. An email was sent to eac h BSAS student (active and graduates) with a link to the web based survey. Student surveys w ere tracked. Students who fail ed to submit a completed
57 survey within seven days from the initial email were sent a second email requesting that they complete and su bmit the survey within a second seven day period. 5. Final solicitation A third and final request was made to garner survey complet ion and submission. 6. Data compilation and analysis. Data was electronically imported for compilation and analysis .. 7. Results. Data was imported and analyzed through SPSS to compile results and report frequenc ies, distributions, means comparison s and logical qualitative observations. The results of the data analysis were compiled and written into Chapter Four Data Collection The unique strength of the embedded case study is its incorporation of a variety of evidence such as documents, artifacts, interviews and observations (Yin, 2003). According to Merriam (2002), a qualitative study seeks to discover and understand a phenomenon, a process, participants perspectives and world views, or a combination of these. Data are collected through interviews, observations or document analysis and then inductively analyzed to identify recurring themes and traits (p.6). Qualitative Data: T he main source of information (primary data) for this study was the BSAS Transfer Student S urvey (Appendix C) The survey instrument was designed by the researcher to generate a rich description of student characteristics, attitudes, development and perfor mance. S urvey questions were initially framed through the researchers working knowledge and understanding of the AS student population.
58 Questions were reframed and refined through preliminary interactions with BSAS students and a sample population of students in a focus group. The final version of the survey w as administered to the population ( N = 407). Survey responses w ere then compiled, coded and categorized for analysis. Quantitative Data: Archived information (secondary data) w as retrieved from stude nt data maintained within the Office of Admissions and the university s Office of the Registrar. Archival data include d age, race, gender, AS major, BSAS major, transfer grade point average, community college transfer hours, university grade point average, university credit hours earned to date, and residency status. Due to the sensitive and personal nature of this information, all students anonymity was assured and maintained throughout the entire research and reporting processes. Archival and historical data w ere used to provide comprehensive descripti ons and nonanalytical investigation of the BSAS student population. Focus Group: The researcher conduct ed a focus group consisting of eight students (representing approximately two percent of the BSAS student population) to validate and revise the survey instrument. The focus group helped to identify student cha racteristics, engag e ment, success and other key issues relevant to describing their status as AS transfer student s Not all focus group invite es com mitted to participate due to scheduling issues, but twice the number actually needed w ere solicited with the expectation that up to half w ould not be available on a specified date and time which would still yield approximately six students A purposeful sampl ing process w as utilized to insure that major groups within the population were represented in the focus group. An attempt w as made to comprise the focus group with representatives from the
59 population based upon their age, gender, ethnicity and BSAS major Th is purposeful sample allow ed the researcher to identify representatives for these dominate variations in the population rather than identifying a mere common core (Patton, 2002). According to Greenbaum (1998) a focus group consists of a discussi on lasting approximately ninety minutes, led by a moderator, involving persons who are recruited for the session based upon their common demographics, attitudes or activities germane to the topic. A full group contains about six to eight people and a mini group contains four to six (p. 2). The focus group w as used to suggest questions for inclusion or deletion from the survey, judge appropriateness of questions, and validate the form and functionality of the survey instrument. P articipants w ere selected t hrough a purposeful sampling process of the BSAS student population and solicited to attend the focus group. Each prospective participant w as sent a message via email describing the intent and purpose of the focus group along with the date, time and locati on of the meeting (Appendix E ). The focus group w as promised to be limited to ninety minutes. At the beginning of the focus group, participants w ere provided with a written copy of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) informed consent information, a reite ration of the purpose for bringing the group together, and a brief outline of the meeting agenda. The focus group discussions w ere recorded the meeting was moderated by the researcher and observed by an independent third party The focus group completed the survey as a pilot test and validation of its applicability as a meaningful survey instrument According to Converse and Presser (1986), participation in the pretest of a survey usually involves an interview setting where
60 respondents are asked to expla in reactions to questions, wording or order. To strengthen the reliability and validity of the survey questions, they must be executed in the same manner each time. A survey question's validity is determined by how well it measures the concept(s) it is int ended to measure (Weisberg et. al., 1989). Survey: The survey w as the primary method of data collection. The purpose of using the survey was to determine the characteristics levels of engagement, and academic performance of AS transfer students in the BS AS degree program. The survey instrument consist ed of questions requiring closed ended, scaled responses (Likert), affirmative or negative (yes/no) responses, and openended narrative feedback statements (Appendix C). Each question in the survey addresse d various topics considered important to the research as they related to student characteristics, engagement and success Sampling of the BSAS student population w as not required as the current number of BSAS students at the institution (approximately 275) was manageable for full solicitation of the entire population It was the intention of the researcher to distribute a survey to all a ctive students and currently accessible graduates of the BSAS degree. All BSAS s tudents w ere sent an email message outlini ng the purpose and intent of the survey with a request to complete and submit their responses within seven days of receipt (Appendix F ). Distribution of the survey w as executed via electronic email format with an embedded web link (Appendix F) Electronic surveys are becoming increasingly more common (Lazar, J & Preece, J., 1999), and research comparing electronic versus postal surveys confirms that electronic survey content results may be no different than postal
61 survey content results, yet provide strong advantages of speedy distribution and response cycles (Yun & Trumbo, 2000; Swoboda, et al., 1997). Software applications such as Cold Fusion and Survey Wiz eliminate many of the construction and administration challenges of creating webbased surveys. In a study using a Web based survey where open ended questions were located after a set of coded questions, over 70% of the respondents provided additional information and explanations through the openended question opportunity (Andrews et al, 2003). Colle ction of data provided through the survey instrument w as conducted using multiple methods. Survey data w as collected electronically. This electronically collected data w as compiled within an Excel format for ease of coding and analyses using SPSS applicati ons Narrative responses w ere collected and coded manually by the researcher categorized by dominate themes, and then analyzed using SPSS descriptive statistics as described in the next section. Although the primary means of survey delivery w as a web bas ed link an alternative paper based survey w as made available to students. For both formats, headline information contained a personal statement by the researcher which include d information about the purpose and intent of the survey, the relevance of the s tudy to the participants, and precise text of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) informed consent (Appendix G ). Analysis of the Data Data collected through focus group and the surveys w as analyzed using SPSS and Excel software packages. Archival data r etrieved from institutional databases and other quantitative data elements from the survey w ere favorable for discrete statistical analyses. Data reflecting age, race, gender, transfer grade point average, university grade point
62 average, transfer credit h ours and university credit hours w ere described through statistical means, frequency distributions and standard deviations. Viable comparisons of any identified populations or subgroups such as age groups occupations or majors were compared Within the design of this study, there were numerous deliberate inquiries about possible changes in development performance or students experiences across secondary, community college and the university settings Th ese comparative analys e s of means across three edu cational settings, as previously described in the Statistical Measures section of this chapter were used to assess students changes across the K 20 educational s ystem Upon review of the data collected in the survey, the researcher identif ied new the mes relevant to this study which would be appropriate for further coding and analysis through either a quantitative or qualitative lens. According to Creswell (2002), the researcher initially develops a general sense of the data and proceeds to coding with regard to themes that are central to the topic being studied. Researchers usually create their own response categories by naming and defining the categories of responses and then coding them according to their own understanding of the topic or domain, or category development may come from the informants during interview processes revealing topical themes not initially conceptualized by the researcher (Gubrium and Holstein, 2001). According to Gubrium and Holstein (2001) coding is the pivotal first analyt ic step in conceptualizing a description of the data (p.683). Recognizing the critical nature of this step, the researcher will be sensitive to his own understanding of the BSAS student population as well as the perceptions of the students as they are reve aled during the
63 conduct of the research (see Researchers Biography at the end of this chapter) Data analyses will consequently rely on the researchers interpretations of student responses within the constraints of good and ethical research practices, an d the use of software packages (SPSS/ Excel ). SPSS for Windows is a statistical package useful for survey research applicable to higher educational study such as understanding and evaluating student actions and attitudes (SPSS.com). QDA Miner is an easy to use qualitative data analysis software package for coding textual data, annotating, retrieving and reviewing coded data and documents. It also provides exploratory tools to identify patterns in codings and relationships between assigned codes and other numerical or categorical properties ( Kovach Computing Services, 2006, home page ). Data coding for student survey responses, however, was straight forward and did not require the use of qualitative analysis software. Validity Of particular interes t to the validity and reliability of data resulting from this study is its primary means of data collection a web based survey. There are numerous ways to insure the validity of data acquired electronically via a web based survey. The use of standard val idation procedures such as member checking and triangulation are now complimented by powerful software programs with capabilities of measuring reliability and validity (Williams, et. al., 2006) A first major concern of validity in research is population sampling. Sampling of the population was not a concern for this study, because the researcher passed the survey to all active BSAS students and all accessible BSAS graduates. Purposeful s ampling w as only used for the selection of the focus groups participa nts
64 A second concern deals with the validity and reliability of the research model as demonstrated through repetition. Over time, data results that are consistently duplicated provide an increasingly strong validity argument (William, et. al., 2006). T o ensure the validity of data, the survey instrument was tested and refined through focus group evaluations and a pilot test to develop its validity and reliability as the primary measurement instrument Messick (1989) notes that threats to validity can b e grouped into two general classes. The first, c onstruct under representation results from a study that is too narrow to faithfully represent the key facets of the construct. To avoid this threat, the research methodology for this study has incorporated a multifaceted approach to identify a comprehensive and indepth analysis of the specific phenomenon of BSAS students. The second, c onstruct irrelevant variance is found when the study exhibits variance that is not relevant to the tested construct. This thr eat was difficult to avoid in the early stages because the researcher d id not know which elements of data would be irrelevant to the study until working with the focus group. The possibility of construct irrelevance within this study would not be determin ed until after the coding process, and perhaps, not until the final analyses. Awareness and monitoring for each of these types of threat s to the validity of this study w as an ongoing activity by the researcher throughout the study. Researchers Biography The researcher and principle investigator for this study has engaged in nontraditional career education and training as an instructor and curriculum designer over a 20 year military career. Upon his m ilitary retirement, he served as the coordinator for ad ult and transfer students an d later as the universitys outreach coordinator working
65 closely with businesses in the service area of a major research university Over the past f ive years he has served as the Director of Community College Relations, the BSA S Degree Program and Leadership Studies. His familiarity with the BSAS student population is derived from regular and routine student contact over a f ive year period in the capacity of Academic Advisor T hrough recurring interactions with the regional com munity colleges and academic departments that deliver curriculum for AS degree programs he has become very knowledgeable of the community college environment and programs The researcher s observations of AS students transferring to the university have undoubtedly impacted his general perceptions, but he acknowledges that these are merely perceptions which have yet to be confirmed through any empirical analys is of this student population. The researchers h ypotheses about the AS to BS transfer student s ar e, to date, general impressions derived from personal interactions with the students whom he has conducted brief academic advising sessions. However, the researchers familiarity with th ese BSAS students has afforded him a well grounded se nse that they are, indeed, a unique student populat ion entering the university Understanding their uniqueness is his prime motivation for this study. The researcher has conduct ed this comprehensive analysis of the BSAS student population to more precisely describe the m an d to better understand them utilizing Kuhs conceptual framework of student engagement This new information will inform practice and guide the institution to ward enhancement of our educational processes and provide the most appropriate means possible for educating this new and unique transfer student population at the university
66 Summary The research methods employed in this study were intended to provide a c omprehensive descripti on of the AS to BS transfer students at a major southern research university. As outlined herein, a n organized and pragmatic approach to the research design w as employed to collect and analyze data in order to generate a meaningful description of this student population using both qualitative and quantitative methods withi n an embedded case study The deliberate and s equential processes of this investigation provide d a reliable survey instrument which afforded well grounded analys e s of AS transfer students characteristics, engagement and success in the BSAS degree program at a major research university Through the conceptual framework of student engagement, this study identified the student demographic s and their various perceptions th ey hold about their learning experiences, personal reflections about their social and cog nitive development as they have migrated across the K 20 system and their views about their academic performance in higher education.
67 Chapter Four Results This study examined Associate in Science (AS) transfer students who entered the Ba chelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) degree program. at a major research university This specialized program for two year AS transfer students has become an increasingly popular bachelors degree choice for those who have previously pursued technical or occupational programs at twoyear institutions. Prior to implementing the BSAS degree in 2003, there were few opportunities for AS degree holders to efficiently transfer to a university, because the AS degree was essentially deemed a terminal two ye ar degree. Since 2003, however, a growing number of AS degree holders who were previously limited to participating in an illusory K 14 system have been afforded access back into the academic mainstream of a K 20 system to complete a bachelors degree. Co nsequently, we now have a new and growing population of students at the university with whom we have had little experience and about whom we know very little. Utilizing George Kuhs (2005a, 2005b, & 2007) conceptual framework of student engagement, the r esearcher sought to ascertain possible unique attributes of this relatively new student population within the university using a case study research design to determine the BSAS students specific academic and demographic characteristics, their level of st udent engagement and their record of progression through the K 20 system.
68 This research yielded a rich and comprehensive description of this student population which will help build the inventory of knowledge about them, help us better understand them, a nd better guide us in serving their needs. The information produced by this study is beneficial to educational leaders and policy makers who seek better alignment of academic policies, statutes, and laws that will support a truly seamless K 20 system; to b etter design instructional programs and services for citizens who may choose technical or occupational AS degrees and careers; and to better address the broader concerns of our future workforce. This chapter includes the following sections: sequence of t he study, retrieved archival data, survey data collection process, survey results (demographics, high school reflections, community college reflections, university reflections and narrative s tatements ) comparisons across the K 20 experiences, responses to research questions and the conclusion. Sequence of the Study In accordance with the protocol outlined in Chapter Three, the sequence of the study occurred as follows: 1. Retrieved archival data: The researcher collaborated with the Office of the Registrar to create two reports of basic demographic and academic institutional data about the students one report for active BSAS students and one report for BSAS graduates. 2. Developed the survey: Survey instrument designed to capture specific demographic information not collected via Registrar/institutional data elements. Researcher contracted and utilized Survey Monkey design software.
69 3. Conducted focus group discussions and piloted the survey: Focus group convened with sample representation of BSAS population. Pilot survey was administered, survey questions were discussed, and revisions were suggested. 4. Administered the survey to BSAS student population: Emailed message to students outlining the purpose of the survey, and a request that they click on the hyperlink to complete the survey. 5. Conducted follow up solicitations encouraging survey completion: Students who had not yet submitted a completed survey were sent two subsequent requests beyond the initial request asking them to complete the survey. 6. Compiled and analyz ed data: Archival data for the BSAS student population were analyzed. Qualitative and quantitative survey data were collected, compiled, categorized and analyzed using SPSS. 7. Reported results: Findings were organized and written into results chapter. Archi val Data Archived institutional data were utilized to establish collective demographic and academic information about the BSAS student population. Institutional data included age, gender, race, academic area of study, community college transfer grade point average, and university grade point average. There were a total of 407 students within the universitys BSAS student population consisting of 289 active students and 118 students who had graduated by fall term 2008. The data revealed that the average age of BSAS students was 36.96 years of age ranging from 20 to 63 years of age resulting in a very large standard deviation of 10.316. As illustrated in Table 1, a significant number of students were over the age of 30
70 years representing 71% of the total population. Nearly 40% of the students were over 40 years of age, and 14% were over 50 years of age. Most national level sources for educational research identify college students over 25 years of age as nontraditional with t he average community college tran sfer student rang ing between 2 7 and 29 years of age. T he BSAS students in this study are significantly older than the national average for college students in general Table 1 Distribution of BSAS Students by Age Age Frequency Percentage 2024 39 9.6 2529 79 19.4 3034 70 17.2 3539 62 15.2 4044 61 15.0 4549 39 9.6 5054 27 6.6 5559 24 5.9 6063 6 1.5 N 407 100 Mean = 36.96, Median = 36.00, Standard Deviation = 10.316 The distribution of females and males within the BSAS student population was 60% female and 40% male (Table 2). This is fairly consistent with current national norms for gender distribution across all higher education students as reported by the National Center for Educationa l Statistics, Digest of Educational Statistics (NCES 2008) to be 57% female and 43% male. As Table 2 below illustrates, there were 244 females and 163 males in the total BSAS population of 407 students.
71 Table 2 Distribution of Students by Gender Gender Frequency Percentage Female 244 60 Male 163 40 N 407 100 Gender distribution among different BSAS Areas of Concentration indicate that occupational stereotypes may exist among men and women for various workforce positions perceived to be ei ther male or female oriented. Table 3 shows significant disparity between males and females pursing areas of study in Early Childhood Development, Environmental Policy, Gerontology, Industrial Operations, Public Health and Information Technology. Extreme disparities are evident by the number and ratio of females overwhelmingly dominating studies in Early Childhood Development (96% female) and males who exclusively (100%) populate Industrial Operations. Table 3 Gender Distribution among BSASAreas of Concentrations BH BU CJ EC EP GR HG IO PL PU SG TC UR Total Female 7 49 35 91 1 9 2 0 27 3 2 12 6 244 Male 3 44 21 4 8 1 5 13 6 1 1 52 4 163 N 10 93 56 95 9 10 7 13 33 4 3 64 10 407 Concentrations: Behavioral Healthcare (BH), General Business (BU), Criminal Justice (CJ), Early Childh ood Development (EC), Environmental Policy (EP), Gerontology (GR), Hospitality (HG), Industrial Operations (IO), Public Health (PL), Public Admin (PU), Sign Language (SG), Information Technology (TC) and Urban Policy (UR). Minority representation among B SAS students is also similar to that of the national percentages reported in the most recent U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics report (NCES 2008). According to the NCES report, approximately 31% of American college st udents were minorities, which closely mirrors
72 the BSAS students in this study. Nationally, Black students represent 12.7%, Hispanics 10.8%, Asians/Pacific Islanders 6.5%, and American Indian/Alaskan Native 1%. As illustrated in Table 4 below, BSAS students exceeded the national percentages among Black and Hispanic students while representing slightly less than the national average among other minority categories. The researcher notes that ten students in the BSAS population did not declare their race/ethni city within the institutional database. This represents 2.5% of the BSAS student population with an unknown race/ethnicity attribute which could slightly alter the distribution of students represented in Table 4. The researcher presumes, however, that the unknown race/ethnicity of these 10 students would be proportionately distributed and have little impact on the overall racial/ethnic makeup of the student population. Table 4 Distribution of BSAS Students by Race/Ethnicity Race/Ethnicity Frequency Percent Am. Indian/Alaskan 3 .7 Asian/Pacifica Islander 9 2.2 Black 66 16.2 Hispanic 51 12.5 Unknown 10 2.5 White 268 65.8 N 407 100 A crosstab analysis of race/ethnicity and BSAS areas of concentration was performed to determine if there were any significant distribution issues among the student population and the various areas of study. Interestingly, Hospitality and Public Administration students were exclusively White and Environmental Policy students were nearly all White General Business was disproportionately populated by White students
73 while Early Childhood Development was disproportionately represented by minority students. In most cases the number of students within each discipline was too small to establish valid correlations, but some of the distribution patterns appear to indicate a level of racial/ethnic preference for certain occupational areas of study as shown in Table 5. Table 5 Race/Ethnicity Di stribution among BSASAreas of Concentration BH BU CJ EC EP GR HG IO PL PU SG TC UR Total Asian 0 2 0 3 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 9 Black 2 10 7 21 1 4 0 1 6 0 0 12 2 66 Hispanic 1 8 9 17 0 0 0 1 4 0 1 9 1 51 Indian 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 Unknown 1 4 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 10 White 6 69 38 51 8 3 7 10 23 4 2 40 7 268 N 10 93 56 95 9 10 7 13 33 4 3 64 10 407 Concentrations: Behavioral Healthcare (BH), General Business (BU), Criminal Justice (CJ), Early Childhood Development (EC), Environmental Policy (EP), Gerontology (GR), Hospitali ty (HG), Industrial Operations (IO), Public Health (PL), Public Admin (PU), Sign Language (SG), Information Technology (TC) and Urban Policy (UR). Archived grade point averages were examined to determine BSAS student performance at the community college. Data revealed the mean transfer grade point average of the AS transfer students was 2.98 with a .5 standard deviation. The minimum grade point average for admission to the BSAS program is 2.0, so no student in the population was below the 2.0 threshold. T his limited the range from 2.0 to 4.0 with quartiles established at 2.60, 2.97 and 3.34. Distribution was well balanced across the range. Approximately 18% of the population transferred with less than a 2.5, and 18% with a 3.5 or higher grade point average as shown in Table 6.
74 Archived grade point averages of students university level curriculum were then examined to determine their level of academic performance at the university. Data revealed that the BSAS students mean grade point average in univers ity courses was 3.12 with a standard deviation of .68 (see Table 6). Dissimilar to the previous transfer analysis, it was possible for students within the BSAS population to have less than a 2.0 grade point average. In this data set, the lowest earned grad e point average within the population was .08 which established a wider range from .08 to 4.0. About 6% of the BSAS students fell below the 2.0 threshold for their university courses. However, the broader population performed at a higher academic standard in university curriculum than at the community college as represented by the comparison in Table 6. Table 6 Comparison B SAS Students Transfer and University Grade Point Averages, N=407 Quartiles Transfer GPA Range University GPA Range Lo wer Limit 2.000 0.080 25th Percentile 2.600 2.750 50th Percentile 2.970 3.220 75th Percentile 3.340 3.660 Upper Limit 4.000 4.000 Transfer GPA: Mean = 2.9808, Median = 2.9700, Standard Deviation = .50247 University GPA: Mean = 3.1231, Median = 3.2200, Standard Deviation = .68364 At the time of this study, 118 students had graduated with the BSAS degree. Examination of BSAS graduates as a separate sub population shows that they performed well at the university through degree comple tion at academic achievement levels consistent with the larger BSAS population. The cumulative grade point average of their combined undergraduate coursework at the community college and the university ranged from 2.19 to 4.0 at graduation as illustrate d below in Table 7 The mean grade point
75 average was 3.12 with a standard deviation of .42, which compares favorably to the overall BSAS population (N=407) exceeding their mean grade point average of 2.98. Table 7 BSAS Graduates Overall Grade Poin t Average (n=118) Quartiles GPA Range Lower Limit 2.190 25th Percentile 2.828 50th Percentile 3.130 75th Percentile 3.400 Upper Limit 4.000 Mean = 3.118, Median = 3.130, Standard Deviation = .420 According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, Postsecondary Educational Descriptive Analysis Report (1999), the average number of credit hours earned among bachelors degree completers by those who transferred with an associates degree was 148 credits as compared with 132 credit s for those who did not first complete an associates degree. BSAS graduates in this study compared extremely well to these national averages having completed the bachelors degree with an average of 137 earned credit hours among the BSAS graduate populati on (Table 8). Over 58% of the BSAS graduates completed the bachelors with 132 or fewer credits exceeding the national average for traditional students, and over 80% completed the degree with 148 or fewer credits far exceeding the national average for asso ciate degree transfer students. Only 22 students of the 118 BSAS graduates, representing about 19%, earned more than 148 credits to complete their bachelors degree. The range among all BSAS graduates was 120 to 254, but one student was an extreme outlier having earned 254 credits with the next highest having earned 209 creating a fairly large standard deviation (22.63) as reflected in Table 8 below.
76 Table 8 BSAS Graduates Total Credit Hours Earned (n=118) Quartiles Credit Hours Lower Limit 120 25th Percentile 121 50th Percentile 128 75th Percentile 145 Upper Limit 254 Mean = 137, Median = 128, Standard Deviation = 22.63 Survey Data Collection Process The researcher developed a specialized survey instrument for AS transfer students, the BSAS Transfer Student Survey, that addressed specific questions about the BSAS student and incorporated elements found in the High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE), the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), and the Nationa l Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). No existing survey instrument fully captured the non traditional, technical/occupational nature of the AS transfer student population, so this survey was created to cross over each educational system affording student s the opportunity to self reflect and report their views about their K 20 educational experiences. To this end, it was important to gather students perceptions about their journey through high school, community college and the university that could help c haracterize their development, performance, engagement and academic progression through the K 20 system and their preparedness for admission to the university. The survey instrument consisted of 100 questions broken down into four functional areas of inquiry: demographics, high school reflections, community college reflections, and university reflections (Appendix C). Each of these four areas contained a combination of Likert scale items and open ended questions.
77 A focus group was identified, and a meeting was convened according to the protocol outlined in Chapter Three. The focus group consisted of 8 students who completed the survey. Five students executed the survey via paper format and the other three via electronic format. All students in the focus gr oup expressed that the survey was clear, easy to complete, and they felt it was appropriate for gathering information about them pertinent to the intent of the study. Beyond identifying a few grammatical and typographical errors, no suggestions were made b y the focus group for revising the survey. Focus group participants were selected using purposeful random sampling as outlined in Chapter Three to ensure broad representation of different AS majors, student status, gender and age. Due to the use of purpos eful random selection, results from interviews and open discussions with the focus group participants about the BSAS program were not applied to the analyses of the general BSAS population, and their survey results were not incorporated into the final survey results for the BSAS population. However, the focus group participants were included in the overall BSAS population for the earlier analyses of archival data. Upon completion of the focus group and final editing of survey questions were executed. T he BSAS Transfer Student Survey was then distributed to BSAS students via email message with an embedded internet hyperlink to the survey. At the time of survey distribution, there were 289 total active BSAS students and 118 BSAS graduates for a total populat ion of 407. A total of 179 students began the online survey, but not all fully completed and submitted the survey. The final count of students completing the survey consisted of 137 active BSAS students and 32 BSAS graduates.
78 There were 10 students among the 179 who began the survey but did not complete it, accounting for variances in the number of responses for some questions. A few of the respondents accessed the survey, filled in only a few responses, or did not click on the submit button at the end of the survey to finalize their submission. Additionally, not all students who completed the survey answered all questions as students were instructed to skip questions that did not apply to them, or bypass questions they felt uncomfortable answering. The su bsequent combined submission rate among active and graduated students from the entire BSAS population was 41.5%. Active students responded at the rate of 47% (137 out of 289), and graduates at the rate of 27% (32 out of 118). The low rate of response by B SAS graduates may be attributed to their departure and disconnection from the university, disinterest in the survey, inaccurate email address, lack of available time, or other factors. The researcher did receive several responses via email from solicited B SAS students stating that they simply did not have the spare 2030 minutes of time it would take to complete survey, and that they would prefer to not be solicited again. The BSAS Transfer Student Survey (Appendix C) was separated into four sections: 1) general demographics and students academic background information, 2) reflections about their high school experiences, 3) reflections about their community college experiences and 4) reflections about experiences at the university. The survey questions w ere designed to address certain attributes and characteristics of the BSAS students that were not collected by the institution and thus unavailable via institutional archival data. This additional information was deemed necessary by the researcher to devel op a more thorough description of the BSAS student population.
79 Survey Results Demographics The following information was compiled from student responses to the BSAS Transfer Student Survey, questions 1 through 21 (Appendix C), to determine specific demog raphic and academic background characteristics to provide a more comprehensive description of the BSAS students. Information gathered from the survey r eveal ed the following BSAS student demographic and academic characteristics : Marital Status: 59% were mar ried (n=170) Children: 67% had children 42% with two or more children (n=170) Income: The average income of the sample was $61,709, median income was $55,000, and the range of income reported spanned from $0 to $250,000 (n=150) First in Family: 41% were first in family (parents/siblings) to attend college (n=169) Fathers Education: 63% report fathers highest degree attainment was H.S. diploma or less (n=167) Mothers Education: 71% report mothers highest degree attainment was H.S. dipl oma or less (n=167) Spouses Education: 44% report spouses highest degree attainment was H.S. diploma or less (n=105) Fathers O ccupational Area (n=159) : 1. Construction/Labor = 34% 2. Business/Sales = 26% 3. Retired/Unknown = 11% 4. Trades/Enginee ring 9% 5. Military/Public Service = 8% 6. Education/Health = 7% 7. Law/Law Enforcement = 5%
80 Mothers O ccupational Area (n=164) : 1.Business/Sales = 26% 2. Housewife/Homemaker = 23% 3. Laborer /Trades = 20% 4. Education/Teacher = 10% 5. Nursing = 10% 6. Health /Allied Health = 8% 7. Retired/Unknown/Other = 3% Employment Status: 91% of BSAS students indicated they were employed (n=170) Employment in AS Field of Study: 69% were working in jobs/careers related to their AS degree (n=158) Hours Worked per Week: Students worked an average of 39 hours per week. Less than 10% worked 25 or fewer hours per week, and about 10% worked 48 or more hours (n=151) Commute Time to Work: The average commute for workers was about 30 minutes each way. Only ab out 10% reported a commute of 60 minutes or longer (n=152) Past Attitude about Higher Education: 46% reported their past attitude toward higher education was positive; 22% felt it was more or less just a requirement for future success ; 1 5% were previou sly indifferent or thought that higher education was unimportant ; 13% felt that it would be too difficult to obtain a college degree ; and about 3% cited that it would be too costly (n=163) Current Attitude about Higher Education: 72% reported their current attitude toward higher education was positive ; 17% still felt it was just a requirement for work; about 5% felt it was too difficult to attain; 4% felt indifference ; and 2% felt it was too costly (n=163) Math Skills Personal Assessment: 72% agreed or strongly agreed that they felt
81 capable in college level math skills. 11% disagreed and 2% strongly disagreed that they were capable in college level math (n=168) English Skills Personal Assessment: 89% agreed or strongly agreed that they felt capable in college level English skills. Only 4% reported they disagreed or strongly disagreed that they were capable in college level English (n=170) Communication Skills Personal Assessment: 9 3% of respondents indicated that they were confident in their colleg e level communication skills (n=165) Reading Skills Personal Assessment: 93% of respondents indicated that they were confident in their college level reading skills (n=168) Second Language/Foreign Language: 30% of respondents indicated that they were c ompetent and capable in a second language (n=170) Survey Results High School Reflections Students were asked to reflect upon their high school experiences, performance, engagement and development in the high school setting to ascertain their perceptions and to define their student characteristics as the baseline for compar ing their progress across the educational system The following information was compiled from student responses to the BSAS Transfer Student Survey, questions 22 through 39 (Appendix C ), to determine specific demographic and academic background characteristics from their high school experience. The sample of BSAS students surveyed reported that their mean high school grade point average was 2.91. From the sample of students who responde d (n=159) to the question about their high school grade point average, 13 students did not provide a grade. Of these, 7 stated they could not remember their grade, and 6 stated that they had earned a GED
82 with no grade point average. The remaining students who did report a grade (n146) earned an average among them of a 2.91 as reflected in Table 9. Table 9 BSAS Students High School Grade Point Average (n=146) Quartiles GPA Lower Limit 1.50 25th Percentile 2.50 50th Percentile 3.00 75th Percentile 3.25 Upper Limit 4.00 Mean = 2.91, Median = 3.0, Standard Deviation = .58 Students were then asked to self assess their overall performance in the high school setting. The predominate narrative responses ranged from above average to very poor which were suitable for a simple four tier coding revealing that 18.3% felt they performed above average, 48.2% perceived they were average, 26.2% assessed their performance as poor, and 7.3% declared they performed very poorly (n=164). When asked to recall their career intentions while in high school, the sample of students responded with a wide array of career options ranging alphabetically from accountant to writer. The largest percentage (18.3%) stated that they didnt know, or had no idea what occupation or career path they would take while still in high school. The next largest percentages came from those who identified education/teaching (10.4%) as their chosen career goal followed by doctor (6.1%), computers (5.5%), military (5.5%) and nursing (5.5%). A complete list of occupational choices and their distribution among respondents are provided in Appendix H.
83 The surveyed BSAS students responding to the question of whether they were pleased with the high school they attended indicate d that a slight majority (59%) were, in fact, satisfied with their high school as depicted in Table 10. Table 1 0 Students Pleased with High School They Attended (n=168) Pleased Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 28 16.7 16.7 agree 71 42.3 59.0 neither agree nor disagree 31 18.5 77.5 disagree 27 16.0 93.5 st rongly disagree 11 6.5 100 Responses by sa mpled students indicating whether they thought their high school curriculum was relevant to their personal goals were fairly split among those who agreed or strongly agreed (36.5%) and those who neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement (35.3%). Onl y about 28% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, My high school curriculum was relevant to my personal goals as reflected in Table 1 1 below. Table 11 High School Curriculum Relevancy to Personal Goals (n=167) Relevant Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 13 7.8 7.8 agree 48 28.7 36.5 neither agree nor disagree 59 35.3 71.8 disagree 36 21.6 93.4 strongly disagree 11 6.6 100 Reflecting upon their relationships with high school faculty, BSAS students in the sampl e reported that they recalled their interactions as favorable. About 61% felt positive about their relationships with faculty. Only about 20% reported unfavorable relationships, while 31% were neutral as shown in Table 1 2.
84 Table 12 Relationship s with Hig h School Faculty (n=167) Good Relations Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 29 17.4 17.4 agree 73 43.7 61.1 neither agree nor disagree 31 18.6 79.7 disagree 25 15.0 94.7 strongly disagree 9 5.3 100 As a determination o f students compatibility with their student peers, they were asked to reflect about their relationships with high their high school peers. Students in the sample responded that their peer relationships were good, and less than 10% disagreed or strongly di sagreed with the statement, I had good relationships with my high school peers as indicated in Table 1 3. Table 13 Relationships with High School Peers (n=164) Good Relations Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 39 23.8 23.8 agree 80 48.8 72.6 neither agree nor disagree 29 17.7 90.3 disagree 10 6.1 96.4 strongly disagree 6 3.6 100 As Table 1 4 shows, about half of the student surveyed (52%) indicated that they regularly engaged in extracurricular activities while in high scho ol. One third disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, I regularly engaged in high school extracurricular activities, and 15% were neutral on the matter. As George Kuh, et al (1994) note, levels of student engagement beyond the classroom can i nfluence other aspects of students academic performance, personal growth and satisfaction.
85 Table 14 Engagement in High School Extracurricular Activities (n=168) Engaged Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 33 19.6 19.6 agree 54 32.1 51.7 neit her agree nor disagree 25 15.0 66.7 disagree 34 20.2 86.9 strongly disagree 22 13.1 100 Students were asked, What contributed to you r academic performance in high school? This was an openended question allowing for a narrative response. Responses were categorized into three types of responses: positive, negative and neutral influences. A total of 148 students responded with 53% identifying positive influences on their high school performance, 38% citing negative influences, and 9% were neutral responses. Examples of responses indicating the people and things students felt contributed to their performance in a positive way were: I was always a good reader and a good student. I liked a few of my teachers and did well in their classes. Th ey made teaching fun Family support My dad always telling me to do my homework and study Part of doing well in class was the determination to get my diploma then apply to my community college Teachers who genuinely c ared about us! Sports, friends and family Examples of responses indicating people and things students felt contributed to their performance in a negative way were:
86 I didn't think it was important and I was not encouraged or pressured to perform by my parents. I thought they did not consider me college material and they did not expect much from me I hated school. I didn't have the foundation I needed to keep up with what was being taught in math & English as I progressed into middle & Jr. high school. My fault I guess because I didn't pay attention in class more of the class clown Too much focus on athletics and girls My mother nor my father graduated high school, so they could have cared less if I graduat ed or not. Social life being more important than getting good grades Ex amples of responses indicating the people and things students felt contributed to their performance in a neutral way were: None, I quit at age 14, went to work, got my GED and went to college at night Prefer not to tell none I wanted to take auto shop but [school] didn't offer it so I went to [ school] Tech but it didn't turn out to be what I wanted to do so I took the GED and started at the community college the following semester Respondents were asked if they were satisfied with their academic performance in high school. As illustrated in Table 15, about 55% of students agreed or strongly agreed that they were satisfied with their performance, while only 25% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, I was satisfied with my academic performance in high school. Approximately 20% neither agreed nor disagreed.
87 Table 15 Satisfaction with High School Performance (n=168) Satisfied Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 26 15.5 15.5 agree 66 39.3 54.8 neither agree nor disagree 34 20.2 75.0 disagree 31 18.5 93.5 str ongly disagree 11 6.5 100 R espondents were asked if they gave a significant effort in high school. The survey statement was I put forth a significant effort in high school. A fairly large portion of the respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement at the rate of 47.3%. Only 35.4% agreed with the statement, and 17.3 were neutral (Table 16). Table 16 Significant Effort in High School (n=167) Gave Effort Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 19 11.4 11.4 agree 40 24.0 35.4 neither agree nor disagre e 29 17.3 52.7 disagree 48 28.7 81.4 strongly disagree 31 18.6 100 Almost 81% of students surveyed stated that they did not participate in peer study groups while in high school. Approximately 45% of students surveyed reported that they di d not believe their interaction with academic advising and counseling at the high school wa s adequate. As shown in Table 17, 31% felt that it was adequate and 23% neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement My interaction with high school counselors/a cademic advisors was adequate.
88 Table 17 Interaction with High School Counselors/Advisors (n=165) Adequate Interaction Frequency Percent Cumulative % st rongly agree 7 4.2 4.2 agree 45 27.3 31.5 neither agree nor disagree 38 23.1 54.6 disagre e 46 27.9 82.5 strongly disagree 29 17.5 100 According to Chickering (1993), the development of mature interpersonal relationships can be observed through students interactions with faculty beyond classroom activities and assignments. Only about 26% of those surveyed recalled having routine interaction with their faculty beyond the classroom (Table 18 ). Table 18 Interaction with High School Faculty (n=166) Routinely Interacted Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 9 5 4 5.4 agree 34 20.5 25.9 neither agree nor disagree 29 17.4 43.3 disagree 66 39.8 83.1 strongly disagree 28 16.9 100 When asked to recall how well they performed completing high school homework assignments, 58.2% agreed or strongly agreed that they conscient iously completed their reading and homework assignments. 31.5% disagreed or strongly disagreed, and 10.3% neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement I conscientiously completed high school reading and homework assignments (Table 19 )
89 Table 19 Com pletion of High School Homework (n=165) Completed Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 28 17.0 17.0 agree 68 41.2 58.2 neither agree nor disagree 17 10.3 68.5 disagree 41 24.8 93.3 strongly disagree 11 6.71 100 Over 80% of the BSAS students responding to the survey felt they were capable of performing in the academic setting of high school. Only about 5% disagreed or strongly disagreed that they were capable in the high school setting, and about 14% neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement, I felt capable of performing in the academic setting of high school. Distributions and precise percent a ge s are illustrated in Table 20 below Table 20 Capable of Performing in High School Setting (n=167) Felt Capable Frequency Percent Cumulat ive % strongly agree 52 31.1 31.1 agree 82 49.1 80.2 neither agree nor disagree 24 14.4 94.6 disagree 5 3.0 97.6 strongly disagree 4 2.4 100 To address an issue of information literacy in the community college setting, students were ask ed if they felt competent using library resources. Only 67% of those surveyed felt that they were competent in using their high school library resources for research as reflected in Table 2 1 below.
90 Table 21 Capable of Using High School Library Resources (n=168) Competent Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 37 22.0 22.0 agree 76 45.2 67.2 neither agree nor disagree 28 16.7 83.9 disagree 18 10.7 94.6 strongly disagree 9 5.4 100 Survey Results Community College Reflections Upon completion of their high school reflection, students were asked to reflect upon their community college experiences, performance, engagement and their development with the community college setting to determine their perceptions and to define their student c haracteristics at this level. The following information was compiled from student responses to the BSAS Transfer Student Survey, questions 40 through 66 (Appendix C), to determine specific demographic and academic background characteristics drawn from the ir community college experience. The sample of BSAS students surveyed who self reported their community college grade (n=157) establish a mean community college grade point average was 3.24. From the sample of students who responded to the question about their high school grade point average (n=162) 5 students did not provide their grade. Of these, 2 students stated they could not remember their grade and the remaining 3 did not offer any response Consequently, these 5 students were not incorporated into the data. Table 22 below shows the distribution, range and quartiles of respondents self reported grade point average at the community college
91 Table 22 BSAS Students Community College Grade Point Average (n=157) Quartiles GPA Lower Limit 2.00 25th Percentile 2.95 50th Percentile 3.30 75th Percentile 3.60 Upper Limit 4.00 Mean = 3.24, Median = 3.3, Standard Deviation = .46 Students were asked to reflect upon their community college experience and assess their college environment. This was presented as an open ended question intended to obtain students general perceptions, which generated a broad spectrum of answers. Students responses, however, were fairly easily categorized and generally ranged from excellent to bad. Nearly 49% reported that their community college was a good environment, and almost 17% assessed it as excellent. Only about 7% felt their community college was a bad environment (Table 23). Table 23 BSAS Students Self Assessment of CC Environment (n=156) Rating Fr equency Percent Cumulative % excellent 26 16.7 16.7 good 76 48.7 65.4 fair 21 13.5 78.9 bad 11 7.1 86.0 neutral 22 14.0 100 N early 17% rat ed their community colleg e environment as excellent R esponses from students rating their community college in terms of excellence used common terms such as great, wonderful, awesome and exceptional. Specific comments depicting this level of assessment were:
92 It was exceptional With small classes we were able to do a lot of hands on work. Excellent environment with great potential for learning. [community college] is a learning based institution. I loved it. I think all students should attend community college before a ttending a 4 year university. I loved [community college]. The teachers cared for their students unlike [university]. Analyzing student responses assessing their community college environment, several recurring terms such as good, fine or above aver age were used in their narrative remarks. In such instances, or when the overall narrative statement indicated a positive assessment of their community college environment, the researcher categorized those responses as good. Some examples were: It wa s good. I met a lot of new people and had some pretty good teachers. I enjoyed the small class size and intimate environment. [community college] performs a valuable service as a bridge for students trying to get back into academia after years aw ay. Good place to start for those not knowing which career they would like to choose. Students who assessed their community college environment in negative terms or recanted a negative experience were in the minority or respondents representing onl y about 7% of the survey responses. Examples of responses that the researcher categorized as a bad student self assessment of their community college environment were:
93 A joke, I hated [community college]. Poor they do not care about the stude nt. I attended the [community college] campus and it was not the safest or cleanest environment out there. I went to [community college] and I think they are a little bit too relaxed with their requirements. They have a horrible advising departm ent. To gain insight into why students opted to attend a community college, students were asked to respond to the openended question, Why did you choose to attend a community college? A prevalent view about students who pursue technical or occupationa l degrees is that they choose such academic paths because they knew they were not admissible to traditional collegiate programs, and not academically prepared for mainstream college level coursework. The survey revealed that college or university access was a factor, but not the dominant theme within students reasoning for attending a community college. Affordability and the lesser cost of attending a community college was the most cited reason followed by specific references to the primary purpose their a ttendance attributed to career preparation as indicated in Table 2 4. Table 24 Why Attend a Community College (n=160) Reason Frequency Percent Cumulative % access 22 13.8 13.8 career 23 14.4 28.2 degree 21 13.1 41.3 location 20 12.5 53.8 co st 46 28.8 82.6 program 16 10.0 92.6 size 7 4.3 96.9 unknown 5 3.1 100
94 Access, degree completion, and proximity were fairly equitably distributed among student responses to the survey question. Specific program offering account ed for only 10% of student reasoning for attending a community college, and institutional size was the primary factor for only a very few. Item #43 on the survey was used to determine students average progression toward their AS degree at the community college by examining the number of credit hours they took each semester. The question, simply asked How many credits hours per semester did you normally take in community college? Based upon previous self reported data of near full time employment, the researchers presumption was that the majority of these students would have been part time students at the community college. However, respondents (n=161) indicated that they enrolled in an average of 10.53 credits per semester, and the median enrollment w as 12 credits per semester. Enrollment distribution shown in Table 25 illustrates that over half of those responding to the survey stated that they normally took 12 or more credit hours per semester. Table 25 Distribution Enrollment Hours/Semester at Co mmunity College (n=161) Hrs/Semester Frequency Percent Cumulative % 3 7 4.3 4.3 6 33 20.5 24.8 8 1 .6 25.5 9 27 16.8 42.2 10 1 .6 42.9 12 63 39.1 82.0 14 5 3.1 85.1 15 15 9.3 94.4 18 8 5.0 99.4 21 1 .6 100 Mean=10.53, Median=12.0, Standard Deviation=3.7
95 In response to the survey question asking at what age students began pursuing their associates degree, the average self reported age was 24.46 years with 25% reporting that they were 30 years or older before entering the community college to begin their degree as shown in Table 26. Table 26 Age Began Pursuing Associates Degree (n=165) Quartiles Age Lower Limit 16 25th Percentile 18 50th Percentile 20 75th Percentile 30 Upper Li mit 55 Mean = 24.46, Median = 20, Standard Deviation = 8.5 Students were then asked at what age they completed their associates degree. Survey results, as shown in Table 27, indicate that the median age was 26 years old for those completing their as sociates degree which represents a 6 year difference between median age of those beginning and completing the associates degree. Table 27 Age Completed Associates Degree (n=163) Quartiles Age Lower Limit 18 25th Percentile 21 50th Percent ile 26 75th Percentile 35 Upper Limit 58 Mean = 29.27, Median = 26, Standard Deviation = 9.22 To better understand this population and determine how they populate the various technical and occupational career fields, students were asked to identi fy the area of study they intended to pursue at the community college. Responses were categorized into
96 general fields of study and career paths as indicated in Table 28. The career themes listed below in Table 28 encompass a wider variety of occupations re ported by the survey respondents and these are inclusive in some of the categories in the below table For instance, those who declared an occupation under the field of computers included computer programming, computer technology, information technology, c omputer graphics, and network technician. Similarly, students who indicated a variety of occupations and related fields of study under the primary categorization of business include d management, marketing, sales, purchasing and office assistant. And likewi se, the category of health care incorporated occupations such as respiratory therapy, occupational therapy, optician, radiologic technician, pre med, and prosthetics. The three areas of study highlighted above as examples (computers, business and healt h care) rank ed among the most popular choices by survey respondents followed closely by students other choices to pursue education and child care development occupations. Interestingly, this student population was quite focused as a population about their intended occupational path at the community college as l ess than 10% of those surveyed stated that their intended occupational pursuit was unknown. The researcher considered this question to be an important discriminat or for determining why a student m ay have opted to attend a community college. Many of these students were seeking education for a specific career path, which may not have been available through the university. Was t he community college the only educational source for those with specific c areer goals requiring a technically or occupationally focused AS degree?
97 Table 28 Intended Occupational Area of Study at Community College (n=159) Occupation Frequency Percent Cumulative % accounting 5 3.1 3.1 business 17 10.7 13.8 child care 14 8.8 22.6 computers 20 12.6 35.2 criminal justice 11 6.9 42.1 education 16 10.1 52.2 engineering 3 1.9 54.1 environment 4 2.5 56.6 fire science 3 1.9 58.5 health care 20 12.6 71.1 hospitality 5 3.1 74.2 human services 9 5.7 79.9 law/p aralegal 7 4.4 84.3 security/defense 3 1.9 86.2 nursing 3 1.9 88.1 trades 5 3.1 91.2 unknown 14 8.8 100 Several Liker t scale questions were asked of the BSAS student population, which were a repeated series of questions from previous high school reflections. These repeated questions were intended to be used in later comparative analyses across students experiences across the K 20 system. Tables illustrating the following data will be presented late in this chapter for comparison s across their K 20 experiences. Over 84% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the statement I was generally pleased with the community college I attended. Only about 7% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, and a little over 8% were neutral (n=163). Approximately 82% agreed or strongly agreed that their community college curriculum was relevant to their personal goals. Less than 5% felt that the curriculum was
98 irrelevant, and about 13% neither agreed nor disagreed with the state ment My community college curriculum was relevant to my personal goals. About 70% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they had good relationships with their community college faculty with 39.4% agreeing and 30.3% strongly agreeing with the statement I had a good relationship with my community college faculty. Only about 5% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, and about 25% were neutral (n=163). Students were asked to reflect upon their experiences with community college peers to determine if they had good relationships with their student peers. About 70% reported that they had good relationships with their peers and less than 2% reported that they did not. Just over 28% provided the neutral response indicating they neither agreed nor disagreed that they had good relationships with their peers (n=166). To determine a measure of student engagement, students were asked to reflect about their activities while at the community college and respond to the statement, I regularly engaged in community college institutional/extracurricular activities. Nearly 57% reported that they did not regularly engage in such activities with 18.6% strongly disagreeing with the statement. Only about 20% of those responding indicated that they engaged in institutional or extracurricular activities, and only about 8% were in strong agreement with the statement (n=167). What influenced students performance at the community college? Students were asked, What factors contributed to your performance in community college allowing for an open ended response. As expected, there were a plethora of answers covering a wide range of contributing factors toward their performance in the community college
99 setting. As illustrated in Table 29, responses were categorized into 12 different categories: attitude, commitment, faculty, family, finances, goals, interest, job, maturity, peers, school, and unknown for those who did not identify a factor. Table 29 Contributing Factor s for Community College Performance (n=147) Facto r F requency Percent Cumulative % attitude 34 23.1 23.1 commitment 20 13.6 36.7 faculty 5 3.4 40.1 family 19 12.9 53.1 finances 4 2.7 55.8 goals 11 7.5 63.3 interest 6 4.1 67.3 job 17 11.6 78.9 maturity 17 11.6 90.5 peers 3 2.0 92.5 school 5 3.4 95.9 unknown 6 4.1 100 A change in attitude was the most commonly indentified factor that students related to their performance at the community college. Examples of student responses indicating that a positive attitude influenced their performance were: I enjoyed the atmosphere and curriculum I realized that I was capable of learning and making good grades. After the first semester of all A's, I realized my potential I wanted to excel. I wanted to be accountable to myself and prove to myself that I could achieve a college degree Examples of student responses indicat ing that a negative attitude influenced their performance were:
100 Again focus was a problem. I was in a serious relationship that took up a lot of my time and focus Anxiety of money and lack of emotional support Commitment, family, job and maturity were other fairly evenly distributed factors that students identified as contributing factors to their performance. Some interesting responses where students attributed family support as a contributing factor were: Being a single parent and the econom ic hardship made completing my degree difficult A supportive husband Encouragement from my family I worked full time while raising two kids alone Knowing that this was probably my final attempt at college with the support of my parents Students were then asked to compare their stud y habits between high school and the community college to determine if students perceived that their habits had improved or declined through the transition. The Likert scaled question was, My study habits were better in the community college than my study habits in high school. Table 30 shows that students overwhelmingly believed that their study habits had improved. These results will be used later in this chapter for analyzing students perceptions about their progression or improvement of their study h abits across the K 20 system using a comparative analysis.
101 Table 30 Study Habit s I mprovement High School to Community College (n=165) Improved Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 69 41.8 41.8 agree 62 37.6 79.4 neither agree nor di sagree 24 14.5 93.9 disagree 7 4.2 98.2 strongly disagree 3 1.8 100 According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (2008), about 42% of students entering public twoyear institutions enroll in at least one remedial English, reading, writing or math course. Of the BSAS students responding to the survey, 42% acknowledged that they participated in remedial Math courses, which is consistent with the national average among all community college students. Only 23% reported that they had taken remedial English courses at the community college (n=165). When asked what motivated students to complete their AS degree, the completion of a bachelors degree was not a dominate factor. Only about 11% indicated that eventu al transfer to a university or the pursuit of a bachelors degree was their primary motive. This may be due to that fact that the AS degree has not historically been the articulated transfer degree, or that the relatively new AS to BS transfer option had not yet become well known to AS students at the community college. Understandably, the most cited motivations for completing the AS degree were connected to career advancement (25% ) and increased earning power (22%). However, nearly 25% stated that comp leting the AS degree was simply motivated by a sense of personal accomplishment (Table 31). Examples of the more frequent themes were: My goal to advance in the company I worked for Career advancement
102 I did not want to be stuck in a low payin g job I saw that I would be stuck working for $8.00 an hour if I did not start focusing in school and really cracking down on the homework To be able to earn a comfortable living through more education, and to obtain a college degree Wanting a sense of completion for something I started 25 years ago Wanted to do it for myself Table 31 Motivation to Complete AS Degree (n=158) Motivation Frequency Percent Cumulative % accomplishment 39 24.7 24.7 bachelor 17 10.8 35.4 career 40 25.3 60.8 f amily 24 15.2 75.9 income 35 22.2 98.1 unknown 3 1.9 100 Recognizing that good mentors and supporters are a potent force for helping students begin, continue and complete a degree, survey respondents were asked, Who were your mentors/suppo rters for completing your associates degree? Only three major thematic populations emerged from the responses: family/friends, professors/counselors, and nobody. Not surprisingly, the majority (58%) identified family and friends as their primary mentors and supporters. Professors and counselors accounted for 22%. And unfortunately, 20% could identify no person as their mentor or supporter during the completion of their associates degree (n=159)
10 3 BSAS students recollection and perception of their acad emic performance at the community college revealed that 87% believed they performed academically well, and 84% indicated that they were satisfied with their academic performance at the community college (n=166). Over 83% of survey respondents agreed or st rongly agreed that they put forth significant effort while at the community college, 14% were neutral, and only 3% disagreed with none strongly disagreeing (n=165). More than half (52%) of respondents reported that they participated in peer study groups a t the community college (n=164). This represents nearly a 30% increase over respondents from their high school reflections in which 81% reported they did not participate in peer study groups. Throughout this researchers routine advising, counseling and discussions with transfer students over a fifteen year period, a common complaint by community college transfer students was that they did not did not receive adequate advising, or that they did not even know their community college advisor. In the BSAS Tra nsfer Student Survey, students were asked to agree or disagree with the statement: My interaction with community college academic advisors was adequate in order to determine the BSAS students perceptions about their interaction with academic advisors at the community college. Contrary to the expected results almost 56% felt that they did have adequate interaction with their community college advisors, and only about 15% felt they did not as shown in Table 32 below.
104 Table 32 Interaction with Community Co llege Advisors (n=167) Adequate Advising Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 18 10.8 10.8 agree 75 44.9 55.7 neither agree nor disagree 51 30.6 86.3 disagree 16 9.6 95.9 strongly disagree 7 4.1 100 When survey respondents were as ked about their interaction with faculty, nearly 41% indicated that they did not interact with faculty beyond routine classroom requirements, 36% reported that they did, and 23% were neutral (n=164). Students overwhelmingly agreed that they conscientious ly completed community college reading and homework assignments at the rate of over 90% with 35% strongly agreeing (n=164). Students also overwhelmingly reported that they felt capable of performing in the academic setting of the community college. Abou t 91% agreed that they felt capable. Only about 2% denied feeling capable, with 7% giving a neutral response (n=165). The final survey item in this section focusing on students reflections about their community college experiences sought to determine the ir level of library usage and information literacy. Students were asked to respond to the statement, I was competent in using library resources for research at the community college. Nearly 80% agreed or strongly agreed (52.4% and 27.7% respectively) wit h the statement about library competency. About 7% disagreed, and 13% neither agreed nor disagreed (n=166).
105 Survey Results University Reflections The following survey results were derived from questions 67 though 98 of the BSAS Transfer Student Sur vey (Appendix C). These questions were used to determine students characteristics and perceptions about the ir experience at the university. Students reported that their average age at the time they transferred to the university was about 34 years of age and the upper 25% ranged from 40 to 58 years of age as shown in Table 33 below. Table 33 Age Transferred to University (n=158) Quartiles GPA Lower Limit 18.00 25th Percentile 26.00 50th Percentile 34.00 75th Percentile 40.00 Uppe r Limit 58.00 Mean=34.08, Median = 34.00, Standard Deviation = 9.46 As indicated earlier, many of the BSAS students (91%) indicated they were employed, and nearly 70% were working full time in career fields related to their AS degree (p. 80). Students were asked to r espond to the question about what occupations they intended to pursue while at the university to determine if the ir occupational goals were consistent with their community college occupational goals The largest number of students identified their career intentions in the areas of management (16%) followed by early childhood development (13%), information technology (12%), and education (9%). Approximately 11% indicated that they were still unsure what occupation they would pursue. Other dis tributions of occupational intentions were quite disparate. Student res ponses are contained in Table 34 below.
106 Table 34 BSAS Students Occupational Goals (n=150) Occupation Frequency Percent Cumulative % business 6 4.0 4.0 counseling 7 4.7 8.7 early child dvlp 19 12.7 21.3 education 14 9.3 30.7 environmental policy 5 3.3 34.0 fin anc ial planner 2 1.3 35.3 fireman 2 1.3 36.7 interpret e r 2 1.3 38.0 IT 18 12.0 50.0 l aw enforcement 11 7.3 57.3 lawyer 5 3.3 60.7 management 24 16.0 76.7 military 2 1.3 78.0 nursing 1 .7 78.7 occupational therapy 2 1.3 80.0 MA/PHD 3 2.0 82.0 prosthetics 1 .7 82.7 public health 3 2.0 84.7 radiologist 3 2.0 86.7 respiratory 2 1.3 88.0 self employed 1 .7 88.7 unknown 16 10.7 99.3 urban planning 1 .7 100 As this population of predominately workingstudents progress through their baccalaureate education, their ability to access curriculum becomes dependent upon course availability. Students we re asked when they normally attend classes to illustrate when/how they access the BSAS curriculum The overwhelming majority of students reported that they take courses through a combination of times and means across daytime, evening, weekends, online and correspondence (n=160) A pproximately 25% (40 students ) reported taking courses exclusively online, About 19% (31 students ) reported that they exclusively took classes in the evening Only 4 students reported
107 taking classes exclusively during a daytime sch edule. Those reporting taking classes using a combination of class offerings in the evening and online format represent ed 44% of the surveyed population. There were 25 students reporting that they took classes in a combination of evening, daytime and online offerings. There were 15 students who reported they accessed courses via weekend class offerings through a special weekend program in Early Childhood Development which has discontinued. Only 5 students reported that they have utilized correspondence as a means of satisfying course requirements. Survey respondents were asked to report their commute time to attend on campus classes. As a significant number of students ( 25%) take classes in an exclusively online format, it was expected that they wou ld report no time for a commute, which was verified by the results for this question. There was one student who reported a 2 hour commute and one other student who reported a 4 hour commute. These two students were included in the data, but they should be consi dered outliers as few students reported a commute longer than 60 minutes. The average commute time for all respondents was about 29 minutes with a median reported commute of 20 minutes as shown in Table 35. Table 35 Commute to University Campus (n=155) Q uartiles Minutes Lower Limit 0.00 25th Percentile 15.00 50th Percentile 20.00 75th Percentile 40.00 Upper Limit 240.00 Mean= 28.55, Median = 20 .00, Standard Deviation = 27.83 Approximately 38% of survey respondents acknowle dged that they have attended
108 more than one university campus in order to access required coursework (n=157). The BSAS survey respondents reported that they are taking an average of 9 credit hours per semester. As illustrated in Table 36 below, ther e was an unusually equitable distribution of students classified as quarter time, half time and fulltime. Table 36 Credit Hours/Semester at University (n=158) Quartiles Credit Hours Lower Limit 0.00 25th Percentile 6.00 50th Percenti le 9.00 75th Percentile 12.00 Upper Limit 18.00 Mean= 9.03, Median = 9.00, Standard Deviation = 3.74 Survey question #73 asked how many credits students had completed toward the completion of their BSAS degree. Upon review of the da ta, the researcher determined that the question and the responses were irrelevant to any meaningful analyses toward the determination of student characteristics. The respondents included beginners through graduates, but the total credit hours reported wer e not attributable to a students level or graduation status. Students were asked to respond to the question, Approximately, how many hours per week do you spend on coursework or class assignments outside of class? Respondents indicated that they spend an average of 13 hours per week on assignments with responses ranging from 2 hours to 50 hours. The upper 25% of those surveyed reported spending 20 or more hours per week on assignments as shown in Table 37. The researcher notes th at there was a reasonabl e alignment of time spent on assignments
109 (Table 37) and the number of credit hours that students report ed taking per semester as shown in the previous table, Table 3 6. Table 3 7 Hours/Week Spent on University Assignments (n=15 7) Quartiles Credit Hours Lower Limit 2.00 25th Percentile 6.00 50th Percentile 10.00 75th Percentile 20.00 Upper Limit 50.00 Mean= 13.12, Median = 10.00, Standard Deviation = 9.78 Survey respondents were asked if university courses were more difficult than courses taken at the community college. Over 61% agreed or strongly agreed that university courses were more difficult. About 27% of respondents were neutral, and 12% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Question #76 asked students if they had encount ered any problems while attending the university. The majority (65%) indicated that they had not encountered any problems. About 7% stated problems with academic advisors, and 6% complained about their professors and parking. Less than 3% identified proble ms with class offerings, registration and institutional bureaucracy. Other complaints or problems identified were only cited by a single respondent and did not warrant further categorization (n=157) Students were asked if they had any outside conflicts w ith their studies at the university. Most students (65%) revealed they had no outside conflicts. The largest number of those who did cite an outside conflict reported issues with job interference. Work related issues affected just over 16% of those surveye d. The next most reported conflict derived from family/child issues affecting 11% of those surveyed. Other sources
110 of outside conflict reported by less than 2% of the population were medical, computer issues, private matters, and unknown interruptions (n=147). When asked why students chose to pursue the BSAS degree, responses were fairly simple to categorize as all responses easily fell into one of four themes : career progression, personal goals, graduate school, or interest in subject matter as shown in Table 38. T he greatest percentage (57.5%) cited the pursuit of the degree was for employment, job, or career progression purposes. Some of the reasons cited were: I want to advance at work into a management position It will be a requirement for my position at work More options for jobs. I don't like the career I'm in right now Moving up the ladder in the agency where I am currently employed The second most popular response for pursuing the BSAS degree (21.6%) was to obtain a personal goal. Examples of those categorized in this area were: Because a degree is important to me and my child is older now and it is easier for me to attend school Self satisfaction as well as desire to learn new things within my field For myself and my family To finish college once an for all Approximately 12% of those survey indicated that they were pursuing the BSAS degree as a means of advancing to a graduate degree, and about 9% due to subject interest as illustrated by the following respective narrative comments: Because I want to go to law school and be cause I am limited on time. In other word s, having an AS I am limited to pursuing a BSAS because of my age, I don't
111 have time to get an AA The BSAS route was the quickest way for my to earn a bachelors degree and move on to the master program which would give me a high level career and income potential To have more sp ecialized training in my field Because I like Public Health Table 38 Why Students Pursue the BSAS Degree (n=153) Why Frequency Percent Cumulative % c areer progression 88 57.5 57.5 personal goal 33 21.6 79.1 grad school 19 12.4 91.5 subject interest 13 8.5 100.0 A series of questions were asked of surveyed students about the university environment faculty, peers and extracurricular activities. Student responses will be further examined in the next section of this chapter, Comparisons Across the K 20 System but they are presented here as relevant to students university experience. Nearly 88% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that they were pleased with the university (n=159) Almost 80% indicated that their university curriculum was relevant to their personal goals (n=159). There were 69% who feel/felt that they have/had a good relationship with their university faculty (n=159) About 62% felt the y have/ had a good relationship with their university peers (n=159).
112 Just over 55% disagreed or strongly disagreed that they had engaged in extracurricular activities at the university (n=159). Students were asked what factors have contributed to their a cademic performance at the university. Self motivation was the dominate response by nearly 45% of those surveyed. Other contributing factors were provided through openended responses falling within the general themes listed in Table 39 below. Table 39 F actors Contributing to Students University Performance (n=134) Factor Frequency Percent Cumulative % family 12 9.0 9.0 graduation 11 8.2 17.2 maturity 16 11.9 29.1 motivation 60 44.8 73.9 nothing 7 5.2 79.1 online 10 7.5 86.6 profes sors 11 8.2 94.8 work 7 5.2 100 Students were asked to compare their study habits at the university with their study habits at the community college to determine if there was any change. The Liker scale statement was, My study habits at the unive rsity are/were better than my study habits at the community college. Almost 56% agreed or strongly agreed with this statement revealing that over half of those surveyed felt that their study habits had improved. Over one third of survey respondents neithe r agreed nor disagreed with the statement which may indicate their neutrality on the matter, or that they actually perceived no comparative improvement in their study habits. And only about 8% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statem ent as illustr ated in Table 4 0.
113 Table 40 University Study Habits Better than Community College (n=160) Improved Habits Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 29 18.1 18.1 agree 60 37.5 55.6 neither agree nor disagree 58 36.3 91.9 disagree 12 7.5 99.4 stro ngly disagree 1 .6 100 Survey question #86 asked, What motives/motivate you to complete the BSAS degree? As reflected in Table 4 1, a sense of self accomplishment was the most stated reason cited by survey respondents. Almost a quarter of t hose surveyed stated that their source of motivation was attributed to their family. Career advancement and the ability to gain employment were other highly regarded reasons cited by respondents. Examples of narrative responses explaining their motivation to complete the BSAS degree related to self accomplishment were: It's a personal goal as well as an example for my nieces. Apparently, they see me as a role model and I feel obligated to be an appropriate one Personal desire to finish the degree S ense of accomplishment and personal achievement To prove to myself I can do this Tho se who stated that family was their prime motive ranked as the second largest group. A few of the narrative responses capturing the essence of this theme were: I am the only person in my family that has a college education, I am setting an example for my 3 children to follow
114 To be the first in my family and open more doors of possibility in the future. I have seen a lot of jobs I think I would have liked but they required a BS as a minimum education requirement Competition w ith my Brother and to make parents proud My children encouraged me Table 41 Motivation to Complete BSAS Degree (n=145) Factor Frequency Percent Cumulative % accomplishmen t 42 29.0 29.0 advancement 31 21.4 50.3 age 2 1.4 51.7 family 34 23.4 75.2 grad school 6 4.1 79.3 job 24 16.6 95.9 none 4 2.8 98.6 professors 2 1.4 100.0 When students were asked to reflect upon their mentors for completing the BSAS degree, the majority identified family members. The thematic category of f amily members included husbands, wives, grandparents, and children. Unfortunately, the second largest group could identify no person as a mentor. However, the third largest gro up identified as mentors was academic advisors, which bodes well for the university. Co workers, professors and peers followed as the other categories of those serving as mentors. Table 4 2 below shows the distribution among all mentor categories.
115 Table 42 BSAS Degree Completion Mentors (n=146) Mentors Frequency Percent Cumulative % advisor 17 11.6 11.6 co worker 11 7.5 19.2 family 80 54.8 74.0 none 25 17.1 91.1 peer 3 2.1 93.2 professor 10 6.8 100 Question #88 sought to determine st udents perceptions of their academic performance at the university. The Liker t scale statement was, I perform(ed) well academically at the university. Responses were overwhelmingly positive with over 78% indicating that they felt they performed well at the university. Less than 3% did not feel that they performed well at the university, and about 20% were neutral on the matter as depicted in Table 4 3. Table 43 Self Assessment of University Performance (n=159) Perform(ed) Well Frequency Percent Cumulativ e % strongly agree 39 24.5 24.5 agree 86 54.1 78.6 neither agree nor disagree 30 18.9 97.5 disagree 1 .6 98.1 strongly disagree 3 1.9 100 Students were then asked about their sense of satisfaction with their academic perf ormance at the university. Although s imilar to the previous statement this item was meant to discern if student performance was consistent with their self determined level of satisfaction. Over three quarters (76.1%) of those surveyed felt satisfied with their academic performance at the university 6.3% indicated they were not satisfied, and
116 17.6% were neutral (n=159) These data closely align ed with student performance reported in Table 43, which indicates that students who performed well were generally satisf ied thei r performance; student who were neutral about the quality of their performance were also equally neutral in their satisfaction levels; and student who did not feel they performed well were not satisfied with their poor performance. This alignment with per formance and satisfaction serves as a reasonable validation of students honesty in both responses. As a continuation of assessing student performance at the university, students were asked to reflect upon their levels of effort. Item #90 on the BSAS Student Survey asked students to respond to the Likert scale statement, I put forth a significant effort at the university. The overwhelming majority of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement as shown in Table 4 4 below: Table 44 Students Effort at the University (n=159) Significant Effort Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 53 33.3 33.3 agree 92 57.9 91.2 neither agree nor disagree 10 6.3 97.5 disagree 1 .6 98.1 strongly disagree 3 1.9 100 Information ga thered to determine student peer group engagement though peer study groups will be used later to compare such engagement across the K 20 system. Consequently, similar to high school and community college reflections, students were asked about their partici pation in peer study groups. S urvey respondents indicated that the majority (67%) did not engage in peer study groups (n=155).
117 The Likert scale statement was, My interaction with academic advisors/counselors at the university was adequate. Table 4 5 bel ow shows that approximately 67% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, and only about 10% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Table 45 Interaction with University Advisors (n=160) Adequate Frequency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 27 16.9 16.9 agree 80 50.0 66.9 neither agree nor disagree 38 23.7 90.6 disagree 8 5.0 95.6 strongly disagree 7 4.4 100 One measure of maturity is the willingness and ability to engage superiors (in this case professors) in a meaningful way. Consideri ng that the average age of the BSAS population is about 37 years of age (Table 1) it is reasonable to expect that these students would more mature and more willing / able to engage faculty members beyond routine classroom requirements. Interestingly, only 28% of survey respondents reported that they interacted with faculty beyond routine classroom requirements (Table 4 6 below) This represents a reduction in the same inquiry about students interaction with community college faculty, in which 36% of responde nts cited that they did, in fact, interact with their community college faculty beyond routine classroom requirements as previously in community college reflections (p.104).
118 Table 46 Interaction with University Faculty (n=160) Interacted w/Faculty Fr equency Percent Cumulative % strongly agree 13 8.1 8.1 agree 32 20.0 28.1 neither agree nor disagree 57 35.6 63.7 disagree 48 30.0 93.7 strongly disagree 10 6.3 100 When asked to reflect upon their attitude about completing university homew ork and assignments, 91.8% stated that they conscientiously completed reading and homework assignments. Less than 3% of those surveyed reported that they did not conscientiously perform these university requirements (n=159). Students were posed with an open ended question about sources for academic support. Question #95 asked, From whom do you seek assistance with academic assignments. Approximately 55% of those surveyed stated that they seek assistance from their professor or teaching assistant (TA). About 14% sought assistance from their peers. Only 8% relied upon family members. Nearly 19% stated that they did not seek assistance with academic assignment from anyone, and there were numerous students who did not provide any narrative response at all (n= 138). Self efficacy of BSAS students was assessed by asking them if they felt capable of performing within the university environment. Those responding to the Likert scale survey statement, I felt capable of performing in the academic setting of the uni versity agreed or strongly agreed at the rate of just over 93% as shown in below Table 47 Only three students (about 2%) disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement.
119 Table 47 Capable of Performing at the University (n=159) Capable Frequency Per cent Cumulative % strongly agree 56 35.2 35.2 agree 92 57.9 93.1 neither agree nor disagree 8 5.0 98.1 disagree 1 .6 98.7 strongly disagree 2 1.3 100 When students were asked about their level of competency using library information resources, abut 70% agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, I am/was confident using library resources to conduct research at the university. Only three students ( about 5% disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, and about 25% neither agreed nor disagreed (n=159). Archival data reveals that the mean grade point average of BSAS graduates has been established, to date of this research, at 3.12 (pg. 74). When survey respondents were asked, What is/was your anticipated grade point average upon graduation from the university (estimated)? they self reported a slightly grade point average upon their [anticipated ] graduation as shown in Table 48. Table 48 BSAS Anticipate d Graduation GPA (n=148) Quartiles Graduation GPA Lower Limit 2.00 25th Percentile 3.00 50th Percentile 3.50 75th Percentile 3.60 Upper Limit 4.00 Mean= 3.32, Median = 3.50, Standard Deviation = .422
120 Narrative Statements by BSAS Students The final two survey items were open ended questions allowing students to identify any issues of concern about their academic experiences that they felt were applicable to this study. The intention of these final two questions was to invoke narrative responses on any relevant matter students felt were not ad dressed by any previous question. The first question, survey item #99, asked them to provide any additional comments regarding their past As far as High School goes, what can I say? It was the 70's and I was a kid. If I onl y knew then what I know now academic engagement. There were 53 students who provided comment. A dozen of the most interesting and revealing commen ts representative of the emergent themes were: Having constantly moved wit hin the US and internationally, I never had a strong found ation nor continuously attended classes. All that I learned was by self studies and asking people in advanced classes to help out when I encountered problems. I went from 3rd grade to St andard 1 (did not know the local language) to high school. Whatever I did was due to my primary school education in South Carolina. High school experience, and was marred with the state recruiting incompetent teachers based on who they knew or how much they bribed to get the job. Although to someone, my academic efforts may seem mediocre, I am proud of what I have accomplished thus far I am very thankful for this program being established for me because without it I may have not chose n to go back and further my academic education. This was a door opening for me! Thank You
121 I was intimidated by school prior to entering the AS to BS program. Now I feel empowered and I am going to consider getting my masters If [named community college] did not give me the confidence and resources I needed and the time on behalf of all the professors who assisted me I would not have been able to finish My parents never thought that an education was important and they never encouraged us to go to college. I really didn't take school very seriously the first time around. As I grew up and grew older I realized the importance of an education Until I was close to completion of my AS degree I was very lazy. It took me a couple of semesters to see how important a good education really is and how much of a necessity one is I us ed to i nvolve myself with academics because it was what other people said I should do, that it was necessary. Today, I am motivated to learn by my own desire to understand more about the world around me and to better myself and those around me I neve r really had any real desire to go to college. Actually at one point I almost dropped out of school in the 10th grade, due to family problems. I actually did graduate and finally made it to college. In community college I still didn't focus as much as I sh ould and it took me a lot longer to finish because I chan ged my major a couple of times I was distracted during high school. My community college experience was a much more positive setting, I was enjoying the classes I was attending Back in the high school days, it was generally poor (from attitude to performan ce) due to an immature outlook
122 My f irst 3 years in college was about fun and friends G rades weren't great and I didn't put forth much effort.. The final survey question, item #100, asked respondents to provi de additional information regarding their current Coming back as an adult gave me the maturity I needed to better manage my time. I had serious desire to accomplish my goal and prove to myself and my family that I could do it academic engagement. The themes students brought forth are represented in the following narrative comments: Currently I am in the PhD program in public health and feel that without the opportunity to have received the BSAS degree I would not be where I am today. I thank [advis ors name] and those at the university who have supported this program. I encourage my students at [community college name] to continue on through this same avenue for the opportunities that it provides I am an online student because day to day I hav e to work for a living to provide for my family. If I only could stay home and go to school full time and focus I would be a 4.0 student I am in the MACJA cohort in Sarasota and cannot believe that I am working on my Master's degree; what a great feel ing! I am more motivated now and much more mature. I am ready to finish this degree I encourage my children often to really think about going to college. They see their mom in college and it's tough on them; they sacrifice too. I should have more time to devote to them. Had I finished HS and gone to college when I was young, things
123 would be a lot different. They understand, from watching their mom, that college is important and that attending right out of HS really is the best way to go. We ne ver know what the future has in store and proper planning can make all the difference in the world I have been working on my M asters. I don't think people realize how important guidance counselors/advisors are in the career path one chooses. Again, if it wasn't for [advisors name] I don't think I would have a Bachelor's Degree. I believe there is a major disconnect between corporate world and academics and I don't feel teachers who have been in academia their whole life understand how hard it is for students trying so hard to get back into school. Juggling work, school, family, etc. is overwhelming. I feel that the homework given sometimes proves unnecessary. I don't feel that the amount of homework (small or large) prepares you in any shape, way or form for the work environment and I feel that I am a dedicated worker who has been working since I was 16. I appreciate all the efforts of [advisors name] accepting me into t his program. I will be forever grateful I have been working on my masters degree and I am doing so much bet ter! I have learned my lesson I work hard to correct any difficulties that I encounter and I am not shy about obtaining the information that I need to be successful I h ave learned to work and just complain It was very strange going back to school after almost 20 years. I have really enjoyed my classes and now look forward to learning new things Law school is going well
124 Once I started USF I have given it 100%. I love my school! I would not go anywhere el se Though a degreed education is a necessity to earning a good wage, I find that pure higher learning is entertaining and I try to le arn as much as I can about everything I now have better study habits and get good grades. Motivated to finish my degree Comparisons Across the K 20 Experience In the BSAS Transfer Student Survey (Appendix C) there were numerous student responses th at were amenable to compar ing the surveyed populations experiences across the K 20 system. Survey i tems used in this comparison are annotated on the survey instrument with a caveat (Comparison of Responses COR) indicating that students reflections woul d be compared across their high school, com munity college, and university experiences. Each question/response designated with the COR caveat reflects the three survey items to be used. For example survey item #25, I was generally pleased with the high school I attended, is annotated with ( COR 25,47,79) indentifying the similar survey items for high school (HS), community college (CC), and the university (UN) to be compared in this section of Chapter Four. By survey design, students were asked to refl ect upon certain comparable high school, community college and the university experiences to determine any possible changes in their views, perceptions, or attitudes about their education as they moved across the K 20 system. The following 14 aspects of st udent engagement and performance were analyzed within and between each progressive educational level :
125 1. Amenability toward school environments 2. Curricular relevance 3. Faculty relationships 4. Peer relationships 5. Extracurricular activities 6. Academic performance 7. Satisfaction with academic performance 8. Self assessment of effort 9. Participation in peer study groups 10. Academic advising 11. Interacting with faculty 12. Completi on of reading/homework assignments 13. Self e fficacy 14. Information literacy The comparison of each of these items follows: Survey respondents were asked to assess their pleasure with each academic environment using Likert scale responses. As shown in Table 49 below, students indicated that they gained a greater positive view of the educational environment as they progressed across the K 20 system. The collective positive response about their community college environment increased substantially over their perceptions about high school, and a sli ghtly increased positive view was reported between the community college and the university Also evident was a noted decrease in negative opinion about school environment is evident as students moved across the K 20 system.
126 Table 49 Comparison Amen ability Toward School Environments Pleased HS% CC% U N % strongly agree 16.7 30.7 25.2 agree 42.3 53.6 62.3 neither agree nor disagree 18.5 8.4 10.7 disagree 16.1 4.2 .6 strongly disagree 6.5 3.0 1.3 Collective Positive Response: HS=59.0%. C C=84.3%, UN=87.5% In each academic setting, survey respondents assessed the relevance of their curriculum to their personal goals. Only 36.5% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their high school curriculum was relevant but a tremendous jump i n students opinion about c urricular relevance was attributed to the community college. A slight decrease in students positive opinion occurred as they moved from the community college to the university, while negative opinions remained nearly constant (T able 5 0). Table 50 Comparison Curriculum Relevant to Personal Goals Relevant HS% CC% UN% strongly agree 7.8 33.1 27.0 agree 28.7 49.1 52.8 neither agree nor disagree 35.3 12.9 15.7 disagree 21.6 3.1 2.5 strongly disagree 6.6 1.8 1.9 Collec tive Positive Response: HS=36.5%, CC=82.2%, UN=79.8% Survey respondents were asked if they had a good relationship with their faculty to ascertain perspective s about student faculty associations within each institutional type. As shown in Table 51 below student faculty relations in the high school and the
127 community college environments were generally positive, but students did not reveal the same level of good relationships were evident within the university. In fact, negative responses outweighed po sitive responses with respect to their relationship s with university faculty. Table 51 Comparison Faculty Relationships Good Relationship HS% CC% UN% strongly agree 17.4 30.3 8.1 a gree 43.7 39.4 20.0 neither agree nor disagree 18.6 24.8 35.6 disa gree 15.0 3.6 30.0 strongly disagree 5.4 1.8 6.3 Collective Positive Response: HS=61.1%, CC=69.7%, UN=28.1% Students generally reported their peer relationships to be good within each academic setting. However, there was a noticeable declining trend in their collective positive responses for peer relationships as they transitioned across the K 20 system, and an upward trend by those who stated that they n either agreed nor disagreed with the Likert scaled statement about having good relationships wi th peers (Table 5 2). The percentage of survey respondents who disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement about having good relationships with their high school peers was notably higher than the ir respective percentages relating to their community college or university peers, which were both selected as a response by less than 2% of survey respondents as shown in Table 52 below
128 Table 52 Comparison Peer Relationships Good Relations HS% CC% UN% strongly agree 23.8 23.9 13.2 agree 48.8 46.0 48.4 neither agree nor disagree 17.7 28.2 36.5 disagree 6.1 1.2 .6 strongly disagree 3.7 .6 1.3 Collective Positive Response: HS=72.6%, CC=69.9%, UN=61.6% As Kuh (2005a) points out, s tudent engagement represents both the time and ene rgy students invest in educationally purposeful activities as well as the effort that institutions devote to using effective educational activities within their programs and practices Extracurricular and co curricular activities can also help students en gage with their peers, instructors and the educational environment in positive ways. BSAS students responding to this survey clearly indicate that they are not engaged in such activities at the community college or the university and that the ir participation has continued to decline as they progressed across the K 20 system (Table 5 3). Table 53 Comparison Extracurricular Activities Engaged HS% CC% UN% strongly agree 19.6 7.8 3.8 agree 32.1 12.0 9.4 neither agree nor disagree 14.9 23.4 31.4 disa gree 20.2 38.3 39.6 strongly disagree 13.1 18.6 15.7 Collective Positive Response: HS=51.7%, CC=19.8%, UN=13.2% For each academic setting, students were asked to reflect upon their academic performance and respond to the simple statement, I performed we ll in [each level].
129 Survey respondents self assessment of their academic performance increased significantly from high school to community college, but dropped somewhat at the university as illustrated by their collective positive responses shown in Table 5 4. Table 54 Comparison Academic Performance Performed Well HS% CC% UN% strongly agree 15.5 37.7 24.5 agree 39.3 49.7 54.1 neither agree nor disagree 20.2 10.2 18.9 disagree 18.5 1.8 .6 strongly disagree 6.5 .6 1.9 Collective Positiv e Response: HS=54.8%, CC=87.4%, UN=78.6% Students level of satisfaction with their academic performance in each academic setting was examined Only about 45% of respondents were satisfied with their high school performance, but they were very satisfied with their higher education performance. Viewing this item from students negative (unsatisfied) perceptions, there was a drastic difference in their self assessment across the K 20 system as nearly 45% reported dissatisfaction with performance in the hig h school setting dropping to less than 5% in the community college and less than 6% at the university as reflected in Table 55. Table 55 Comparison Satisfaction with Academic Performance Satisfied HS% CC% UN% strongly agree 13.7 36.1 25.2 agree 31.0 47.6 50.9 neither agree nor disagree 10.7 11.4 17.6 disagree 27.4 4.8 3.8 strongly disagree 17.3 0.0 2.5 Collective Positive Response: HS=44.7%, CC=83.7%, UN=75.1%
130 Another aspect of students academic performance was determined by asking stude nts to reflect upon the effort they had put forth in each academic setting. Again there was a marked progression of their collective positive response across the different academic environments. Only a little over onethird of the respondents acknowledged that they gave a significant effort in high school, but their self assessment of effort in the community college and the university was greatly increased. As shown in Table 56, there was also a decline in students neutrality across each educational settin g relating to this topic which affords more reliability to the collective positive responses. Table 56 Comparison Self Assessment of Effort Gave Significant Effort HS% CC% UN% strongly agree 11.4 36.4 33.3 agree 24.0 46.7 57.9 neither agree nor disagree 17.4 13.9 6.3 disagree 28.7 3.0 .6 strongly disagree 18.6 0.0 1.9 Collective Positive Response: HS=35.4%, CC=83.1%, UN=91.2% Peer study and self directed group participation were included as a point of inquiry in this survey to determine if students were taking measures to improve their academic performance by engag ing with others in the ir study process es Table 57 shows that students participation in peer study was most prevalent at the community college. Table 57 Comparison P articipation in Study/Work Groups Participate d HS% CC% UN% yes 19.4 48.2 33.5 no 80.6 51.8 66.5
131 Good academic guidance is generally recognized as i ntegral to students efficient progress and success. During the focus group and through routine interact ions with this student population, many students have complained that they did not feel their academic advisors and counselors had provided adequate services. This issue is corroborated in Table 58 below for the high school setting, but respondents acknowl edge a progressive improvement as they moved to the community college and the university. Table 58 Comparison Interaction with Counselors and Advisors Adequate HS% CC% UN% strongly agree 4.2 10.8 16.9 agree 27.3 44.9 50.0 neither agree nor disagr ee 23.0 30.5 23.8 disagree 27.9 9.6 5.0 strongly disagree 17.6 4.2 4.4 Collective Positive Response: HS=31.5%, CC=55.7%, UN=66.9% Chickering and Reisser (1993) address the issue of maturity within their seven vectors of student development as prev iously discussed in Chapter Two (p.35). As an individual develops socially and cognitively, they move through autonomy toward interdependence and become adept at develop ing mature interpersonal relationships. Accordingly, th ese mature students would be exp ected to better engage their teachers, instructors and professors beyond routine classroom requirements As such, BSAS students were asked to respond to the statement, I routinely interact ( ed ) with [ school level] faculty beyond classroom requirements usi ng a Likert scale to determine their past and current perceptions about their relationships with faculty. Only about 26% reported that they routinely interacted with high school faculty beyond normal classroom
132 requirements, and contrary to the researchers expectations, there was only a slight increase in the collective positive responses for the community college (35.7%) and the university (28.1%) as shown in Table 59. Table 59 Comparison Interaction with Faculty Routinely Interacted HS% CC% UN% strongl y agree 5.4 12.1 8.1 agree 20.5 23.6 20.0 neither agree nor disagree 17.5 23.0 35.6 disagree 39.8 32.7 30.0 strongly disagree 16.9 8.5 6.3 Collective Positive Response: HS=25.9%, CC=35.7%, UN=28.1% Students completion of out of classroom academ ic assignments was considered to be worthy of investigation as a factor of academic performance. Survey respondents were asked to reflect upon their conscientiousness toward completing such assignments across each institutional setting. Table 6 0 shows a dr amatic difference in students attitude about their commitment to completing reading/homework assignments as they moved from high school to the community college, especially for those who strongly agreed that they conscientiously completed the assignments. Table 60 Comparison Completion of Reading/Homework Assignments Conscientiously Completed HS% CC% UN% strongly agree 17.0 34.8 37.7 agree 41.2 55.5 54.1 neither agree nor disagree 10.3 7.9 5.7 disagree 24.8 .6 .6 strongly disagree 6.7 1.2 1.9 Collective Positive Response: HS=58.2, CC=90.3%, UN=91.8%
133 Self confidence/self efficacy in ones ability to perform well in school was considered a contributing factor for BSAS students academic success. To measure students opinion of thei r confidence and efficacy across each academic setting they were asked to respond to the statement, I felt capable of performing in the academic setting of [institutional level]. As illustrated in Table 61 the overwhelming majority of those responding t o the survey indicated that they felt capable of performing at each level, and collective positive responses progressively increased as they moved across the system. Table 61 Comparison Self efficacy Felt Capable HS% CC% UN% strongly agree 31.1 30.9 35.2 agree 49.1 60.0 57.9 neither agree nor disagree 14.4 6.7 5.0 disagree 3.0 .6 .6 strongly disagree 2.4 1.8 1.3 Collective Positive Response: HS=80.2%, CC=90.9%, UN=93.1% Student performance at the university level is often dependent upon ones ability to conduct research. In this survey, t he ability to conduct research using library resources was used as a measure of students information literacy. Survey respondents were asked if they were confident in their ability to use library re sources to conduct research at each institutional leve l Results of this analysis did not show a progressive increase in students sense of competency for library usage which may be attributed to the increased demands for research at the university level In fact there was a decline in their competency rating at the university (T able 62 ).
134 Table 62 Comparison Information Literacy Competent HS% CC% UN% strongly agree 22.0 27.7 24.5 agree 45.2 52.4 45.9 neither agree nor disagree 16.7 13.3 23.9 disagree 10.7 6.0 3.1 strongly disagree 5.4 .6 2.5 Collective Positive Response: HS=67.2%, CC=80.1%, UN=70.4% Responses to Research Questions This study focused on three fundamental research questions : 1) What are the demographic and academic charact eristics of AS transfer students?; 2) How have AS transfer students engaged in their educational processes connected with their academic institutions?; and 3) Are AS transfer students succeeding at the university? The following responses to the above thre e research questions were derived from archived institutional data, evaluation of students responses to questions on the BSAS Transfer Student Survey (Appendix C), the researchers interpretation of all compiled data, personal interactions with the students, and an intimate understanding of the BSAS program. Research Question One: What are the demographic and academic characteristics of AS transfer student? The average A S transfer student is 37 years old. Sixty percent of the AS transfer student population is female. Their race/ethnicity mirrors national norms for all university students. They are predominately full time workers ( averaging 40 hours per week) and part time students ( averaging 9 hours per semester). They transfer from the community college t o the university with a mean grade point average of 2.98 and maintain a mean grade point average of 3.12 at the university. Over half of the surveyed
135 student population was married and over two thirds had children. Over 91% were employed, and 69% were working in their AS technical/occupational field with an average one way commute to work of 30 minutes The median income reported was approximately $61,000. The majority indicate that their parents have earned a high school diploma or less, and over 40% of AS transfer students are the first in their family to attend college. Less than half of the AS transfer student population report ed that their past attitude about higher education was positive as opposed to their current attitude which is 72% positive. They feel overwhelming ly confident in their English, math, reading and communication skills. They report that they are highly motivated students driven by a desire for career advancement, the sense of personal accomplishment and the support of their famil y m embers As they have progressed across the K 20 system, the have attained an increasingly more positive attitude about higher education, and acknowledge that they have put forth an increased effort toward their academic pursuits from high school to community college and from community college to the university. Respondents to the survey also indicate a strong and growing sense of serf efficacy in the higher educational environment. The overall picture of the AS transfer students examined in this study r eveals that they are mature, hard working students who are motivated to successfully complete their bachelors degree. Although they may not have been stellar high school students they have progressively advanced across the K 20 system becoming good studen ts at the community college and even better students at the university.
136 Research Quest ion Two: How have AS transfer students engaged in their educational processes connected with their academic institutions? According to many scholars, as noted in Chapte r Two, student engagement is considered to be an important component of student development and student success. Student engagement is associated with the vast array of students experiences within their institutions and their participation in active lear ning, collaborative learning, extracurricular activities, co curricular activities, student faculty interaction s advising and academic support services According to the results of this study, using any of the identified measures for student engagement, B SAS students are clearly disengaged. AS transfer student disengagement revealed in this study is not a reflection upon their academic institutions. Their disengagement is more likely attribut ed to their level of maturity, their work and family obligations and their general disassociation with the activities and services afforded to the t raditional student population. They report negligible participation in extracurricular activities, and weak interactive relations with their faculty and peers. The vast majority of the BSAS students do not participate in study groups, and they rarely cite d any institutional support services as a reason for their academic progress or success with the exception of academic advising However, using another set of measures fo r student engagement, the average BSAS student is quite engaged in their work life, their family life and their academic pursuits They are working full time, raising families, commuting to and from work, commuting to and from school, taking an average of 9 credit hours each semester, carving out enough time to study, and successfully balancing everything.
137 This study examined students transition across high school, community college and the university revealing some positive aspects of student engagement relating to institutional efforts Students reported that their engagement with academic advisors progressively and positively increased as they moved across the K 20 system as only 31% were positive about their interaction with high school a dvisors increasing to 56% at the community college and 67% at the university (p. 131). T he surveyed population also noted a positive view of curricular relevance to their personal goals as they progressed across the K 20 system with high school curriculum receiving only 37% approval while community college and university curriculum earned about 80% of the populations approval for being relevant (p.126). Finally, very few students indicated or commented negatively about an institutional lack of effort or mechanisms to enhance student engagement, but this may be due, in part, that the students themselves are disconnected from the institution. The results from this study, however, would indicate that some attention may be warranted to improve student facult y relationships, peer interactions and creative ways to engage this unique nontraditional student population at the university Research Question Three: Are AS transfer students succeeding at the university? The answer t o this research question is yes. AS degree holders who have transferred to the BSAS degree program are doing very well. Archival data on BSAS graduates shows, a s a distinct student population, t hey are perpetuating through the ir BSAS degree accumulating fewer credit hours than the nationa l average (p.77), and they are graduating with a very respectable grade point average of 3.12 (p.74). This study reveal ed that they see themselves as self motivated, conscientious, career focused and hard working.
138 Although many of the BSAS students acknowledged mediocre academic performance in earl ier endeavors their reported progressive improvement across high school, community college and the university was evident. Their self confidence has been cultivated by their previous successes in higher educat ion and maturation. Over 91% of those surveyed were employed full time. Nearly 69% were employed in the technical or occupational specialty acquired through their AS degree, and most were now explicitly pursuing the BSAS degree for career enhancement car eer progression or graduate school purposes. This purposeful aspect of a college education for these students was certainly a potent factor in their improvement across the K 20 system as covered earlier in this chapter (pp 110112) BSAS students academic performance was verified through archived institutional data and supplemented by student responses and narrative comments on the BSAS Transfer Student Survey (Appendix C). S tudents endorse d their own success and declared within this research that the y are pleased with the university they believe they are performing well, they are satisfied with their academic performance, they are putting forth a concerted effort, and they anticipate graduating with a grade point average higher than their current one Through my routine interaction with these students, I am confident that the students who participated in this survey were forthright in their responses to questions and candid in their narrative accounts T heir ability to perform and succeed at the university was corroborated through an assessment of academic records and a comprehensive analysis of their development and motivation to succeed.
139 Conclusion This study of Associate in Science (AS) to Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) tr ansfer students was an embedded case study designed to analyze student characteristics, engagement and performance of those who have transferred into the BSAS degree program at a major research university. Th e research contained herein has provided a rich and comprehensive analysis of this relatively new and unique student population at the university about whom little was known prior to this study Of particular concern to the researcher w as capturing the BSAS students academic background life experien ces, and perspectives about migrating across the high school and community college environments prior to transferring to the university as possible determinant s of their preparation for baccalaureate studies. Consequently, students were asked to reflect up on those experiences that related to their development and performance across the se education system s This approach provided informative and interesting results contrast ing students past and current educational experiences and yield ed a strong foundation for understanding their circumstances, their views about education, their path of growth and development, and their aspirations. The survey instrument, The BSAS Transfer Student Survey (Appendix C), contained 100 items designed to obtain specific infor mation about this nontraditional student population not otherwise available through any other source. The survey adopted a conceptual framework drawn from existing national survey instruments on student engagement No e xisting survey however, w as wholly applicable to this unique nontraditional BSAS student population which requir ed the construct of an original survey modeled after the N ational S urvey of S tudent E ngagement The length of the survey may
140 have contributed to a reduced response rate, but the researcher opted to sacrifice potential quantity of respondents in favor of obtaining a more complete and comprehensive set of qualitative data. Fortunately, about 42% of the total BSAS student population responded to the survey providing meaningful input, which resulted in this comprehensive analysis of the BSAS transfer students characteristics, engagement and performance.
141 Chapter Five Findings, Conclusions, Im plications, and Recommendations The purpose of this study was to exam ine Associate in Science (AS) students who transferred into the Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) degree program to determine their student characteristics, level of engagement and performance. As a relatively new and unique option for AS degre e holders, these students are now leaving the community college and entering the university with technically or occupationally focused twoyear degrees which have historically been viewed as terminal two year degrees. There are some within higher educa tion who believe that these students have not been academically prepared for university level studies, because they have only engaged in technical or occupation al studies instead of a well rounded liberal arts curriculum within th e broadly recognized commu nity college credential deemed appropriate for transfer to the university the Associate in Arts (AA) degree; not the A ssociate in S cience (AS) or Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree This study involved a comprehensive investigation and analysis of AS transfer students entering the BSAS degree program at a major research university for the purpose of gaining insight and better understanding about BSAS students to determine if they are, in fact, prepared and suitable for baccalaureate level studies.
142 Determining the worthiness of AS degree holders for transfer to the university was one of the researchers motivations for conducting this study. Another motivation was to ascertain any issues c oncerning this new student population at the university that may warrant a reaction or resolution by the institution. A final motivating factor for conducting this study was to examine the overall viability of such AS to BS programs within the scheme of higher education to provide institutional leaders, policy maker s accrediting agencies and legislators with the information necessary to determine if it is the right thing to do for students, educational system s and the workforce. Th e following summation provides a recapitulation of the salient facts, observations a nd outcomes of the study. This chapter includes the method summary, summary of findings, conclusions, implications for practice, recommendations for further research, and the summary statement. Method Summary This research used a qualitative embedded case study approach incorporating limited statistical analyses of certain data elements. Institutionally archived data was drawn from the universitys student database for the entire BSAS student population (N=407) to analyze demographic and academic perf ormance information. A student survey instrument was crafted to collect additional data deemed by the researcher as important missing information needed for developing a comprehensive understanding of the BSAS student. The survey was divided into four subs ection s of inquiry addressing demographic s high school reflections, community college reflections, and university reflections. The survey included Likert scale and open ended items intended to gain qualitative information about student characteristics, or ientations, and experiences The
143 survey was particularly focused on developing insight about students perceptions of themselves, their engagement with educational processes and environments, and their academic performance. The BSAS students within the universitys population were first identified through the institutions archives. A ll archival data for this population were secured collected and analyzed. From th e institution s list of all BSAS students, a focus group was selected through purposeful random sampling. The focus group consisting of 8 students was convened to discuss BSAS student issues and complete the pilot survey All f ocus group participants concurred that the survey was appropriately designed for gathering the requisite BSAS student inf ormation relevant to this study, and only minor typographical errors were identified for editing The survey was then prepared for online access through Survey Monkey and the link was emailed to the entire BSAS student population (N=407). Three separate s olicitations of the entire BSAS population were executed approximately two weeks apart requesting that they complete and submit the survey. The final response rate was 41.5% consisting of 137 active students and 32 BSAS graduates (n=179). Archived data was collected and analyzed to determine the demographic and academic profile of the BSAS student population. This i nstitutional data included age, gender, race, academic area of study, community college transfer grade point average, and university grade point average. Results from this analysis of th e archival information established a baseline for several comparisons with national level data and the subsequent self reported data provide by the survey respondents.
144 There was an extensive amount of data collected through institutional archives and survey responses, which required multiple analyses, syntheses, and tabular presentations to make sense of the information compiled. This consisted of calculating frequencies, means, medians, standard deviations, thema tic categorizations, and various comparisons /measurements of the collected raw data to develop meaningful results for the study. The statistical package utilized in this process was SPSS for Windows. As a descriptive study, the primary intention of the r esearcher was to provide a comprehensive portrayal of this population of BSAS students. Th e embedded case study method used, as previously cited in Chapter Three, is the preferred research strategy when the focus of the study is a contemporary phenomenon w ithin a real life context and when the researcher has little control over events (Yin, 2003). This type of research can offer insight, enhance understanding, and provide meaningful guides for practice (Strauss and Corbin, 1998). The qualitative aspect of this study provided rich personal narratives from the BSAS survey respondents that depicted their background and character; defined their experiences within their educational environments; and described their effort, engagement, motivations and aspirations. Likert scale statements, although quite efficient in a 100 item survey instrument, did not develop precise indicators of feelings, attitudes or perspectives because the options permit only a single scaled response. However, the Likert scale items did pr ovide students general sense of positiv ity, negativity or neutrality on relevant issues concerning their educational experiences. The quantitative portions of this study provided a basis for interpreting BSAS students attribute distributions, academic pe rformance measures, and the comparisons of
145 means (within and between) various other established data points. Q uantitative data within this study were non analytical/non predictive in nature. Descriptive statistics presented herein were primarily used to pr ovide a statistical picture of data such as frequencies, distribut ions, means, comparisons, etc. T his mixed methods approach, although somewhat cumbersome, was a process that afforded o ptimum results for the study. It inherently allowed secondary/archival data to verify narrative responses, and the narrative responses and comported well with the existing data. This cross check of data sources offered a level of validity to both sources and further supported the validity of the study and the outcomes. Summary of Findings This research process employed was an embedded case study method to answer three fundamental research questions. Each research question is presented below with the significant findings of the study incorporat ing analyses and synthes e s of the exhaustive data collected. Research Question One: What are the demographic and academic characteristics of BSAS transfer students? Student characteristics were determined via comprehensive descriptive analysis of student demographics and academic background s uch as age, race, gender, BSAS major, transfer GPA, transfer hours, university GPA, university credit hours earned, commuting distances to campus and work, marital status, family educational level, socioeconomic status, and other factors that described this student population. Relevant information was drawn from archived data and the BSAS Transfer Student Survey (APPENDIX C).
146 The research revealed that Associate in Science (AS) transfer student s who have entered the Bachelor of Science in Applied S cience (BSAS) degree program at the university are, indeed, a new and unique population of undergraduate students within the university. They are certainly not f irst time in college freshmen nor do meet the profile of the mainstream transfer students or other nontraditional transfer students. They are predominately mature (averaging 37 years of age) full time working adults (91%) with families, a career, and a substantial income (average $55,000) pursuing the bachelors degree while taking an average of 9 credits per semester, maintaining a very respectable grade point average (about 3.2), and graduating with fewer accumulated total credit hours than the national average for transfer students. This student profile does not resemble any other student popul ation currently b eing served by the university. These are the students who have been historically denied access to senior institutions due to the nontransferability of their AS/AAS career credential s Their vocationally oriented degrees have carried a l ower status and do not find any easy counterpart at four year colleges (Townsend & Twombly, 2001, p.132,). This new BSAS degree has indeed, provided such a capstone counterpart for these two year degrees at the four year colleges, and their lower statu s AS degrees have proven to be quite adequate refuting the historical s ubjective discernment that these community college students were inadequately prepared, both academically and socially, for college level learning (Howell, 2001). As pointed out in the earlier literature review for this study, the social cognitive issues associated to adult learning were a pplicable to the basic description of the BSAS student population. Students who have come to the university via the study of AS
147 degrees at the commun ity college were usually engaged in situated learning. Learning is situated when it happens within a specific social arrangement or community of practice, which is generally in contrast with abstract, out of context classroom learning generally used in m ost university curriculum (L ave, 1998) Drawing from early theories of adult learning, t he majority of BSAS survey respondents validated the notions of John Dewey (18591952) generally stating that they sought learning to help them cope with life. Dewey a nd others believed that l earning must be connected to adults lives, provide useful knowledge, increase their self esteem, or aid in dealing with an experience or an anticipated lifechanging event (Dewey, 1938; Rogers, 1969; Cross, 1981). Surveyed student s overwhelmingly identified with these concepts indicating that their motivation for pursuing the bachelors degree and succeeding academically were attributed to career advancement, self accomplishment, and taking care of their families. And nearly 80% of those surveyed stated that their curriculum was pertinent to their personal goals. An important characteristic of the BSAS student s was their 91% full time working status, which certainly affect ed their ability to pursue higher education. Their average co mmute time to campus was reported to be about 30 minutes with the addition of the home to work commute averaging about 30 minutes. This amount of travel time in addition to the routine workday and family obligations w as a contributing factor for the limite d number of credit hours and time devoted to course requirements. The BSAS students average, however, taking 9 credit hours per semester was good, and they indicated that they routinely devote d about 13 hours per week to class assignments and homework.
148 BSAS students reported their family educational background with 71% report ing that their mother had completed a high school diploma or less; 63% reported that their father had completed a high school diploma or less; and only 44% of their spouses had a ttained the high school diploma. They also indicated that 41% were the first in family to attend college. Only 42% reported that their past attitude toward higher education was positive as opposed to 72% who now have a positive view of higher education. T hey feel confident in their ability to perform in university level curriculum. They reported that they were confident in their college level math skills at the rate of 72%, confident in their college level English skills at 89%, and 93% reported they were confident in college level composition and reading skills. Gender and minority distributions among the BSAS population were consistent with national norms. There were disparit ies, however, between males and females pursing the different areas of study in Early Childhood Development, Environmental Policy, Gerontology, Industrial Operations, Public Health and Information Technology. Extreme disparities were evident in the number and ratio of females overwhelmingly dominating studies in Early Childhood Devel opment (96% female) and males who exclusively (100%) populate d Industrial Operations. As already outlined in this section, the average BSAS student is a mature, career focused individual with a substantial salary. Our changing economy has resulted in t he proliferation of jobs requiring the AS degree. As Debra Bragg (2001) outlines the se vocational careers offer substantial salaries and opportunities for advancement in the new economy requiring a degree that i s more technological, requiring greater anal ytical and problem solving ability, and exists in a constantly changing environment that demands
149 continuous learning. Co mmunity colleges have recognized th is need to integrate academic and vocational curriculum that prepares successful employees to be lifelong learners. Data revealed in t his study supports the fact that these AS degree holders are adequately prepared to be successful lifelong learners. Finally, the students in this survey were self directed adults and aligned with Malcolm Knowles theory on adult learn ers. Knowles noted the difference s from child learning pedagogy and adopt ed the term andragogy to represent his theory of adult learning that emphasizes the self directed character of adults and focuses more on the process of learning rath er than content (Knowles, 1975, 1980, 1984). Students in this study closely resembled Knowles ideas about adult learners as they represented the characteristics of adult social responsibility and the personal motivation to learn (Tawney, 1920; Lindeman, 1926). Research Question Two: How have BSAS transfer students engaged in their educational processes and connected with their academic institutions? Student engagement include d students perceptions about the relevance of curriculum to their career goals; their relationships with faculty and peers, their e ngagement with institutional membership s and perceptions about their experiences as a student. This research question e valuated engagement through students self reported assessment s of their development interactions, participation, and their views about changes they incurred over time and across educational settings These measures of student engagement were patterned after the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) with significant modifications g eared to the BSAS student population. Evaluation of s tudent engagement as outlined by George Kuh and others (1994, 1995, 2005, 2006 &
150 2007) seeks to understand how students connect to their environment and how the environment affects them These inquiri es can provide insight about the educational environment s impact on students social and cognitive development. The NSSE benchmarks are the level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student faculty interactions, enriching educational experiences, and a supportive campus environment. Certain i ssues of concern to the researcher required modifi cation of elements in the NSSE inventory O ther unknown/ unanswered aspects of student engagement specific to these students required additional L iker scale statements and open ended questions for inclusion into the BSAS Transfer Student Survey Interestingly, t he students in this study oscillated among the various measures of student engagement. Understandably, they were disengaged with university extracurricular activities that would conflict with their jobs or family obligations This explains why over 55% indicated that they did not engage in such activities at the university. However, nearly 88% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that they were ple ased with the university environment, which represented an upward trend when compared with their previous academic environments as only 59% were pleased with their high school, and about 84% were pleased with their community college. Surveyed students reported that their university curriculum was relevant to their personal goals at the rate of 80%, but this represented a slight dip in their view of the community college curriculum for which 82% reported its relevance. This population had a neg ative view of their high school curriculum with only about 37% agreeing that it was relevant to their personal goals. As expected, the technical and occupational focus of their
151 community college curriculum was most important to s tudents elected goals and career choice, but university curriculum still held up with a high rate of relevance. Only 28% of the surveyed BSAS students felt that they had a good relationship with the ir university faculty. This was a noticeable negative drop compared to their reflect ions about their high school experience with 61% reporting good faculty relationships, and nearly 70% who report ed good relationships with their community college faculty. Students were subsequently asked about their routine interaction with faculty which produced similar results. Reflecting upon their experiences only about 26% felt they interacted with high school faculty beyond normal classroom requirements, 36% with community college faculty, and only 28% with university faculty. These responses reflect ing the poor rating of student faculty interaction a cross each environment were inconsistent with their reported good faculty relations at the high school and community college levels but the cause of these low rat ings for student faculty i nteraction was not determined with in this study Student engagement with peer study groups was negligible in the high school setting with only about 19% reporting they had engaged in study groups. This percentage increased to almost 48% at the community college, and then dropped to 34% at the university. This indicates that the BSAS students valued study groups more at the community college, but they generally did not pursue it as a means of improving their academic performance. These percentages at the university show that the majority did not engage in active collaborative learning. Another peer related item of inquiry was their self assessment of the quality of the relationships they had with peers at the different academic environments across the K 20
152 system. Students reported a steady decline of good relationships with peers as they migrated across the educational systems with 73% who felt they had good relationships with their high school peers declining to 70% at the community college, and only about 62% at the university. There was a positive trend reflected in students survey response related to their engagement with advisors and counselors. Academic advising by the university was considered adequate by approximately 67% of those surveyed. This was an 11% impr ovement over their reported community college advising as about 56% indicated their community college advising was, and only about 32% indicated their high school advising was adequate. A challenging academic curriculum is one of the benchmarks for st udent engagement. The academic demands of university curriculum were compared to that of the community college and 67% of those surveyed reported that their university curriculum was more difficult tha n their community college curriculum. In a related meas ure of engagement, students were asked to reflect upon the effort they had put forth to ward their academic pursuits at each institutional level. Survey results showed a dramatic increase in student effort as they moved across each level of the system. Only about 34% of the respondents reported that they put forth a significant effort in high school. The percentage of respondents reporting a significant effort at the community college rose to a little over 81%, and over 91% of the BSAS students at the univer sity reported they put forth a significant effort. The researchers overall analysis of student engagement utilizing the benchmarks of the NSSE indicated that the BSAS students were only moderately engaged at the
153 university. The five benchmarks are 1) lev el of academic challenge, 2) active and collaborative learning, 3) student faculty interaction, 4) enriching educational experiences, and 5) a supportive campus environment. BSAS students rated low on active and collaborative learning as they indicated low levels of participation in peer work groups, and due to their work/family obligations they do not participate in oncampus events or extracurricular activities. Student faculty interactions were rated very low, and the vast majority did not feel they had good relationships with university faculty. This population also rates low on their engagement in enriching educational experiences. Due to their family and work obligations, they were not generally available to participate in volunteer service s internshi ps, study abroad or other such activities. Although the BSAS student population rates low on many measures of student engagement, the researcher notes that they are, in fact, very engaged in matters of work, family, and academics. They are engaged in adul thood. Considering that the concept of creating an environment of student engagement within the university is to better prepare undergraduate students for adulthood, the researcher suggests that most BSAS students entered the university having already reached that stage of their lives, and they have already become productive members of our society and the workforce Research Question Three: Are BSAS transfer students succeeding at the university? Student success was measured by archived grade point aver age, persistence, degree completion and narrative responses to survey questions These data afford ed a qualitative and minimal quantitative analysis of information dr awn from institutional data to describe academic performance through analyses of communit y college transfer grade
154 point average, university grade point average and persistence Additional information was acquired from the BSAS Transfer Student Survey (APPENDIX C). By the observed measures with in this study, BSAS students are performing very we ll at the university. As a distinct transfer student population (N=407), they transferred to the university with a 2.98 community college grade point average and now hold a 3.12 grade point average at the university. BSAS graduates to date (n=118) support this level of academic performance with the BSAS graduate population having also earned a grade point average of 3.12. The se BSAS graduates complet ed their degree with fewer total number of credit hours than the national average for associate degree trans fer students. Over 80% of the BSAS students have graduated with fewer credit s than the national average of 148 credit hours. The mean earned credit hours for BSAS graduates was 137, and the median was only 128. Although the average number of enrolled credi t hours per semester for BSAS students was only 9 credit hours, they are persisting through the degree at high rate s maintaining their 9 credit hours per semester each term This 3/4 rate of enrollment at the university was comparable to the students self reported level of enrollment at the community college Their less than full time enrollment is attributed to the ir full time employ ment status as reported by ove r 91% of the students The reasons for BSAS student success at the university are multifaceted. The first and most obvious is the predominant level of maturity within the population. Malcolm Knowles (1978) noted that the adult student assumes the self concept of being self directed. Th e notion of self directedness among BSAS students was prevalent in this
155 study. Adult learning emphasizes the self directed character of an adults social, civic and personal motivations to learn (Tawney, 1920; Lindeman, 1926). Adults connect well to education when it meets their objectives and is relevant to their per sonal and professional goals. They come to college with a wide range of previous experiences, knowledge, self direction, interests, and competencies (Speck, 1996) The BSAS students come to the university with a technical or occupational background, experi ences of success and failure, and a strong motivation to maintain or improve their past academic performances. As revealed through the survey, over 93% of the BSAS students feel capable of performing at the university. Almost 80% reported that their univer sity curriculum was relevant to their personal goals. Approximately 90% have clearly identified their occupation goals and most are pursuing the bachelors degree for career advancement The majority identified their self motivation and maturity as the pr imary factors contributing to their performance at the university. Over half of those surveyed claim that their study habits at the university are better than their study habits at the community college, and they reported giving significant effort toward u niversity requirements with their sources of motivation coming from their families and their sense of accomplishment. In the final analysis of BSAS student performance at the university, these students have performed well and continue to do so. Their acade mic performance was verified through analyses of archived institutional data and supplemented by student responses and narrative comments on the BSAS Transfer Student Survey (Appendix C). Throughout the survey students endorsed the findings of archival dat a review by commenting on their satisfaction with the university environment, their belief that they
156 were performing well, their satisfaction with their academic performance, their acknowledgement of putting forth a significant effort, and their anticipati on of graduating with a grade point average higher than their current one. The culminating evidence from all sources analyzed shows that the BSAS students are a unique and new population of students at the university who have proven to be quite capable and successful. Conclusions This relatively new pathway for AS degree holders to pursue a baccalaureate degree has created a new and unique population of students at the university. This study examined these students characteristics, engagement and perfor mance. The research design was an embedded case study which analyzed institutionally archived date and student responses from a 100 item survey instrument. The study sought to answer three primary research questions: 1) What are the demographic and academi c characteristics of AS transfer students?, 2) How have AS transfer students engaged in their educational processes connected with their academic institutions?, and 3) Are AS transfer students succeeding at the university? The concluding summary responses to these research questions follow: 1. What are the demographic and academic characteristics of AS transfer students ? The AS students who have transferred to the BSAS degree program at the university are predominately mature, married with children, har d working, and academically prepared individuals completing a bachelors degree for career advancement. They have already completed a technically or occupationally focused AS degree at the community college, and they either currently work or intend to work in these chosen career fields after completion of the BSAS degree. They transferred to the
157 university with respectable academic performance at the community college, and they are performing even better at the university. 2. How have AS transfer students engaged in their educational processes connected with their academic institutions? AS students who transferred to the BSAS degree program at the university have only moderately engaged with the university using the standard measures of engagement. Accordin g to NSSE benchmarks comprised of measuring level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student faculty interactions, enriching educational experiences, and a supportive campus environment the BSAS population does not appear to be enga ged. However, the NSSE was not designed to measure level of engagement for this unique student population. The BSAS students would rate highly on other measures of engagement associated to adult learners with adult responsibilities The BSAS population is very engaged in their responsibilities to secure their family, their career and their future. 3. Are AS transfer students succeeding at the university? Yes, the AS students who have transferred to the BSAS degree program at the university are succeeding. T hey are performing well academically, and performing well as participants in the workforce earning significant incomes The BSAS graduates are achieving their academic goals and continuing with their academic pursuits Some have gone on to graduate school, law school, medical school or dental school. Although the BSAS degree program has only been in existence for about five years, some are already in doctoral programs. Limitations Although survey questions w ere designed to make them as easy to understand a s possible, each person surveyed may have interpret ed the survey questions differently or
158 they may have experienced difficulty crafting a coherent narrative response or selecting an accurate response on Likert scale items. A limitation of the case study is its weakness regarding generalization. The study of a particular case may not generate results that correlate well to the peculiarities of another. However, as Stake (1995) points out, we do not study a case to understand other cases. Our first obligati on is to understand this one (p. 4). Delimitation: Generalizations are limited to the Florida community college system and transfer policies of Florida s State University System. The Florida AS degree is not equivalent to other states AS degrees. It is c omparable to many other states AAS degrees, but differences could preclude an accurate one to one comparison. Implications for Practice This research study revealed numerous implications for improvements in practice. An issue that students revealed in t heir response s to the survey was their sense of disengagement with the university environment. Over half of those surveyed indicated that they did not engage in extracurricular activities, only 28% felt that they had a good relationship with university fac ulty, only 61% stated that they had good relationships with their peers, only 28% indicated that they interacted with faculty beyond routine classroom requirements, and only about 34% responded that they engaged in collaborative studies at the university Although this research showed that the BSAS population is inherently disengaged due to their many obligations and responsibilities as adults, parents, and full time workers, there is much that higher education can do to better serve their unique needs. T he university does not offer a large number of online/weekend courses or cocurricular
159 activities during evening hours or on weekends. The vast majority of the BSAS students (91%) are full time employees with little opportunity to engage in activities sche duled during their working hours They are also unlikely to engage in things geared to the interests or schedules of the traditional student population. The university could do much more to arrange curriculum as well as extracurricular and co curricular events that are scheduled a t more opportune days and times for the adult student. With the very low perceptions of student faculty relations and faculty interaction revealed in this study it appears that the institution needs to raise the awareness of active collaborative learning techniques among faculty at the university. Many of these mature students are older and have greater life experience than their professors, which should create the opportunity for stronger interpersonal relationships between fac ulty and the BSAS students. The university should encourage students and faculty to create and embrace new opportunities for adult interaction and active collaboration in the teaching and learning arrangement, which may be quite different than the traditional arrangements experienced by both to date in the K 20 system The overwhelming success of BSAS students at the university provides the impetus for greater promotion of this pathway to the baccalaureate among community college advisors university rec ruiters and admissions personnel. Regardless of the advancement of AS to BS articulation, t here is still a stigma among many higher education personnel. that the technical/occupational two year degree is less rigorous less credible, and less transferrable. The practice of deterring students from pursuing an AS degree in favor of a liberal arts AA degree should be mitigated because of the new articulation policies and the proven success of such AS to BS programs especially for
1 60 those students whom the AS is a mo re appropriate option. This study has revealed that the AS degree is viable for pursuing a lucrative career, and many of the technical and occupational specialties are projected to be in high demand across the workforce well into the future To affect these changes in attitude and practice, educational leaders, faculty, staff, counselors and advisors must be informed of the AS to BS transfer opportunities and apprised of their contemporary value. Legislative motivations to improve articulation policies for the K 20 seamless education system have encountered obstacles from the traditional mindsets of faculty, institution al leaders and accrediting agencies As Kasworm (1990) pointed out, there have been questions regarding the legitimacy of adults pa rticipating in undergraduate studies, and Boyer (1974) argued that higher education has historically perceived adult students as misfits or retreads in a kind of salvage operation. Kasworm further recognized that some higher education leaders argue that t hese adult students have already had their chance and passed it up. According to Kasworm, early studies of adult students viewed them as an image of implied deficiency where the studies focused on examin ing adult students inferiority or their age as lim iting factors to their cognitive performance (Kasworm, 1990). It has taken us a very long time to make this degree of progress where we recognize that a two year technical/occupational degree is worthy for transfer and credible for two years of higher education applicable toward the fouryear baccalaureate. This study has provided evidence that the creation of the BSAS program was the right thing to do. It may also support the notion tha t further articulation of the two year
161 Associate in Applied Science (A AS) as well as other community college coursework not currently recognized for transfer credit m ay be warranted Recommendations for Further Research During the course of this study, the author found that there were few sources and many gaps in the exist ing body of research studying two year technical and occupational transfer students. This is understandable, because the movement to create more standardized transfer processes and expanded articulation for these students is a relatively new phenomenon. M ost of the prior research on nontraditional and adult students has focused on those who were entering or re entering college to pursue a traditional college path for a traditional college degree. In contrast, AS to BS transfer s tudents are coming to the uni versity with technical/occupational AS / AAS degree s as nontraditional students pursuing a nontraditional path to a nontraditional degree. Th is study provided a n analysis of the BSAS student population at a single university. The research topic was thoroughly investigated and the analyses resulted in a rich and comprehensive description the this unique student population. Th e results of this study however, le ft many unanswered questions about the nature of these students, policies and practices relating to these students, seamless education systems, and future workforce implications. The following relevant topics were beyond the purview of this study, but they are fertile areas for future research : 1. An area warranting further research on th is technical/occupational transfer student population, is the success of students transferring from vastly different AS/AAS degree programs. Is the content of one AS degree /program better preparation for university level studies than another? Are students in the differing ac ademic areas
162 of study at the community college more likely to succeed than those from other discipline s? For instance, should we expect a student with an AS degree in Information Technology to be better prepared for university level curriculum than a stude nt with an AS degree in Early Childhood Development? D o students with an AS degree in Business Administration outperform students with an AS degree in Radiography? Or is content and subject matter of a students two year program irrelevant to their success at the university? There is a potential socio cultural aspect to academic subject matter that could create distinct student populations within the general AS student population that unintentionally aligns students with classmates, occupational peer groups or work environments. As much of the research on social cognitive development reveals the environment in which one exists plays an important role in his or her human development (Dewey, 1897; Bandura, 1977; Vygotsky, 1978; and Bruner, 1996). 2. As outlined in this study, many BSAS students recognized that their maturity was a contributing factor to their current academic success. A students level of maturity is a certain determinant to their ability to cope well with the stresses of college, and the cumula tive life experiences of an adult can contribute to their increased social cognitive abilities (Tawney, 1920; Lindeman, 1926; Dewey, 1938; Rogers, 1969;Cross, 1981; and Knowles, 1984). An aspect of maturity as it relates to academic ability is the level or degree of maturity. In higher education we classify the adult, nontraditional student at a specific threshold such as 24 years of age or older. In the case of th e BSAS student population in this study that would leave an age range of 24 to 63 years of age. An interesting study would
163 be the analysis of levels of maturity associated with academic success. Do 35 year old students perform better than 25 or 45 year old students? Is there a significant difference or a correlation between ages (or age groups) and academic success? Is there a point where one actually becomes too old and set in his or her ways to successfully integrate into the university? 3. According to George Kuh and others, s tudent engagement is a mutual arrangement between the student and their institution. The student component is generally a measure of the time and effort put forth toward their studies and other activities to achieve academic success. The institutional component is assessed by the way it allocates resources and arranges op portunities for students to participate in the educational process es (Kuh, et. al., 2005, pg. 9 ). This study revealed that the BSAS students are, in fact, applying themselves sufficiently to the demands of the curriculum, but they are not engaged in other academically enriching activities, nor are they creating bonds with their faculty, their peers or the university. No doubt, their disengagement with the university is partly due to their extensive work and family obligations, but I believe the university c ould do more to create an environment t hat accommodates and encourage s active collaborative learning and participation for the adult, nontraditional students which comprise a large portion of the student body A worthwhile area of research would be an exam ination of university programs designed specifically for their adult populations. Potential areas of inquiry are: Does the university equally value their nontraditional and traditional student populations? Are there any university programs and services dedicated to the schedules of nontraditional/adult student s ?
164 What co curricular and extracurricular activities are specifically geared to the adult/nontraditional students? D oes the university create an active collaborative learning environment for full time working adults? Does the university encourage student faculty interaction beyond the classroom or provide the space and forums to bring them together ? I suspect that the study of institutional practices, resources and actual effort s put forth toward adult / nontraditional student engagement may reveal an inconvenient truth. 4. Issues of transfer and articulation continue to garner more attention by legislators, higher education policy makers and institutional practitioners. More emphasis is being given to acc eleration mechanisms to move citizens through P 16/K 20 systems more credit wise efficiently more rapidly, and more cost effectively. In the last decade, legislatures have encouraged inter institutional and statewide articulation agreements that provide e fficient transfer of AS/AAS degrees to the baccalaureate. This trend will continue to gain steam as more states realize the positive, long term impacts that these AS to BS graduates can have on workforce development and the economy. Debra Bragg (2001) note s that our changing economy has resulted in the proliferation of jobs at the subbaccalaureate level requiring a skill set much different than th e vocational jobs of the past. These jobs offer substantial salaries because they require greater technical, ana lytical and problem solving ability A s the two year technical and occupational programs are more broadly recognized for efficient transfer to the universities there will be a greater demand at the front end. The majority of AS degree holders who have recently transferred into AS to BS degree programs did not begin their AS degree
165 with the intention of immediate transfer they earned the AS went to work, and later realized the need for a bachelors degree. New students however, are entering AS degree pr ograms with the knowledge that they can immediately transfer, and in this new economy we might expect that they will begin doing so in much greater numbers Future research on transfer and articulation policy and pra ctice should focus first on states econ omic, workforce and educational demands to ensure seamless educational system s provide efficient pathways to the education needed by its students, workers, and citizens. Why are certain rigorous curricula/programs at the community college still not recogni zed for transfer? Should community colleges continue to offer two year degrees that arent recognized as credible two years of college by the universities? Are regional accrediting bodies preventing the efficient transfer of technical and occupational degr ees? Should legislatures and educational governing bodies mandate statewide articulation of all publicly supported higher education? In the case of the BSAS degree, it may not exist today in Florida without the aggressive legislative action s that took plac e in 1998. 5. A n emerging issue for AS to BS transfer programs is the awarding of the baccalaureate degree by community colleges. This topic relates to the previous topic in as much as it is a function of statewide articulation policy, but the more focused a nd interesting issue is that of a 2+2 program within the same institution without any real transfer or migration of students. This vertical extension of community colleges is the result of several institutional, geographic, demographic and legislative fa ctors that will not be addressed here, but it is sufficient to note
166 that community colleges will probably continue to pursue new AS to BS options that meet the immediate needs of the ir communit ies and the workforce. Relevant research questions to consider are: What are the differences between AS to BS degree programs at the community college and the university? Are AS to BS transfer student characteristics similar or different between the community college and the university? Are students transfer ring with an AS from one community college to a baccalaureate program at another community college? Should AS to BS programs at the community college be limited to career ladder degree programs? Should AS to BS programs at the university be limited to inverted capst one degree programs? Should students who have earned the AS degree be required to have a certain number of years in the workforce prior to being permitted to enter a career ladder o r inverted capstone baccalaureate program? If a level of maturity is a deem ed as a requisite for AS degree holders to be successful in baccalaureate programs, what is the optimum age for admission to such programs ? Transfer admission policies, articulation policies, AS to BS program designs, limitations by accredit ing bodies, lim itations of resources, and the emergence of the community college baccalaureate degrees are all fertile areas for future research. Summary Statement The preponderance of existing sources analyz ing student success have relied upon quantitative data about students academic performance, attendance patterns and degree attainment but few studies have examined the social, cultural or psychological variables that contribute to student success E ven fewer studies have focused on the qualitative
167 issues per tinent to adult / nontraditional student success This study asked students to delve into their backgrounds and mindsets by asking them to reflect upon their past educational experiences to provide a rich and comprehensive qualitative description of who they are. Because the quantitative analyses cannot provide full accounts of attitudes, beliefs, peer groups, mentoring or counseling, or social activities that may have played significant roles in the drama of their [ pathway to] adulthood (Adelman, 2005, p.1 ). This study has purposely and earnestly examined B SAS student s perceptions about their educational experiences through a more qualitative lens to comprehensively analyze and describe their characteristics, engagement and performance. The results of t his research offer greater insight to this relatively new and unique population of undergraduate students at the university Th e information contained herein is valuable to educational leaders and policy makers as they consider future transfer and articula tion polic ies and practices for these worthy students.
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178 A ppendix A Florida Law, Statewide AS BS Articulation and Administrative Rules Excerpt: Florida Statute 1007.23 Statewide Articulation Agreement (1) The State Board of Education shall establish in rule a statewide articulation agreement that governs: (a) Articulation between secondary and postsecondary education; (b) Admission of associate in arts degree graduates from community colleges and state universities; (c) Admission of applied technology diploma program graduates from community colleges or career centers; (d) Admission of associate in science degree and associate in applied science degree graduates from community colleges (e) The use of acceleration mechanisms, including nationally standardized examinations through which students may earn credit; ; (f) General education requirements and statewide course numbers as provided for in ss. 1007.24 and 1007.25; and (g) Articulation among programs in nursing. (2) The articulation agreement must specifically provide that every associate in arts graduate of a community college shall have met all general education requirements and must be granted admission to the upper division of a state university except to a limited access or teacher certification program or a major program requiring an audition. After admission has been grant ed to students under provisions of this section and to university students who have successfully completed 60 credit hours of coursework, including 36 hours of general education, and met the requirements of s. 1008.29, admission shall be granted to state u niversity and community college students who have successfully completed 60 credit hours of work, including 36 hours of general education. Community college associate in arts graduates shall receive priority for admission to a state university over out of state students. Orientation programs and student handbooks provided to freshman enrollees and transfer students at state universities must include an explanation of this provision of the articulation agreement.
179 A ppendix A (C ont inued) (3) The articulation agreement must guarantee the statewide articulation of appropriate workforce development programs and courses between school districts and community colleges and specifically provide that every applied technology diploma graduate must be granted the sam e amount of credit upon admission to an associate in science degree or associate in applied science degree program unless it is a limited access program. Preference for admission must be given to graduates who are residents of Florida. (4) T he articulation agreement must guarantee the statewide articulation of appropriate courses within associate in science degree programs to baccalaureate degree programs. Courses within an associate in applied science degree program may articulate into a baccalaureate de gree program on an individual or block basis as authorized in local interinstitutional articulation agreements. (5) The articulation agreement must guarantee the articulation of 9 credit hours toward a postsecondary degree in early childhood education for programs approved by the State Board of Education which: (a) Award a child development associate credential issued by the National Credentialing Program of the Council for Professional Recognition or award a credential approved under s. 1002.55(3)(c)1.b. or s. 402.305(3)(c) as being equivalent to the child development associate credential; and (b) Include training in emergent literacy which meets or exceeds the minimum standards for training courses for prekindergarten instructors of the Voluntary Pre kindergarten Education Program in s. 1002.59. History. -s. 348, ch. 2002387; s. 105, ch. 2004357; s. 15, ch. 2004484. 6A 10.024 Articulation Between and Among Universities, Community Co lleges, and School Districts It is the intent of the Board of Governors and the State Board of Education to facilitate articulation and seamless integration of the education system by agreeing to the provisions of this rule. The authority to adopt and ame nd this rule aligns with the Constitutional power given the Board of Governors for the state university system and the statutory authority given the State Board of Education for the district school boards, the community college system, and the Department o f Education. Excerpt: State Board of Education, Administrative Rule (AS to BS) 5) Associate in Science (A.S.) Degree. The associate in science degree is the career education degree of the community colleges. It is a twoyear degree intended to prepare students for the workforce. (a) The associate in science degree shall be awarded upon:
180 Appendix A (Continued) 1. Completion of the minimum number of semester hours of college credit courses in an established program of study as required in Rule 6A 14.030(2), FAC., 2. Completion of a minimum of fifteen (15) semester hours in the general education core curriculum in the subject areas of communication, mathematics, social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences which meet the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges criteria. English and math cour ses must meet the requirements adopted by the State Board of Education in Rule 6A 10.030, FAC and the Board of Governors. No physical education credit will be included in the general education block of credit. 3. General education courses not taught in ac cordance with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges criteria for programs designed for college transfer shall not be included in the associate in science degree. (b) Appropriate courses within associate in science degree programs will articulate to baccalaureate degree programs. 1. Achievement of the minimum standards adopted by the State Board of Education in Rule 6A 10.0312, FAC. and the Board of Governors, will be required by the time the student earns 36 semester hour s at the senior institution in upper division work. 2. Completion of common prerequisites will be required for the baccalaureate degree or as otherwise outlined in program specific statewide agreements. 3. Courses taken as part of the associate in scienc e degree to meet the general education requirements will transfer and apply toward the 36 credit hours required for the baccalaureate degree. No additional general education credit hours can be required except to complete the total 36 general education hours. (c) Capstone Degree Articulation Agreement. A capstone agreement that is entered into by a specific public or private postsecondary institution provides for the acceptance of a specific associate in science degree from any Florida community college an d applies it as a block of credit toward a specified baccalaureate degree. The quality and content of the associate in science degree is respected as the technical component of the baccalaureate degree and the remainder of the program is designed to comple te general education r equirements and provide management skills to assist in job progression. Every associate i n science degree graduate of a Florida community college program that articulates with a capstone degree program in a specific Florida public or private postsecondary institution shall be guaranteed admission to that program except for limited access programs and those requiring specific grades on particular courses for admission. All associate in science degree graduates who articulate under the capstone agreement shall be treated equally, regardless of the community colleges from which they receive their degrees. The
181 Appendix A (Continued) general education component of the associate in science degree shall be accepted in total as a portion of the general education requirement upon transfer to the capstone program in a specific Florida public or private postsecondary institution. (d) Career Ladder Degree Articulation Agreement. The Career Ladder agreement integrates specific associate in science degree programs with identified baccalaureate degree programs statewide. Each associate in science degree program must meet specific requirements as prescribed in the agreement and public postsecondary institutions are required to honor the transfer of cre dit toward the specified baccalaureate degree. Graduates of a Florida community college associate in science degree program with an agreement that is documented and maintained by the Articulation Coordinating Committee shall be granted admission to a publi c postsecondary institution in the program designated to articulate with their degree, except for limited access programs and those requiring specific grades on particular courses for admission. Admission to the student's preferred public postsecondary ins titution is not guaranteed. Each State University System institution shall develop admissions criteria to ensure that associate in science degree students are evaluated on an equal basis with associate in arts degree graduates and native university student s for admission into Career Ladder programs designated as limited access and those requiring specific grades on particular courses for admission. 1. The associate in science degree shall be awarded based on all of the requirements contained in subsection (5)(a)of this rule and in accordance with the articulation agreement provisions maintained by the Articulation Coordinating Committee. 2. The statewide associate in science to baccalaureate degree program articulation agreements between public postseconda ry institutions shall be documented and maintained by the Articulation Coordinating Committee. The Department of Education, in consultation with institutions, shall review periodically, as necessary, but no more than once a year, the provisions of the stat e articulation agreements and the prescribed curricula to ensure the continued effectiveness of the articulation between the A.S. and B.A./B.S. programs. Any recommendations for revisions to the state articulation agreements will be forwarded to the Articu lation Coordinating Committee for review. The revisions may be approved after the Board of Governors and the State Board of Education make independent determinations that the recommended revisions are consistent with board policies. Source: The Florida Se nate at www.flsenate.gov
182 A ppendix B USF Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) Degree Program A Bachelor's degree program designed specifically for Associate in Science (A.S.) degree graduates from a Florida public community college. The BSAS de gree is designed to serve Florida's A.S. graduates who desire a bachelor's degree for self enrichment, advancement in their current career or to qualify for higher level employment in other settings. A.S. graduates looking for a flexible Bachelor's degree program will find the BSAS degree recognizes the value of academic work already completed, and requires only 60 additional credit hours beyond the A.S. degree. Students admitted to the BSAS will have an A.S. degree from a public Florida community college and will have completed a minimum of 18 credit hours of transferable General Education coursework, which should include writing and math courses that meet Gordon Rule requirements. The A.S. degree will transfer as a complete "60 credit hour package" to US F (applicable only to the BSAS program). Technical coursework will transfer as a 42 credit hour technical block. The remaining 18 credit hours of General Education coursework from the A.S. will be matched against USF requirements to determine which courses remain outstanding for the fulfillment of the University's 36 credit hour General Education requirement. Summary of the Four Year BSAS Program: Community College General Education (Transferred from A.S.) 18 Community College Block Credit (Transferred f rom A.S.) 42 USF General Education 18 USF Exit Courses 9 USF Area of Concentration 18 USF Electives 15 Total BS AS Credit Hours 120 Within the above 60 credit hours beyond the A.S., BSAS students will complete: a minimum of 48 credit hours of upper level (3000 4000) courses at least 30 hours of the last 60 credit hours at USF CLAST requirements foreign language requirement (can be satisfied by two years of high school foreign language credit or 8 college credit hours in a single foreign language)
183 A ppendix B (Continued) Areas of Concentration : American Sign Lang uage Behavioral Healthcare, Criminal Justice Early Child Development Environmental Policy General Business Gerontology Hospitality Management Industrial Operations Information Technology Public Administration Public Health, and Urban Studies Source: http://www.ugs.usf.edu/bsas.htm
184 A ppendix C BSAS Transfer Student Survey Measurement Legend: FMS = Frequency, Mean and Standard Deviation (descriptive) COR = Comparison of Re sponses (analytical) MED = Median (descriptive) CAT = Categorization (descriptive) Please respond to the foll owing questions as accurately as possible: GENERAL DEMOGRAPHIC & ACADEMIC INFORMATION 1. What is your marital status? (FMS) 2. How many children to you have? (FMS) 3. What is your estimated annual household income? $________(MED) 4. H ow would you assess your current socioeconomic status? (CAT) 5. Are you the first person in your family (parents/siblings) to attend college? (FMS) 6. What is your fathers education level? (FMS) 7. What is your mothers education level? (FMS) 8. What is your spouses education level? (FMS) 9. What is/was your fathers occupation? (CAT) 10. What is/ was your mothers occupation? (CAT)
185 Appendix C (Continued) 11. Are you currently working? (FMS) If yes, 12. Are you working in an occupation related to your associates degree? (FMS) 13. How may hours do you work per week? ___# hours (FMS) (MED) 14. How long is your commute from home to work? ___# minutes (FMS) (MED) 15. How would you describe your overall past attitude toward higher education? (narrative) (CAT) 16. How would you describe your current attitude towa rd higher education? (narrative) (CAT) 17. I am competent and capable in college level math. (FMS) 18. I am competent and capable in college level English composition. (FMS) 19. I am confident in my college level communication skills. (FMS) 20. I am confident in my college level reading skills. (FMS) strongly agree 21. I understand and communicate in a Foreign language. (FMS) Reflect upon your high school experience for the following questions: HIGH SCHOOL REFLECTIONS 22. What was your estimated high school grade point average? (FMS) 23. What is your general assessment of high school experience? (narrative) (CAT) 24. What occupation(s) did you intend to pursue while in high school? (narrative) (CAT) 25. I was generally pleased with the high school I attended. (FMS) ( COR 25,47,79)
186 Appendix C (Continued) 26. My high school curriculum was relevant to my personal goals. (FMS) ( COR 26,48,80) strongly agree 27. I had a good relationship with my high school faculty. (FMS) ( COR 27,49,81) 28. I had a good relationship with my high school peers. (FMS) ( COR 28,50 ,82) strongly disagree 29. I regularly engaged in high school institutional/extracurricular activities. (FMS) ( COR 29,51,83) agree 30. What factors contributed to your performance in high school? (narrative) (CAT) 31. I performed well academically in high school. (FMS) ( COR 31,58,88) 32. I am sati sfied with my academic performance in high school. (FMS) ( COR 32,59,89) 33. I put forth a significant effort in high school. (FMS) ( COR 33,60,90) 34. Did you engage in peer study or study groups in high school? (FMS) ( COR 34,61,91) 35. My interaction with high school counselors/academic advisors was adequate. (FMS) ( COR 35,62,92) ongly disagree 36. I routinely interact ( ed ) with high school faculty beyond classroom requirements. (FMS) (COR 36,63,93) agree 37. I conscientiously completed high school reading and homework assignments. (FMS) ( COR 37,64,94) 38. I felt capable of performing in the academic setting of high sch ool. (FMS) ( COR 38,65,96)
187 Appendix C (Continued) 39. I was competent in using library resources for research in high school. (FMS) ( COR 39,66,97) e Reflect upon your community college experience for the following questions: COMMUNITY COLLEGE REFLECTIONS 40. What was your estimated community college grade point average? (FMS) 41. What is your self assessment of your community college environment? (narrative) (CAT) 42. Why did you choose to attend a community college? (narrative) (CAT) 43. How many credits hours per semester did you normally take in community college? ___ hours (FMS) (MED) 44. At what age did you began pursuing your associates degree? ___# years (FMS) (MED) 45. At what age did you complete your associates degree? ___# years (FMS) (MED) 46. What occupation(s) did you intend to pursue while in community college? (narrative) (CAT ) 47. I was generally pleased with the community college I attended. (FMS) ( COR 25,47,79) 48. My community college curriculum was relevant to my personal goals. (FMS) ( COR 26,48,80) 49. I had a good relationship with my community college faculty. (FMS) (COR 27,49,81) 50. I had a good relationship with my com munity college peers. (FMS) (COR 28,50,82) 51. I regularly engaged in community college institutional/extracurricular activities. (FM S) (COR 29,51,83)
188 Appendix C (Continued) 52. What factors contributed to your performance in community college? (narrative) (CAT) 53. My study habits were better in the com munity college than my study habits in high school. (FMS) 54. I participated in remedial English courses at the community college. (FMS) 55. I participated in re medial Math courses at the community college. (FMS) 56. What motivated you to complete your associates degree? (narrative) (CAT) 57. Who were your mentors/supporters for completing your associates degree? (narrative) (CAT) 58. I performe d well academically in community college. (FMS) ( COR 31,58,88) 59. I am satisfied with my academic performance at the community college. (FMS) ( COR 32,59,89) e 60. I put forth a significant effort in community college. (FMS) ( COR 33, 60,90) 61. Did you engage in peer stud y or study groups in community college ? (FMS) (COR 34,61,91) 62. My interaction with community college academic advisors was adequate. (FMS) ( COR 35,62,92) 63. I routinely interacted with community college faculty beyond classroom requirements. (FMS) ( COR 36,63,93)
189 Appendix C (Continued) 64. I conscientiously completed community c ollege reading and homework assignments. (FMS) ( COR 37,64,94) 65. I felt capable of performing in the academic s etting of the community college (FMS) ( COR 38,65,96) disagree 66. I was competent in using library resources for research at the community college. (FMS) ( COR 39,66,97) ee Reflect upon your university experience for the following questions: UNIVERSITY REFLECTIONS 67. At what age did you transfer to the university? ___# years (FMS) (MED) 68. What occupation(s) do/did you intend to pursue while in the university? (narrat ive) (CAT) 69. When do you normally attend university classes? (FMS) 70. How long is your commute to the university? ____# minutes (FMS) (MED) 71. Do you now attend more than one campus to take needed classes? (FMS) 72. Approxima tely, how many credits do you routinely take per semester at the university? ____# credit hours? (FMS) (MED) 73. Approximately, how many credit hours have you completed toward your bachelors degree? _____# credit hours (FMS) (MED) 74. Approximately, how many hours per week do you spend on coursework or class assignments outside of class? _____# hours (FMS) (MED) 75. University courses are more difficult compared to those at the community college. (FMS) 76. Have you encountered any problems within the university? (narrative) (CAT)
190 Appendix C (Continued) 77. Have you had any outside conflicts with studying or attending school? (narrative) (CAT) 78. Why are you pursuing the BSAS degree? (narrative) (CAT) 79. I am generally pleased with the university I am attending/attended. (FMS) ( COR 25,47,79) ee 80. My university curriculum is/was relevant to my personal goals. (FMS) ( COR 26,48,80) 81. I have/had a good relationship with my university faculty. (FMS) ( COR 27,49,81) 82. I have/had a good relationship with my university peers. (FMS) ( COR 28,50,82) 83. I regul arly engage(d) in university institutional/extracurricular activities. (FMS) ( COR 29,51,83) 84. What factors contribute(d) to your performance in the university? (narrative) ( CAT) 85. My study habits in the university are/were better compared to my study habits in the community college. (FMS) 86. What motivates/motivated you to complete your bacc alaureate degree? (narrative) (CAT) 87. Who are/were your mentors/supporters for completing your BSAS degree? (narrative) (CAT) 88. I perform(ed) well academically at the university. (FMS) ( COR 31,58,88) agree 89. I am satisfied with my academic performance at the university. (FMS) ( COR 32,59,89)
191 Appendix C (Continued) 90. I put forth a significant effort in the university. (FMS) ( COR 33,60,90) 91. Do/did you engage in peer study or study groups at the university? (FMS) ( COR 34,61,91) 92. My interaction with university counselors/academic advisors is/was adequate. (FMS) ( COR 35,62,92) 93. I routinely interact(ed) with university faculty beyond minimum classroom participation requirements. (FMS) ( COR 36,63,93 ) 94. I conscientiously complete(d) university reading and homework assignments. (FMS) ( COR 37,64,94) e/disagree 95. From whom do you seek assistance with academic assignments (narrative) (CAT) 96. I feel/felt capable of performing in the academic setting of the university. (FMS) ( COR 38,65,96) either agree/disagree 97. I am/was competent in using library resources for research at the university. (FMS) ( COR 39,66,97) 98. What is your antici pated grade point average upon graduation from the university? #___ (FMS) 99. Additional comments regarding past academic engagement. (narrative) (CAT) ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________ 100. Additional comments regarding current academic engagement (narrative). (CAT) ___________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________
192 A ppendix D Career Ladder A greements The following Associate in Science degree programs shall articulate into a baccalaureate degree in the designate university programs under the provisions of Rule 6A 10.024 Articulation Between Universities Community Colleges, and School Districts and the career ladder agreements contained herein: List of Articulated Programs and Hours AS Degree Program University Degree Program Total Hours Radiography Radiologic Technology 132 CIP 1317020900 CIP 51.0907 Nursing Nursing 128 CIP 1318110100 CIP 51.1601 Hospitality & Tourism Mgmt Hospitality Admin/Mgmt in 124 CIP 1206079900 programs not accredited by AACSB CIP52.0901 Electronics Engineering Tech Electronics Engineering 134 CIP 1615030301 Technology CIP 15.0303 Engineering Technology General CIP 15.1101 Track 2: Electrical Business Administration Business, General CIP 52.0101 132 CIP 1506040102 Business Admin & Mgmt CIP 52.0201 Regionally Accredited AS Bachelor of Science in Applied 120 Degree Programs Science (BSAS) CIP 24.0105 Computer Engineering Tech Information Systems Technology 134 CIP 1615040200 CIP 15.1202 Technolo gy Education Technology Teacher Education 129 CIP 1924010100 CIP 13.1320 Areas of Emphasis: Construction Tech Graphics Communication Tech Drafting and Design Tech Transportation Tech Criminal Justice Technology Criminal Justic e 130 CIP 1734010300 CIP 43.0104 Source: Office of K 20 Articulation, Division of Strategic Initiatives, Florida DOE
193 A ppendix E Email to Focus Group Participants From: Collins, Jerry Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2007 11:57 AM To: Collins, Jerry Subject: BSAS Survey Dear BSAS Student, As partial fulfillment of my Ph.D. requirements, I am conducting a focus group to indentify the characteristics, engagement and success of AS BS transfer students. The purpose and intent of this focus group is to dis cuss your experiences as a BSAS student and to help me refine a survey instrument that will be executed by the BSAS student population. Your anonymity will be protected, and all information you provide in the focus group will be held in strict confidence. You will not be identified or associated with any information or responses provided in the focus group discussions, and your personal identity or participation will not be revealed to others. The focus group is scheduled for Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 3:00pm and will l ast approximately one hour. Please respond to this email about your availability and willingness to participate in the focus group. Sincerely, Jerry C. Collins, Director Undergraduate Studies University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Ave, SVC2002 Tampa, FL 33620
194 Appendix F Email to Survey Participants From: Collins, Jerry Sent: Wednesday, August 20 2008 10: 02 AM To: Collins, Jerry Subject: BSAS Survey Dear BSAS Student, As partial fulfillment of my Ph.D. requirements, I am con ducting a survey which focuses on the student characteristics, engagement and success in the BSAS degree program. Please click the below link to read the purpose and intent of the survey and to validate the Informed Consent form: http://www.surveymonkey.com/MySurvey_EditorPage.aspx?sm=mUxW%2fTAKedTPH 3J0vlgGwJKtSQAtADLy5925yNh1OhE%3d Note that your anonymity will be protected, and all information you provide in this survey will be held in strict confidence. You will not be publicly identified or associated with any of the information or responses provided in this survey, and your personal identity will not ever be revealed to any other party. Your participation is a very important step for gathering relevant information about BSAS students and the degree program. By completing this survey, you will contribute to the future advancement of BSAS transfer policies and articulation. I greatl y appreciate your time and effort to complete the survey. Sincerely, Jerry C. Collins, Director Undergraduate Studies University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Ave, SVC 2002 Tampa, FL 33620
195 Appendix G Informed Consent Informed Consent Social and Behavioral Sciences University of South Florida Information for People Who Take Part in Research Studies The following information is being presented to help you decide whether or not you want to take part in a minimal risk research study. Please read th is carefully. If you do not understand anything, ask the person in charge of the study. Title of Study: BSAS Transfer Student Survey Principal Investigator: Jerry C. Collins Study Location(s): USF College of Education You are being asked to participate to provide information for dissertation research on characteristics, engagement and success of AS to BS transfer students which may be important to future institutional and statutory policy. General Information about the Research Study The purpose of this re search study is to support a Ph.D. dissertation and provide information to about the population of AS occupational/vocational transfer students in the Bachelor of Science in Applied Science (BSAS) at the University of South Florida. Personal identity and p rivate information obtained through this study will not be revealed to the public or any third party Plan of Study Respondents will participate in a paper or online survey requiring scaled and narrative responses. The survey will take approximately 45 m inutes to complete. Payment for Participation You will not be paid for your participation in this study. Benefits of Being a Part of this Research Study By taking part in this research study you will be providing important information that is of interest to many higher education administrators and policy makers. You participation will provide valuable information to the public about unique aspects of the BSAS degree
196 Appendix G (Continued) program the BSAS student population which may impact possible future advancement of vocational/occupational transfer policies. Risks of Being a Part of this Research Study There are no anticipated risks for participation in this research study. Confidentiality of Your Records Individual Responses : Individual response s to the survey will be anonymous and coded to hide respondents identity. The public will not be able to access a participants responses. Summary Results: The summary results of this study may be published in a journal format. If so, the data obtained fr om you will be combined with data from others completing the survey. The published summary results will not Volunteering to Be Part of this Research Study include your name or any other information that would personally identify you in any way. Your decis ion to participate in this research study is completely voluntary. You are free to participate in this research study or to withdraw at any time. Questions and Contacts If you have any questions about this research study, contact Jerry C. Collins at (813) 9740525. If you have questions about your rights as a person who is taking part in a research study, you may contact the Division of Research Compliance of the University of South Florida at (813) 974 5638. Consent to Take Part in This Research Study By participating in this study I agree that: I have fully read or have had read and explained to me this informed consent form describing this research project. I have had the opportunity to question one of the persons in charge of this research and have received satisfactory answers. I understand that I am being asked to participate in research. I understand the risks and benefits, and I freely give my consent to participate in the research project outlined in this form, under the conditions indicated in it. I have been given a signed copy of this informed consent form, which is mine to keep.
197 Appendix G (Continued) ___________________ _________________________ Investigator Statement _________ Signature of Participant Printed Name of Participant Date I have carefully explained to the subject the nature of the above research study. I hereby certify that to the best of my knowledge the subject signing this consent form understands the nature, demands, risks, and benefits involved in participating in this study. ___________________ Jerry C. Collins Signature of Investigator Printed Name of Investigator Date of authorized research _________ Investigator Statement: I certify that participants have been provided with an informed consent form that has been a pproved by the University of South Floridas Institutional Review Board and that explains the nature, demands, risks, and benefits involved in participating in this study. I further certify that a phone number has been provided in the event of additional questions. ___________________ Jerry C. Collins Signature of Investigator Printed Name of Investigator Date ________
198 Appendix H High School Career Int entions of BSAS Students BSAS students were asked to reflect about the career they had int ended to pursue while in high school. The following alpha list shows distributions and percentages of responses from the surveyed population (n=164). Career Frequency Percent accounting 6 3.7 3.7 Cumulative Percent actor 1 .6 4.3 archit ect 1 .6 4.9 artist 2 1.2 6.1 automotive technician 2 1.2 7.3 banking 1 .6 7.9 bartender 1 .6 8.5 business 3 1.8 10.4 cashier 1 .6 11.0 child care 1 .6 11.6 clerical 1 .6 12.2 computers 9 5.5 17.7 conservation 1 .6 18.3 cook 1 .6 18.9 cosmetology 2 1.2 20.1 dentist 1 .6 20.7 designer 1 .6 21.3 doctor 10 6.1 27.4 education 17 10.4 37.8 electronics 2 1.2 39.0 engineer 6 3.7 42.7 environmental 1 .6 43.3 farmer 1 .6 43.9 forest ranger 2 1.2 45.1 graphic artist 1 .6 45.7 hospitality 3 1.8 47.6 human resources 1 .6 48.2 journalism 4 2.4 50.6 law enforcement 5 3.0 53.7 lawyer 8 4.9 58.5 military 9 5.5 64.0 nursing 9 5.5 69.5 occupational therapist 1 .6 70.1 ocean o graphy 1 .6 70.7 opht halmologist 1 .6 71.3
199 Appendix H (continued) Career Frequency Percent paralegal 1 .6 72.0 Cumulative Percent photographer 1 .6 72.6 physical therapy 3 1.8 74.4 psychology 1 .6 75.0 robotics 1 .6 75.6 scientist 2 1.2 76.8 secretary 1 .6 77.4 stock broker 2 1.2 78.7 unknown 30 18.3 97.0 veterinarian 3 1.8 98.8 waitress 1 .6 99.4 writer 1 .6 100.0
About the Author Jerry Collins was drafted into the military in 1971, and subsequently spent the next 22 years in uniform. During his military career, he attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA on four separate occasions to learn R ussian, Czech, Slovak, and Arabic. When not in school as a student, most of his military duty assignments were in intelligence school s as an instructor, curriculum developer or training NCO. He completed his Bachelors degree while on active duty. Upon his military retirement in 1994, he attend ed the University of South Florida to earn a Masters degree in International Relations with clear intentions of re enter ing government service to work for the Department of State, or Department of Defense. While pursu ing his Masters degree, however, he began working at the u niversity helping adult and transfer students with their transition in to the university and found the university environment to be a very enjoyable place to work and a most rewarding endeavor He now serves as the Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of South Florida overseeing Community College Relations, Articulation, and Applied Science Programs, and serves as Chair of the Leadership Studies department.