Factors that contribute and inhibit successful transfer for two-year college students: Implications on strengthening the geoscience student transfer pathway

Monday 11:30am-1:30pm UMC Aspen Rooms
Poster Presentation Part of Geoscience Education Research


Ben Wolfe, Kansas State University
Kaatje van der Hoeven Kraft, Whatcom Community College
Carolyn Wilson, American Geosciences Institute
Two-year colleges (2YCs) play an important role in postsecondary education in the U.S., and are essential in the education of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Research indicates that a number of factors contribute to potential obstacles for successful student completion, both in the 2YCs as well as at the receiving institution. Open access policies and low tuition at 2YCs bring a rich diversity of students: racial, cultural identity, socioeconomic, and age. Many of these students may be new to the academic process, balancing work and family, and academically underprepared for college requiring developmental coursework in reading, writing, and mathematics. After overcoming these challenges, upon successful transfer, students continue to face obstacles due to the cultural shift between institutions which may lack community support.

A recent survey of graduating students in geoscience programs administered by the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) provided insight into students who attended a 2YC for at least one semester during their postsecondary education. Commonly self-identified success factors to transfer and completion of a geoscience degree included personal motivation and clear articulation of 2YC coursework. Geoscience 2YC students also identified obstacles, such as personal issues (e.g. time, family, and money), academic challenges (e.g. coursework), and institutional barriers (e.g., course articulation and degree requirements) that impacted their time to degree completion. While some of these challenges are a reality for all students, some of these issues may be more acute for students transferring from a 2YC.

Recent trends indicate that the geoscience transfer student pipeline may be strengthening as percentages of geoscience graduates who report attending a 2YC for at least a semester are increasing (at least 25% started at a 2YC; AGI, 2014). Working to improve the effectiveness of the 2YC transfer pathway can have numerous returns for broadening participation and building the geoscience workforce.

Presentation Media

Implications on strengthening the geoscience student transfer pathway (Acrobat (PDF) 18MB Jul12 15)