Factors that Influence Two-Year College Student Transfer Intent and Geoscience Degree Aspirations

Thursday 1:45pm Northrop Hall: 116


Ben Wolfe, Kansas State University
Colleges and universities are facing greater accountability to identify and implement practices that increase the number of two-year college (2YC) students who transfer to four-year institutions (4YC) and complete STEM baccalaureate degrees. A better understanding of how academic engagement experiences contribute to increased 2YC student interest in these disciplines and student intent to transfer is critical in strengthening the transfer pathway for the geosciences. The purpose of this study was to gain understanding of the influence that background characteristics, mathematics preparation, academic experiences (e.g. faculty-student interaction, undergraduate research experiences, and field experiences), and academic advisor engagement have on 2YC student intentions to transfer to a 4YC with geoscience degree aspirations. Incorporating the conceptual frameworks of student engagement and transfer student capital (Laanan et al., 2010), this study used Astin's (1993; 1999) input-environment-outcomes (I-E-O) model to investigate what factors predict 2YC students' intent to transfer to a 4YC and pursue geoscience degrees. This presentation will discuss the results of this study using data collected from 708 student respondents to a pre-transfer study survey administered in introductory geoscience courses at 27 2YCs. Sequential multiple regression findings revealed a number of factors of increased geoscience transfer intent. These included high school math preparation, having taken an earth science course in high school, the number of science courses taken at the 2YC, student-faculty interaction, faculty and academic advisors discussing physical science careers, speaking with a transfer advisor, and visiting the intended 4YC. The results also substantiated the significant role that field-based experiences have in increasing student intent in pursuing geoscience related majors. These findings reveal that developing practices focused on transfer student capital acquisition can strengthen the pipeline of geoscience degrees and supports the suggestion that 2YCs can serve as an intervention point to broaden participation in STEM related degrees.