Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career, and Higher Education

Major Professor

Waynne B. James, Ed.D.

Keywords

Transfer shock, 2 + 2 system, Florida Community College System, Florida State University System, Junior shock

Abstract

Florida's undergraduate organization of higher education is a 2 + 2 system in which students are encouraged to complete freshmen and sophomore years at a community college and then transfer to a state university. Florida statutes provide for a highly articulated educational system to facilitate seamless transition from one public institution to another. The researcher investigated the transfer function's effectiveness among community college students subsequent to enrollment at a large, urban, doctoral/research extensive university in Florida using a course-based model of transfer success. The research explored whether differences existed in academic performance in targeted upper-division undergraduate courses between native and Florida Community College System (FCCS) transfer students who completed prerequisite courses prior to transferring to the university.

Four upper-division courses were chosen specifically because many transfer students complete prerequisite coursework at a community college prior to matriculating at the university. A total of 764 native students and 1,053 FCCS transfer students were enrolled in at least one course of interest in fall 2002. Preliminary investigation of selected demographic characteristics identified statistically significant differences between these two groups. Native students were younger and more racially/ethnically diverse; more native students were enrolled full time (for 12 or more credits) than transfer students. Although first-term transfer students experienced transfer shock, university native students who were enrolled in three courses also experienced declines in fall 2002 GPA when compared to their previous GPA at the university.

Statistically significant mean grade differences occurred between transfer and native students in three courses; transfers outperformed native students in two courses. Additional comparisons of fall 2002 term GPA between native and transfer students yielded no significant differences. Findings lend support to the effectiveness of Florida's community colleges in preparing students for upper-division undergraduate coursework, but that transition for some is not seamless, suggesting need for collaboration among universities and community colleges.

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