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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers 2 Successful Transfers to Four-Year Institutions The goal of a transfer program in engineering sciences is to prepare students to enter four-year institutions at the upper-division level where they can take specialized coursework for matriculation with bachelor’s degrees in engineering. The goal of the two-year institution is for the transfer to be seamless. However, many four-year institutions present obstacles to seamless transfers, including weak, or even nonbinding, articulation agreements and a lack of collaboration and communication between the four-year institution and the community college. KEY CHALLENGES Dimitriu and O’Connor (2004) identify four vital elements to recruiting and retaining students in community college engineering science programs and preparing them to succeed after transfer to a four-year university: An aggressive high school outreach program to attract qualified students to the engineering profession via community colleges and four-year educational institutions. An intensive enrichment program in mathematics and science at the community college level to boost the proficiency of underprepared high school students. Engineering courses with state-of-the-art technology and education supplemented with a variety of interesting design-and-build programs to motivate students to continue the study of engineering leading to a bachelor’s degree.
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers Coordinated curricula between community colleges and four-year institutions through articulation agreements with institutions in the area. Articulation agreements are often the most prominent feature of the transfer mission. Although more and more states are becoming involved in articulation agreements, there is currently no single model (Rifkin, 1998). Ignash and Towsend (2000) describes some different approaches: To ensure ease of transfer, defined by Kintzer and Wattenbarger (1985, p. iii) as “the mechanics of credit, course, and curriculum exchange,” most states have emphasized the “documents approach” (Bers, 1994, p. 249). This approach “emphasizes the development and ongoing maintenance of formal or official agreements related to course equivalencies, articulated 2 + 2 programs, legislative or state agency policies related to transfer, and perhaps statistical reports about student transfer, persistence, and academic performance” (Bers, 1994, p. 249). In a deregulated state system, individual institutions may have the responsibility for establishing articulation agreements concerning which courses, programs, and degrees will transfer from institution to institution. In a more regulated system the state may provide some general guidelines and incentives for institutions to develop these agreements; and in a highly regulated system the state may mandate that the associate of arts degree be accepted at all state institutions, as in Florida, for example. In a 1999 study Ignash found that 34 states (out of 43 responding to an 11-question survey sent to executive directors of state higher education and community college agencies) had developed statewide articulation agreements. Thirty-three of these 34 agreements were two-year to four-year articulations, suggesting that this type of transfer has received the most attention. The majority of statewide agreements involved public-sector institutions only. Another study, Transfer and Articulation Policies, conducted by the Education Commission of the States, lists legislation, cooperative agreements, transfer data reporting, incentives and rewards, statewide articulation guides, common core curricula, and common course numbering for each state (ECS, 2001). Wellman (2002) examined state transfer policies in Arkansas, Florida, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and Texas to determine how each state “uses state policy to affect transfer performance, looking at several dimensions of state policy: governance, enrollment planning, academic policies affecting transfer, and data collection and accountability.” These studies raise three questions. First, what is the appropriate scope for an articulation agreement? Students whose geographic mobility is constrained by factors other than education may see little value in agreements that cover a large geographical area if they do not address specific local needs. Second, are some articulation agreements better than others,
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers and if so, under what conditions? And third, should the agreement focus on the transfer of particular courses, a block of courses, or an entire program? Matching course content across institutions is difficult for a number of reasons. Courses at two-year institutions may be numbered the same as the courses at a four-year institution, but questions remain as to whether they have the same content, whether the courses will transfer similarly to different four-year institutions (Rifkin, 1998), whether four-year institutions agree on which lower-division courses students should take, and whether differences in graduation requirements at two-year or four-year institutions will affect transfer students. Answering these and other questions will require extensive research. Course-by-Course Transfers Participants in the workshop for this study expressed skepticism about course-by-course articulation agreements. For example, during the workshop presentation by representatives from Mississippi State University and Jones County Junior College, participants pointed out that modifications are ongoing in engineering and engineering-related courses and programs at four-year institutions, and information about these changes takes time to trickle down to the two-year institutions. Along those same lines, other speakers raised similar issues: increasing differentiation among four-year engineering curricula out-of-date articulation agreements equivalency guides that do not accurately reflect changes in four-year engineering curricula a lack of uniformity among curricula at four-year educational institutions in the same state infrequent communication between transfer partners a lack of institutionalization of communication between transfer partners a lack of formal mechanisms for reviewing curricular changes statewide a limited ability of small community colleges to adjust to curricular changes in four-year programs cumbersome, arbitrary credit transfer review processes of four-year institutions where department chairs and other engineering faculty members make decisions about equivalency on a course-by-course basis The following description by a committee member illustrates some problems transfer students may confront. A community college includes Engineering Circuits I and Engineering Circuits II in its Engineering Science Transfer Program. These courses are well established and are ac-
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers cepted by the two leading state universities, although one requires that transfer students pass a test before granting credit. However, the situation is quite different at two other local universities, which are geographically closest to the community college. One teaches a six-credit combined Circuits I and II course; thus, if a student from the community college takes only one Circuits course, it does not count for transfer to that four-year program. The situation at the other university is similar; Circuits I and II are taught in two separate courses, but a student must either transfer both courses or neither course. Creating Lasting, Effective Partnerships In some cases, partnerships have functioned because of personal relationships between faculty members at the partner institutions. Although many educational institutions have transfer offices and dedicated advisors, decisions about which courses will transfer are often handled by registrars or admissions offices that may be far removed from the partnership. Faculty members often have the clearest idea of which courses should transfer, and faculty members are the ones who encourage students to consider transferring to four-year institutions. However, if only one or two faculty members are behind the transfer mission, those faculty members may become indispensable to the functioning of the program. If they stop participating or retire, for example, there could be a major interruption in the transfer function. Thus, there is tension between institutionalizing an articulation agreement and creating an institutional bureaucracy (i.e., setting rules and regulations, involving more institutional actors). A representative from the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Directorate, in a workshop presentation, noted that interaction between faculty members from two-year and four-year institutions should be collaborative rather than competitive. Partnerships must be stable, even in the face of personnel or curricular changes The experiences described by workshop representatives of two- and four-year schools indicate that articulation agreements are necessary, but not sufficient, for seamless transfers of community college students. The committee defined a “good” transfer partnership as a “second-level articulation,” that is, cooperation between the two-year and four-year colleges to recruit students into engineering. Articulation, therefore, should be based on student outcomes, rather than on course credits, curricula, or the sequence of courses taken. These outcomes and competences would be determined by the university-community college partnership according to ABET guidelines. Communications between two- and four-year transfer partners is also
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers critical to second-level articulation. According to workshop participants, successful transfer partners communicate frequently, visit each other’s campuses, meet frequently to discuss curricular changes, and even share faculties. Currently, communication between two-year and four-year faculty members varies from campus to campus and department to department, often depending on personal relationships among faculty members or administrators. Few formal approaches to communication were described. Better articulation also requires cooperation between two- and four-year transfer partners in the recruitment of engineering students. Four-year institutions can promote and support the community college pathway as a viable, even attractive, route to a baccalaureate degree in engineering. Individualized counseling and coaching can be provided early and often to students in both types of institutions. Workshop participants indicated that transfer students are often the best recruiters, mentors, and tutors for students at their two-year alma maters because they know how the system works. Ideally, faculty members at both institutions know each other well and, in the best partnerships, collaborate on projects, curriculum development, recruitment, and other activities that support community college transfer students (Rifkin, 1998). Several mechanisms for initiating such partnerships were identified during the workshop. In some cases, the partnership was initiated through a grass-roots approach between a few faculty members at two-year and four-year institutions. In a few cases, faculty members at two-year institutions had received degrees from the four-year institutional partner. Some partnerships were initiated by state legislation. EXEMPLARY APPROACHES Representatives of two-year and four-year educational institutions had similar opinions about the necessary components of strong articulation agreements. However, four-year institutions placed a great deal of emphasis on the gatekeeper role of their institutions; their concerns were to maintain standards and promote a uniform approach between partner institutions and to require a relatively high GPA for admission and eligibility for financial assistance. Participants at the workshop suggested several ways of enhancing the transfer mission, based on the strengths of existing articulation agreements: clear and accessible print, Web, and other resources summarizing articulation agreements and the transfer process for students and their parents; regular communication between institutional partners to keep articulation agreements current with curricular changes at four-year educational institutions; an assurance of equivalency; and support for students who transfer to four-year engineering programs.
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers Accessible Information Many speakers noted that effective articulation agreements have three characteristics—clarity, transparency, and accessibility. These agreements clearly state which courses are necessary before transfer and how and under what conditions courses and course credits will transfer (e.g., GPA requirements). Uniform course numbering systems and easily accessible equivalency guides were cited as effective ways of summarizing the information that community college students need to select courses and arrange schedules. There was general agreement at the workshop that print resources and other forms of communication should assure students and parents that completing the first two years of engineering education at a community college is both affordable and credible. As one participant stated, “They should provide familiarity and ease of mind for parents.” If adequate data are available, the success rate of A.S. graduates in completing bachelor’s-degree requirements should be made available to students and parents. Communication between Institutional Partners Frequent communication, including regular visits and a transfer counselor at each institution, was considered an essential component of effective articulation agreements and transfer relationships between partner institutions. Frequent communication also demonstrates the desire of both institutions to work together. Community colleges, especially, need regular communication with four-year institutions to adapt their courses to changes in curricula. Frequent communication between faculty members and administrators of two-year and four-year programs also leads to greater cooperation and increases the sensitivity of personnel in four-year programs to the impact of changes in lower-division engineering courses on two-year transfer students. Collaborative activities, such as the joint development of grant proposals and workshops, can also increase the level of cooperation between transfer partners. Equivalency Most workshop participants expressed the view that successful articulation agreements promote uniformity of curricula at two-year and four-year educational institutions. A strong articulation agreement should enable a community college to provide an engineering science course structure that is nearly identical to the lower-division engineering curriculum of its four-year partner(s). The majority of first- and second-year pre-engineering and engineering courses offered at the community college should be the same as those offered at the four-year institution(s).
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers Equivalency is paramount to community colleges attempting to maximize the number of credits their students can transfer. However, not all four-year institutions have a single course pathway for the first two years of engineering education for all students (e.g., the curriculum for mechanical engineering in the first two years may differ significantly from the electrical engineering curriculum). Some presenters at the workshop argued that two-year institutions should not be expected to match their curricula exactly to those of four-year engineering programs. Articulation agreements, they suggested, should promote flexibility. They could, for example, grant free or elective technical credits to allow transfer students to complete bachelor’s degrees in four semesters. Support for Transfer Students Chief among the reasons that students use the community college pathway to a four-year degree is the need to minimize the cost of their college educations. Most workshop participants considered financial aid, or equivalent support (e.g., cooperative opportunities), for transfer students an essential component of articulation agreements; yet, many four-year institutions do not offer scholarships or other forms of financial assistance to transfer students. In contrast, exemplary articulation agreements offer transfer students per-semester scholarships, allow students to take courses at a community college with financial aid from the four-year institution, and require a single application process and fee for partnering institutions. The New England Compact, for example, allows students to transfer to out-of-state educational institutions at reduced tuition rates if their home states do not offer higher degree programs in their fields of study. Research in this area could provide a more accurate picture of the availability of financial aid to transfer students. Institutional Policies that Facilitate Transfer The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education General Education Transfer Policy This policy was designed to improve the transferability of general education coursework among public colleges and universities in the state of Kentucky. Students who complete a 60-hour program described in the “General Education Block Transfer Policy,” earn the Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) degree and are certified eligible for admission with junior-level standing to four-year universities. Their general education courses are accepted as meeting up to 48 hours of institution-wide lower-division transfer credits. This may eliminate the need to for a time-consuming course-by-course analysis.
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers University of Kentucky Extended Campus, Paducah This partnership between the University of Kentucky four-year engineering program and the West Kentucky Community and Technology College engineering science program has a unique feature—both institutions are located on the same campus. This arrangement greatly facilitates the transfer of students from the two-year to the four-year program because it provides opportunities early on for engineering science students to access information about transfer requirements in an environment that offers faculty and peer support. The arrangement also promotes communication between the faculties and administrations of the two programs. Faculty members in the engineering program are available to students in the two-year engineering science program to give advice on career opportunities, job prospects, and local summer employment. In addition, faculty members in the engineering program teach some introductory courses in the two-year curriculum. Students in the two-year program are also invited to participate in student engineering societies based at the University of Kentucky. Itasca Community College and University of North Dakota Two-Year Student Transfer Program to a Four-Year Engineering Program Itasca Community College offers a unique engineering and physics program that includes classroom, laboratory, social, and residential areas in a 25,000-square-foot Learning and Living Center, aggressive recruiting efforts, intensive personal coaching to ensure retention and address students’ educational and/or personal needs, block scheduling of classes, and project-based learning. From 1998 to 2002, 85 percent of Itasca’s 140 students in engineering and physics transferred to four-year engineering programs, the majority at the University of North Dakota. From 1999 to 2003, 110 students graduated four-year programs with A.S. degrees from Itasca; 100 (91 percent) of them either became engineers or are on track to do so. The Itasca-University of North Dakota articulation partnership is one of the “second-level” partnerships described at the workshop—it is longitudinal (i.e., it covers middle school to university), has dual programming, and most important, both partners are fully committed to the program. San Antonio Community College Research by Dimitriu and O’Connor (2004), professors at San Antonio Community College, identified the following key elements for a successful partnership:
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers mutual respect and trust between the participating institutions at all levels open, ongoing dialogue between faculties and administrators common objectives, strategies, and advertising coordinated programs and activities, including joint projects and cultural activities ongoing efforts to refine and align lower-level course offerings at the community college level visible presence of partners on each other’s campuses sharing of facilities and faculty Using these findings as a guide to developing effective transfer partnerships, San Antonio College established articulation agreements with engineering programs at University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas A&M University at Kingsville and Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi and has maintained its existing agreements with Texas A&M University at College Station, Texas State University in San Marcos, and University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. The Regent’s Engineering Transfer Program (RETP) at Georgia Institute of Technology This program is designed to address a shortage of engineers in Georgia and increase access to engineering education for state residents. Five colleges (the term “community college” is not generally used in the Georgia educational system) and nine state universities participate in the program, which allows Georgia residents to begin their studies at any of the 14 institutions and then earn a bachelor of engineering degree at Georgia Tech (the only public engineering program in the state). Students accepted into the program complete their freshman and sophomore year courses at any participating college or university, and upon completion, transfer to Georgia Tech to earn selected engineering degrees. This program offers many benefits to students: attendance at an educational institution close to home before transferring to the urban Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta lower costs for the first two years participation in cooperative programs (where they exist) near where they reside an invitation to Georgia Tech for a campus visit each spring to meet with engineering advisors a competitive advantage over non-RETP students transferring to Georgia Tech
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers The program also includes mentoring programs to support transfer students, collaborations between Georgia Tech faculty members and the 14 partner colleges, and partnerships with industry. Prospective students must be Georgia residents, have a minimum mathematics SAT score of 560, have a minimum combined mathematics and verbal SAT score of 1090, and have a minimum high school GPA of 3.0. These standards are not so stringent as to discourage students but do increase the chance that students who enter the freshman year of the program will succeed. Students, who complete the two-year program, are guaranteed transfer, thus eliminating concerns about equivalency and the need for engineering faculty at Georgia Tech to evaluate students’ eligibility on a course-by-course basis. Benefits to the engineering program at Georgia Tech include increased diversity as transfer students from all over the state join the student body and continued top ranking of Georgia Tech among engineering colleges. In 2003–2004, the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech had 6,545 undergraduate and 3,298 graduate students and awarded 1,386 B.S. degrees, the most undergraduate degrees awarded by a U.S. college of engineering. In that same year, the engineering program was ranked first in the number of engineering degrees awarded to women and underrepresented minority students. Thus, RETP was identified by the committee as an exemplary approach to increasing diversity in engineering education, along with its exemplary approach to articulation and transfer. Transfer Opportunity Program (TOP) at the University of California, Davis The Transfer Opportunity Program (TOP) is a collaboration between the University of California, Davis (UCD), and 15 northern California community colleges. TOP coordinators from the Undergraduate Admissions Office at UCD regularly visit participating colleges to counsel students and parents on admission to UCD; preparation for majors and general education requirements; and financial aid, housing, internships, study abroad, and other student services. Engineering advisors also provide transcript evaluations, seminars on academic and career opportunities in engineering, and guided tours of the UCD campus. UCD executes a formal written Transfer Admissions Agreement (TAA) for the prospective student specifying which courses must be completed and the required GPA. The TAA, written a year before transfer, lists the requirements for a chosen major and guarantees admission to UCD in that major if the requirements are met. The agreement is signed by the student, the community college counselor, and a UCD representative. College of Engineering TAA advisors provide ongoing advice by telephone and e-mail. California community college transfer applicants who
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers have completed all the required lower-division coursework offered at the educational institution they attended are given the highest priority. Support for transfer students as part of the TAA process includes orientation and counseling early in the summer before fall enrollment; full-time undergraduate staff advisors in each engineering department; mandatory annual counseling; early intervention for students in academic difficulty; and additional counseling by the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement Program (MESA). These support services are designed to help students overcome two common problems: (1) different lower-division requirements at University of California and California State University campuses; and (2) the change from the community college semester system to the UCD quarter system. The graduation rate for transfer students, who make up 24 percent of engineering B.S. degree recipients at UCD, is the same as for students who begin their engineering studies at UCD—84 percent of each group earn B.S. degrees in engineering; another 5 percent pursue other majors or graduate from other colleges. Evaluations of Transfer Programs Many workshop participants pointed out a need for better evaluations of transfer programs. Evaluations should include: definitions of positive outcomes of diversity; assessments of learning outcomes; and assessments of shared-learning, outcomes-based objectives. The main concern was that articulation agreements may focus only on easily measured outcomes, such as the number of credits or courses, rather than more important learning outcomes and competences. In fact, there is a fundamental disagreement between two-year and four-year programs about what evaluations should measure. Another serious problem is that many educational institutions do not collect or analyze data on students that would support assessments; even when data are collected, this is not done uniformly. One exception, however, is the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) Critical Path Analysis of the California Community College System in the Generation of Science and Technology Graduates (CCST, 2002). The California Council on Science and Technology undertook a comprehensive evaluation of California’s high-technology infrastructure for the purpose of revealing weaknesses in the science and technology educational system and using the results to develop rational responses to the changing technology environment. The study includes every component of the California educational system, from kindergarten through graduate school; it assesses the status of each component of the
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers overall system, identifies strengths, weaknesses, and bottlenecks in the educational pipeline that prevent students from obtaining college degrees. The CCST study includes six segments of the educational system, including community colleges and four-year institutions. The collection and analysis of statistics on the role of community colleges in the education of engineering, as well as science, technology, and mathematics graduates, is an exemplary approach that could serve as a model for other states. The study revealed a need for rigorous research to address the following issues: the dynamic flow of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students through the educational system reliable data, including the total number of students and the number of students in various categories points of entry (e.g., from high school or the workforce) outputs (e.g., time to degree, certificate, transfer, or cessation of study) factors that affect the flow of STEM students opportunities for success and barriers to the success of STEM students Organizational Efforts to Enhance Communication Washington Council for Engineering and Related Technical Education This voluntary council, established in 1970 with the approval of the Washington State Legislature, comprises faculty and administrators from 17 community colleges with engineering transfer programs, four community colleges with engineering technology programs, five universities that offer programs leading to a B.S. in engineering, and three universities with programs leading to a B.S. in engineering technology. The ultimate purpose of the council is to develop a statewide approach to engineering education and present a unified front to the legislature. The council’s immediate goals include: improving communications among two-year and four-year institutions involved in engineering and engineering technology programs; coordinating engineering programs statewide; and developing personal contacts among faculty members. According to faculty members and administrators who have participated, the council is promoting a new statewide A.S. degree to ensure standardization, provides members of the state committee on the A.S. degree, and represents engineering education to the state government. The council meets twice a year in different locations throughout the state, alternating between two-year and four-year institutions. Leadership also alternates
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers this way. The council is currently developing a Web site, http://www.wcerte.org/. California Engineering Liaison Council Established in 1947, the California Engineering Liaison Council is made up of administrators, faculty members, and staff members from colleges of engineering at University of California and California State University campuses, community colleges, and independent universities and colleges. The council meets twice a year, alternating between northern and southern California. The council serves the following functions: exchanging information and developing recommendations for action in engineering education improving communications in matters of mutual interest developing, reviewing, and acting on proposals for policies, plans, and procedures that affect engineering education advising individuals and groups on promoting effective engineering education The council is currently involved in activities to improve articulation between two-year and four-year programs; promote the uniformity of basic concepts in core courses; provide up-to-date, accurate guidance information; and collect and evaluate statistics on the number of incoming students and the number who complete engineering majors. Two Year Engineering Science Association of New York State The Two Year Engineering Science Association of New York State (TYESA) is an organization comprised of members from institutions of higher education in New York state that grant an A.S. degree in engineering science and adhere to curriculum guidelines set by the organization. Liaison membership is available to institutions and agencies interested in participating in TYESA meetings and other events. TYESA member schools agree to adhere to the following curriculum, which was approved in 2000: four mathematics courses (calculus I and II, differential equations, and calculus III or linear algebra or statistics); one chemistry course; four courses in English and the humanities/social sciences; one computer programming course (mathematical software or programming); one introduction to engineering course; and a design experience—as a separate course or integrated existing course). A minimum of six elective courses are required, at lease two of which
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers must be in engineering science. Elective courses available to students include statics, dynamics, circuits and networks, strength of materials, thermodynamics, materials science, graphics, engineering laboratory, mono-processor applications, organic chemistry I and II, modern physics, linear algebra, general biology I and II, chemistry II, digital electronics, and computer science I and II. TYESA has six goals: To provide a forum for the free expression of ideas and opinions of members on engineering education. To maintain communication between two- and four-year colleges. To provide a continuing review of the quality, content, and goals of the two-year engineering science curriculum. To facilitate transfer from two-year to four-year colleges. To provide a vehicle for joint action on all matters of mutual interest and benefit to engineering science programs offered by member institutions. To maintain communication with the New York Department of Education and other regulatory agencies. The State University of New York (SUNY) TYESA maintains a Web site that lists curriculum guidelines, upcoming events, links to member schools and four-year liaisons, and information about its annual design-and-build competitions. The three programs described above have demonstrated innovative approaches to enhancing the transfer mission, but a number of issues are still unresolved. Research to identify areas for improvement in the transfer mission and to measure the effectiveness of current strategies and solutions would be useful. CONCLUSION The degree of institutionalization and regulation through oversight by a statewide entity varies among articulation agreements. Some of the agreements profiled at the workshop were developed because individual faculty members and administrators at a community college or four-year institution wanted to work together. These agreements are typically contingent on the personal relationships of individuals who are committed to the transfer mission. Other agreements derive from a top-down, statewide initiative to improve articulation and transfer of community college students. The committee noted three types of articulation agreements, based on the curricular scope of the agreement: course-by-course, departmental, and institutional.
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers Notable programs featured at the workshop had adopted a variety of approaches based on comprehensive articulation agreements, and they do appear to increase the likelihood that community college students will transfer to four-year engineering programs. Exemplary agreements include frequent interactions between (1) faculty members and administrators at community colleges and four-year institutions; (2) between two-and four-year partner institutions; (3) with high school (even middle school) students and teachers in surrounding communities; (4) and with parents, teachers, counselors, and leaders of youth organizations and educational outreach programs. Communication between faculty members and administrators at partner institutions cited by workshop participants included campus visits, regularly scheduled local and statewide conferences and councils, and exchanges of course descriptions and curricular changes. Vehicles for communication with students and the people who advise them include print and Web advertisements; information on course and credit requirements, articulation agreements, and sources of advice and financial assistance; visits by two- and four-year faculty members to high schools and to one another’s campuses; career fairs; and transfer counselors at both two-and four-year partner institutions. Cooperation includes faculty member exchanges; a single registration form and fee for community college and transfer students; shared campuses or facilities; inclusion of community college students in engineering competitions and other events at four-year institutions and student engineering societies; access for transfer students to financial assistance, mentors, internships, and co-op opportunities; support for bridge programs and other outreach activities to interest more women and underrepresented minority students; and recruitment of high school students to community college A.S. degree programs. Conclusion 2-1 Some articulation agreements are better than others. The most effective agreements provide for a seamless transfer of community college students to four-year engineering programs. These agreements are also characterized by continual improvements in response to changing engineering curricula at four-year educational institutions; institutionalized partnerships between community colleges and four-year institutions; and frequent interaction and collaboration between faculties and administrators of partner institutions. Conclusion 2-2 The mission of effective transfer partnerships is “second-level articulation,” That is, a focus on transfer outcomes rather than the mechanics of articulation (e.g., course credits, content and the exact sequencing of courses). The success of second-level articulation depends on com-
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers munication and cooperation between transfer partners in pursuit of the same goal—the seamless transfer of community college engineering science students to four-year engineering programs and their attainment of a B.S. or advanced engineering degree. Conclusion 2-3 Second-level articulation requires a culture in traditional engineering programs of focusing on the retention of engineering students, including transfer students, by providing a supportive educational environment. Conclusion 2-4 Students who complete the A.S. degree before transferring are most likely to complete an engineering program and receive a bachelor’s degree. Students who do not take enough engineering courses and transfer too soon often run into problems and are less likely to complete a degree. Data presented by a representative of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) at the workshop show that the persistence rate of transfer students is positively correlated with earning an A.S. degree prior to transferring. Conclusion 2-5 Course-by-course articulation systems may discourage students from completing the A.S. degree for two reasons: (1) they see no benefit in completing a degree that includes courses that are not required at the four-year school and are, therefore, not accepted upon transfer; and (2) faculty members at the four-year college may tell them they do not need some courses to transfer. A block transfer agreement that gives premium transfer credits for completing the A.S. degree might encourage students to stay the course until graduation from two-year programs. Conclusion 2-6 Uniformity between two-year engineering science curricula and lower-division courses at four-year engineering programs is desirable but not sufficient for seamless transfers of community college students. A minority of community college representatives at the workshop argued that articulation agreements should be more flexible—i.e., community colleges should not be expected to match their curricula exactly to four-year engineering programs. The committee concludes that greater flexibility, without compromising standards, could be achieved by ensuring that engineering pedagogy is less course driven and more outcomes based.
Representative terms from entire chapter: