The following data on transfer students has been collected (Kozeracki, 2001):
gender, race, age, socioeconomic status, major or program, and full- or part-time status (often cross-tabulated with other findings
student goals and aspirations
impact of completing general education requirements or having to take developmental courses
effects of special programs, such as honors programs, and choice of major on achievement
grades (at the two-year and four-year institution)
number of credits attempted and received
withdrawal, persistence, graduation, and transfer rates
time to degree
These data are available on three levels: national, state, and institutional.1 In addition, some researchers have conducted one-time studies on particular questions, using primary research collection, such as student surveys. At the national level, sources of information include the National
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers E Transfer Data The following data on transfer students has been collected (Kozeracki, 2001): gender, race, age, socioeconomic status, major or program, and full- or part-time status (often cross-tabulated with other findings student goals and aspirations impact of completing general education requirements or having to take developmental courses effects of special programs, such as honors programs, and choice of major on achievement grades (at the two-year and four-year institution) number of credits attempted and received withdrawal, persistence, graduation, and transfer rates time to degree NATIONAL DATA These data are available on three levels: national, state, and institutional.1 In addition, some researchers have conducted one-time studies on particular questions, using primary research collection, such as student surveys. At the national level, sources of information include the National 1 A review of data on transfer students (including an extensive reference section) can be found in Kozeracki (2001).
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and Transfer Assembly Project. For the purposes of this study, NSF data on transfers are especially relevant because they focus on science and engineering. Information from graduate students regarding their experiences in community colleges is collected in the NSF National Survey of Recent College Graduates (NSRCG). “The survey questionnaire asks graduates who have received bachelor’s or master’s degrees in science or engineering fields whether they have ever attended a community college. The data collected do not distinguish between graduates who attended community college by taking one course and those who were enrolled full time (Tsapogas, 2004).” Because the survey also includes demographic questions, the findings can be disaggregated by marital status, race/ethnicity, age, and parents’ education. In addition, some graduates were asked to give their reasons for attending community colleges. “Many S&E [science and engineering] graduates used community colleges for reasons other than to earn an associate’s degree. In the 1999 survey cycle, 1997 and 1998 S&E graduates were asked why they decided to attend a community college. This question was not asked in the 2001 survey cycle” (Tsapogas, 2004). Other sources of national-level data sources are useful for putting transfers to context but do not focus directly on engineering. NCES, for example, conducts a variety of surveys, including multiple surveys on postsecondary education, the most relevant of which is the Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) Longitudinal Study. Other surveys that include questions about attendance at community colleges are the Baccalaureate and Beyond Survey; National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), which focuses on financing a college education; National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 (NLS-72); High School and Beyond (HS&B); and the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88). Analyses of these datasets for insights into the role of community colleges revealed the findings described below. BPS includes several questions specifically about transfers. According to the NCES Web site (2004): [BPS] is designed specifically to collect data related to persistence in and completion of postsecondary education programs; relationships between work and education efforts; and the effect of postsecondary education on the lives of individuals. The current BPS Longitudinal Study is made up of people who first entered postsecondary education in the 1995–1996 academic year. These students were part of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS). NPSAS includes everyone in postsecondary education, regardless of age or level of postsecondary enrollment. For BPS, students included in NPSAS who had just started their postsec-
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers ondary education were interviewed two additional times throughout their education and into the work force. The last interview took place in 2001 (NCES, 2004). A final national data source on transfer students is the Transfer Assembly Project at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Community College Studies Program (2004). [The project] is the longest standing study focusing on statewide measures of transfers from community college to baccalaureate. Since 1989 the project has collected data on transfer rates using the following measure: The transfer rate is the percentage of all first-time community college students who complete at least 12 units at that college and who take at least one class at a public in-state university within four years of leaving the community college. Data are collected from individual institutions in a state, sometimes through the statewide agency, and are aggregated into a statewide rate, which is subsequently reaggregated into a national transfer rate. Because of confidentiality agreements, data are not published for individual institutions or for the states. Analysis of the changes in the rates, however, indicates that there are larger disparities in transfer rates between institutions in states than there are between states. The Transfer Assembly Project assesses the transfer rate for students who enter two-year colleges with no prior college experience and complete at least 12 college credits in four years. This group is then compared to students who subsequently take one or more classes at a public in-state university in the next four years. STATEWIDE DATA At the state level, a number of entities, such as state higher education offices, collect data on student enrollments, including transfers, for institutions in the state (Welsh, 2002; Welsh and Kjorlien, 2001). Although many states collect some data, they have been slow to develop student-tracking databases. In addition, there are substantial differences among states in terms of the periodicity of collection and the scope of the surveys. Moreover, some of the data are not available on the web. A search of data that are available online suggested that much of the data cannot be disaggregated by gender, race and ethnicity, or field. Most important, research suggests that state higher education agencies do very little with the data they do collect (Welsh, 2002). Some examples follow to illustrate the types of data collected by states. The California Postsecondary Education Commission collects data on full-year transfer information regarding the flow of community college stu-
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers dents to four-year colleges and universities for the academic years between 1989–1990 and 2003–2004 (CPEC, 2004). The state of Oregon has collected information since the 1995–1996 academic year on the number of students enrolled for credit at an Oregon community college one year and then at an Oregon university-system institution the next. Enrollment data are disaggregated by gender and race/ethnicity. Data are also collected on university majors declared by Oregon community college associate-degree-holders enrolled at Oregon university-system institutions the year after community college graduation; these data are aggregated by the community college degree and by university discipline. In addition, data are collected on the academic performance of undergraduate students—measured in grade point average (GPA)—enrolled at a community college in one year and at an Oregon university-system institution the next; the GPAs are compared to the GPAs of all students (Oregon University System, 2002). INSTITUTION-SPECIFIC DATA Individual institutions, both community colleges and four-year institutions, also collect transfer data. For example, Clark College, a two-year institution in Vancouver, Washington, released a transfer study in July 2002 based on a survey of 881 students who indicated on the registration form that they “intended to transfer” (Clark College, 2002). Students were grouped into three categories: (1) those who had just received associate’s degrees; (2) those who had received associate’s degrees and were still attending Clark; (3) and those who were no longer enrolled but were considered ready for transfer. The survey response rate was 66 percent (578 students). Of the 578 respondents, 411 (71 percent) transferred to four-year institutions (18 percent planned to transfer, 7 percent were not certain, and 4 percent would not transfer). About half of the students transferred to Washington State University. Engineering was the fourth-most common major among transfer students from Clark College. SCOPE OF AVAILABLE DATA Number of Students in Engineering Sciences and Engineering We might address the question of how many students are in engineering sciences or engineering programs by looking at enrollment or the intention to major. Every year, the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) conducts a survey of freshmen that includes a question regarding their intended majors. Of the freshmen who intend to major in S&E, the percentage that select engineering has been fairly stable, with a high of 36.3 percent in 1980 and a low of 25.8 percent in 1995; the average is about
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers 31 percent. In 2002, the percentage of male freshmen intending to major in engineering was 44 percent of those intending to major in S&E. For women, the percentage was 11.5, down from the percentage of women in the 1980s and early 1990s. (More men selected engineering among the S&E fields; women tended to select biological or agricultural sciences or social or behavioral sciences over engineering, although engineering beat out the remaining sciences.) By ethnicity, the data suggest that the percentage of white freshmen who select engineering is relatively stable, between 8 and 10 percent. Asian Americans were more likely to select engineering during the 1980s. Interest among blacks and Mexican American and Puerto Rican American freshmen has increased slightly (NSB, 2004). However, the HERI survey involves students at both community colleges and four-year institutions (primarily the latter). To separate these groups, the best strategy is to use NCES data. The NCES IPEDS database includes fall enrollments from all primary providers of postsecondary education, but these are not disaggregated by discipline. A second way to identify the number of students in engineering is in terms of degree completion, for which NSF collects data. Table E-1 shows the number of associate degrees awarded in engineering sciences. Table E-2 shows the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in engineering. As Table E-1 shows, the total number of associate degrees has not changed much for women since 1990; the number has declined for men. Because most associate degrees are awarded to white students, much of the decline can be explained by the decline in the number of white males who receive associate degrees. It should be stressed, however, that many students transfer prior to receiving associate degrees, so the potential number of transfer students in engineering is not evident from these data. Table E-2 describes recent trends in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded. Since 1990, the number awarded to women has increased; the number awarded to men has remained relatively stable. At the bachelor’s level, the number of white students receiving degrees has declined, while the number of minority students in all groups has increased. Enrollments are a less preferred measure, since they only include students who intended to major in engineering and succeeded in so doing at the end of their program. Not included are students who might have wanted to be engineers but dropped out of such programs at either the two-year or four-year institution. Number of Transfers into Four-Year Engineering Programs The group of students who could transfer from community colleges in engineering includes all students who are interested in pursuing this program, with or without a two-year institutional credential.2 Once again,
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers TABLE E-1 Associate Degrees Awarded in Engineering, by Ethnicity and Gender, 1990–2001 Race & Ethnicity Gender 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 2000 2001 Total of All Races & Ethnicities Female 288 279 355 330 362 307 269 271 323 238 297 Total of All Races & Ethnicities Male 2,114 2,231 2,360 2,195 2,466 1,978 1,779 1,617 1,784 1,492 1,494 Black, Non-Hispanic Female 15 20 31 28 31 28 24 24 24 22 15 Black, Non-Hispanic Male 73 106 104 173 148 120 110 107 85 101 89 American Indian or Alaskan Native Female 2 3 2 1 2 3 2 3 5 4 3 American Indian or Alaskan Native Male 10 18 12 7 16 19 9 22 17 13 13 Asian or Pacific Islander Female 27 18 21 12 36 24 14 20 25 23 25 Asian or Pacific Islander Male 124 128 164 124 148 128 132 128 141 137 105 Hispanic Female 21 26 24 43 32 25 19 10 28 28 32 Hispanic Male 77 127 108 110 116 136 113 102 168 150 154 White, Non-Hispanic Female 197 190 250 231 241 210 195 198 215 142 182 White, Non-Hispanic Male 1,573 1,677 1,836 1,655 1,892 1,448 1,307 1,165 1,223 984 1,020 SOURCE: NSF, 2005.
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers TABLE E-2 Bachelor’s Degrees Awarded in Engineering, by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and Citizenship, 1990–2002 Year Total Female Male U.S. Citizen/Permanent Resident Temporary Resident White Asian/Pacific Islander Black Hispanic American Indian/Alaskan Native 1990 65,967 10,130 55,837 50,099 5,989 2,173 2,473 112 5,121 1991 63,986 10,016 53,970 48,028 6,305 2,304 2,663 146 4,540 1992 63,653 9,972 53,681 47,540 6,479 2,374 2,708 163 4,389 1993 65,001 10,453 54,548 47,976 6,764 2,637 2,845 175 4,604 1994 64,946 10,800 54,146 47,136 6,881 2,769 3,045 207 4,908 1995 64,749 11,303 53,446 46,264 7,056 2,897 3,409 230 4,893 1996 65,267 11,737 53,530 45,952 7,333 3,120 3,557 263 5,042 1997 65,091 12,160 52,931 44,976 7,625 3,203 4,005 265 5,017 1998 63,271 11,797 51,474 43,623 7,131 3,144 3,939 351 5,083 1999 62,500 12,360 50,140 42,650 7,226 3,171 4,073 328 5,052 2000 63,635 13,140 50,495 43,437 7,529 3,150 4,124 347 5,048 2001 65,195 13,195 52,000 44,407 8,340 3,182 4,152 275 4,839 2002 68,648 14,102 54,546 47,149 8,669 3,358 4,298 315 4,859 NOTES: Racial/ethnic breakouts are for U.S. citizens and permanent residents only. Temporary resident includes all racial/ethnic groups. SOURCE: Engineering Workforce Commission, Engineering and Technology Degrees, 2002 (Washington, DC, 2002), cited in NSF (2004), Table C-8. more data are available on general transfers than on transfers specifically in engineering. At the national level, one estimate places the transfer rate of students at around 25 percent (MacNeil, 2001). Based on the NCES Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study, we can make some general comments about transfers. For the 1989–1990 cohort of students assessed in 1994, the NCES study found, in general, that 25 percent of community college students indicated in their responses that they were working toward bachelor’s degrees, and 39 percent of these students had transferred directly to four-year institutions by 1994. Of community college students identified as prospective transfers, those who were enrolled full time in their first year of community college were about twice as likely to transfer to four-year institutions within five years. Among community college beginners who transferred to four-year insti- 2 A methodological note is important here. The transfer rate is the number of students who transfer from a two-year institution to a four-year institution divided by the number of students who could potentially transfer. There are different ways of defining both the numerator and denominator. See Bradburn and Hurst (2001).
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers tutions, 65 percent transferred without degrees; in other words, only about one out of three had completed associate degrees before transferring. One out of four community college transfers had received bachelor’s degrees by 1994, while another 44 percent were still enrolled in four-year institutions, for an overall persistence rate of 70 percent. The bachelor’s degree attainment rate was much higher among the minority of community college transfers who had completed associate degrees before transferring: 43 percent had received bachelor’s degrees by 1994 compared with 17 percent of those who had transferred with no credential (McCormick and Carroll, 1997). A second group of students who began at two-year institutions in 1995–1996, was also studied. This analysis showed that about one-quarter of students who started at community colleges said they intended to transfer to four-year institutions and complete bachelor’s degrees. About one-half of those who intended to pursue bachelor’s degrees did transfer (see Table E-3). Adelman (1998) used the NCES Higher Educational Institution and Beyond Survey (which describes the activities of seniors and sophomores as they progress through higher educational institutions, postsecondary education, and into the workplace from 1980 through 1992) to examine the engineering pathway. The principal relevant findings are listed below: 20.1 percent of students who earned bachelor’s degrees in engineering started in community colleges. One-third of students who reached the threshold of the baccalaureate engineering path, but who did not cross the threshold, started in community colleges. Of the students who left engineering, 14.8 percent started at community colleges (compared with 50.2 percent who started at comprehensive institutions and 25.8 percent who started at doctoral-degree-conferring institutions). The degree-completion rates (65.8 percent) of students who transferred from community colleges were equivalent to those of four-year-only college students (60.4 percent). Transfer students account for one-sixth of the degrees awarded in engineering. The NCES Baccalaureate and Beyond Survey identifies bachelor’s degree recipients for 1999–2000 by various characteristics, including first institution type and undergraduate major. Of students with bachelor’s degrees in engineering, 17.8 percent began at two-year institutions. As Table E-4
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers TABLE E-3 Percentage Distribution of Students Who Began at Public Two-Year Institutions in 1995–1996 Student Characteristics % Distribution of Beginning Students Percentage Transferred to a Four-Year Institution Percentage of Transfers Who Completed an Associate’s Degree First Percentage of Transfers to Four-Year Institutions Who Persisted to a Bachelor’s Degree Total Persistence Status Completed Degree Still Enrolled in Four-Year as of June 2001 Total (all beginning students) 100 28.9 33.3 78.9 34.7 44.3 Initial degree goal in 1995–1996: Bachelor’s degree 24.8 50.8 18.8 82.3 44 38.3 Associate’s degree 48.9 26.5 50.6 78.6 29.1 49.5 SOURCE: DOED, 2003. TABLE E-4 First-Institution Type for Students Who Received Bachelor’s Degrees in Engineering in 1999–2000 First-Institution Type Undergraduate Major Public Two-Year Public Four-Year Nondoctorate Granting Public Doctorate Granting Private Not-for-Profit Four-Year Nondoctorate Granting Private Not-for-Profit Doctorate Granting Private For-Profit Other Engineering 17.8 8.0 50.4 6.5 16.3 0.7 0.3 SOURCE: Bradburn et al., 2003.
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Enhancing the Community College Pathway to Engineering Careers shows, a two-year institution is the second-most-frequent starting point for students who received bachelor’s degrees in engineering. Number of Students with Experience in Community Colleges It is possible to survey students who received degrees at the bachelor’s level or higher from the top down and ask whether they had experience in community colleges. According to data collected by the NSF, community college attendance among 1999 and 2000 (total) engineering bachelor’s degree recipients was 44 percent; for master’s degree recipients, it was 29 percent (NSF, 2003). The combined percentage of engineering bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients who attended community colleges was 40 percent (Tsapogas, 2004). The number of engineering bachelor’s degree recipients who also earned associate degrees was 10 percent; the percentage for those who earned master’s degrees was 8 percent (NSF, 2003). Together, the percentage of engineering bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients who received associate degrees in engineering was 22 percent (Tsapogas, 2004). NSF also estimated data for students who received doctorates from 1991 to 1995; 8.2 percent of doctoral recipients in engineering had attended community colleges (NSF, 1996). Tsapogas (2004) updated this information for 1996–2000 (for all S&E) and again found that 8 percent had attended community colleges.