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Transfer Transitions: First Semester Persistence and Adjustment of Transfer Students


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Title: Transfer Transitions: First Semester Persistence and Adjustment of Transfer Students

Transfer Transitions First Semester Persistence
and Adjustment of Transfer Students
  • Presented by Dr. Eric Gumm

Agenda For This Session
  • Need for this study
  • Conceptual Framework Methodology
  • Research Questions Data Analysis
  • Major Findings
  • Implications of the Study
  • Recommendations for Practice
  • Additional Research Suggestions
  • Questions and discussion

Need for the Study
  • With more students desiring to transfer, there is
    a significant need for information regarding
    transferring and its effects on students.
  • Before interventions can be created to assist
    transfer students, we must have a clearer
    understanding of transfer student transition
    (Flaga, 2002).

Need for the Study
  • An exploration of both Academic and Social
    integration was necessary to understand the
    experiences of transfer students (Harrison,
  • Several sources pointed to the need for studies
    to counterbalance those in large, public
    universities by looking at private universities
    (Cejda, 1999, 2000 Cejda Kaylor, 1997
    Townsend, 1995 Walter, 2000)

Need for the Study
  • Woosley (2005) noted that transfer students also
    tend to have a lower retention rate than freshmen
    students (10 lower on average).

Conceptual Framework Tintos (1993) Theory of
Student Departure.
Conceptual Framework
  • This model presents a dual framework of both
    academic and social systems into which the
    student is to integrate.
  • Tintos model is the most widely used to examine
    student transition and attrition, with over 775
    citations (Braxton, Hirschy, and McClendon, 2004
    Pascarella and Terenzini, 2005).
  • It was especially relevant to this study because
    residential universities are exactly the type of
    insitutions this model is most reliable in
    studying (Robbins, et al, 2004 Tinto, 1998).

  • Two data sources
  • Transfer Student Experiences Survey (a 70-item
  • Official university records for enrollment and
    grade point average
  • Three participating private universities
  • Institution A with 1,400 students (50 transfers)
  • Institution B with 4,700 students (140 transfers)
  • Institution C with 14,000 students (400 transfers)

  • Student sample included all students who
  • Transferred there in the Fall of 2005
  • Had at least 12 credit hours of transfer work
  • Had graduated from high school before January 1,
  • The survey instrument was sent by mail and email
    to all of the students in the sample.

  • The final population for this study included 603
    transfer students at the three universities.
  • After multiple rounds of follow-up and reminder,
    completed surveys were received from 348 of the
    603 transfer students an overall response rate
    of 58.

Research Questions
  • The primary research problem or question was
    What variables predict transfer students
    successful persistence and transition experience
    during their first semester at Christian
  • Two specific questions which flowed out of this
    overarching research question
  • After controlling for statistically significant
    pre-enrollment variables, were academic
    integration, social integration, goal and
    institutional commitment, or spiritual
    integration significant predictors of transfer
    students first semester to second semester
    persistence at these Christian institutions of
    higher education?
  • What demographic, previous institution and
    current university factors affected the transfer
    students successful academic and social
    adjustment to these Christian universities?

Data Analysis
  • Chi-square and t-tests were utilized to examine
    the relationships between the twenty
    pre-enrollment variables and the outcome variable
    of persistence.
  • Logistic regression was then utilized to examine
    the impact of the predictor variables on the
    students persistence at the same institution.

Data Analysis
  • Linear regression was then utilized to determine
    which variables significantly affected the
    academic and social adjustment of this population
    of transfer students.

Major Findings
  • Pre-enrollment variables
  • Only one was significant (at the plt.05 level)
    with regard to student persistence Highest
    Degree Planned at the Current Institution.
  • The logistic regression analysis examined each of
    the three main constructs in Tintos Longitudinal
    Model of Student Departure
  • Academic Integration
  • Social Integration
  • Goal and Institutional Commitments

Major Findings
  • Academic Integration
  • This construct was not found to be predictive of
    transfer student persistence in this study.
  • This is somewhat surprising considering the
    general support for the impact of this construct
    (Liu Liu, 2000 Pascarella Terenzeni, 1983,
    2005 Thomas, 2000).
  • However, others have seen that social integration
    is initially more important than academic
    integration (Tinto, 1997, 2000 Woodley, 2003).

Major Findings
  • Social Integration
  • This construct was found to be predictive of
    transfer student persistence in this study.
  • Specifically the Student Interaction with Peers
    variable was predicitive at the plt.05 level.
  • This same conclusion has been affirmed in a large
    number of other studies (Tinto, 1997, 2000
    Elkins, Braxton and James, 2000 Woosley, 2003).

Major Findings
  • Goal and Institutional Commitments
  • This construct was also found to be predictive of
    transfer student persistence in this study.
  • When utilizing the Goal and Institutional
    Commitment construct, the logistic regression
    equation correctly classified 95.8 of these
    transfer students into the correct persister or
    non-persister categories.

Major Findings
  • Spiritual Integration
  • In the development of this study, an affirmation
    was expected of Morris (2003) finding that
    Spiritual Integration would be a significant
    predictor of persistence.
  • Therefore, the most suprising finding of this
    study, for the researcher, was its lack of
  • While Walter (2000) and Schreiner (2000) also
    indicated the predictive abilities of Spiritual
    Integration, all of these previous studies
    examined freshmen, not transfer students.

Major Findings
  • Academic Adjustment
  • Three significant variables
  • Students fall grade point average
  • The students most significant reason for
    selecting this institution
  • Their family income level
  • These three variables accounted for 45 of the

Major Findings
  • Social Adjustment
  • Three significant variables
  • Students fall grade point average
  • Highest educational level attained by the
    students mother
  • The students most significant reason for
    selecting this institution
  • These three variables accounted for 41 of the

Implications of the Study
  • Most Significant Reason for Attending
  • The transfer students most significant reason
    for attending their new institution has a
    significant impact on their academic and social
  • As a result, universities should take steps to
    shape those reasons for attending through the
    recruiting process.
  • Universities should also attempt to determine the
    reasons from their incoming transfer students in
    order to effectively connect the students to the

Implications of the Study
  • New Student Orientation
  • This study indicated that a sizeable population
    of transfer students did not attend orientation
    at their new institution.
  • This limits the ability of the university to set
    academic and social expectations for these
  • As a result, universities should create
    intentional programming for transfer students to
    encourage their attendance at orientation
    programs to assist in their academic and social

Implications of the Study
  • Fall grade point average
  • The students fall GPA accounted for the largest
    portion of both academic and social adjustment of
    new transfer students.
  • As a result, universities need to utilize
    strategies to determine how students are
    performing academically before the end of the
    semester and provide intervention and assistance
    for those who are struggling.

Recommendations for Practice
  • Usual qualifier this study examined student
    experiences at three specific institutions and it
    cant be quickly generalized to other
  • However, there are relevant questions and areas
    of investigation that deserve consideration.
  • Three areas of recommendation
  • Campus Foundations
  • Transition Experiences
  • Continuing Support

Recommendations for Practice
  • Campus Foundations
  • Intentionally connect the transfer students
    goals to the university early in the recruiting
  • Establish on-going, intentional efforts to
    ascertain the actual needs of transfer students,
    as a separate and distinct group from freshmen.
  • One way to do so is to designate a position to
    serve as a coordinator for transfer students or,
    based on the tremendous growth and success of
    First-Year Experience programs in their work to
    integrate and retain first-year students
    (Upcraft, Gardner, Barefoot, 2005),
    universities could establish a similar effort
    focused on transfer students.

Recommendations for Practice
  • Transition Experiences
  • Universities should provide at least some
    separate and focused programming for transfer
    students during their orientation programs.
    These sessions should address the specific
    transition needs and concerns of transfer
  • Transfer orientation sessions should be led by
    student leaders with an emphasis on creating
    community and proving opportunities for social
    integration, since those are such crucial
    components to retaining these students. Ideally,
    these student leaders would have themselves been
    transfer students so that they could serve as
    successful role models for the new transfer

Recommendations for Practice
  • Continuing Support
  • All transfer students should be assigned a
    faculty mentor through their department who
    should connect with them at the start of their
    first semester in order to provide a connection
    between the students goals, their academic
    program, and the institution.
  • Additionally, some type of mentor from the
    current upperclassmen in the transfer students
    major should be assigned and they could provide
    social, academic, and goal and institutional
    commitment connections.
  • Since the students Fall GPA accounted for the
    largest portion of the academic and social
    adjustment, the university should utilize
    mid-term grades to determine how new transfer
    students are doing in their classes and provide
    intervention for those who are struggling.

Additional Research Suggestions
  1. While this study has added to the conversation
    regarding transfer student retention, more
    research is needed in this area in order to
    confirm the findings of this study and to provide
    a clearer picture of those factors which
    influence the experiences of transfer students,
    especially at Christian universities.
  2. In future research studies in this area,
    recruiting or obtaining a more evenly distributed
    group of students who did and did not choose to
    return should be a priority.
  3. A national study of transfer student persistence
    at Christian universities would add a great deal
    to this area of research.

Additional Research Suggestions
  1. Future research could examine this idea and
    select a transfer student population that has
    been at the Christian university for a longer
    period of time before being surveyed.
  2. Further research is needed to see if the
    Spiritual Integration construct is significant in
    Christian universities, especially among transfer
    students at these institutions.
  3. The Academic Adjustment and Social Adjustment
    findings need examination in additional studies
    to further confirm the impact of the significant
    variables. Also, while these variables predicted
    a significant portion of the variance (45 and
    41 respectively), further research should
    attempt to determine which variables account for
    the remaining variance.

Concluding Comments
  • Student retention is a complex and complicated
    area of consideration, but its importance is
  • Christian universities are especially concerned
    with student retention because of their
    institutional missions.
  • Student retention ultimately comes down to the
    decisions of individual students to leave or stay
    at a particular institution.

Concluding Comments
  • The students seemingly simple departure decision
    has tremendous impact.
  • It is my hope that this study will help Christian
    universities have a clearer picture of their
    transfer students and those factors which most
    influence their retention.
  • I also hope this study will contribute to the
    continuing discussions regarding the needs of
    transfer students at all of our institutions.

Discussion, Questions, Comments ???
Thank You!