Academic journal article Community College Review

Experiences of Transfer Students in a Collaborative Baccalaureate Nursing Program

Academic journal article Community College Review

Experiences of Transfer Students in a Collaborative Baccalaureate Nursing Program

Article excerpt

Community college students who transfer to universities face innumerable challenges. While documented in the American literature on transfer, there has been relatively little published research on transfer in Canada. This paper explores the experience of nursing students transferring from three community colleges to a large urban university in Ontario, Canada.


Transferring from a community college to a university for degree completion is not a new phenomenon in American higher education; nevertheless, in Canada transfer is not part of the original mandate of the Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology, nor is it supported in the Canadian province of Ontario. Transfer in Canada is strong in provinces that support transfer as a charge of the higher education system. Interest in the remaining provinces is burgeoning, particularly in Ontario with government-supported pathways; however, transfer as a provincial community college mandate has yet to be established.

With the announcement of the baccalaureate degree as entry to practice for new registrants to the nursing profession in Ontario, community colleges and universities were directed to deliver nursing education collaboratively. A number of collaborative models emerged, including articulation models where students begin their studies at a community college and then transfer to a university. Approximately half of the nursing students in Ontario are enrolled in these articulated collaborative programs. In a system that does not support transfer, what are the experiences of these students?

The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of transfer students in a collaborative baccalaureate nursing program. Utilizing a naturalistic approach, both qualitative and qualitative data were gathered to elucidate the feelings, experiences, and satisfaction of third-year nursing students in a collaborative articulated program. Fifty-four students responded to a questionnaire, and a subgroup of 13 students--selected through purposeful sampling--was interviewed.

Relevant Literature

After several years of decline in transfer rates (Grubb, 1991; Palmer & Eaton, 1991), there is a renewed commitment to the transfer function of community colleges in the United States. The majority of literature on transfer supports transfer programs as the most efficient pathway for students to receive advanced education (Andero, 1992; Andres, 2001; Bell, 1998; Cejda, Kaylor, & Rewey, 1998; Davies & Casey, 1999; Dennison, 1978; Laanan & Sanchez, 1996; Piland, 1995; Tyler & Small, 1990). As Cohen (1996) summarized:

   Half of the students who begin college in America--and an even
   higher proportion of underrepresented minorities--matriculate at
   community colleges. If the bachelor's degree is a requisite for
   major social and economic advancement, then transfer must be
   an essential community college mission. (p. 1)

Additionally, a considerable number of studies (Davies & Dickmann, 1998; Laanan, 1996; Townsend, 1995; Woolley, McLaughlin, & Durham, 1990) expose the struggles and challenges faced by the transfer student; nevertheless, the majority of students report satisfaction with the process. In spite of the recommendation from many studies that jointly planned curriculum would improve the outcomes of transfer programs, little research has been conducted on such collaborative programs.

In the review of the literature, no theory or conceptual model surfaced to explain the transition process experienced by transfer students in their journey from community college to university. Consequently, the inquiry was broadened to include related phenomena--specifically persistence and transition--to help explain the experiences of transfer students. The experiences of freshmen entering post-secondary education tend to be similar, at least in some ways, to those experienced by students transferring from community college to university. …

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