Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Academic Performance of Transfer and Non-Transfer Students in Introductory Agriculture Courses

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

Academic Performance of Transfer and Non-Transfer Students in Introductory Agriculture Courses

Article excerpt

Abstract

A substantial component of student populations at four-year institutions is comprised of transfer students from community colleges. Successful academic transition to a university or college is affected by acclimatization to college courses through the community college. The objective of this study was to compare the characteristics of transfer students to non-transfer students by gender, area of study, and academic credentials, and determine if transfer students and non-transfer students performed equally well in introductory agriculture courses. Transcripts of 275 students in the School of Agriculture at Tennessee Technological University were examined to determine differences in academic success between transfer students and the nontransfer sample. Both groups were similar in respect to gender and ACT scores. Overall grade point average was 0.10 points higher for transfer students. In five introductory agriculture courses, transfer students generally had higher grades than their nontransfer counterparts. This was especially apparent in freshman level courses in plant science and animal science, where transfer students had approximately 30 more earned credit hours than the non-transfer group. Generally, transfer students had gleaned the benefit of the college experience, were more mature, and more focused than the non-transfer students at the time of enrollment in most introductory agriculture courses.

Introduction

Transfer students comprise an integral component of the student population at four-year institutions. In 2004, 45% of first-time freshmen chose to begin the higher education experience through community colleges (Dicroce, 2005). In a study of more than 740,000 science and engineering students receiving bachelor's degrees in 1999 and 2000, almost half had attended a community college (Tsapogas, 2004).

Motivation to attend a community college may be influenced by several factors. Geography, financial status, social climate, and academic standing may affect the decision making process. While the difficulty of college courses can be inherently stressful to freshmen, anxiety increases with social and geographical changes of environment and the higher financial costs associated with four-year institutions. Proximity of the community college to home and community as well as lower cost alleviates some of these tensions. For students unable to fulfill academic admission requirements of universities, the community college provides an opportunity to improve academic standing for future acceptance to a four-year institute (Bryant, 2001; Montondon and Eikner, 1997).

Perceptions of educational quality at community colleges have been variable. Critics have argued that course requirements are less strenuous (Laband and Piette, 1995) with more 'coddling' than four year institutions (Mellander and Robertson, 1992). Advocates counter that these schools provide opportunities for students who otherwise would not have obtained further education (Vaughan, 1982).

Course of study is a major facet in the successful attainment of a baccalaureate degree by transfer students. In some cases, transfer students have been less prepared for upper division courses than their non-transfer counterparts (Carian, 2001; Lewis and Lewis, 2000). Other studies have found preparation for upper level courses of both transfer students and their non-transfer counterparts to be equivalent (Montondon and Eikner, 1997).

The objective of this study was to 1) compare the characteristics of transfer students to non-transfer students by gender, area of study, and academic credentials, and 2) determine if transfer students and non-transfer students performed equally well in introductory agriculture courses.

Methods

Completion of five introductory agriculture courses is required of all students completing a Bachelor of Science degree in the School of Agriculture at Tennessee Technological University. …

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