Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Higher Education

Are Transfer Students Different? an Examination of First-Year Grades and Course Withdrawals

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Higher Education

Are Transfer Students Different? an Examination of First-Year Grades and Course Withdrawals

Article excerpt


Using data from several introductory-level courses at one Canadian university, community college transfer students were compared to transfer students from other universities and to non-transfer students on a number of measures of academic success. The three groups did not differ significantly in terms of course withdrawal rates, and final course grades for college transfer students were not significantly different from those of non-transfer students. However, students who had transferred from other universities received higher final grades. Mid-course grades and gender comparisons are discussed, as are policy implications and suggestions for future research.


Au moyen de données provenant de plusieurs cours d'introduction dispensés dans une université canadienne, des mesures de réussite académique ont été comparées entre des étudiants de collèges communautaires provenant de différentes institutions académiques, ainsi qu'avec des étudiants qui ne sont pas en transfert. Les trois groupes ne présentaient pas de différences substantielles entre eux en ce qui concerne les taux d'abandon de cours. En outre, les notes finales des étudiants provenant d'autres universités ne présentaient pas de différences notables devant celles des étudiants qui n'étaient pas en transfert. Cependant, les étudiants provenant d'autres universités ont obtenu des notes finales plus élevées que les étudiants qui n'étaient pas en transfert. L'article aborde les résultats de mi-parcours et compare ceux-ci entre les hommes et les femmes; on y présente également les incidences politiques et des suggestions pour de futures recherches.

A consistent theme in post-secondary education is the importance of facilitating seamless student transfers between different types of institutions. Considerable research has investigated students who transfer from two-year colleges to four-year institutions and the academic consequences of their transfer decisions, including studies on the reasons for transfer (Andres, 1999), perspectives and experiences of students (Andres, 2001), demographic characteristics of this group (Lee & Frank, 1990; Wattamaniuk, 2010), transfer rates (Bers, 2007), the rate of attainment of a baccalaureate degree (Townsend, 2007), and grade point average (GPA) (Hills, 1965). Although the results are mixed, researchers noticed very early on that transfer students differed on a number of these measures from students who began their studies at four-year institutions.

The term transfer shock was first used by Hills (1965) as a global term to describe the drop in grade point average (GPA) experienced by students in the United States who transferred from two-year community colleges to four-year degree-granting institutions. Research shows that the drop in GPA may be related to a variety of student characteristics including demographic variables such as socio-economic status, race, and gender (Lee & Frank, 1990; Sheldon, 2009), psychological barriers and challenges such as motivation and self-concept (Wang, 2009), anxiety and stress (Andres, 2001; Andres, Qayyum, & Dawson, 1997), social factors (Lee, Mackie-Lewis, & Marks, 1993), economic and family concerns (Nora, Cabrera, Hagedon, & Pascarella, 1996), and academic preparation for university (Reason, 2003). Other possible reasons for transfer shock include a variety of college and university experiences such as adjustment to new educational settings and social groups (Berger & Malaney, 2003). Townsend (2001) is also concerned with the quality of education offered at community colleges. She states that "the drop in GPA may reflect institutional differences in standards or expectations for academic performance as well as insufficient preparation for upper-division courses" (p. 37).

Transfer shock is a concern to degree-granting institutions because of its effect on student success. Transfer shock may contribute to course failures that result in students taking longer to complete their degrees (Thurmond, 2007) and affect students' persistence and retention. …

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