Funded by the NSF Division of Engineering Education and Centers (EEC).
With recent calls and a current movement for more research that uses an anti-deficit approach to understand the experiences of students historically underrepresented in higher education [1,2], researchers commonly draw on theories of capital (e.g. cultural, social) to explain differences in how students navigate and experience the higher education system (e.g., Martin, Simmons, & Yu, 2013) . A unique form of capital that has gained traction with researchers who specialize in the study of community college students is the concept of transfer student capital (TSC) . Coined by Laanan in 2006, TSC is defined as the accumulation of knowledge about higher education that develops in a student as he or she interacts with faculty, receives academic advising/counseling, studies for coursework, navigates through university transfer policies to fulfill academic requirements, and proceeds through the transfer process from a 2-year institution to a 4-year institution . In his prior work, Laanan posits that relationships may exist between transfer students’ post-transfer transition experiences and their prior accumulation of TSC. On this premise, Laanan suggests that transfer students’ accumulation of TSC can be activated to enhance (or ease) the post-transfer transition process at receiving institutions .
Our investigation of transfer student pathways to engineering degrees is motivated and informed by Laanan’s prior research. The purpose of this research is to identify constructs that emerge when operationalizing the concept of transfer student capital in an engineering context. Part of a larger mixed methods research investigation funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF EEC Grant No. 1428502), this study draws on survey data from a sample of 1,070 engineering transfer students who transferred to one of four 4-year Texas institutions as new engineering students between 2007 and 2014. Research sites include four of the top ten producers of U.S. Hispanic/Latino engineers; the framework of transfer student capital was used to organize this study's data collection and analytical plan.
For our 2018 ASEE poster, we explore engineering transfer students’ reflective responses to questions about their perceptions of the transfer processes; it represents an area of investigation that falls under the Transfer Student Capital component of Laanan’s research framework. Through our analyses, we identify emergent constructs and explore differences across subgroups of transfer students (i.e., type of institution - selective versus open enrollment; type of transfer pathway - lateral versus vertical; student status as Hispanic/Latino; student status as first generation). This work feeds into analytical models that will explore relationships between transfer student capital and: 1) outcome variables (academic achievement and degree attainment), and 2) adjustment variables for engineering transfer students [6,7,8].
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