Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Guided Pathways for Transfer
Have any states actually tried that? I’d be interested in hearing about unintended consequences and/or workarounds. Alternately, for folks at public four-years, can you foresee unintended consequences and/or workarounds?
which reduce the articulation problem enormously.
Previously there were individual agreements between the 9 UC campuses, 23 CSU campuses and the 113 community colleges, making for potentially (9+23)*113 = 3616 different articulation pairs. Now, for 10 of the most popular majors, there are agreed-on targets that only need to articulated from each side, making 9+23+113 articulations. Furthermore, there is pressure on each campus to accept the agreed-on transfer pathway, so the articulations are very likely to happen.
This is a new system for California, but (so far) it looks promising.
I have one concern about a 60 credit limit: engineering students. The students in our program take 15-18 credits per semester in years 3 and 4, in the "regular" schedule, and that is after 12 credits of engineering courses in the sophomore year that I don't think are available at cc's. I don't think that there are enough gen eds that remain in those years to get the total down to 60 credits.
We have had students try to finish an engineering degree in 2 years after taking courses at the CC for two years. The outcomes are about as pretty as you may expect for students who enter junior year engineering courses while taking the sophomore-level prereqs simultaneously or afterwards. Students who accept the presence of the course constraints in advance end up doing a bit better, though it does cost another year.
(I still have not worked to understand the processes that prevent these CC students from taking 1 key course at our site each semester, rather than a gen ed at the CC, so they don't lose that year.)
There is a common course numbering system for any class taught at a public college or university, so there is no question about whether a particular course will transfer. It is all defined at the state level. This is not to say that you can't create a new course, but you can only do so if it is clearly different because minor variations with the course description are allowed. Some private universities also use it or articulate with it and the gen-ed rules, because of market pressure to get access to CC transfer students.
There is also a state-wide definition for general education content (made easier by the common course numbers) and a mandate that universities accept an AA (and its 60 credits) as meeting the general education requirements at that university. Transfer without an AA and you must meet the catalog requirements of the university (quite possibly losing many credits and maybe even having to take a duplicate, locally required special gen-ed course that no one else teaches). Transfer with an AA and you are a junior with 60 credits, but you will lose any credits you have that are in excess of 60.
(This does create several problems of the type that GSwoP and I have discussed in this forum over the years. It is not optimal for STEM majors where a student really should be admitted to the major by the middle of the sophomore year and using gen ed class to maintain sanity as a junior and senior. However, the alternative is often worse. How does a CC offer five different versions of freshmen comp to meet the idiosyncratic requirements at five transfer schools?)
Although it has evolved over the decades, it still reflects a vision they had for the CC system when it was being created (incorporating some segregated junior colleges once they were merged and integrated) along with the creation of some new universities that were upper-divison only. There were once several universities that had no freshmen or sophomores. That aspect of the system required seamless transfer from any one of many CCs, hence the imposition of the common course system on both sides of the divide.
I'm sure it could not have been easy, but it had to be a lot easier in 1965 than it would be today. Other places that have done this more recently (there are several) usually set up a state-wide set of gen-ed rules and require everyone to define what fits in it from their curriculum and to accept it (as a whole) from any other state institution's curriculum.
At the private level, some places are creating their own credit transfer system like ARTSYS. So, you can do your own evaluation. And articulations at the program level. Not always pretty but it works.
There is a Core Curriculum (42 hours) composed of nine subcategories, each with a given number of credit hours and a pick-list of courses that fulfill those requirements. If a student earns all the required credits in a subcategory, they cannot be required to "repeat" a course that meets the same requirement. That being said, a Microbiology major can't claim Geology as their Natural Science core and expect to not be required to take Biology.
The workaround universities have developed is to design degree plans with departmental specific, non-gen ed courses in the freshman year that are prerequisites for admission into the "actual" major while scattering Core Curriculum courses (U.S. History, Humanities, etc) that are typically attempted en mass by freshmen into the junior and senior year. What this does is essentially punish transfer students who *think* they are clearing out the first year or two of degree requirements when in reality they'll still be at the university for four years (three, minimum) playing catch-up in courses "native freshmen" had a year or two earlier.
It is run at the provincial (state) level and the BC council on Admission and transfer is charged with maintaining a database of articulations, defining the process of articulation and ensuring that subject level articulation committees consisting of representatives from all senders and receivers (private and public).
This doesn't mean that there aren't issues. Transfers tend to be cleanest with the receiving university that is closest to a given sending institution, but it is at least very clear what will and won't transfer to meet your degree requirements where you want to go.
Specialized fields like Engineering don't transfer well, unless you are in an engineering transfer program and even those tend to work only as bilateral agreements rather than system agreements.
Here's the leading organization: bccat.bc.ca
And the transfer articulation tables: bctransferguide.ca