Navigating Vertical Transfer Online: Access to and Usefulness of Transfer Information on Community College Websites
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Objective: To transfer, students often must navigate complex and imperfect information about credit transfer, bureaucratic hurdles, and conflicting degree requirements. This study examined how administrators and transfer personnel think about institutional online transfer resources and examined community colleges’ online transfer information. Methods: For a sample of 20 Texas community colleges, we spoke to key transfer personnel about the information provided to students and reviewed college websites, assessing the ease of access and usefulness of online transfer information. We used a qualitative case study approach to triangulate findings from our data sources. Results: Approximately two-thirds of colleges in the sample fell below the highest standard on our rubric for either ease of access or usefulness, indicating room for improvement at most institutions. Many personnel recognized the strengths and limitations of their college’s online information, though several were ambivalent about the need for improving online information, arguing that online information is not as promising an intervention as face-to-face advising. Conclusions/Contributions: Our research illustrates the need for colleges to develop and update their online information intentionally, determining which information students need in order to transfer (including transfer guides for partner programs/colleges) and how students might search for that information, and ensuring that necessary transfer information is available and up-to-date. The framework provided by our website-review approach, coupled with a proposed rubric to assess ease of access and usefulness of transfer information, may guide institutions in their evaluation of their online transfer information.