Higher Education Articulation Agreements Project

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1 Higher Education Articulation Agreements Project Deliverable 2: Analysis of Articulation Agreements in Higher Education Early Childhood Programs in Texas January 2013

2 Deliverable ECE Degree Articulation MCCM January 20, 2013 Presented to the Texas Early Learning Council 1

3 Table of Contents Deliverable 2 Description... 3 Definition of terms used in this document... 4 Orientation to the Study... 5 Texas Articulation Agreement Examples... 6 Analysis of Articulation Agreements in Texas... 9 Articulation Web Survey... 9 Demographics of Survey Respondents Transfer experience ratings Survey, Focus Groups and Literature Review What is a successful articulation agreement? Are there common models for credit transfer throughout Texas? Are there exemplary agreements in Texas? Key recommendations to higher education institutions Key recommendations in the State of Texas regarding higher education institutions Analysis Summary Appendix A Appendix B

4 Deliverable 2 Description Objective 2: Answer the following questions: 1. What is a successful articulation agreement? 2. Are there common models for credit transfer throughout the state? 3. Are there exemplary articulation agreements in the state? 4. What are key recommendations to higher education institutions to inform the development of successful articulation agreements or to improve existing ones? 5. What are key recommendations to the state of Texas related to higher education articulation agreements and early care and education higher education? Deliverable: Analysis Report Following the analysis plan, the Consultant will investigate the questions listed above and detail findings in a report. The consultant should identify any state or local policies which inform successful agreements or the analysis In order to answer question 2, the consultant should compare a list of common community college and vocational program courses in early care and education to a list of transfer credits accepted in higher education degree plans. In order to answer question 3, the consultant should detail and explain the aspects of the articulation agreements that make them exemplary. 3

5 Definition of terms used in this document Articulation Agreement An articulation agreement is a formal and detailed written agreement that is specific to a Child Development/Early Childhood (CDEC) degree. The agreement includes a specific course plan for both schools that ensures all credits will successfully transfer and includes information on transfer admission requirements, financial aid, academic information, a program-to-program articulation guide, application forms, and campus information. of Applied Science (A.A.S.) The Child Development/Early Childhood Associate s degree (A.A.S.) contains as much as 42 credits of child development and 18 credits of general core curriculum. The specific courses are chosen uniquely by the community college from the broader Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM) course guide. of Arts in Teaching (A.A.T.) The Education degree (A.A.T.) has 42 credits of core curriculum and 18 credits in education recommended courses and related content which may include a number of courses in early childhood education chosen by the individual community college. The A.A.T. is a relatively new degree option at the community college level and some community colleges offer education through a general studies degree plan instead of the A.A.T. Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (B.A.A.S.) The four year completion of a two-year degree typically in a vocational or technical field. Many universities refer to this as an interdisciplinary study. This degree plan offers great flexibility to the student and the university, increasing graduation success for the student. Child Development Degree At the community college, child development is typically offered as a technical degree with a code of Child Development/Early Childhood. Because this is offered as a vocational or technical program, the courses come from the Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM), short certificates and full associate s degrees are offered. Core Curriculum Core curriculum is the set of common courses required of all undergraduates and considered the necessary general education for students, irrespective of their choice in major. Both two-year and four-year institutions of higher education must ensure a 42 credit core curriculum in their degree plans. Course Transfer A process of taking credits earned at one college into the degree plans and transcripts of a second college or university. Early Childhood Education Degree At the community college, education degrees are offered as an associate of arts and teaching (A.A.T.) which is articulated with a four-year university education degree or, in some cases, a four year early childhood education degree. In rare instances, the vocational/technical two-year Child Development/Early Childhood degree can articulate into the bachelor of early childhood education. Exemplary Articulation A planned process linking educational systems to help students make a smooth transition from lower level community college to an upper level university without delays or loss of credit. Program Transfer Program transfer refers to the process of taking all credits under a specific degree, such as 42 credits of child development, into the bachelor level degree plan without loss of credit. 4

6 Successful Articulation Successful articulation of community college transfers relies on the receiving institution honoring common prerequisite requirements for degree programs and having both institutions focusing on the same goal of student success. Texas Common Course Numbering System (TCCNS) The Texas Common Course Numbering System is a voluntary, co-operative effort among Texas community colleges and universities to facilitate transfer of freshman and sophomore level general academic coursework. TCCNS provides a shared, uniform set of course designations for students and their advisors to use in determining both course equivalency and degree applicability of transfer credit on a statewide basis. When students transfer between two participating TCCNS institutions, a course taken at the sending institution transfers as the course carrying the same TCCNS designation at the receiving institution. Transfer Agreement Established practices from one college to another defining which course will be accepted into the degree plan at the receiving university. Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM) A guide defining each course with a uniform code and number and course expectations. The guide reflects vocational and technical courses, not academic coursework. Orientation to the Study MCCM undertook a study of community college transfer and articulation of courses and degrees in Child Development/Early Childhood Education in Texas as a part of the work of The Texas Early Learning Council. This process has been extensive and inclusive of two-year and four-year programs at institutions of higher education (IHE). The conclusions developed from this information provide data points for fall 2012, but should include a caution that this was an exploratory study giving a general overview of articulation in Texas and not a comprehensive review of individual college and university practices. This project evaluates articulations in Texas and provides a framework based on available data and exploratory surveys. The included information is an accurate indication reflecting current articulation in Texas in the fall of Articulation agreements are developing and evolving across the state, therefore, campus level analysis will be needed. The following information provides an analysis of exemplary practices and the status of articulation in Child Development/Early Childhood Education in Texas. The findings of this 6-month study include analysis, conclusions, and recommendations regarding articulation and transfer of credits as indicated in fall

7 Texas Articulation Agreement Examples In Texas, as well as states all over the country, community colleges provide a local option for the first two years of college. This is where a student completes the first two years of a college degree and will take foundation courses referred to as the 42 credit Core Curriculum or general education credits. The community college offers both academic degree options those that are designated as leading to transfer of credits in a bachelor s degree program at a university, and technical degrees. Community colleges provide technical training for rapid entry into the workplace not necessarily for a transfer program. For students interested in child development and early childhood education there are two choices. One is the academic path, a transfer program, of majoring in Education for elementary certification EC 6, the Associate of Arts in Teaching, A.A.T, (classes are coded as EDUC) which will be finished at a university as a Bachelor of Education. The other choice is offered in the technical area under Child Development/Early Childhood Education (classes are coded as CDEC and TECA). This major offers a full Associate degree and certificates in specialty areas such as administration of early childhood programs. The technical degree is terminal, meaning the program has prepared the student to fully engage in the workforce with appropriate skills, but if desired the student can continue on to earn a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science (B.A.A.S). In some rare instances the technical A.A.S. can be completed at a university under an academic Child Development degree or an academic Early Childhood Education degree. At the current time, it appears that the most common way to finish is the B.A.A.S. Figure 1. Decision map for new community college students. Diagram illustrating the various educational pathways for students seeking either vocational/technical or educational degrees related to Child Development/Early Childhood Education. 6

8 The CDEC Associate s degree (A.A.S.) contains as much as 42 credits of child development and 18 credits of general core curriculum. The Education degree (A.A.T.) has 42 credits of core curriculum and 18 credits in education related content which may include a number of courses in early childhood education. It should be noted that work with very young children requires a distinct set of knowledge and skills in comparison to elementary education knowledge and skills. The broader 42 credits of the B.A.A.S. make it possible for that knowledge and those skills to be included in the curriculum. Some universities will accept up to 80 credits from the community college and recommend completing as many core credits as possible as well as the Child Development/Early Childhood Education associate s degree. The Education Early Childhood to 6 th grade (EC-6 certification) degree in Texas, the A.A.T., articulates as a full degree program. Community college students seamlessly take the entire credits to the four year university and complete the education degree and certification for teaching EC 6. For example, a student received her articulation forms at College of the Mainland in her first semester and has used it seamlessly in her transfer to the University of Houston at Clear Lake. This same practice has happened with Sam Houston State University, Stephen F. Austin University, University of North Texas, Texas Woman s University, and the University of Texas at Brownsville. It appears that this process is recognized across the state and is common for the students to experience if they are in an A.A.T. degree moving to a bachelor s degree in education. Articulation agreements currently in use for community college students in the CDEC major or technical A.A.S. degrees that are available to view online are generally simple Memoranda of Understanding documents. These cover general student transfer and are usually not designed specifically for a defined educational program. These agreements outline the purpose, specific provisions, restrictions, and time frame of the agreement and usually include the maximum number of credits that will be allowed to transfer. Most available written agreements are presented in this format. An example of this type of agreement between Austin Community College and The University of Texas at San Antonio is presented in Attachment 1. There are some schools that have developed a more formal and detailed written agreement that is specific to a CDEC degree. This type of agreement includes a specific course plan for both schools that ensures all credits will successfully transfer. An example of this type of agreement between the Dallas County Community College District and Texas Woman s University is in Attachment 2. The full agreement is 46 pages and includes a description of each step of articulation. The booklet includes sections on transfer admission requirements, financial aid, academic information, a program-to-program articulation guide, application forms, and campus information. This particular agreement most closely matches what the literature identifies as best practices. Written articulation agreements can take many variations between these two examples, plus many Texas IHEs operate with informal articulation agreements that are developed between the staff of each school. In the regional areas where community colleges are within driving distance, a personal relationship often exists that makes the transfer process move smoothly. For example, instructors at Eastfield Community College have developed relationships with the staff at the University of North Texas which facilitates the transfer process for students. A similar example is found with instructors at San Jacinto Community College and their relationship to the University of Houston at Clear Lake. This pattern is repeated again with instructors at Harris County Community Colleges with transfers to Sam Houston State University. These are strong examples of relationships between people and programs helping students transfer to various universities. These regional areas may share professional relationships such as membership in National Association for the Education for Young Children or Associate Degree Early Childhood Teacher Educators ACCESS to Shared Knowledge and Practice, commonly known as ACCESS, as well as higher education connections. These ties help facilitate a pathway for students interested in careers in the early childhood area although it appears some are informal and dependent on the good will of instructors. Currently a community college student may be advised by the department assigned advisor or a department chair or department instructor. When the advisor has strong connections to the curriculum and the personal relationships with professors at various Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) the student has greater opportunity for a smooth and successful completion of the Bachelor s degree. At the university, advising and transfer process is typically a function of the advising department. Professors are not often involved in the enrollment procedures. This makes the support of the instructors or chair at the community college very important to the transfer student. For instance, a student with a Child Development/Early Childhood Education degree (A.A.S) may visit the university and ask for a 7

9 degree plan that will enable them to teach kindergarten. An advisor unfamiliar with the curriculum and career options might recommend starting over with an education degree and essentially only use the 18 credits of core curriculum of the student s work instead of moving into the B.A.A.S. completion and, if desired, alternative certification for public school teachers which would accept all credits and quickly move to completion. Advisors that are familiar with all career paths and related degree options at both levels of higher education are very important to seamless transfer of a Child Development/Early Childhood Education degree student. A complete and accurate articulation agreement between the community college and the university would empower the student to enroll with a clear expectation of what courses are needed for completion of the bachelor s degree. The agreement could include process information and deadlines so that the student could plan efficiently to meet university expectations. The Texas Woman s University offers more than one track for finishing the two year degree and can provide a list of course by course comparisons for two year to four year programs in Child Development. This example could be replicated regionally at the prerogative of any university. The existing laws in Texas assign responsibility for articulation to institutions and not a specific state agency. In addition, the law is clear that the 42 credit core curriculum is assured for transfer in any academic program. This does not cover technical degrees such as Child Development/Early Childhood Education. Advisors who have expertise and a high level of understanding of the workforce needs and degree options facilitate a complex decision-making process with students. Careful advising for the Child Development/Early Childhood Education student is very important in this current (2012) time frame because increasing expectations of experience and education are being required in the workforce. For example, Head Start lead preschool teachers in high performing organizations are reaching higher standards and enrolling in early childhood coursework very similar to public school teachers. Programs accredited by national standards also require a bachelor s degree in the field of child development and early childhood education. Early Childhood Intervention in Texas requires an intensive background in child development. Universities are requiring advanced course work in specific areas of expertise such as child development not just psychology or education courses. As advisors learn more and students have access to clear articulation agreements the potential to have a well prepared workforce in all areas of child development and early childhood education increase. The lack of agreements and the lack of well-informed advising for new students and transferring students may be negatively impacting capacity and quality of the workforce in Texas. 8

10 Analysis of Articulation Agreements in Texas Articulation Web Survey There were 5 questions listed above from the Request for Proposals issued by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston from its sponsor, the Texas Early Learning Council. These questions were used to construct a survey that was administered to over 9,000 members and associates of the Texas Association for Early Childhood Education (TAEYC) as both online and print formats. This approach allowed for the questions above to be answered in a variety of ways, in different formats, and different settings. The purpose of this survey was to identify articulation experiences for individuals working in the fields of Child Development and Early Childhood Education. TAEYC represents thousands of people with experience and knowledge related to early care and education. The survey provided evidence of existing seamless articulation and other evidence of exemplary articulation agreements in effect in Texas. The survey engaged stakeholders in early care and education on the issues of articulation and professional development. These results provide a baseline of field data dated fall 2012 to use in comparison with future studies of effective and exemplary practices of articulation in Texas. Surveys were ed to approximately 9,000 individuals working in early care and education. A total of 501 surveys were completed for a 5.6% return rate. All of the completed surveys were used to describe the demographics of the survey population. Analysis of articulation experience was limited to only those individuals who had completed college coursework within the state of Texas and had transferred between a Texas community college and a Texas 4-year university. Of the 501 completed surveys, 407 (81.2%) did not meet the criteria to evaluate articulation as the individual did not transfer, they transferred to or from an out of state school, or they had not attended college. This resulted in 94 (18.8%) surveys that could be used to evaluate articulation experiences. Questions and results from this survey are presented in the following graphs. Individual college and university ratings are presented in the tables in Appendix A. 9

11 Demographics of Survey Respondents Question: Did you attend college? Attended college individuals provided a response to this question. 92% of the respondents had attended college. 461 Yes No No Response Figure 2. Number of individuals that indicated they attended college courses. Data was obtained from an online survey of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children with responses from 501 individuals. Question: What is your highest level of education related to Child Development/Early Childhood Education? Of the 501 individuals providing information about their education, 288 individuals indicated a bachelor s degree or higher. A wide range of education and experiences within this survey provides a good cross section of the field. The respondents are well-trained in the field. The survey was given through a professional organization and may not be typical of the majority of workers but is a very good sample of those with higher education experience. Education Level Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential Certificate or some college work Associate's degree Bachelor's degree Master's degree Doctoral degree Other 5.9% 7.5% 10.5% 10.9% 12.9% 25.5% 25.9% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% Figure 3. Distribution of education level for practitioners in early childhood education. Data was obtained from an online survey of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children with responses from 501 individuals. 10

12 Question: If you attended college for Child Development/Early Childhood Education, did you transfer courses from one college to another for your personal educational path? 151 individuals indicated that they had transferred between schools during their college career. 1.7% Transferred 68.0% 30.1% Yes No No response Figure 4. Percent of individuals that indicated they transferred from one higher education institution to another during their educational career. Data was obtained from an online survey of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children with responses from 151 individuals. Transfer experience ratings The figures presented below, referencing transfer experience ratings, are based on a subsample of the total survey (501out of 9,000) and included only those individuals indicating they had transferred (151 of 501). Of the 151 individuals that had indicated they had transferred between schools, 57 were removed from articulation experience analysis for one of the following reasons: Transferred to or from and out-of-state school Transferred between 4-year universities Transferred between 2-year colleges Indicated a transfer but did not complete the survey The resulting analyses are from the 94 surveys where articulation data was provided. The small number of surveys that qualified for the analysis, only about 1 percent of the 9,000 originally ed, precludes a comprehensive or indepth analysis of articulation agreements in Texas. They can nevertheless provide a valuable sample for an exploratory study with the more focused purpose of identifying areas of strength or weakness in the overall articulation experience. For the figures presented in the interpretation of the results (Figures 5-10), articulation experience Likert ratings were averaged across all the experience questions to get an overall average articulation experience for each respondent. This overall average was used to classify respondents into one of three groups positive experience, negative experience or neutral experience. Individuals were classified as having a positive articulation experience if their overall articulation experience average Likert rating was 4 or higher. Those classified as having a negative experience had an overall Likert average rating of less than 3. Individuals with a Likert overall average from 3.0 to <4 were considered to have a neutral articulation experience. The groupings were then used to evaluate each question. The percentage for each Likert response rating was calculated for each question by group so the sum of each group experience ratings equals 100%. It is important to note that the size of the positive, neutral, and negative experience groups differ substantially, and that the positive experience group, with only 17 members, is quite small. If even one or two of the positive experience respondents changed their responses involving categories with 11

13 percentages of 20 percent or less, the percentages reported, and possible interpretations, might have changed substantially. Other considerations to the evidence in the survey would include an acknowledgement that participants may have used the terms transfer and articulation interchangeably instead of a singular definition and some may have answers that reflect experiences from decades past and not be the actual reflection of practices in It should also be noted that the small sample size can more easily be skewed by respondents as those individuals who had a negative transfer experience may have been more motivated to respond to the survey. Follow up work to compare and contrast these results in the future will be valuable to the understanding of articulation in Texas for the child development/early childhood education student. 12

14 Survey, Focus Groups and Literature Review In late October, 2012, a series of Focus Groups were held at the statewide conference of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children (TAEYC) in Galveston, Texas. There were 5 meetings in all: Focus Group with faculty of 2-year colleges (n=4) Focus Group with students from 2-year colleges (n=3) Focus Group with faculty of 4-year colleges (n=5) Focus Group with students and graduates of 4 year colleges (n=12) Focus Group and Paper Survey of Administrators of Child Development in TAEYC (n=4) Results of the Focus Group format were as follows: 1. Two year college instructors and students would like to have clear articulation information available to students as soon as possible in the student s college experience. 2. Students interested in early childhood navigate a complex system with conflicting pathways at both the community college and the university. 3. The pathway to teacher certification as an early childhood and elementary education major is much clearer and more accepted than the child development/early childhood education degree plans. 4. The students have been largely unaware that articulations of community college classes were available to them at various universities. 5. The lack of articulation agreements in the past has increased the barriers between two year and four year programs for recruitment, transfer, retention, completion and curriculum development. 6. For the two year and four year IHE s that have partnerships, transfer and articulation have been beneficial to both students and colleges. 7. The four year universities offer junior and senior level curriculum specific to their unique programs. Because Child Development/Early Childhood Education courses are not in the Texas Common Course Numbering System, each university developed their own codes and names for courses in Child Development. In comparison, community colleges use same course names, numbering and outcomes at each campus although each community college designs the degree plan from these courses in unique ways. The result is a difficult process for matching a course offered at a community college with a similar course at a given university. 8. Some students have experienced a repeat of content learned in community college at the four year university. 9. A key weakness is that top tier universities, such as Texas A&M at College Station, are reducing the options for specialization in early childhood education. One student who is graduating in the spring of 2013 reported that she had only had one 3 credit course focused solely on early childhood. Her career goal is to work in early childhood education. She expressed concern that she might not have been fully prepared for working with very young children. The implication of this is that many students who begin at a two year community college can finish a bachelor s degree in the field; but should an ambitious student who might someday wish to lead a national agency such as Head Start or Department of Education, the prestigious degree from a leading Texas university may not be available to them and could limit their career options. The focus groups included a group of people who are experienced and dedicated instructors, professors and students who came together during a professional conference to offer their perspectives on articulation. As the discussion moved from early questions into more in-depth and specific questions the participants were equally engaged and responsive to the needs of colleges, universities and students. The contemplation of these individuals merits serious consideration of the issues and concerns raised by the focus group. As the nine statements above indicate, students have a challenge from the very beginning of the college experience to choose well between education and child development/early childhood education. This one first choice will determine articulation of two years of college work. Should the student choose child development/early childhood education on the technical side of higher education the chance for full articulation is rare and not completely available in all regions of the state. However, in the locations where the university is committed to articulation with the B.A.A.S. degree several programs have 13

15 achieved successful career paths for students. Even rarer, is the opportunity to have an articulated pathway to a bachelor s in child development or the bachelor s in early childhood education. These students were able to share, from several viewpoints, the advantages of the community college courses, advantages of university courses and the knowledge and skills needed in high performing early childhood centers. The discussions shared gave evidence that more connections between the two-year and four-year programs could eliminate repetitious course work and deepen the knowledge base of students working in child development and early childhood education workforce. What is an exemplary agreement? To fully understand the status of articulation and transfer in the fall of 2012, a brief list of what is included in an exemplary agreement will be important. An exemplary agreement has the following attributes that not only benefit the student; it also benefits both the sending and receiving institutions. These attributes were garnered from the literature and may or may not be reflected in current agreements in Texas. An exemplary articulation agreement will have the following attributes: Reviewed on a regular basis by both the sending and receiving institutions as a renewed agreement. Provide information on how financial aid will continue with or support the student who transfers. Provide specific, written outlines of expectations, social support, and student outcomes. Lay out the required coursework for both institutions at the beginning of the educational program. Designate transfer advising centers at both institutions. Cover multiple transfer situations including transferring with an Associate s Degree, transferring without an Associate s, and reverse transfers. Developed for a specific program or degree. Adaptable to private institutions and online universities. Readily available to all students and faculty online and in print. In the context of this study, exemplary articulation agreements containing the above elements known to produce seamless and transparent articulations were examined. These exemplary agreements are not to be confused with the definition of successful articulation. After studying existing agreements, very few included all the elements of exemplary practices; however, successful transfer and articulation do occur in Texas. Of the agreements most closely matching exemplary practices, Texas Woman s University posted a 46 page document on their website giving evidence of exemplary articulation (Attachment 2). In the research process, other university websites have not been found that offer evidence of the exemplary elements listed above. What is a successful articulation agreement? After reviewing the literature, conducting focus group discussions and reviewing survey results, there is evidence that successful articulation agreements do exist in pockets within Texas but are not in general use. Successful agreements in this context mean that in the opinion of those in the focus groups there exists a form or paper that facilitates and guides the student in curriculum choices to have the best progress toward an associate s degree and an eventual bachelor s degree. A few students were using a form that linked to courses at the eventual university for transfer but too often, it was observed that a faculty member (usually a 2-year IHE) would call another faculty member (usually a 4-year IHE) to ask for a verification on transfer of course credits. The two year advisor or instructor might double check to make sure transfer course or process is still operating as it did the same time last year. Recommendations from the community college often seem to lead a student to go straight to the particular receiving department with their transcript instead of using advising centers. This process seemed to smooth the path and allowed a clear understanding of the transfer process. The social support of having a personal contact in common may also provide a positive outcome in the early process of transferring. Sometimes this involved crosswalks between two IHE catalogs but at other times it used an explanation of content and sequence of training to permit acceptance of the transferred credits. Overall, there did not seem to be standards for transfer or assurances that, if the faculty person was not available, the process would work. Communication and regular contact is a key ingredient to a successful articulation agreement. The key to a successful articulation program is having both 14

16 institutions focusing in on the same goal of student success with identified and agreed-upon mechanisms instead of relying on a tradition that changes with changing staff. This inconsistency in articulation from a 2-year IHE to a 4- year IHE in Texas was reflected in the focus groups with the following case studies describing transfer and articulation experiences. A student graduated from a community college with 66 credits in Child Development/Early Childhood Education. The transfer to the next university asked the student what their career goal was and ascertained that the student wanted to be a teacher and perhaps an administrator in an early childhood organization. The advisor was not familiar with this career path or the course work but knew that school teachers and principals needed a four year degree in education. The student was switched to education and told to go back to the community college to complete the 42 hour Core Curriculum and then start the university degree in education. Four classes of the CDEC degree were used in the new degree plan. The student then re-contacted the community college advisor and department chair where they learned of the B.A.A.S. in Child Development and were given the correct phone number for advising and enrollment. After the second attempt to be registered at the university, the student was enrolled in a B.A.A.S. program that could include teacher alternative certification and used all 66 credits of the community college associate degree. One student in a community college said that her advisor has a form for articulating from her community college to a local university in the field of Early Childhood Education. This form was filled out upon entry into the community college and each semester she and her advisor just followed the courses agreed upon by the 2-year institution and the 4-year institution. The results were that all of her courses from the community college transferred into the 4-year university. This was not reported by other students who were in the focus group. A faculty member from a community college reported that the 4-year institution sent an articulation agreement to the community college listing exactly which courses would transfer into the major that the student wanted. This articulation agreement allowed up to 84 credit hours to transfer into the 4 year degree program. A 4-year institution provided forms that are used with community colleges throughout the state that show exactly how a student in Early Childhood Education or Child Development may transfer into their 4-year program. At this time, the 4-year program does not offer lower division courses but will provide them in the future. When asked about what adding lower level courses would do to the articulation agreement with the 2-year programs, the faculty person responded that there are enough students to go around to both programs and they expected to continue the articulation agreements with the 2-year program. In the focus groups and on websites, we identified a number of successful articulation agreements currently in use in Texas. We observed this from the focus group discussion and from the perspective of a student that was trying to find information prior to registering or enrolling and exploring websites for various colleges and universities. From these sources of information and data, there seems to be permissions in place in Texas to have a seamless process of transfer of college credits in Texas and that successful articulation agreements exist even if not based on stated policy or available to the student in a timely manner. Articulation and transfer of courses among 2-year IHEs and 4-year IHEs is happening in Texas but the system is ill defined and depends on who you know in order to contact the other programs where a student may want to attend for further child development and early childhood education instruction. 15

17 Interpretations of Survey Results Survey prompt: My advisor and I used the articulation agreement to develop my early childhood degree plan at my first college. Successful agreements can be further described using results from the survey. When rating the statement My advisor and I used the articulation agreement to develop my early childhood degree plan at my first college only 26% of all respondents relied on an articulation agreement while 47% indicated they used no articulation agreement at all. Overall, it appears that students who used an articulation agreement were far more likely to have a positive articulation experience than those that did not, but it did not guarantee a positive experience. Nearly 90% of those who reported that they absolutely (59%) or mostly (29%) used an articulation agreement had a positive experience, but 6% of those who mostly used an agreement and 4% of those who usually used one nevertheless had a negative experience (Figure 5). Conversely, about 6% of individuals who had no articulation agreement still had a positive experience and over one in four (26%) had a neutral experience. Over 60% of those with a negative transfer experience reported that no articulation agreement was used at all, and another 30% indicated an agreement was only somewhat used. The results would suggest that using an articulation agreement increases the odds of a positive transfer experience but a stronger link to success might have been the individual advisors and their relationships with advisors at the receiving schools. What we see is that good advising from the start of the student s career is a chance occurrence, and that the process does not currently have the depth and breadth to provide a system for statewide articulation. The process for successful agreements is available in Texas and is in use in some areas, but it is not currently replicated in all regions across the state. Negative experiences with an agreement might also point to the importance of the advisor. Absolutely Mostly Usually Somewhat Not at All No Response Used an articulation agreement Percent Positive Experience Negative Experience Neutral Experience Figure 5. Number of responses for each level of the Likert scale when rating the statement My advisor and I used the articulation agreement to develop my early childhood degree plan at my first college. Data was obtained from an online survey of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children with responses from 94 individuals. Experience is calculated by averaging all articulation question responses from the survey. Survey prompt: My 4-year advisor continued my articulation agreement when planning my coursework at the University. The second part of the articulation is whether the receiving university continued with the agreement. When asked to rate the statement My 4-year advisor continued my articulation agreement when planning my coursework at the University 81% of all responses indicated either somewhat or not at all. 74% of respondents with a negative experience reported that an articulation agreement was only somewhat used (18%) or not at all (56%) to plan their coursework (Figure 6). However, 37% of all respondents reported absolutely or mostly indicating that their articulating 4-year universities did continue with the articulation agreements. All of the respondents indicating positive experiences reported their agreement was absolutely (82%) or mostly (18%) used in planning their coursework. The high number of negative responses concerning continuation of articulation at the 4-year university 16

18 indicates that just having an articulation agreement does not guarantee a positive transition between schools; it must actually be used. Once again, this is likely due to individual advisors at each of the sending and receiving schools and the relations they have with one another. The likely importance of the relationships between advisors reinforces the need for constant communication between schools that would foster those relationships. Communication opportunities between the 2- and 4-year schools are a vital aspect of exemplary and successful articulation agreements. Absolutely Mostly Usually Somewhat Not at All No Response Continuation at 4-year Percent Positive Experience Negative Experience Neutral Experience Figure 6. Number of responses for each level of the Likert scale when rating the statement My 4-year advisor continued my articulation agreement when planning my coursework at the University. Data was obtained from an online survey of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children with responses from 94 individuals. Experience is calculated by averaging all articulation question responses from the survey. Survey prompt: How many of your 2 year college child development/early childhood education degree classes were directly credited to your 4-year degree? A successful agreement, as it exists now, appears to be a written guide to curriculum choices and degree options that help the student achieve completion of a certificate or associate s degree and then transfer into a four-year university with all or nearly all credits counting towards bachelor s degree. In response to the question How many of your 2 year college child development/early childhood education degree classes were directly credited to your 4-year degree? 54% of all respondents had most or all of their credits successfully transfer. 76% of students with positive experiences had all (47%) or most (29%) of their credits transfer, and 73% of neutral experience students had all or most credits transfer, and even 46% of negative experiences had all or most credits transfer (Figure 7). This question provides insight to issues with transfer of credits. Figure 7 seems to show a high level of negative experiences even though most or all credits transferred. Even among students reporting a positive experience there were 24% that indicated they had either none or only a few credits transfer. Are students finding a pathway by using the full associate s degree with all credits transferring to the four year university or did only the credits related to the core curriculum transfer and not any others? How did the student experience the transition to a four year university? Further study would be needed to determine whether the successfully transferred courses included CDEC courses or if the transferred courses were restricted to core courses. 17

19 All Most Half A few None No response Successful credit transfer Percent Positive Experience Negative Experience Neutral Experience Figure 7. Number of responses for each level of the Likert scale when rating the statement How many of your 2 year college child development/early childhood education degree classes were directly credited to your 4- year degree? Data was obtained from an online survey of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children with responses from 94 individuals. Experience is calculated by averaging all articulation question responses from the survey. Survey prompt: The expectations and requirements for successful articulation were available and easily understood. Another characteristic of successful agreements is that the student has discussed degree options in advance, and has clear expectations about following a two year degree with more child development or more early childhood education. In response to the statement The expectations and requirements for successful articulation were available and easily understood 37% of all respondents indicated that the expectations and requirements were available and easily understood while 49% indicated they were not. Figure 8 illustrates that 94% of the individuals with positive experiences responded absolutely (76%) or mostly (18%) to this question while 74% with negative experiences responded somewhat (22%) or not at all (52%). Absolutely Mostly Usually Somewhat Not at All No Response Expectations and requirements Percent Positive Experience Negative Experience Neutral Experience Figure 8. Number of responses for each level of the Likert scale when rating the statement The expectations and requirements for successful articulation were available and easily understood. Data was obtained from an online survey of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children with responses from 94 individuals. Experience is calculated by averaging all articulation question responses from the survey. 18

20 Survey prompt: The deadlines and transfer dates on my articulation agreement were easy to understand. A full understanding of a successful agreement includes understanding of the deadlines a student will face during their educational career. When asked to rate the statement The deadlines and transfer dates on my articulation agreement were easy to understand 35% of all respondents indicated that they understood the transfer deadlines and dates while 51% indicated they were not easy to understand. All of the students that had a positive transfer experience indicated that dates and deadlines were absolutely (47%) or mostly (53%) easy to understand (Figure 9). Only 11% of respondents with a negative experience indicated the dates and deadlines were absolutely (2%) or mostly (9%) easy to understand. This again indicates the value of communication with the transferring student. If the student is unable to understand such basic, required information from the agreement, confusion is likely to arise in the transfer process. As indicated in both Figures 8 and 9, students seem to encounter problems with obtaining information related to transfers and articulation. This reinforces the idea that an exemplary and successful articulation agreement requires significant effort to emphasize information for the students. Clearly highlighted information is a key aspect to a successful articulation agreement. Absolutely Mostly Usually Somewhat Not at All No Response Dates and deadlines Percent Positive Experience Negative Experience Neutral Experience Figure 9. Number of responses for each level of the Likert scale when rating the statement The deadlines and transfer dates on my articulation agreement were easy to understand. Data was obtained from an online survey of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children with responses from 94 individuals. Experience is calculated by averaging all articulation question responses from the survey. Survey prompt: My contacts for articulation between my 2-year and 4-year schools were easy to find and had accurate information. An additional element of success was the ability to know who to contact and when, so that a smooth change to the new college occurred without undue hardship. In response to the statement My contacts for articulation between my 2-year and 4-year schools were easy to find and had accurate information, only 30% of students responded affirmatively; 51% indicated the contact information was not easy to find or was not accurate. Results for this question were similar to responses with Figures 8 and 9 except that this one had the highest non-response level (11%) of all the questions possibly indicating they either did not communicate with contacts at either school or that they felt they completed the transfer completely on their own. It appears that specific, needed information was not clearly available to transferring students and that this may have impacted the overall articulation experience. The results from Figures 8 through 10 mirror our experience in researching the websites of two year or four year institutions in an attempt to find articulation, transfer and contact information. Each college or university has a unique approach to their web site design and as we searched for very specific information, one site might have it under advising, another under general headings, another at the department level, while many had nothing available. 19

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