Community College Research Initiatives

August 24, 2022

What can help your transfer partnerships?

Recognizing that transfer partnerships can help ease the navigation process for transfer students, we are excited to share the article recently published by CCRI team members, Ling Yeh and Lia Wetzstein, in the journal Community College Review. Titled Institutional Partnerships for Transfer Student Success: An Examination of Catalysts and Barriers to Collaboration, the article is a synthesis of our research describing what promotes and inhibits transfer partnership formation and continuation. We are eager to publicize the article with the anticipation that the information within can be used by 2-year and 4-year institutional partners to find and leverage assets and remove obstacles to their growth and persistence. 

Institutional collaborations are being recognized as important to improve transfer student outcomes. Recent literature on transfer partnerships has been focused on describing characteristics of those collaborations. In this study, we conceptualized transfer partnerships as dynamic systems that continually change over time, and we look at the forces that facilitate that change. We feel this is important as partnerships have a greater chance of growth and persistence when created strategically and with an understanding of what forces diminish or enhance their existence.

We analyzed institutional culture, policies and practices of successful transfer partnerships and found that the catalyst and barriers sat at the intersection of culture and practice, policy and practice and policy and culture. We also found that catalysts and barriers can serve as counter forces. And thus present the catalysts and barriers in a force field, with catalysts pushing toward partnerships and barriers preventing their growth or sustainability. The article provides practitioners with an analytical tool, the force field analysis, to examine their own institutional context and what forces might be impacting a transfer partnership’s development, growth, or sustainability. It allows for strategic decision making around leveraging or creating catalysts and removing barriers, to grow the transfer partnerships.

Creating a transfer partnership that centers equity can benefit racially marginalized, low-income, and first-generation transfer students by supporting their journey to and through baccalaureate attainment. Having more equitable student outcomes as a partnerships’ values and goals, and multiple engaged leaders across partner institutions, can serve to impact both institutional equity goals and enhance the partnership itself. We hope this article can help support institutions working together to impact student outcomes and facilitate more institutional collaborations.