AACRAO Eye on Research January 2018

by Wendy Kilgore | Jan 29, 2018


Swirlers, Dualists, Reversers and Traditionals

The how, who, what and why of transfer credit practices are making an increasing mark in the higher education arena. According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, nearly 10 percent of college students attended more than one institution within the 2014-15 academic year , and 37 percent transferred to another institution within a six-year period . Ten percent of high school students took a dual enrollment class during the 2010-11 academic year . Given this data, it has been many years since we have understood transfer students to be predominantly those who move from a two-year institution to a four-year institution. We now have swirlers, dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment and reverse transfer as well as the “traditional” transfer student. Each of these sub-populations of students brings with them the need for idiosyncratic differences in practice, from transfer credit evaluation to advising, pre-college assessment and intra-institutional agreements on articulation and data sharing. No single lens addresses the needs of all of the transfer student populations. Institutions should draw on expertise from several professional and academic research resources and use these in conjunction with their own institutional culture and student demographics to determine best transfer practices for their institution.

AACRAO provides best-practice recommendations for transfer students as well as comparative data on institutional practice. We are also embarking on a research project this spring that will help two transfer partner institutions identify how and why some transfer students end up with excess credits at graduation from the four-year institution and compare the amount and type of excess credits with direct-entry students to assess whether or not being a transfer student increases the likelihood of excess credits at graduation.

AACRAO Research Update

Registrar Career Profile Survey

The second registrar career profile survey will be distributed at the end of this month to members identified as registrar through their title in the AACRAO membership database.

January 60-Second Survey Results

Institutional accreditation is an important factor for U.S. institutions in determining whether credit or degrees from another institution will be accepted. However, accreditation as we understand it, does not often exist outside of the United States. This month's 60-Second Survey, in partnership with AICE, examined institutional policies pertaining to accreditation status and the acceptance of credit and degrees from foreign institutions. Key findings include:

  • Nine out of 10 institutions have a prescribed policy on regional accreditation requirements for admission and transfer of credit purposes.
  • More than 70% accept a foreign institution’s recognition by a national ministry of education to be equivalent to regional academic accreditation in the United States.
  • Less than half accept recognition by a national government board or body overseeing training or employment to be equivalent to regional academic accreditation.
  • Only 30% recognize a national government board or body overseeing specific professional sectors (Health/Agriculture/Defense/etc.) as equivalent to regional academic accreditation.
  • Less than 20% recognize either a non-governmental organization or a governmental board of a foreign government outside of the institution’s geographic area as equivalent to regional academic accreditation.
  • The admissions office (54%) is most likely to be responsible for determining whether students' foreign education comes from an accredited school, followed closely by the registrar’s office (50%).
  • The registrar’s office (68%) is most often responsible for determining if transfer credits from a students' foreign education come from an accredited school.
  • More than half of responding institutions have exceptions to regional accreditation requirements for admission or transfer of credit.

Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

NILOA Completes Nationwide Survey on Assessment

More than 800 U.S. provosts responded to The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) survey on assessment. The authors drew 10 major findings from the survey and outline implications for policy and practice. Three of the major findings are:

  • Most institutions have undergraduate statements of learning.
  • Assessment is driven by compliance and improvement with an emphasis on equity.
  • Assessment results are used for compliance and improvement purposes.
  • Size and selectivity influence the variety of assessments used. That is, the larger and more selective the institution is, the less likely they are to employ various assessments or use the results.

Please see the linked report for the full content.

32,000+ Student Opinions on Workforce Preparedness

Gallup and the Strata Education Network partnered to randomly survey over 32,000 students at 43 four-year institutions about their level of confidence to succeed in the workplace, how their major plays into this assessment, and how students use institutional career and academic exploration resources. The authors found:
  • About one-third believe they will graduate with the requisite skills and knowledge to be successful in the job market.
  • Students over the age of 24 reported being more prepared than younger students.
  • Underrepresented and underserved students report more satisfaction with the help they receive from career services, and advising is also most helpful to these populations.
  • Choice of major plays a role in the students’ assessment of their likelihood of success (Figure 2)

Figure 2 Source: Gallup and Strada Education Network pg. 7

Inside Higher Ed Releases Report on the Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers

More than 500 provosts or chief academic officers responded to this survey. Inside Higher Ed will offer a free webinar on February 22nd at 2 p.m. Eastern. 

GAO Report on U.S. Accreditation System

The just released report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the U.S. higher education accreditation system takes a look at the strengths and challenges of the system as well as opportunities for improvement. Among the strengths were that the existing structure allows for tailoring reviews to specific institutional types and the use of peer reviews.

The report suggests the following as means to improve system oversight:

  • “Modifying oversight roles and responsibilities
  • Strengthening communication and transparency
  • Using academic quality measure and expanding accreditation options
  • Changing the structure of the accreditation system”

Who Influences High School Students’ Education and Career Choices?

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) used data from the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 to analyze who influences public high school students’ choice of education and major. The first research question asked “Who has the most influence on students’ thinking about education after high school?” Not surprisingly they found that family members were the most reported followed by “myself” (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Study Finds Social Science and Humanities Doctorates More Satisfied with Work Outside Academia

Cornell researchers Main, Prenotvitz and Ehrenberg studied the career pathways of humanities and humanistic social science doctorates. They examined data from the Andrew G. Mellon Foundation’s Graduate Education Survey (GES). Conclusions include:
  • PhDs are able to move between other employment sectors and academia.
  • Those employed in non-profit/non-academic and non-tenure track faculty are more likely to obtain tenure track faculty than those initially employed in for-profit sectors.
  • Whether or not a woman had young dependents did not influence the likelihood of her holding a tenured position when measured at least 8 years after she earned her Ph.D.
  • Those employed in the non-profit sector report a higher level of satisfaction than those in tenure-track faculty positions.

New Book: Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education

Johns Hopkins University press released a new book where the author created a “Higher Education Demand Index” to estimate college-going demand by institutional sectors. I have not read the report but thought it would be useful for many.

First Look Report Examines Cost of Attendance, Degrees and Other Awards Conferred

NCES released another report based on provisional 2016-17 IPEDS data. Among the findings are:
  • In 2016-17, there were 6,760 Title IV institutions in the United States
  • About 3.3 million students earned degrees or certificates at four-year Title IV degree-granting institutions.
  • Average tuition and required fees increased.
  • Total enrollment was about 27 million students.

Perceived Financial Barriers Loom Large in Adults Considering Returning to School

Champlain College Online completed an “Adult Viewpoints Survey,” and Business Wire created the infographic below summarizing the viewpoints from the report.