Appalachian State's Transfer Symposiums dispel myths and build relationships

July 15, 2019
  • Technology and Transfer
  • Transfer and Articulation

Jane Rex and Nate Weigl from the Office of Transfer Services, Appalachian State University (ASU), held a session Monday morning of the Technology and Transfer Conference to discuss their most recent, and very successful, Transfer Symposium.  Held in April 2018, this fourth iteration of the symposium was targeted at curriculum alignment for student success. 

Previous symposiums

“Since our office was created, we’ve used Transfer Symposiums to inform the campus community about transfer-related issues,” Rex said. “There are a lot of misconceptions so it’s important to raise awareness about the world of transfer, provide accurate data, and build relationships with the campus community as well as our community college partners.”

The first symposium, “A Campus Conversation,” held in 2013, helped inform the campus community about transfer students and dispel myths. The second, “Continuing the Conversation,” broke down the transfer student population and introduced the various constituencies, including early college, veterans, and nontraditional students; and the third was a “Magic Bus Tour." A fifth symposium on Enrollment Management and the "landscape of higher education" will be held this fall.

A symposium how-to (and why)

Rex and Weigl shared step-by-step the planning and logistics that went into organizing and executing 2018 Symposium. They also discussed the importance of curriculum alignment and why it was selected as the focus of this third conference.

“These symposiums are a lot of work but are very effective at building relationships,” Rex said. They’re also important because transfer students make up about one-third of ASU’s student body and graduating class.

The topic of curriculum alignment was a result of feedback and suggestions from both Appalachian and community college faculty to address student success in key foundational courses in top transfer majors, particularly Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Accounting, Math, and Economics. Increasing STEM enrollment is a university strategic initiative focused on enrollment and completion, so aligning curriculum in these particular areas seemed like a logical place to start.

ASU invited 13 community colleges from across the state to send one faculty from each area and one person from student services to meet with two to four ASU faculty members from each discipline.

“Together, our faculty and their faculty sat down to see how the community colleges could best prepare and Appalachian State could receive these students,” Rex said. “We also invited some students to share their perspectives.”

Eye-opening results

Overall, the Symposium was eye-opening for many faculty. The ASU faculty was impressed by the robust methodologies and syllabi of the community college faculty.

“It helped to build credibility and demonstrate academic integrity,” Rex said. “That was a secondary positive impact that the Symposium had that I don’t think faculty from either area anticipated.”

The departments were also required to do some kind of follow-up activity, and were invited to apply for grant funds to support that work. During the presentation, Rex shared an example of the excellent collaboration the Math departments did as a result. 

Feedback regarding the 2018 Symposium was overwhelmingly positive.