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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Effect of Transfer Degrees on California Community College Outcomes
by Smotherman, Jeremy, Ed.D., California State University, Long Beach, 2018, 139; 10824642
Abstract (Summary)

President Barak Obama set a national agenda to increase the number of higher education degrees completed in the United States. Moore, Shulock, and Jensen reported that the U.S. is projected to produce 48 million new undergraduates between the years 2005 to 2025. Additionally. Moore, Shulock, and Jensen reported that due to their population, California Community Colleges have a significant role in producing baccalaureate degrees than any other state. However, California projections have shown a shortfall of 1 million college graduates by the year 2025. One strategy for addressing this shortfall is improving the transfer pathways for community college students.

The Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act provided community college students in California with a clearer path towards transfer with the caveat of completing a newly established associate degree for transfer. Implementation of the STAR Act coerced California Community Colleges into adopting a standard curriculum model for transfer degrees.

This quantitative study used within-subject ANCOVAs to analyze a multi-year period of degree completion and transfer data to determine if STAR Act significantly impacted community college outcomes. Program awards and CSU transfer were dependent variables used to statistically analyze the impact of the STAR Act on community colleges. Median county income, college size, regional college location, and the number of transfer degrees offered were grouping variables used to help determine if the STAR Act impacted all colleges or only colleges with certain institutional demographics.

Institutional Theory was used to contextualize the impact of the STAR Act on community college degree completion and transfer rates. DiMaggio and Powell identified three categories of conformity within institutional theory: normative conformity, mimic conformity, and coercive conformity. Each category aligns the action of conforming to either norms, values, or ideologies.

Implications for this study address the role state legislation and individuality of community colleges in education reform. Recommendations for research and practice propose that normative and coercive attributes of conformity support significant institutional changes. Community colleges are encouraged to incorporate normative and coercive standards to support new initiatives and programs effectively. At the same time, community colleges must embrace individuality and limit mimic conformity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Vega, William
Commitee: Fierro, Jose, O'Brien, Jonathan
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Public policy, Higher education
Keywords: Associate degrees for transfer, California community college, Institution demographics, Institutional theory, SB 1440, Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act
Publication Number: 10824642
ISBN: 978-0-438-20954-1
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