Date of Award

2011

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Interdisciplinary Program

Advisor

Dianne Hoff

Second Committee Member

Mary Madden

Third Committee Member

Amy Fried

Abstract

This study explores the perceptions and experiences of students who have attempted or have transferred from a Maine community college to a university in the University of Maine System. The study further explored how the problem of access to higher education and persistence has been addressed in current policies of articulation, specifically identifying any unintended barriers to transfer intrinsic to the policy. The study utilized semi-structured interviews with both administrators and key players in the transfer process at the University of Maine System as well as students. The study suggests that the current policy needs to focus beyond articulation agreements, which rely too heavily on documentation and student services, and to eliminate critical inconsistencies and redundancies throughout both systems. Streamlining the transfer process requires a unified cohesive system that removes the intercampus competition under the current funding formula. The study further suggests that there is a significant need to convene representational stakeholders with the charge of establishing a cohesive structure that not only streamlines public higher education, but reflects the unique needs of Maine. An important second step is to align academic programs so that every course is reviewed for a common set of content standards, accreditation requirements, and rigorous academic goals. Essential to the review process is ample distance learning instruction to ensure availability of required courses throughout all campuses. In addition, the establishment of a comprehensive student data information system is needed to inform the academic plan, track student progress, and provide important documentation for future research. Maine is ripe for a bold change in post-secondary educational policies. The economic need for a more educated workforce, coupled with the state's inability to financially support the current systems of higher education, and recent changes in both the executive and legislative branches offer a window of opportunity in the public policy arena.

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