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Helping All Students Preserve Transfer Credits

George Spencer and AERA Journal

The number of credit hours that transfer students can carry with them to their new institution can be an important factor in student momentum and degree completion. 

In a paper in American Educational Research Journal, George Spencer takes a look at the paths less studied, but increasingly taken, and reviews credit hour loss among lateral and reverse transfers. Since most of the state-wide policies were written for a community college student moving to a four-year college, Spencer investigated whether these policies also benefit students moving to another community college or from a four-year institution to a community college.

He focused on the articulation policy enacted by the Ohio Board of Regents in 2005 that covers its 23 community and technical colleges, 14 four-year colleges, and 24 regional branch campuses. His findings indicated no relationship between the policy and degree attainment for students moving from four-year program to a community or technical college. He did find that the policy could have a positive impact on students who transfer between community colleges.

Citing a 2017 US Government Accountability Office study which found students generally lose more than 40% of their credits when they transfer, Dr. Spencer's work can inform future policies and help policymakers keep all pathways in mind when developing them.

Off the Beaten Path: Can Statewide Articulation Support Students Transferring in Nonlinear Directions? available  at:

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Assistant Professor of Higher Education
Wednesday, April 7, 2021 - 8:06am

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