An Examination of the Contributions to African American, Latino/a, and Asian American Vertical and Lateral Transfer Students' First Year Grade Point Average and Persistence at a Minority Serving Institution
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Student mobility is a complex phenomenon that has been defined in various ways in research: transfer, swirling, double-dipping, and zig-zag (Adelman, 2006; McCormick, 2003; Townley, Katz, Wandersman, Skiles, Schillaci, Timmerman & Mousseau, 2013). Of the various transfer patterns, research studies have most robustly focused on student outcomes of transfers from community colleges to four-year institutions-- known as traditional, vertical, or upward transfer (Dougherty & Kienzl, 2006; Doyle, 2009; Eaga & Jaeger, 2009; Gandara, Alvarada, Driscoll & Orfield, 2012; Ishitani & McKitrick, 2010). However, other transfer patterns such as lateral transfer (transfer from one four-year institution to another or from one two-year institution to another) have also been documented in recent years (Goldrick-Rab & Pfeffer, 2009; U.S. Department of Education, 2001) and warrant further investigation. This study aimed to examine the impact of a set of empirically-driven predictor variables and other academic engagement experiences on the first-year grade point average, persistence, and degree attainment of African American, Latino/a, and Asian American vertical and lateral transfer students at a four-year minority serving institution by analyzing institutional student-level longitudinal data collected by the study university’s Office of Institutional Research from Fall 2007 through Fall 2012 (n=1340). The overall linear model for the total minority cohort (n=1340) revealed that a positive predictive relationship existed between initial hours earned at time of transfer, initial GPA, ethnicity (i.e. African American), major (i.e. STEM), full-time enrollment in Spring 2008 and the outcome, first year post-transfer cumulative GPA F(12, 1004) = 30.29, p. <.001, R2= .27. For African Americans (n= 351), three independent variables contributed significantly to the prediction of cumulative GPA: initial hours earned, initial GPA and full-time enrollment in Spring 2008 F(10, 241) = 8.45, p. <.001, R2= .26. For Latino/a transfer students (n=607) six independent variables significantly contributed to the prediction of cumulative GPA (initial hours earned, initial GPA, full-time enrollment in Spring 2008, and majors in Professional, STEM and Liberal Arts and Sciences) F(10, 452) = 12.91, p. <.001, R2= .22. Moreover, for Asian American transfer students (n= 382) five independent variables significantly contributed to the prediction of cumulative GPA (initial hours earned, initial GPA, majors in Professional, STEM and Undeclared) F(10, 291) = 8.75, p. <.001, R2= .23. There were six statistically significant predictor variables χ2(12, N= 1017) = 84.27, p<. 001. related to the likelihood of a minority transfer student persisting from year one to year two of enrollment at the Urban University which included initial GPA, initial hours earned, full-time enrollment in Spring 2008, being self-identified as African American or Asian American, and having a major in a Professional program. In subsequent models, Latino and Asian American transfer students χ2(10, N= 302) = 32.16, p<. 001 shared full-time enrollment in Spring 2008 as a significant predictor of persistence from year one to year two. For Latino/a transfer students χ2(10, N= 463) = 41.39, p<. 001, initial GPA and initial hours earned were also found significantly contribute to persistence from one year to year two. Lastly, results indicated that eight independent variables significantly contributed to the prediction of whether or not a minority transfer student graduated from Urban University within 6-years of matriculation χ2(14, N= 1017) = 287.36, p<. 001 initial GPA, initial hours earned, full-time enrollment in Fall 2007 and Spring 2008, age, major (i.e. Professional), and financial aid contributed to graduation status. African American transfer students, per this model, had a reduced likelihood of graduating within 6 years. For African American transfer students χ2(12, N= 252) = 79.80, p<. 001 initial GPA, initial hours, full-time enrolment in Spring 2008 and financial aid significantly contributed to the prediction of whether an African American graduated from Urban University. For Latino/as transfer students χ2(12, N= 463) = 115.19, p<. 001, majors in Professional programs and Liberal Arts and Sciences also served as variables that significantly predicted graduation from Urban University. Implications from findings indicate that initial GPA, initial hours at time of enrollment, and full-time enrollment in Spring 2008 (Astin 1975, 1977) were the most consistent predictors of cumulative GPA, persistence from year one to year two and graduation outcomes for minority transfer students (Smith et al., 2009). As evidenced by findings and previous literature, (Best & Gehring, 1993; Cejda, Kaylor & Rewey, 1998; Keeley & House, 1993; Preston, 1993; Soltz, 1992) transfer students- both vertical and lateral- benefit from having a strong record of prior academic achievement, as well as, full-time enrollment within the first two semesters at the senior institution. African American and Asian American transfer students did not show improvement over the constant in logistical models; thus, other variables should be considered for future examination.