Student transition points, including transfer between postsecondary institutions, is a strong focus area for the foundation. Two GTF Fellows, Huriya Jabbar and Lauren Schudde, discovered a vital connection between their studies on transfer and secured additional support to extend their work together. The resulting research will provide state and institutional leaders with deeper insight into how to best serve transfer students.

“Tell Me What I Need to Do” is a longitudinal qualitative study about the experiences of transfer-intending community colleges students in Texas and how they understand state transfer policies. Principal investigators Huriya Jabbar and Lauren Schudde developed this collaborative project to build on prior work funded by the GTF Fellows program. The study leverages the research sample and infrastructure from Dr. Jabbar’s GTF Fellows project, where she examined college choice sets among community college students interested in transferring to a university. The topic area—examining students’ knowledge of state transfer policies and how policy informs their transfer process—stems from Dr. Schudde’s work on Texas transfer policy and college student success. Although both scholars developed their research on college transfer separately, their mutual positions in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at The University of Texas at Austin and in the GTF Fellows program proved conducive for collaboration. As they talked more about their research interests, they realized that pooling their knowledge and merging their inquiries could better inform the literature and policy in Texas.

The project follows a sample of 103 community college students into their third year after indicating intent to transfer. In individual interviews, the researchers asked students about how they select courses navigate the transfer process, and about their familiarity with state and institutional transfer policies. The results will offer insight into the dissemination of information on state and institutional transfer policy to students, the conflicting information students receive, and what they do with it. The findings stand to inform policy change and improve transfer and college outcomes for college attendees throughout the state.

The GTF Fellows program provided necessary resources and infrastructure for Dr. Jabbar and Dr. Schudde to launch their respective projects related to transfer. Their interactions through the program helped them identify mutual areas of interest and develop a research partnership. The funds from GTF to support “Tell Me What I Need to Do” were used to build a team of graduate student researchers to collect and analyze data. Beyond the other contributions of this project, the study provided the graduate students with hands-on experience collecting and using longitudinal qualitative data, improving their development as scholars. The team is currently working to produce a white paper prior to the 2019 legislative session on the policy implications of their findings.