University and community college administrators' perceptions of the transfer process for underrepresented students: Analysis of policy and practice
Author(s)Slotnick, Ruth C
Adult, Career, and Higher Education
Arts and Humanities
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AbstractThis study describes and explains purposefully selected university and community college administrators' perceptions of the Florida statewide articulation agreement and the resulting institutional practices as they pertain to underrepresented transfer students. The theoretical framework that undergirds this dissertation is three-fold: social constructivism, philosophical hermeneutics, and interpretive policy analysis (Yanow, 2000). In particular, the local level knowledge consisting of six university and six community college administrators (also referred to as policy implementers), was assessed through face-to-face interviews, document analysis, and field notes. The researcher reflective journal (Janesick, 2004) is asserted as a crucial link to analyzing the three frames as way to record the history of the project and integrate the ever-present voice of the researcher while lending credibility to the research findings. All three cases were examined for themes and subthemes using cross-case analysis guided by the study's research questions. Three types of policy implementers were apparent: policy experts, technocrats, and generalists. Three categories also emerged: policy proximity, policy fluency, and perceptions of underrepresented students. An administrator's policy proximity was found to be reasonably congruent with his or her policy fluency. This held true across all implementer types. Perceptions of underrepresented students, however, varied greatly; some administrators saw no differences, while others perceived major differences for underrepresented transfer students. A major finding of this study-that all administrators perceive no differences in the state articulation agreement for low-income, first generation in college, and racial and ethnic minority groups-ran counter to a recent study by Dowd, Chase; Bordoloi Pazich, and Bensimon (2009) which found seven state transfer policies to be mostly colorblind. Future studies on the transfer process incorporating more community college and university administrators both in Florida and in other states could continue to explore how different policy actors interpret and understand state and institutional policy; especially for the growing populations of underrepresented minority groups. The researcher reflective journal may be a useful tool for policy analysts to record more intensive micro-rich views of how policy knowledge is generated, perceived, and perpetuated (or not) from the inside.