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Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research

Volume 28 of the series Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research pp 459-511

Date:

A Review and Critique of the Literature on Community College Students’ Transition Processes and Outcomes in Four-Year Institutions

  • Peter Riley BahrAffiliated withCenter for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, University of Michigan Email author 
  • , Christie TothAffiliated withJoint Program in English and Education, University of Michigan
  • , Kathryn ThirolfAffiliated withCenter for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, University of Michigan
  • , Johanna C. MasséAffiliated withCenter for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education and the Department of Sociology, University of Michigan

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Abstract

The successful transfer of community college students to four-year institutions has been and remains a subject of intense scholarly, policy, and public interest. For a variety of reasons, however, scrutiny of the transfer mission of community colleges, and of the success of community college transfer students in completing baccalaureate degrees, is particularly acute at this time. Unfortunately, the body of literature that informs discourse on community college students’ attainment of baccalaureate degrees disproportionately neglects students’ experiences in the four-year institution and the role of the four-year institution in supporting their success. Moreover, with the exception of a few sustained lines of inquiry, research in this area generally has been fragmented and unsystematic, further limiting the advancement of knowledge. Here, we seek to remedy this problem and provide a foundation for future inquiry by articulating and defining the core concepts in this area, discussing and critiquing the measurement of these concepts, summarizing findings, and offering recommendations for the advancement of future research.