Initial curator: Kelsie George, Campus Compact


Building coherent, smooth, and clear 2-year to 4-year transfer pathways can impact student access, persistence, and success. Transfer student success pulls on several areas of the institution including admissions, student support, housing, faculty, advising, and more. A comprehensive approach to creating transfer pathways and articulation agreements that incorporate staff, faculty, and administrators from both the 2-year and 4-year institutions is essential.


A) Institutional Change

B) Curricular Coherence, Efficiency, and Redesign

  • Learning Outcomes Assessment in Community Colleges. National Institute for Learning Outcomes and Assessment. (2010, July). This paper analyzes the findings from two surveys, one of institutional researchers and one of chief academic officers from community colleges. It addresses the multiple demands for accountability and transparency within the context of community colleges. It provides assessment examples and suggests guidelines and cautions for community colleges seeking to advance the assessment agenda.
  • The Context of Their Coursework: Understanding Course-Taking Patterns at Community Colleges by Clustering Student Transcripts. Community College Research Center. (2011, October). This paper looks at clustering as an opportunity for community colleges to better understand the course-taking patterns of students in order to enhance assessment tools and assign programs of study. Section 3.5 addresses credential attainment and transfer by cluster, which looks at completion rates and transfer rates based on cluster, which may be an area of interest for community colleges pursuing assessment and implementation of 2- to 4-year transfer pathways as part of their Civic Action Plan.
  • Valuable Learning or "Spinning Their Wheels"? Understanding Excess Credits Earned by Community College Associate Degree Completers. Community College Research Center. (2012, April). This paper addresses excess credits taken by community college students by looking at the extent of excess credits overall across the community college system and case studies of individual degree programs. The possible reasons this white paper finds include: unclear aspirations of students, limited available advising, structural and scheduling barriers, valuable courses outside the program, transfer policies, and marginal tuition costs. The author suggests campuses interested in exploring this phenomenon conduct a con
  • Curriculum alignment module. Champaign, IL: Office of Community College Research and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mordica, J., & Nicholson-Tosh, K. (2013).
  • The Shapeless River: Does a Lack of Structure Inhibit Students' Progress at Community Colleges? Community College Research Center. (2011, January). This paper speaks to the importance of clear student outcomes and pathways to completion within the context of community colleges. Structure comes with the tradeoff of less choice and flexibility, which is often a necessity for students regarding scheduling and broad services and options.

C) Assessment

  • Assessment Practices for Advancing Transfer Student Success: Collaborating for Educational Change. American Association of Colleges and Universities. (2016) This report  outlines their proposed Campus Change Process and provides case studies for each step. The Campus Change Process aligns with Civic Action Planning in that it addresses culture change, putting commitments into practice and institutional capacity-building. At the end of the project, each dyad reported experiencing culture change from preconceived notions about partner institutions to more accurate and positive understandings.
  • The Opposing Forces that Shape Developmental Education: Assessment, Placement, and Progression at CUNY Community Colleges. Community College Research Center. (2011, November). This report proposes a new opposing forces framework for understanding the dysfunction of the developmental system. It focuses on three sets of opposing forces: system-wide consistency versus institutional autonomy, efficient versus effective assessment, and promotion of student progression versus enforcement of academic standards. Strategies such as cross-college working groups, interdisciplinary cooperation, accountability and transparency, and other themes are found across intervention strategies to support students in and out of the classroom.


  • Community College Research Center (CCRC) CCRC is the leading independent authority on two-year colleges in the United States. We conduct research on the issues affecting community colleges and work with colleges and states to improve student success and institutional performance.
  • American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s community colleges. The association represents nearly 1,200 two-year, associate degree–granting institutions and more than 13 million students.
  • Completion by Design Completion by Design is a five-year Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation signature initiative that works with community colleges to significantly increase completion and graduation rates for low-income students under 26. Three groups of community colleges in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio were awarded competitive grants to help transform their students’ experience. The goal of Completion by Design is to substantially increase completion rates for these students while holding down costs and maintaining access and quality.
  • Achieving the Dream Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, Achieving the Dream now leads the most comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success in higher education history. Together with our Network of over 200 institutions of higher education, 100 coaches and advisors, 15 state policy teams, and numerous investors and partners working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia we are helping more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

Additional Resources