Ann Pegg and Terry Di Paolo, Investigating re-engagement and degree completion in higher education through credit transfer

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John Rose-Adams
9 January 2012

Investigating re-engagement and degree completion in higher education through credit transfer

Dr Ann Pegg and Dr Terry Di Paolo

Higher education policy makers and practitioners have long been concerned with issues of retention and ‘drop out’, particularly in relation to efforts to widen the constituency of students accessing higher education in the UK. Policy makers have cited credit transfer as one mechanism for reducing wastage and drop-out and this paper explores this assumption in more detail, examining how credit transfer serves different constituencies of students. Whilst arrangements for credit transfer exist across the UK higher education sector little is known about credit transfer students or why they re-engage with study.  

This paper presents a conceptual framework for considering credit transfer activity (Di Paolo & Pegg, forthcoming) that has emerged from a review of policy and literature and the findings of our research. Additionally, the paper reviews quantitative and qualitative findings of the research to illustrate differences in terms of the origins of their past credit, the quantity of past credit they transfer and the ways in which students describe their re-engagement with higher education in relation to their future plans and aspirations.

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Chris Edwards
1:22pm 25 April 2012


Some rough notes:

  1. Why does the OU's Open degree attract more credit transfer students than other programmes?
  2. OU has around 14,000 credit transfer requests each year.
  3. It is hard to find exactly how many students use credit transfer but national statistics suggest between 3 and 6%.
  4. literature on credit transfer is also sparse. Tinto in US has published on this topic.
  5. QAA defines credit transfer as possible between and within institutions.
  6. Combing Tinto's ideas of immediate and delayed transfer with the QAA's of between and withn, to give four categories.
  7. A trend of exploring areas of study in Arts and Humanities. Maths, Computing and Technology seem more connected with career decisions.
  8. Interviewed 25 mature students and analysed the very rich narratives and then compared with career theory.
  9. Evidence that credit transfer:
    • very usefully supports employability.
    • used to explore different subject areas
    • used to complete an unfinished stage of life
    • to improve their qualification. Usually significantly older and now dissatisfied with original grade.
    • Often used five years or more after original study.
  10. Points for reflection:
    • what are the implications of this challenge to the linear policy discource assumption of continuity and completion of prior studies?
    • What changes can we expect in credit transfer behaviour in moving to a highly marketised HEI system?
    • How does this help us to support students in re-engaging with higher education and in making the best use of their prior experiences?
  11. Point made that North American system fully understands accumulation of credit whereas our system uses it to deal with failure or interruption. 
  12. German system allows (encourages?) transfer of vocational credit into HE programmes

Ann and Terry's paper is in the Journal of Further and Higher Education - currently available online, soon to be in print.

Chris Edwards
Chair

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