Success Through Inclusion: Impact of Honors Participation on Transfer Student Graduation Frequency at Four-Year Colleges and Universities

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Albakry, Judy Rebekah
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Middle Tennessee State University
Nationally collected data reveals that transfer students encounter added difficulty graduating on time from four-year institutions than non-transfer students. Since transfer students traditionally graduate at a lower rate, targeting and improving transfer students’ graduation percentages is one way to augment an institution’s overall graduation rate and the total number of degrees conferred. Numerous studies have shown evidence of higher completion frequencies for first-time freshmen who participate in four-year honors programs. However, research has yet to reveal how honors programs impact transfer student outcomes. Furthermore, a criticism often leveled at honors is that it can be elitist. One way to diversify honors programs is to promote the inclusion of transfer students within honors programs. Diversity will increase because transfer students, especially community college students, tend to include various socioeconomic backgrounds, underrepresented minority groups, first-generation, and non-traditional students. As such, this study is motivated by the dual need to increase graduation frequency (expressed as a percentage) and diversify honors programs by including transfer students. Based on ex post facto data collected on transfer student graduation percentages at a large public university in Tennessee, the purpose of this non-experimental, quantitative, comparative study was to investigate if transfer student honors participation has an association with graduation frequency. Chi-square analyses were performed to investigate the association among graduation frequency and honors participation along with additional variables, including gender, age, race, and number of honors credits earned. The findings indicate that the association among honors participation and graduation frequency, as well as honors participation, graduation frequency, and age, was statistically significant for similarly abled transfer students. Gender and race had partial associations with honors participation and graduation frequency. Finally, the number of attempted honors credits had no significant association. Since the overall findings indicate that high-impact practices such as honors programs are associated with higher graduation frequency for transfer students, the study calls for more institutional support and an increased focus on integrating transfer students into honors programs.
Graduation frequency, Honors programs, Student outcomes, Student Success, Transfer Students, Higher education administration, Higher education, Social sciences education