Undergraduate Research Communities for Transfer Students A Retention Model Based on Factors that Most Influence Student Success

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Donna Chamely-Wiik
Evelyn Frazier
Daniel Meeroff
Jordan Merritt
William R Kwochka
Alison I Morrison-Shetlar
Michael Aldarondo-Jeffries
Kimberly R Schneider
Jodiene Johnson


Transfer students face many challenges integrating into a 4-year college that affect their retention and success, yet very little research has documented how to create wraparound programming to support them. There remains a need to establish retention models that are adaptable and can serve a variety of students and institutions. The Learning Environment and Academic Research Network (LEARN) Consortium, a partnership of Florida Atlantic University, University of Central Florida, and Western Carolina University whose focus is on engagement in undergraduate research, addressed this need by developing and testing T-LEARN, a new model for a sustainable science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) retention program specifically for transfer students who have transitioned to a university setting after receiving their associate’s degree at a community college. The new model was developed by adapting a successful retention model for 1st-year students at the University of Central Florida centered around three main pillars: (1) academics/research, (2) mentoring, and (3) community building. In this paper, we describe the development of the T-LEARN model, outline the adaptations made to accommodate the specific needs of transfer students, and present 3 years of implementation data we analyzed to determine what factor(s) most impact transfer student retention and success. Our findings indicate that T-LEARN students’ involvement in research during their 1st year was the most significant factor within the T-LEARN program that contributed to their academic success. Additionally, the majority of these students had continued to do research with the same LEARN program faculty mentor 1 year after the program ended.


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Chamely-Wiik, D., Frazier, E., Meeroff, D., Merritt, J., Kwochka, W. R., Morrison-Shetlar, A. I., Aldarondo-Jeffries, M., Schneider, K. R., & Johnson, J. (2021). Undergraduate Research Communities for Transfer Students: A Retention Model Based on Factors that Most Influence Student Success. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 21(1). Retrieved from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/josotl/article/view/30273