Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EDD)


Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Soyeon Ahn

Second Committee Member

Carol-Anne Phekoo

Third Committee Member

Debbiesiu Lee

Fourth Committee Member

Shouraseni Sen Roy


Education has been perceived as the key pathway that individuals utilize to achieve economic success and upward mobility, yet how that education is acquired is not a lock-step process. According to the 2015 Signature 9 Report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, students made 2.4 million (37.2%) transitions from one institution to another between 2008 and 2014 (Shapiro et al., 2015). However, according to Student Achievement Measurement (n.d.), only 11% of students who transfer from four-year to four-year institution complete a bachelor’s degree, which is much smaller than the 71.7% of full-time students who start at a four-year institution and complete a degree within six years (Shapiro et al., 2016). Given that transfer students often struggle to complete their degree at the transferred college, the current study was an attempt to understand the role of high-impact activities on the educational experiences of transfer students as compared to non-transfer students and to examine how class preparation, student-faculty interactions, and interactions with peers and advisors may affect the GPA and educational aspirations of transfer students beyond a baccalaureate. To accomplish the proposed aims, the following two research questions were explored using 2015 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) survey data collected in 2015 by a private institution in South Florida: (1) What are the factors contributing to a difference in academic performance between transfer and non-transfer students? and (2) What are the factors that contribute to different educational aspirations beyond the bachelor’s degree for transfer and non-transfer students? For the first research question, a hierarchical multiple regression was utilized to explore whether the self-reported GPA between transfer students and non-transfer students differs depending on the level of student engagement. Results from a hierarchical multiple regression suggest that peer relationship and class preparation might help transfer students enhance their GPA. For the second research question, a hierarchical logistic regression was used to study the differential effect of the level of student engagement on the educational aspirations beyond the baccalaureate between transfer and non-transfer students. Study findings indicate that the establishment of strong peer interactions is more likely to help transfer students pursue their education beyond a baccalaureate degree. The current study provided empirical evidence suggesting that peer relationships might help transfer students raise their GPA and aspire beyond a baccalaureate degree. In addition, class preparation was found to be an important factor that might assist transfer students enhance their GPA. Ultimately, this study suggests the benefits of creating and implementing specific programs and initiatives to target the needs of transfer students and support them in both increasing their GPA through improved class preparation and developing critical relationships with peers and faculty.


Transfer Students; educational aspirations; educational experiences; GPA; high-impact activities; National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)