The purpose of this paper is to examine how transfer students interact with a higher education setting that is reacting to new state‐mandated accountability goals, and to understand higher education institutions and their environments when faced with new accountability measures. The larger purpose of the study is to develop a grounded theory that helps all players understand the tensions that exist between the state, the universities, and transfer students.
The paper presents a qualitative study using Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory.
The paper finds that interactions between the systems played a large role in the transfer students' perceptions of their experiences at a four‐year institution. The universities in this study, and their transfer student policies, reflect an environment that was influenced by and influenced transfer students' perceptions.
To date no research has been found that incorporates the ecological model and higher education institutions. Because of this, it is difficult to determine how effective this model may be for institutions that are wrestling with dilemmas.
The ecological theory used in this qualitative study is a useful tool in understanding the contexts and systems in which transfer students, administrators and state‐mandated accountability goals co‐exist.
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