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Research Article

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Transitioning to University: Best Practices for College Transfer Bridging Courses

March 2016

Authors: Dr. Nancy Luckai, Rachel Kushnier, Calla Sampson, Sarah Prouty, Anna Meer, Anthea Kyle, Andrea Tarsitano, and Andrew Heppner (Lakehead University)

Project photo

Executive Summary

The intent of this project was to develop a series of best practices and guidelines to inform the creation of bridging curricula and tailored supports that enhance the success of college to university transfer students while supporting all types of institutional transitions in the context of Ontario’s postsecondary education system. A previous ONCAT funded project (Lakehead, 2012) identified that college transfer students entering Lakehead University through block transfer pathways had the highest retention rates and Grade Point Averages in comparison to transfer students entering with advanced standing or other types of postsecondary credit. The study recommended follow up work into the characteristics and experiences of college transfer students to better understand differences in success and retention rates. As a result of this project, we found that Lakehead University has a rich and varied context of transfer students in which to examine bridging processes including:

  • College to University Block transfer with summer transition programming and curriculum (e.g. Engineering, Natural Resource Management)
  • College to University Block transfer directly into various year levels (e.g. Applied Life Sciences, Business, Social Work) 
  • Advanced Standing students across programs with credit transfer assessed on an individual basis 
  • Varied and unexpected transfer students whose educational context includes: 
    • Partially completing some university before transfer to Lakehead 
    • Partially completing some college and some university before transfer to Lakehead
    • Partially completing a college diploma then completing a full university degree before transferring credit to Lakehead University.