Program Leadership

Success Strategies for Engaging Community Colleges and Universities in Transfer Partnership

  • Marcia Laugerman (University of Iowa)
  • Diane Rover (Iowa State University)
  • Steve Mickelson (Iowa State University)
  • Mack Shelley (Iowa State University)
  • Kari Hensen (Des Moines Area Community College)


In order to increase the number of students (U.S. citizens or permanent residents) receiving associate or baccalaureate degrees in established or emerging fields within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the National Science Foundation (NSF) established the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP).

The Student Enrollment and Engagement through Connections (SEEC) project is a collaboration between Iowa State University (ISU) and Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) funded by a STEP grant to increase the number of students graduating with a bachelor's degree in engineering at ISU and the number of students in pre-engineering study at DMACC.

In this paper, we present the SEEC project goals, conceptual framework, specific project results, and best practices which identify key messages for others developing STEM partnerships. Of the many successful SEEC practices, this paper will focus on four which are foundational to success of CC transfers to engineering. These are: 1) collaboration between institutions, 2) creation of an engineering orientation course at the CC, 3) development of an engineering admissions partnership program, offered by the university for CC students, and 4) data collection and analysis for informed decision making. Program strategies include engaging community college (CC) transfer students while still at the CC, messaging for academic advisors, faculty, and students based upon CC student success data, and the sharing of results of several data briefs which summarize relevant results of a research study on student success. In addition to providing data analysis, the results determine distinctive strategies to increase the success of CC transfers in engineering. Highlights include the creation of a transfer-friendly environment, a community of practice through partnerships, greater awareness about engineering and engineering careers, student-faculty interaction related to educating and training the engineer of 2020, and new datasets for research and evaluation.

The SEEC project was informed in part by research from the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Changing the Conversation report (2008)1, which reports results of a research-based effort to develop and test new, more effective messages about engineering. The overall conclusion of the report is that the public image of engineering and engineers must appeal to the optimism and aspirations of students and must be all-inclusive. In the past, the image of engineers has been focused mostly on white males and messages have emphasized the preparation, especially in math and science, necessary for engineering careers. Recently, a NAE report, Messaging for Engineering: From Research to Action (2013)2 supports these efforts by the engineering community to communicate more effectively about the profession and those who practice it. It concluded that to interest young people from all backgrounds, the new messages must cast engineering as inherently creative and concerned with human welfare, as well as emotionally satisfying, thereby appealing to their desire to find hands-on solutions to problems that can make a difference in the world and improve people’s lives.

How to Cite:

Laugerman, M. & Rover, D. & Mickelson, S. & Shelley, M. & Hensen, K., (2014) “Success Strategies for Engaging Community Colleges and Universities in Transfer Partnership”, 2014 ASEE North Midwest Section Conference 2014(1), 1-14. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2014, Marcia Laugerman, Diane Rover, Steve Mickelson, Mack Shelley, and Kari Hensen

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Published on
17 Oct 2014
Peer Reviewed