Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

John Van Ast


This study analyzed the academic performance of successful community college transfer students by academic discipline courses. Grade distributions were compared between Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) and Iowa State University (ISU) by matched disciplines. A T-test for equality of means and chi-square analysis was used to determine significant differences in the grade distributions.;The participants included 837 transfer students that graduated with a bachelor's degree from ISU between 1998 and 2002. Descriptive analysis of student demographics identified overall patterns and unique features of successful transfer students. Analysis of grade distributions of specific disciplines and community college general education courses identified significant differences.;The results of the study indicated a majority of transfer students were female, white, traditional age, with lower than State of Iowa average ACT scores. Almost half (48,2%) of the students transferred 60--65 credits and 66% complete the bachelor's degree in 5 years. Overall GPA was significantly different between DMACC (2.96) and ISU (2.84). Significant differences were found in 20 of 31 matched discipline groups. DMACC general education grade distributions and ISU grade distributions were also significantly different. The results suggest that further research is necessary to analyze specific student characteristics and the related transfer success. Student support services and academic performance of community college courses will need further research. The significant differences in grade distributions suggest that faculty and administration of both institutions need to review course competencies, grading criterion and assessment techniques. Further research is warranted to better understanding specific community college academic performance and related university major fields of study. Community college courses specifically designed for transfer students may need to be developed in the general education curriculum to better prepare transfer students for university course expectations. Also, a comprehensive assessment program of general education skills and abilities may need to be implemented to more fully understand the academic expectations of transfer students.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Bob R. Emley



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

119 pages