From Community College to University: Preparing Community College Business Students for University Success

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Tilley, Fred
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Mount Saint Vincent University
This thesis investigates the impact that a community college diploma has on students’ confidence as well as on their decision to attend and be successful at university. It also looks at the extent to which transformational learning theory can help to explain this transition. There has been considerable research looking at transformational learning at the university level. There is very little research at the community college level looking at transformational learning. Specifically, this thesis explores the hypothesis that pedagogical actions that engage students in transformative learning give students the confidence in themselves and their skills to pursue university education and to feel more successful. The methodology used for this thesis was the personal interview. A series of one hour one on one interviews were conducted with 12 students who have made the transition from community college to university. All of the interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed to form the basis of the findings and discussion of this thesis. The thesis found that all 12 of the participants indicated that their confidence had improved. Additionally, 10 of the 12 participants indicated that this improvement in confidence affected their decision to further their education. Evidence is provided through the use of Mezirow’s 10 phases of transformational learning that a transformational learning experience has occurred during the 2 year diploma program. This thesis has provided evidence that specific pedagogical actions have improved students’ confidence and changed their views on their abilities through transformational learning enabled by critical reflection. This work may help to inform future curriculum development at both community college and university as well as teaching and learning strategies. The work has also identified other areas of interest that future research may be able to build upon such as confidence improvement at community college vs university in the early years.
transformational learning