Letter of Intent
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Letter of Intent: 


Transfer students, now more than ever, need our support as we prepare and look towards the start of a new academic year grappling with the impacts of COVID-19. Our project proposes to identify and support community college transfer students through their transition process to UW this fall 2020 and through the first year. CCRI’s existing research has lessons to share about what transfer capital looks like, in particular for students of color, first generation and low-income students. Transfer capital builds on notions of social and cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1986)1 in that students need the knowledge and skills to perform as well as the networks, relationships and resources to thrive. Higher education has tended to place the burden on transfer students to navigate the system. They were expected to possess sufficiently deep knowledge of higher education to transfer credits and manage day-to-day processes, often without considering their diverse backgrounds and experiences. The literature on community college and transfer shows that students transferring from community college to a four-year institution are more likely to be successful and persist into their second year if they have a high competency for resiliency, meaning their ability to develop knowledge and skills to help adapt to change and adversity. Higher education institutions can help build resilience in students by improving the transfer capital elements needed for successful transition to and completion of a four-year program. These elements include counseling, financial awareness, mentoring, study habits, coping skills, and other skills to enhance their well-being.2 To anchor these concepts in the project, a framework will be used to understand how the institution is providing resilience or transfer capital support to transfer students during this health crisis. We will use the Northeast Resiliency Consortium’s Resilience Competency Model that highlights five competencies for high resilience: critical thinking, adaptability, self-awareness, reflective learning, and collaboration.3 The COVID-19 pandemic adds, as yet, unknown layers of adversity that will test the resilience of incoming transfer students to UW. This is particularly true for students from vulnerable populations such as people of color and low-income families. Intrusive research to discover what transfer capital these groups need to successfully transfer and persist is crucial for more equitable outcomes. The overall goal of this project is to document transfer students’ resilience competencies, and ascertain how higher education programs can help raise their transfer capital with compassion for their health and well-being. Uncovering this information to better support transfer students who may be at risk of dropping out is important. Sharing this information to enable faculty and advisors to communicate with compassion while giving avenues to help them create community in this crisis is extremely important.


CCRI intends to support incoming community college transfer students as they transition to the UW community during COVID-19 for the AY 2020-2021 through qualitative research methods including focus groups and individual interviews. The qualitative data gathered will assist in identifying the students’ most pressing needs and how they can be supported in the transfer process. Examining their resilience competencies relative to their navigating the transfer process is critical in supporting transfer student success during the COVID-19 health crisis. Potential participants will be identified in collaboration with UAA transfer advisors from incoming transfer students in fall 2020 who have not declared a major. We will assemble a focus group of 10-20 students and also conduct an interview each quarter individually with six students. The ongoing 1 Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241– 258). New York, NY: Greenwood. 2 Moser, Kristin, "Redefining transfer student success: Transfer capital and the Laanan-transfer students' questionnaire (L-TSQ) revisited" (2012). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 12414. https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/12414 3 View the Resilience Competency Model at https://www.achievingthedream.org/resources/initiatives/northeast-resili... CCRI Project Proposal: Applied Learning that Supports Growth of Transfer Students’ Resilience and Transfer Capital During COVID-19 2 individual interviews make it possible for building towards deeper conversations as the academic year progresses and allow us to learn about their resilience competencies, skills, and knowledge are being applied to support their first-year experience in a COVID-19 environment. CCRI will conduct this inquiry to disseminate what we will learn to UW and its network of community and technical colleges in the state. Doing so will assist UW and these networks in their own processes for assisting students requiring aid in the transfer process.

The following goals further clarify what this project will achieve for our students, strengthening inter-department collaboration, and the University:

  • Goal 1: To foster among the students in the focus group a sense of resilience, including belonging and connectedness to each other through the opportunity to share with one another.
  • Goal 2: To identify and describe transfer student resiliency and discover what supports may bolster their success in their first year during a pandemic.
  • Goal 3: To advance the research and grant writing skills for a graduate student who is participating in the genesis of this project by co-writing this proposal and will be an integral member of this project gathering and analyzing qualitative data.
  • Goal 4: To support UW-UAA transfer advising with what we are learning in our transfer research. We will enhance the compassionate environment for transfer students by building a reciprocal relationship between our research team and the UAA transfer advising team. We will share what we’re learning periodically throughout the project and request feedback from transfer advisors.


We will evaluate if we met the intended goals by monitoring the student outcomes. Successful outcomes will be co-creating with transfer advisors’ ideas on how to support transfer students during the pandemic, using their stories of resiliency. We will also strengthen our relationship with UAA transfer advisors and provide a venue for students to share and hear about others' journeys. Also, our graduate research assistant will utilize his new skills in future coursework. SECTION D. #3. Staying Healthy in School Builds Future Health Capacity: Building resiliency is crucial for mental health and well-being and transfer student persistence. Education and income levels are correlated with health in this country. #10. Equitably Aiding Students: Meeting students where they are to increase their transfer capital and resiliency competency helps reduce inequality. In this pandemic, minoritized student groups face increased challenges, such as equity issues that arise with remote learning, which has potential to further elevate the emotional, financial and physical stress. By intrusively researching what transfer capital students need the most, colleges create more equitable outcomes for all student populations by providing better advice on how to manage their first years in college, cope with the stressors, practice self-care, and strengthen resilience while also improving their mental and emotional health. This connects to the health, education, and inequality SDGs. #17. Building Resilience in Partnership: This applied learning project will foster CCRI’s connectedness to communities by leveraging partnerships with student success networks and community colleges to harness and disseminate student knowledge of their resiliency needs. The above describes key areas where our project connects to the SDG’s. The way we connect to the remaining goals is that by helping transfer students to strengthen and maintain their resilience to complete postsecondary degrees opportunities are created for them in the workforce to be change agents who actively participate in our communities to cultivate a more sustainable future.

Contact Information
Primary Contact First & Last Name: 
Katie Kovacich
Full Proposal
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