Publication Date

Spring 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Kristin Wilson (Director), Brian Meredith, and David Hellmich

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


A growing number of postsecondary students transfer from a two-year to a four-year institution. The joint admissions program between Owensboro Community and Technical College (OCTC) and Western Kentucky University-Owensboro (WKU-O) is a unique example of such a transfer relationship. Research is needed to understand the nature of the joint admissions relationship. The purpose of this case study was to explore the joint admissions relationship between OCTC and WKU-O, in order to determine the existence of a transfer-affirming culture, in accordance with Handel’s (2011) transfer-affirming conceptual framework.

The case study was bounded by time, including the previous three academic years (2014-2015, 2015-2016, 2016-2017), and by location, limited to the OCTC and WKU-O campuses. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with senior leadership from each institution, two members of the advising staff from each institution, 20 jointly-admitted students who chose to transfer to WKU-O, and four jointly-admitted students who chose not to transfer to WKU-O. Analysis of the Joint Admissions Agreement signed by both institutions in 2009 was also conducted through the application of an instrument inspired by Handel’s framework. Finally, statistical analysis was also performed whereby jointly-admitted student performance data was compared to non-jointly admitted transfer student performance data, including variables such as persistence, GPA, and degree attainment.

The study confirmed the existence of a transfer-affirming culture between OCTC and WKU-O, which is nurtured by but not exclusive to the joint admissions program, as non-jointly admitted transfer students received similar services to that of jointly-admitted students. Comparison of student performance data revealed no statistical significance in the performance of non-jointly admitted transfer students to that of jointly-admitted students. Senior leadership and advising staff contributed significantly to the presence of a transfer-affirming culture through the established partnership and strong personal relationships. Many students in the study perceived the joint admissions program as essential to their success and baccalaureate completion as they received the required support necessary to achieve their goals. Furthermore, many of the students in the study indicated that without WKU-O, they would have been unable to earn a bachelor’s degree.


Educational Leadership | Education Policy | Higher Education | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration