This project is funded by the Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer (ONCAT).*
Established in 2011, ONCAT was created to enhance student pathways and reduce barriers for students looking to transfer among Ontario’s 45 public postsecondary institutions. It was created as a member-driven organization to work with all public colleges and universities to enable the system of credit transfer to develop as rapidly as possible, while also respecting institutional autonomy.
Students pursue post-secondary education at different periods throughout their lives, often changing institutions and programs during their education. Accessing and completing any kind of post-secondary education is difficult enough without having to face additional challenges from the academic transfer system.
In partnership with ONCAT, our team seeks to address this challenge: How might we ensure students’ timely access to essential information with the existing transfer process?
We led recent transfer students through journey mapping sessions where they shared their transfer experiences from beginning to end. They were asked to include their positive and negative experiences and the resources used. At the same time, we asked them to evaluate resource effectiveness and helpfulness. We concluded each workshop by asking what they hoped to see to improve this experience for future transfer students. With the understanding that technology has changed students’ expectations and needs, we also conducted our own evaluation of the current resources available and the limitations in accessing them.
We identified several barriers to a satisfying transfer process, including challenging website navigation, information overload, and unclear deadlines. In addition, we learned from students that they value technology, as well as face-to-face interactions.
We’re now working on a prototype of a comprehensive central hub that will increase the awareness of existing information, services and advisors who can provide much needed support and assistance. This will assist students in accessing the resources they need when they need them to ensure a smoother transfer process. Furthermore, it will help ONCAT and similar institutions identify tasks that would benefit from online completion versus ones that would require in-person assistance.
Nikole McGregor, Roya Matsui, Christina Park, Angelina Pletneva, ONCAT