The Triumphs and Tensions of Transfer Articulation: Investigating the Implementation of Maryland's Associate of Arts in Teaching Degree
Maliszewski Lukszo, Casey Lynn
Espino Lira, Michelle
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This dissertation study investigated the implementation of the Associate of Arts in Teaching (A.A.T.) degree at two, public four-year universities in Maryland. Using Honig’s (2006a) Framework for Policy Analysis as a conceptual framework, I used higher education and policy implementation research to expand the conceptual model’s three dimensions: the Policy Dimension, the Places Dimension, and the People Dimension. Using an interpretative case study design, I used multiple data sources, including semi-structured interviews with state and university administrators and faculty, interviews with A.A.T. students, observations of state and university meetings, and a review of federal, state, and university documents. This study revealed that administrators and faculty generally perceived the A.A.T. degree to be an effective method to recruit diverse students into teaching professions and to create more efficient transfer pathways into education baccalaureate programs. However, administrators and faculty acknowledged a number of challenges associated with implementation, including: 1) confusion surrounding admissions policies into education programs; 2) trouble completing the Basic Skills Test requirement; and 3) miscommunication, misadvisement, and misalignment with regard to transfer courses in the A.A.T. program, which often led to transfer credit problems. Three factors were found to influence implementation challenges: 1) state and organizational governance structures and culture; 2) state and university leaders (particularly how they interpreted the A.A.T. policy and how they communicated those interpretations to others); and 3) external pressures, such as accreditation and state workforce demands. Some challenges associated with transfer credit articulation can be attributed to differences between community college and university priorities and values. Overall, the findings from this dissertation provide additional understanding of the promise and the challenges associated with subject-specific state transfer articulation degrees, such as the A.A.T. While subject-specific transfer policies can yield some positive effects on transfer pathways, they are not the sole solution to fixing transfer credit problems. To conclude, I provide recommendations for state policymakers, considerations for university practitioners, and directions for future research.