Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Tara Parker

Second Advisor

Sherry Penney

Third Advisor

Cathryn Turrentine


While research on student completion rates move in multiple directions, very little has focused on transfer students' own perceptions of the campus environment and collegiate experience. Research on the general population has shown that students' perceptions contribute either positively or negatively to persistence. Therefore, conducting research specifically on transfer students' perceptions may help researchers and policy makers to better understand and address contributing factors in student persistence to graduation.

This study used Creswell's Sequential Explanatory Design to inform its mixed methods methodology. In the first phase, the Mattering Scales for Students in Higher Education (MHE) was used to access the perceptions of transfer students concerning their higher education environments. Native students were included for comparison purposes. Based on the results, semi-structured interviews were conducted with native and transfer students from each of the institutions that illuminated the results from the quantitative phase.

The main finding of the study was that, contrary to expectations, transfer and native students exhibited a generally similar sense of mattering to their institutions. In the quantitative phase, data were gathered and used to analyze the five subscales by student status, institution, and student status and institution interaction. No statistically significant differences were found by status or by student status and institution interaction. Data was also analyzed by institution to determine if there were any institution-specific differences in students' sense of mattering. The results revealed that there was no significant difference found on four of the subscales: Advising, Interaction with Peers, Interaction with Faculty, and Multiple Roles. Only on the Administration Subscale for institution was a significant difference reported. BSU students reported significantly more positive perceptions of their administrative environment overall than UMD students. However, the Administration subscale received the most negative responses, on average, of all the subscales at both institutions. Although the difference is statistically significant, as a practical matter, the effect is small. Students reported positive perceptions on all other subscales. More specifically, transfer students reported more positive perceptions of their interactions with faculty than of any other subscale, while interactions with peers were highest for native students.

This research provides useful information regarding students' perceptions of their institutions effectiveness and efficiency. The results of this study show that higher education institutions need to maintain robust and efficient administrative services for native and transfer students in order to avoid the "run-around" perceived by students. Recommendations are made about how to use this data.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.