Recognized as a leader in transfer student success, UCF received the 2021 John N. Gardner Institutional Excellence for Students in Transition Award for its Curriculum Alignment (CA) initiative. The National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition annually presents this award to institutions that have designed and implemented outstanding collaborative initiatives to enhance academic success during the undergraduate experience.

Each year, about 6,400 students become Knights through the DirectConnect to UCF program that guarantees admission to students transferring from one of six Florida College System (FCS) partner institutions. The key to ensuring that these students succeed and ultimately earn their degrees is providing a continuum of support that begins at the state college level and transitions to UCF.

“UCF is honored to receive this award,” says Pam Cavanaugh, associate vice provost of UCF Connect. “It underscores the importance of partnership and our unwavering commitment to provide every Knight with the support and resources to unleash their full potential.”

Since its inception in 2006, the CA initiative has been a multipronged effort to mitigate “transfer shock” and strengthen UCF’s transfer success culture. The goals of the effort are to align and synchronize course core content and learning competencies students acquire by taking transferrable classes across the DirectConnect to UCF partner colleges and the university. A critical component focuses on academic preparedness and synchronized learning and competencies across the DirectConnect to UCF partner institutions. Currently, the undertaking focuses on 50 courses across 10 disciplines.

“We want students to have the same knowledge foundation as UCF’s first-time-in-college students,” says Teresa Dorman, associate dean at the College of Sciences. “The CA initiative helps to ensure that transfer students who complete lower-level courses at a state college are prepared to succeed in upper-level courses at UCF.”

The lower-level courses are typically prerequisite or gateway courses required by a student’s desired major. But it goes beyond completing classes. It’s about developing foundational knowledge that makes transfer students “junior ready” when they arrive at UCF. This level of preparedness reduces excess hours, time to degree and increases transfer student graduation rates.

The success of the CA initiative requires engagement from all levels of the DirectConnect to UCF partner institutions. Faculty members focus on course learning outcomes, pedagogy and assessment. Academic advisors have the most interaction with students. They help to steer students to select the right courses that will enable them to complete their degree programs.

“The CA initiative is gaining traction and recognition because we approach this work with transparency and equity,” says Harrison Oonge, assistant dean at the College of Undergraduate Studies. “We don’t label DirectConnect to UCF students as ‘mine’ or ‘yours.’ They are ‘ours.'”

To learn more, visit the CA initiative webpage.