3/14/1999 7:00 AM
3/16/1999 4:30 PM
The Bridges to the Future Program is designed to facilitate the transition of underrepresented minority students between 2- and 4-year colleges and between M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs in areas of science relevant to biomedical research. It is central to the success of Bridges programs that students move between partner institutions without facing unnecessary regulations or barriers. This document reports on discussions held by program directors, program coordinators, and institutional officials from a variety of institutions funded by the Bridges to the Future Program at the Bridges Program Meeting, held March 14-16, 1999 in Leesburg, VA.
Articulation guarantees that certain courses can be transferred from one institution to another. Good articulation of courses and programs saves students time and money because it eliminates the need to repeat courses. Just as important, it prevents students from becoming discouraged when their hard work at one institution is not recognized at another. Articulation is important to keeping students in the educational system.
Where articulation agreements work, faculty have useful guidelines regarding the content and skills students should master before continuing to the next level of their education. Likewise, articulation provides assurance to faculty at the second level institution that incoming students have a certain level of preparation in both content and scientific process.
There are many models of articulation, even among Bridges programs where articulation agreements are required. Examples include the following:
Articulation of course content and skills cannot be separated from access to facilities and equipment. Agreements may need to address how to provide students equivalent experiences and skills even when resources are uneven.
The sequence of courses is also important. Again, faculty should be central to negotiating course sequence.
The success of Bridges to the Future Program depends on students' ability to make transitions between partner institutions. Thus, Bridges programs may be useful models for how well articulation agreements are working. As data accumulate about the outcomes for Bridges students, we should look at the relation between student success and nature and extent of articulation agreements. Even anecdotal information would provide some guidance about elements of agreements that work well. The prospect of funding for Bridges programs increases the likelihood that statewide agreements will be developed and implemented.
It is apparent that the Bridges to the Future Program has had some impact already. For example, Bridges has established new lines of communication among institutions, leading to greater trust and respect between faculty at partner institutions. In turn, this has increased the degree to which faculty in partner institutions seek each other's recommendations about students' capabilities and research potential, curricula, and resources.
Bridges has the strongest impact on a targeted, small population. Although it cannot reasonably be expected to have a broad educational impact, it can serve as a useful model both for minority and majority programs.
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