Transfer Student Pathway to Graduate School

Consent to Participate in Research

My name is Professor Kara Nelson. I am a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, in Civil and Environmental Engineering.  I am planning to conduct a research study, which I invite you to take part in.

We are inviting you to participate in this study because you have been selected to participate in the Transfer Student Pathway to Graduate School program. In addition to myself, three additional people will have access to the study data: Institutional Research Analyst, Dr. Andrew Eppig, Program Director, Meltem Erol, External Evaluator, Dr. Catherine Amelink.

The purpose of this research study is to determine if a structured cohort program targeted at low-income community college transfer students improve the rate at which these students pursue a graduate degree (MS or PhD). We are comparing the results from those students who participate in the Transfer Student Pathway to Graduate School program to those students who have not participated in this program.

If you agree to be in this study, you will be asked to do the following:

  • January of First Year. Complete pre-survey to: 1) gauge your preparedness for completing an undergraduate degree 2) interest in graduate school 3) knowledge of graduate application procedures 4) understanding of preparedness to succeed in graduate school.  Survey administered via Qualtrics.
  • October of First Year. Complete on-line reflection journal. Prompts will ask to reflect on long-term plans and current support systems. Reflection journal administered via Qualtrics.
  • March of Second Year. Complete on-line reflection. Prompts will ask to reflect on long-term plans and current support systems. Reflection journal administered via Qualtrics.
  • May of Second Year. Complete post survey with similar questions to pre survey. Questions will address how helpful specific programs and activities were. Survey administered via Qualtrics.
  • We may also contact you in the future, after you have graduated, for a follow up survey.
  • May of Second Year.  One on One Exit Interview: Questions will be asked about post-graduation plans during a face-to-face exit interview. The exit interview will focus on understanding how you developed an interest in graduate school and allow you to reflect on what made you feel prepared to succeed in graduate school. The interview will involve questions regarding your graduate school plans, challenges you may have faced and your experience with our support systems. The interview should last about one hour. Follow up questions for clarification may be needed and will be emailed by the evaluator.

Study time

Pre Surveys will be sent in the Spring of the first year. The survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. You will have 2 weeks to complete it.

Post surveys will be sent in Spring of the second year.  The survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.You will have 2 weeks to complete it.

Reflection journals will be sent in Fall of the first year and Spring of the second year. Each journal should take approximately 30 minutes to complete. You will have 2 weeks to complete each journal.

One hour exit interviews will be conducted in Spring of the second year, prior to graduation in person by Dr. Amelink. Follow up questions for clarification, based solely on information that was discussed in the main interview, may be needed and will be emailed by the evaluator. A follow up email, if needed, will be sent within 10 days of the interview and may require 30 minutes to respond.

Total estimated time commitment for participants 3 hours over 1.5 years.

Study location
The surveys and journals will take place on-line via Qualtrics link. Both surveys and journals can be completed at the time and place of your choosing. The exit interview will take place in 225 Bechtel.

There are no direct benefits to the participant. However, we hope that the information gained from the study will help show that structured cohort support programs for community college students who transfer into a four year institution can help increase the number of these students continuing on to graduate school.


  • Some of the research questions may make you uncomfortable or upset. You are free to decline to answer any questions you don't wish to, or stopping at any time.
  • Breach of confidentiality: As with all research, there is a chance that confidentiality could be compromised; however, we are taking precautions to minimize this risk.

Your study data will be handled as confidentially as possible. If results of this study are published or presented, individual names and other personally identifiable information will not be used.

To minimize the risks to confidentiality, we will do the following:

  • Create a unique number that is neither your student ID nor email addresses to mask your identity. Once you are assigned a number unique identifier fields (email addresses, student ID numbers, etc.) will be removed from the data.  Only the analyst will ever see the fully identified data using a key that will password protected and encrypted.  The coded data is the data that will be stored as part of the project.  It will be stored on Berkeley computers and kept in locked rooms with access restricted to authorized personnel.  Any files created as part of the project to map keys to student IDs or email addresses will be destroyed at the end of the project.
  • Personal identifiers such as your name (from the interview) will not be included in any notes or reports. All data will be password protected and encrypted.
  • Your research records, including surveys, reflection journal and interview responses, will be stored the UC Berkeley Box storage system with access limited the research team: Dr. Kara Nelson, Andrew Eppig, Meltem Erol and Catherine Amelink.
  • We recommend you close your browser after completing surveys and journals to protect your privacy.

Future use of study data:
The research data will be maintained for possible use in future research by myself or others. The data will be retained indefinitely. The same measures described above will be taken to protect confidentiality of this study data.

You will not be compensated for your participation in this study.

Participation in research is completely voluntary.
You have the right to decline to participate or to withdraw at any point in this study without penalty or loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled.


If you have any questions or concerns about this study, you may contact:

If you have any questions or concerns about your rights and treatment as a research subject, you may contact the office of UC Berkeley's Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects, at
510-643-5023 or

We will also be tracking your grade point average and matriculation status each semester of your participation in this study. If you agree to take part in this research and for the researchers to track your academic record, please print a copy of this page for future reference, then click on the accept button below.


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