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Multilateral Articulation

Multilateral articulation organises information by subject area, unlike the course to course section of the BC Transfer Guide, which presents transfer information by institution. Where a program has similar outcomes, or similar courses offered across institutions, it is often possible to establish multilateral articulation agreements and construct a multilateral transfer guide. Institutional representatives on articulation committees assess courses collaboratively, comparing each course to a set of outcomes or content statements that have been jointly developed as representing an acceptable standard for the course. The committee accepts responsibility for annually maintaining and updating the resultant transfer guides.

There are a number of reasons for pursuing multilateral articulation. One is a realization that each institution is offering similar courses and that it makes more sense to agree on system-wide articulation than to negotiate course-to-course articulation on a bilateral basis. Examples of this approach are the Calculus I and II, and the Tourism Management transfer grids. However, multilateral grids like these work best when produced in disciplines for which there are no current course to course articulations. If a committee chooses to produce a multilateral grid in an area that is already heavily articulated in the course section of the BC Transfer Guide, it runs a significant risk of creating duplicate information that will often differ from previously established articulations causing confusion for students and institutions.  

An historic reason for multilateral articulation was the inability of receivers to articulate with other receivers and for senders to articulate with other senders during the early years of the BC Transfer Guide. Since there was significant articulation in multiple directions in some disciplines, some articulation committees decided to negotiate multilateral transfer grids that gave a more complete picture of possible articulation pathways than was possible with the BC Transfer Guide at the time. Articulation committees that created multilateral transfer grids included Business Management and Biology. In these heavily articulated disciplines, upkeep of the grids proved to be a significant challenge, despite the best intentions of the articulation committees. With the changes to the BC Transfer Guide that enabled all institutions to send and receive articulation requests, the need for multilateral agreements like these has ended and, in the case of Biology, the courses in the grid were moved into the BC Transfer Guide and the grid retired.

Multilateral articulation is best served as an option for disciplines and institutions that do not list courses in the BC Transfer Guide or have significant numbers of articulation agreements with institutions outside of the BC Transfer System. Articulation committees in areas that are preparatory such as Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English as a Second Language (ESL) have developed multilateral equivalency tables based on agreement on common learning outcomes for the discipline.

In all cases, committees that proceed with the creation of a multilateral grid should define at the outset the process by which current course to course articulations will be reviewed; how often the multilateral grid will be updated; who will be responsible for maintenance; and how discrepancies between the course guide and the multilateral grid will be handled.

Adult Basic Education

The Adult Basic Education (ABE) Programs have established a set of common curricular elements for most of the major courses offered within the ABE curriculum. Each institution is expected to address the outcomes and the core topics listed for each course. Expectations are clarified and changes are agreed to at the annual meeting of each ABE working group, and the results are recorded in the Adult Basic Education Articulation Handbook, published each year by the Ministry of Advanced Education. To quote that Handbook: “It brings order to the Adult Basic Education program area as offered by the post-secondary system and facilitates the transfer of course work and credits between participating institutions.”  Click here for the latest edition of the ABE Handbook.

Articulation within ABE reaches beyond post-secondary institutions, since ABE programs share a common adult graduation credential, the BC Adult Graduation Diploma (BCAGD). Since students regularly can take courses from both sectors and apply the credits earned towards the BCAGD, it is particularly important that the ABE course offered in colleges conform to the outcomes and core topics outlined in the ABE Handbook.

Adult English as a Second Language (ESL)

Similar to ABE programs, ESL programs for adults offered at BC post-secondary institutions are provincially articulated. The information is published by the Ministry of Advanced Education in “Articulation Guide for English as a Second Language Programs in the British Columbia Public Post-Secondary System.” 

In the case of ESL, a significant factor has been the establishing of the Canadian Language Benchmarks. Aligning provincial ESL curriculum to these national standards holds the promise that adult ESL students should be able to move more easily from institution to institution and from province to province, and have their ESL credits recognised.

The ESL Articulation Committee maintains a transfer grid based on a series of outcomes for each level. Each year the grid is revisited and new courses assessed for placement.

Other Multilateral Articulation Agreements

Several other program areas have used this approach to constructing a transfer guide. There is multilateral transfer information in the BC Transfer Guide for Adult Special Education, Applied Business Technology, Calculus I and II, and Anatomy and Physiology.