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The Principles of Articulation

The institutions that are members of the BC Transfer System have agreed to adhere to the Principles and Guidelines for Transfer, which are included in their entirety in Appendix II of this document. When considering how to articulate a course for transfer credit, evaluators are faced with numerous decisions. The principles listed below, which are the ones most relevant to the actual articulation process, are intended to guide the process to ensure that courses are articulated fairly and consistently.

Student Centred: Students are the ultimate beneficiaries of the articulation process. The availability of the articulation process assures them that their learning will be appropriately recognized.

  • Students should not have to repeat course content if they have already demonstrated mastery of it.

  • Students should not be denied transfer credit because of technicalities.

  • Students should not be credited with learning that they have not acquired, especially if that learning is fundamental to their advancement to further study, or is a required element of their program of study.

Academic Integrity: Credit transfer agreements should be consistent with the academic integrity of programs and with the right of post-secondary institutions to determine program design and delivery, to determine academic prerequisites, and to establish admission criteria and certification requirements of academic achievement.

Parity of Esteem:Every institution sends and receives students and students request transfer credit for the courses they have taken. Faculty should treat courses from other institutions as they would like their own courses to be treated. In this context, John Dennison, UBC Professor Emeritus of Higher Education and former BCCAT Co-Chair, refers to a "parity of esteem" among institutions as "the ideal goal in a diverse galaxy of post-secondary institutions." (For more info, see bccat.ca/pubs/dennison.pdf), In practice, parity involves such actions as communicating diplomatically, offering constructive suggestions to assist with transferability, avoiding dictating terms of transfer agreements, and providing justification for an award of 'no credit.'

Equivalency: Equivalent means "equal in value, amount, function, [or] meaning". A course submitted for evaluation for articulation purposes will likely never be completely identical to the corresponding course at the receiving institution. The assessment of equivalence involves identifying the degree to which the courses match in content or outcomes.

  • The degree of similarity between the courses should be close enough so that students receiving transfer credit will have the necessary knowledge and background to be successful in more advanced courses.

  • Conditions and restrictions on transfer (such as requiring a minimum grade in the course for credit to be transferable) should not be included unless those same restrictions apply to the equivalent course at the receiving institution, or unless there are clear and defensible reasons for doing so.

Reciprocity: If a receiving institution recognizes a sending institution's course as equivalent to one of its own courses, then the sending institution should in turn determine whether to recognize the receiving institution's course as equivalent. Reciprocity may not be possible in all cases - for example, if there are differences in the level at which the course is taught, the prerequisites, the rigour of the curriculum, or the topics covered - but if articulation has already been established in one direction, this should be taken into account when evaluating articulation requests.

Communication: Prior to beginning studies at another institution, students should have knowledge of and current information about available credit transfer opportunities and limitations. Institutions should be committed to providing, in a routine manner, current and reliable information about transfer of credit policies and procedures, including the right of appeal.

Transparency: Assessment practices should be open to scrutiny. Any individual who assigns transfer credit based on their assessment of a course should be prepared to explain the reasons for their decision, including any influencing factors. Institutions should also be prepared to explain how they process articulation requests. All institutions participating in articulation should have an appeal process available for students who do not agree with the outcomes of an articulation request.

Efficiency: Articulation processes should operate as quickly and simply as possible. Delays in processing requests for transfer credit may affect students' ability to move within and between institutions. However, institutions should also respect the workload of faculty members when assigning evaluations of articulation requests, and should not set unrealistic deadlines for completion of this key phase of the articulation process.

Respecting Disciplinary Expertise: Faculty members or other evaluators are asked to participate in the articulation process because of their specialized knowledge of a subject, discipline, or field. When processing articulation requests, institutions should make evaluators aware of appropriate transfer credit options. However, institutions should not overrule evaluators' decisions on transferability, or on amounts of transfer credit, when these decisions are based on the evaluators' expert knowledge of the specific subject, discipline, or field.

THE 'GOLDEN GUIDELINE' OF ARTICULATION:

Treat all courses as you would want your own to be treated.