The focus of this paper is to illustrate the use of graphic elicitation, in the form of a relational map, to explore community college transfer student (CCTS) identity, development, and engagement at four-year institutions. Using graphic elicitation illuminated aspects of CCTSs that they may not have been able to otherwise verbalize, and was used in combination with interview questions designed to capture participants' development and engagement, investigating how they made meaning of their institutional experiences. A constructivist grounded theory approach was applied, given the lack of available literature pertaining to CCTSs in these areas. This paper draws upon and contributes to the current graphic elicitation literature and provides a detailed outline of the study’s research design and thorough justification of the use of a relational map. The interview questions and relational maps worked in tandem to uncover theoretical themes that contributed to findings. The study's methodological approach, design using graphic elicitation, and limitations are discussed in addition to potential future research using graphic elicitation techniques.


Qualitative Research, Graphic Elicitation, Grounded Theory, Relational Maps, Transfer Students, Student Development Theory

Author Bio(s)

Sheri K. Rodriguez is an Associate Director of Academic Advising at Rowan University. Her research interests focus on college student development theory for non-traditional and underserved populations, community college transfer students, and higher education policy. She is also interested in using grounded theory to explore populations that have not been thoroughly researched. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: rodriguezs@rowan.edu.

Monica Reid Kerrigan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Services and Leadership. Her research interests include evidence-based decision making, performance accountability in higher education, and the role of state and federal policy in post-secondary education reform, particularly in community colleges. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: kerriganm@rowan.edu.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.