Tracking Student Progress Through the Core Curriculum

Hodara, Michelle; Rodríguez, Olga

Many community college students intend to transfer to four-year colleges. Nationally, about 70 percent of community college students report pursuing Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees. These degrees are also called general education or transfer degrees because they are usually designed for students intending to transfer to a four-year college and pursue a bachelor’s degree.1 Students in transfer-oriented degree programs are primarily liberal arts and humanities majors or academic, non-applied STEM majors.2 These programs often require that students complete a general education “core curriculum.” Tracking student progression through this core curriculum is therefore an important means for community colleges to better understand the performance of large numbers of students who plan to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree. This report demonstrates useful methods for examining student progression through the core curriculum. We carry out analyses at two colleges in two different states, illustrating students’ overall progression through the core curriculum and the relationship of this “core” progression to their college outcomes. By means of this analysis, we are able to identify core curriculum subject areas in which students do well and those in which they struggle, shedding light on courses and subject areas college administrators and faculty may want to target in order to improve outcomes for their students. Our analyses use data from two states with different transfer policies. In one state (State A), legislation requires all public two-year and four-year colleges to offer a 42-credit general education core curriculum. The state mandates that all core curriculum courses completed at one public college are transferable to another public college. However, the state does not have an articulation agreement that guarantees junior standing for transfer students who have completed the core and attained an associate degree. So while students’ core credits will transfer, other courses completed at the community college are not guaranteed to transfer. In the second state (State B), public two- and four-year colleges are required to have a 36-credit core curriculum. In addition, statewide articulation agreements guarantee junior standing at four-year public universities for transfer students who have completed the core and attained an associate degree.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Community College Research Center
Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 12, 2014