Using cluster analysis for transcript analysis of course-taking patterns of General Studies graduates at Community College of Philadelphia

Wayne Steven Obetz, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Many community colleges offer an Associate in General Studies (A.G.S.) degree. This degree is characterized by its flexibility in accommodating the individual transfer and career goals of students. The requirements for this degree tend to be less demanding and less rigorous than the requirements for other degrees. Students graduate without taking courses in specific fields and without acquiring specific skills. Community colleges are being called upon to demonstrate that students are enrolled in well-defined curricula with explicitly stated learning outcomes. In order to improve the delivery of services to its students, community colleges must examine the curricular experiences of their A.G.S. graduates. Typically this would call for a transcript analysis, a costly and time-consuming process. This study makes use of cluster analysis to identify discrete groups of A.G.S. graduates from the Community College of Philadelphia. The course-taking patterns of the eighteen clusters identified are examined to determine if they represent some sort of informal curricular structure. The patterns of course-taking are similar in many clusters. Three general types of course-taking patterns emerged: (a) those who took courses which closely followed the program requirements of other curricula at the college; (b) those who organized their studies around a core set of courses shared with others, but not formally recognized by any of the other curricula of the college; and (c) those with no apparent pattern in their course-taking. The institutional implications of each course-taking pattern are examined, and recommendations for reform are put forth.

Subject Area

Community colleges|Curricula|Teaching

Recommended Citation

Obetz, Wayne Steven, "Using cluster analysis for transcript analysis of course-taking patterns of General Studies graduates at Community College of Philadelphia" (1998). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9829964.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI9829964

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