Humanities Indicators
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Students Taking Humanities Courses at Community Colleges

One of the key goals of the study was to ascertain how many students in community colleges are touched by the humanities. To determine that, the survey asked for an unduplicated head count of students taking courses in four humanities disciplines (English, history, languages other than English, and philosophy), a count of students taking other humanities courses (either in another discipline or a general humanities course), as well as an unduplicated count of students taking a course in any humanities discipline. Schools were asked to supply unduplicated counts to allow for the possibility that some students take more than one humanities course in a given term (and thereby avoid inflated student counts).

Key findings:

  • Approximately 2.8 million students took a humanities course at a community college in the fall of 2015 (Figure 1).
  • Over 1.7 million students took at least one course in English, and approximately 700,000 students took a history course in fall 2015. Courses in languages other than English (LOTE) drew approximately 300,000 students, while somewhere between 255,000 and 275,000 community college students took a philosophy course. Additionally, between 400,000 and 450,000 students took a course in another humanities discipline or a survey course in the humanities.
  • Approximately 95% of community colleges offered a course or courses in English in fall 2015, and approximately 90% of community colleges offered a course in philosophy (Figure 2). History courses were offered at approximately 75% of community colleges, while almost two-thirds of community colleges offered a LOTE course.[1] Slightly more than two-thirds of institutions offered either a general course in the humanities or a course in a humanities discipline not discussed above.
  • In fall 2015, approximately 40% of all community college students took at least one humanities course (Figure 3). A quarter of students enrolled at community colleges were taking an English course, while students enrolled in history courses accounted for slightly more than 10% of all students. Students taking LOTE courses constituted about 4% of enrollments at two-year colleges, as was true for students taking philosophy courses. Students enrolled in other humanities courses represented approximately 6% of community college students.
  • High school students accounted for approximately 10% of humanities coursetakers at community colleges, but the share varied widely by discipline (Figure 4). High school students constituted more than 14% of the students enrolled in English, history, and LOTE courses. Among students enrolled in philosophy and other humanities courses, however, less than 8% were high school students.

Tables

CC_Fig1: Community College Students Enrolled in Humanities Courses, by Discipline, Fall 2015

The middle bar depicts the estimated enrollment, and the upper and lower bars depict the range of uncertainty.

* Includes: 1) survey courses entitled “Humanities”; and 2) courses coded in colleges’ information systems as humanities but not counted in the other disciplinary categories.

** The estimated value for “Any Humanities Course” is unduplicated and thus less than the sum of the values for the individual disciplines.

For the values underlying this figure, see American Academy of Arts Sciences, Humanities Indicators, “Humanities Education in Community Colleges: A Pilot Study,” https://humanitiesindicators.org/binaries/pdf/HI_Humanities_Education_in_Community_Colleges.pdf (March 2019), appendix, table 6.

CC_Fig2: Share of Community Colleges Offering at Least One Humanities Course, by Discipline, Fall 2015

The middle bar depicts the estimated proportion, and the upper and lower bars depict the range of uncertainty.

* Includes: 1) survey courses entitled “Humanities”; and 2) courses coded in colleges’ information systems as humanities but not counted in the other disciplinary categories.

For the values underlying this figure, see American Academy of Arts Sciences, Humanities Indicators, “Humanities Education in Community Colleges: A Pilot Study,” https://humanitiesindicators.org/binaries/pdf/HI_Humanities_Education_in_Community_Colleges.pdf (March 2019), appendix, tables E1, FL1, H1, P1, and OH1.

CC_Fig3: Humanities Coursetakers as a Share of All Students Enrolled in Community Colleges, by Discipline, Fall 2015

The middle bar depicts the estimated proportion, and the upper and lower bars depict the range of uncertainty.

* Includes: 1) survey courses entitled “Humanities”; and 2) courses coded in colleges’ information systems as humanities but not counted in the other disciplinary categories.

** The estimated value for “Any Humanities Course” is unduplicated and thus less than the sum of the values for the individual disciplines.

For the values underlying this figure, see American Academy of Arts Sciences, Humanities Indicators, “Humanities Education in Community Colleges: A Pilot Study,” https://humanitiesindicators.org/binaries/pdf/HI_Humanities_Education_in_Community_Colleges.pdf (March 2019), appendix, tables E1, FL1, H1, P1, and OH1.

CC_Fig4: Dually Enrolled High School Students as a Share of Humanities Coursetakers in Selected Disciplines, Fall 2015

The middle bar depicts the estimated proportion, and the upper and lower bars depict the range of uncertainty.

* Includes: 1) survey courses entitled “Humanities”; and 2) courses coded in colleges’ information systems as humanities but not counted in the other disciplinary categories.

For the values underlying this figure, see American Academy of Arts Sciences, Humanities Indicators, “Humanities Education in Community Colleges: A Pilot Study,” https://humanitiesindicators.org/binaries/pdf/HI_Humanities_Education_in_Community_Colleges.pdf (March 2019), appendix, tables 10, E5, FL5, H5, P5, and OH5.

Endnotes

[1] The estimates for history and LOTE suggest a decline in the shares of institutions offering courses in history and LOTE since the 1990s, as a 1998 survey estimated that each subject was taught at 96% of the nation’s community colleges. Florence B. Brawer, “Liberal Arts,” New Directions for Community Colleges: Trends in Community College Curriculum, no. 108 (Winter 1999): 20, Table 2.2.