Humanities Indicators
Facebook Twitter YouTube
Regional & Institutional Differences in Humanities Education at Community Colleges

The community college sector is diverse, with institutions across the nation varying greatly in size and educational focus. Some focus primarily on vocational training, and others offer a mix of programs but with a substantial focus on preparing students to transfer to four-year colleges and universities. This study makes comparisons among institutions along several dimensions. The most striking findings—which relate to regional differences and contrasts among institutions with different institutional foci—are presented below. (For comparisons by institution size, please see the Appendix to the full report.)This section’s findings include two types of comparisons. The first way in which regions[1] and institution types[2] are compared is in terms of the share of community colleges offering humanities courses (Figures 8 and 10). To determine whether differences exist among regions and institution types (or within them, as far as the share offering different types of humanities courses), one may examine whether the estimated ranges overlap. If there is no overlap, there is evidence to suggest that there is a difference between them. For details as to how to compare groups in this way, see the “Interpreting the Results” section of the Appendix to the full report.

Also examined in this section is the way in which the nation’s humanities coursetakers are distributed across regions and institution types (Figure 9 and Figure 11). In this case, the appropriate point of reference is the share of students taking any course, i.e. share of total student enrollment, which is represented on the graphs by a dashed orange line.

Key Findings:

  • Institutions in the south were less likely to offer LOTE courses (Figure 8).
  • As mentioned above, when comparing groups of institutions in terms of their share of national enrollment in humanities courses, the point of reference should be their share of total enrollment. Community colleges in the south accounted for the largest share of the students taking humanities courses nationally, approximately 38% (over one million in enrollment across all humanities disciplines; Figure 9). This share was proportionate to the region’s share of community college enrollment (35%; represented on the graph as a dashed orange line).
  • Students at western institutions were less likely to be humanities coursetakers than one would expect, based on the share of total enrollment they represented. While western institutions enrolled 33% of the nation’s community college students, they were home to only approximately 26% of humanities coursetakers.
  • The southern region is notable in that while it represented 35% of community college enrollment, it was home to only 24% (approximately) of the nation’s LOTE coursetakers. In contrast, students in the west were more likely to take LOTE classes than one would expect, based on the share of total enrollment they represented.
  • History coursetakers were overrepresented at southern institutions, constituting approximately 45% of the national total (as compared to 35% of total enrollment). Students at midwestern institutions were particularly likely to take philosophy courses, with approximately 28% having done so, although midwestern students were only 20% of the national community college population.
  • When different types of institutions are compared, the data suggest that while English courses were very likely to be offered at every type of institution, colleges with a focus on career and technical education (CTE) were less likely to offer a course in LOTE than other types of institution (Figure 10).
  • Transfer institutions accounted for the largest number of students enrolled at community colleges, with students who attended such institutions representing almost half of the total student population in the fall term of 2015 (not pictured; see table 5 in the Appendix to the full report). Transfer institutions’ share of the humanities coursetaker population was proportionate to this (Figure 11). With approximately 1.3 million students taking at least one humanities course at a transfer institution, this type of institution provided humanities education to a far larger number of students than any other.
  • Transfer colleges accounted for a disproportionately large share of community college students taking courses in LOTE and history (approximately 56% and 53%, respectively, of the students taking such courses). As one might expect in view of the finding that CTE institutions were less likely than other types of schools to offer LOTE courses, students at these institutions were underrepresented among the LOTE coursetaking population.
CC_Fig8: Share of Community Colleges Offering at Least One Course in the Humanities, by Discipline and Region, Fall 2015

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

t All the responding institutions in the northeast offer English; it is possible that some of the non-responding institutions in this region do not offer English.

* Even though an interval extends to 100%, we know that not all institutions in the region offer a course in the discipline.

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

Show More Text...
CC_Fig9: Regional Distribution of Humanities Coursetakers at Community Colleges, by Discipline, Fall 2015

ENG: English • LOTE: Languages Other than English • HIST: History • PHIL: Philosophy

The middle bar depicts the estimated proportion, and the upper and lower bars depict the range of uncertainty. The orange dashed line indicates the proportion of total community college enrollment in each region.

* Oth Hum: Other humanities, includes: 1) survey courses entitled “Humanities”; and 2) courses coded in colleges’ information systems as humanities that were not counted in the other disciplinary categories.

** Any Hum: Any humanities course.

Show More Text...
CC_Fig10: Share of Community Colleges Offering at Least One Humanities Course, by Discipline and Institution Type, Fall 2015

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

t All the responding baccalaureate institutions in this group offer English; it is possible that some of the non-responding institutions of this type do not offer English.

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

** Even though the bounds for the proportion of schools offering English among transfer institutions extends to 100%, we know that there are transfer institutions that do not offer English.

Show More Text...
CC_Fig11: Distribution of Humanities Coursetakers at Community Colleges Across Institution Types, by Discipline, Fall 2015

ENG: English • LOTE: Languages Other than English • HIST: History • PHIL: Philosophy

The middle bar depicts the estimated proportion, and the upper and lower bars depict the range of uncertainty. The orange dashed line indicates the proportion of total community college enrollment in each institution type.

* Oth Hum: Other humanities, includes: 1) survey courses entitled “Humanities”; and 2) courses coded in colleges’ information systems as humanities that were not counted in the other disciplinary categories.

** Any Hum: Any humanities course

Show More Text...

Endnotes

[1] The tabulation uses the US Census Bureau definition for four regions, which includes the following states in each region: Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont); South (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia); Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin); West (Alaska, Arizona , California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming). See Attachment B for details.
[2] To classify the institutions by program focus, the analysis and tables use the Basic Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, gathering the Carnegie subcategories into the following clusters: Career Technical (Associate’s Colleges: High Career Technical-High Nontraditional, High Career Technical-High Traditional, High Career Technical-Mixed Traditional/Nontraditional, Special Focus Two-Year: Health Professions, Special Focus Two-Year: Technical Professions, and Special Focus Two-Year: Other Fields); Mixed (Associate’s Colleges: Mixed Transfer/Career Technical-High Nontraditional, Mixed Transfer/Career Technical-Mixed Traditional/Nontraditional, and Mixed Transfer/Career Technical-High Traditional); Transfer (Associate’s Colleges: Transfer-High Nontraditional, Transfer-Mixed Traditional/Nontraditional, and Transfer-High Traditional); Baccalaureate (Baccalaureate/Associate’s Colleges: Associate’s Dominant and Baccalaureate/Associate’s Colleges: Mixed Baccalaureate/Associate’s). Three of the institutions included in the study were not defined in the 2015 Carnegie universe. These institutions are not included in the Carnegie Classification totals. These institutions are listed in Attachment B.