ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

The Cost of Chaos in the Curriculum

November 2015 by Elizabeth D. Capaldi Phillips & Michael B. Poliakoff

ACTA's report The Cost of Chaos in the Curriculum reveals that the vast array of course choices given to college students is a cause of exploding costs and poor academic outcomes. And a bloated undergraduate curriculum is particularly detrimental to the success of students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The report documents how at most colleges and universities an expansive list of general education choices have replaced the thoughtful and efficient core curriculum that was previously part of every student’s college education, and that by restoring a thorough and efficient core curriculum, colleges could save nearly 10% of educational costs per semester. The report also shows that graduation rates are higher with such a curriculum, and appropriate foundational courses provide what students need for success in career, community and citizenship.


SELECTED FINDINGS

SUMMARY: The baccalaureate degree offered by American colleges and universities has developed over time into a peculiar blend of a focused major along with a wide range of courses that students choose largely at will. Even the so-called core curriculum, or general education, commonly contains a broad range of distributional choices, sometimes numbering into the thousands. Throughout the nation’s history, leading educators have questioned the effectiveness of a system built on the specialized interests of faculty and often uninformed choices of young adults. Equally disturbing is the enormous cost of the ever-increasing number of majors and the vast number of elective or distributional courses, often underenrolled, that departments list. Chaos in the curriculum can have dire consequences for an institution’s long-term fiscal future, while doing untold damage to students’ academic progress, evident in lower graduation rates and in the absence of the intellectual community that was once the hallmark of a rich liberal arts education.

Press

Why Harvard Is Not a Model for Responsible College Curriculum

The Daily Signal
December 9, 2015 by Eric Bledsoe |

If the price of milk increased at the same rate as public university tuition, today a gallon would cost $14.72. To put this into perspective, the cost of public higher education rose an astounding...

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Costly Chaos in the Curriculum

Economics21
January 7, 2016 by Christine Ravold |

The Committee for Economic Development has provided one of the grimmest statistics in higher education, where there is already plenty of bad news. Between 1981 and 2011, the “sticker price” of...

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