Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership


This study examined general education at a university and a community college in North Dakota in regard to purpose, structure, content, core, breadth, and coherence. The purpose of the study was to determine actual general education course-taking patterns by all graduates of the institutions and by differentiated majors. The research methodology was a case study and a profile of actual course-taking patterns as recorded on the transcripts of the 1990 baccalaureate degree graduates of the university and the 1989 and 1990 associate degree graduates at the community college.

The profiles of general education coursework at the two institutions were similar. The stated purposes of general education were not directly linked to the general education structure or approved courses. Assessment was not defined. The structure of general education at the two institutions was distributional and spread among four disciplinary fields with some parameters in terms of departments and course selections. The content of the general education coursework completed was largely introductory. Although 50 percent of the total general education enrollments occurred in twenty-seven courses at the university and fourteen courses at the community college, there was an extremely limited pattern of common experiences for all graduates, particularly at the university. Fifty percent of the graduates completed only three courses in common at the university and seven courses in common at the community college. The core of common coursework was greater when differentiated by major; however, the common courses were closely related to the major and not balanced by discipline. Breadth of general education occurred to some degree in social sciences, humanities, and mathematics, but was limited in all other areas. Coursework coherence, measured by sequencing courses according to grade level, demonstrated 50 percent coherence at the community college for freshmen and sophomores but for only seniors at the university.Recommendations from this study included the need to conduct a general education case study at all institutions in the state higher education system, include general education transfer coursework in such a study, review institutional general education policies and practices considering the reported data, and develop general education assessment procedures.