Toward a Common Course Numbering System

Articulation and Transfer

This report examines the issues of articulation, curriculum, and local college implications surrounding the discussion of common course numbering in the California Community Colleges. The passage of SB450, the barriers to transfer, real and perceived, compels educators to explore the advantages and disadvantages of a common numbering system.

Conclusions and Recommendations

As long as colleges have the responsibility to confer their degrees and certificates and the faculty are responsible for validating the meeting of the educational requirements, the academic freedom to determine the educational standards of courses, programs, and educational models must be preserved. To that end, the processes for developing a common course numbering system should preserve the ability to develop and change curriculum for the maintenance of academic integrity.

The development and application of a common course numbering system are possible if the state is willing to put forth the resources for the appropriate articulation and curriculum examination. The Chancellor's office assured the legislature that the system could be developed using existing funds. To that end, the recommendations are made recognizing the Chancellor's Office willingness to fund the appropriate processes.

  1. The Chancellor's Office should conduct an evaluation of the existing articulation efforts including ASSIST and CAN to determine if there are implications for expanding the efforts and processes to include the development and application of a common course numbering system. Consistent with a 1985 CPEC recommendation, we too recommend that the University of California's President Office, the California State University Chancellor's Office, and the Chancellor's Office of the California Community Colleges should study the feasibility of, and make recommendations to the Commission on Postsecondary Education about, adopting CAN numbers for all undergraduate courses offered generally across campuses in each of their segments.
  2. In agreement with the 1985 CPEC recommendation, we believe a uniform course-numbering system is not feasible in California in light of the number of colleges, local governance responsibility, wide range of curriculum development processes, and the astronomical cost which would be required. Therefore, a Common Course Numbering System should serve as a third numbering system, not replace the institution's numbers and titles, and be cross referenced on a state-wide matrix.

    Necessary changes to CAN processes and minimum components of the process used to design the common course numbering system should include:

    1. Predominant Faculty Participation
      1. Discipline faculty forums
      2. Articulation faculty
    2. Processes and resources for faculty to determine the core curriculum content, hours/units involved, and the level of study
    3. Processes which allow and facilitate curriculum development and change in the context of the Common Course Numbering System
    4. Processes which include the appropriate faculty role in decision making
    5. Processes for addressing unresolved issues surrounding course content
    6. Guidelines for structure and function of the Common Numbering System
    7. Processes for maintenance and operation of the Common Course Numbering System.
    8. Statewide training and dissemination of information.
    9. Delineation of an operating budget and the funding source for the Common Course Numbering System
  3. The common course numbering processes should incorporate the following assumptions:
    1. The integrity of an institution as influenced by that institution's control over its curriculum will be respected and preserved throughout the examination, development and implementation of a common course numbering system.
    2. The common course numbering system should not be highly bureaucratic.
    3. The responsibility for determining course equivalencies should lie with the discipline faculty.
  4. California Community Colleges should consider the impact the selected process will have on existing articulation agreements with the University of California and the California State University.