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The surprising persistence of Biglan's classification scheme.

Simpson, A. (2015) 'The surprising persistence of Biglan's classification scheme.', Studies in higher education. . pp. 1520-1531.


Within higher education systems, different institutions deliver different patterns of disciplines. A simple analysis of the structure of that pattern of disciplines across institutions in one higher education system uncovers a surprising relationship. That is, the key dimensions which describe that structure align nearly perfectly with dimensions discovered in a very different context: the Biglan classification scheme. This paper explains correspondence analysis as a mechanism for uncovering structure in simple contingency tables, shows the accuracy of the fit with Biglan's scheme and demonstrates that the analysis also has a measure of predictive validity in its ability to classify previously unclassified disciplines. The study not only acts as a more accurate validation of Biglan's scheme than those previously undertaken, but indicates that a scheme developed in the USA in the 1970s has current validity in a very different higher education system and suggests disciplines as a core genotype of institutions.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Disciplines, Higher education systems, Biglan classification scheme.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published online by Taylor & Francis Group in Studies in Higher Education on 16/12/2015, available online at:
Date accepted:18 October 2015
Date deposited:28 October 2015
Date of first online publication:16 December 2015
Date first made open access:16 July 2017

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