Higher Education

, Volume 77, Issue 4, pp 717–738 | Cite as

Prestige or education: college teaching and rigor of courses in prestigious and non-prestigious institutions in the U.S.

  • Corbin M. CampbellEmail author
  • Marisol Jimenez
  • Christine Arlene N. Arrozal


It is often assumed that higher prestige colleges and universities, via the rankings, have a better quality of education. Yet, the prestige structure in U.S. higher education favors resources, research, and student selectivity over teaching and undergraduate educational practices. Using quantitative observational data from 587 courses across 9 institutions of higher education in the U.S., this study examines whether courses in high prestige institutions have stronger teaching and academic rigor than courses in lower prestige institutions. Using a broad scale observational protocol, the study provides a closer look at course practices as they unfold, while also examining trends across contexts. Findings show initial evidence that the assumption that higher prestige institutions in the U.S. have better in-class educational experiences could be re-examined.


Higher education Prestige College teaching Academic rigor Observation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Corbin M. Campbell
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marisol Jimenez
    • 1
  • Christine Arlene N. Arrozal
    • 1
  1. 1.Teachers CollegeColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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