Antecedents and correlates of course cancellation in a university "drop and add" period

Elisha Babad, Tamar Icekson, Yaacov Yelinek

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13 Scopus citations


Most institutions of higher education allow students to drop or add courses in the first 2-3 weeks of each term (D&A). Arguing that course cancellation is not merely an administrative issue involving enrollment trends but represents complex decision making processes taken by students, this study investigated antecedents and correlates of course cancellation during a D&A period in 109 elective courses. Student ratings of the teachers (SRT) and characteristics of the syllabi distributed in the first class session were investigated as predictors of course cancellation. Rates of cancellation were significantly predicted from SRT and from syllabus workload difficulty-lower quality teachers (SRT-based) and more difficult courses (syllabus-based) being cancelled more frequently. Analysis of a sub-sample of truly elective, high-priority courses revealed that these correlations were intensified in teacher-centered lecture courses, but nullified in student-centered seminar courses, in which students write independent research papers. The importance of students' course selection and course cancellation as decision making processes, the methodology based on institutional data rather than students' self-reports, and the unique effects of course difficulty on students' decisions were discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-316
Number of pages24
JournalResearch in Higher Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Course cancellation
  • Course difficulty
  • Course selection
  • Institutional data
  • Students' ratings of teachers (SRT)
  • Syllabus analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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