• September 2, 2015

Credit Hours Should Be Worth the Cost, House Panel Members Say

The day that the Education Department released proposed rules to define a credit hour, Congressional Democrats took an accrediting agency to task for not setting minimum standards for how much time students must spend in the classroom.

The U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor heard testimony on Thursday from the Education Department's inspector general and Sylvia Manning, president of the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, one of the nation's major regional accrediting organizations. Late last year, the department's inspector general recommended that the department consider limiting, suspending, or terminating the commission's authority as a federally approved accreditor after the commission gave its stamp of approval to American InterContinental University, despite a review that found the institution had inflated the amount of credit it was awarding for a small group of courses.

As a result of that recommendation, the Higher Learning Commission is negotiating with the department on ways to set more explicit standards for a credit hour "without being prescriptive," Ms. Manning said at the hearing.

The standard of a credit hour, which is not actually a full 60 minutes in most cases, is deeply embedded in higher education as a benchmark for earning a degree. But the definition of what constitutes a credit hour has become muddled in recent years with the increase in online education.

The Education Department is seeking to bring some clarity to that issue with its proposal to define the credit hour as one hour of classroom instruction and two hours of student work outside the classroom over 15 weeks for a semester and 10 to 12 weeks for a quarter. Institutions and accreditors, however, would have some flexibility under the proposals to develop alternative measures.

Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat who is chairman of the House education committee, said defining a credit hour is critical to ensure that students and taxpayers, through federal financial aid, are not footing the bill for courses that are not worth the amount of credit being awarded.

If it's a for-profit institution that is getting more money for a course than it's really worth, Mr. Miller said, then the awarding of credit hours could become a part of a company's business plan to bolster profits.

A 'Mushy' Concept

Ms. Manning said her organization shares committee members' concerns about the rising cost of higher education and accountability for federal aid dollars. But strictly defining a credit hour is a complex issue, she said, because credit is now related more to what students should learn during a course than the amount of time they spend in the classroom.

"Anyone who has ever taught or taken a class knows the concept of credit hours is mushy," Ms. Manning wrote in her prepared testimony to the committee.

Instead of setting a strict definition of what a credit hour should be for an institution, the commission relies on its peer reviewers—typically drawn from a corps of faculty members and administrators at similar institutions—to determine if the content of courses is compatible with the amount of credit a college awards for them, Ms. Manning said.

In the case of American InterContinental, the commission was able to persuade the institution to correct the credit hours it was awarding for the specific courses, she said. If the commission had simply denied accreditation to the institution, the college would have kept awarding the inflated credit because it was already accredited by another regional organization, she said.

Democrats on the committee, however, were critical of the commission for accrediting American InterContinental before seeking to correct the deficiencies in credit hours and pressed Ms. Manning on whether a more specific definition of credit hour would prevent such a problem in the future.

Rep. Timothy H. Bishop, Democrat of New York, said he found the state government's strict limits on credit hour helpful when he was provost of Long Island University's Southampton College. He asked what would be the harm of having a minimum definition of that standard.

Ms. Manning replied that having a definition of what constitutes a credit hour won't do any harm, but it also doesn't help accreditors or institutions set a standard for how much students are learning.


1. dsepper - June 18, 2010 at 07:43 am

Ms. Manning seems to be confused, though I am not surprised. Here is how it works: A three-hour course, which is usually part of a major or other program offering, presents material that a student at the appropriate level *should* learn by spending three academic hours in class and six hours outside of class on the course. The "quantity" of expected learning crucially depends on the level: a freshman course at the 1000-level, a major course at the 3000-4000 level, a graduate course at the 6000 level are quite different in what they expect the student to bring to the course and to take away from it. (An average freshman would have to do a lot more studying and making up of background even to pass a 4000-level course for majors.)

What the student actually learns and how much time it takes varies according to many factors, not least the preparation and effort of the student. A brilliant student taking an advanced major course may already know most of the material before signing up, the average major will have a general familiarity though most of the material will be new, the transfer student coming from a school with a weak program in this major might feel like s/he is in a new world. Programs are not necessarily designed for the needs of the brilliant student, so that's both why there might be alternative ways to gain credit but also minimum compulsory requirements to make sure that the student is properly initiated into the concepts, theories, and methods of a discipline (brilliant students can be idiosyncratic--they might be able to pass a written exam but not have disciplined themselves to apply appropriate research methods).

The farther away from the course and the discipline the accreditor or institutional administrator is, the less suitable their standpoint for setting standards for how much a student *should* learn in a course.

2. cofcssm - June 18, 2010 at 08:10 am

I've read with interest about this ongoing debate....doesn't North Central require Student Learning Outcomes assessments from its members?? SACS certainly does -- learning outcomes, not "seat time" are what matter in college/grad school. If I can understand the material with one hour in class and 15 min of homework, then why should the university demand that I spend two hours outside of class. Our state actually defines "credit hour", but only for in-class/lab work. It seems silly to try to mandate student behaviour outside of class. Seems to me that North Central and its members would do well to take a lesson from the Southeast and start holding institutions accountable to deliver the LEARNING they promise, not the minutes.


3. bernardjsmith - June 18, 2010 at 08:20 am

Perhaps those in higher ed really need to rethink the issue of credit hours. Aren't they a metric that purports to measure a desired outcome (competency) by measuring an input (seat time).

4. bdbailey - June 18, 2010 at 08:25 am

This also ignores legitimate, but alterative ways that credit can be earned, like experiential learning, and Prior Learning Assessments.

5. rplegon - June 18, 2010 at 08:30 am

A seat time standard made sense when the only way to access college courses was to be present in the classroom for lectures, demonstrations, discussions, exams, etc. Distance learning has changed all this - forever - through online and blended courses that can achieve the same results with reduced time in the classroom or none at all. During this transitional phase, It makes sense to establish the amount of material to be covered and the learning to take place in a course through traditional and established credit hour=contact hour examples. But, once those content and learning benchmarks are in place, these should become the reference points to judge whether courses in non-traditional formats are awarding appropriate numbers of credits. This judgment is the proper role of academically sound accrediting teams, not government regulators.

6. 11182967 - June 18, 2010 at 08:38 am

But wasn't the initial issue with the HLC over online classes? The concept of "butt-time" as a measurement of credit is incerasingly anachronistic in an age of online and blended classes. On the other hand, we've had correspondence classes for years, so the notion of measuring credit by something other than formal time input is hardly new. This issue is part of a broader attempt to measure education (and credentials) by output rather than input, results rather than effort. This will be a challenge for many faculty, but the concept isn't exactly new--haven't we all had to explain to students that (after elementary school at least) they don't get a grade for effort? Once we accept that our business is to measure output then an input like butt-time simply becomes irrelevant. A credit earned should be measurable independent of the format of instruction or definitions of input.

7. unabashedmale - June 18, 2010 at 09:25 am

The question real is about cost effectiveness of federal funds in an online education environment.

Three questions are crucial to the debate:

First, how much effort is the student actually spending per credit in order to learn the material and earn a grade? Seat time & testing is an easy measure. Online who knows?

Second, who is actually taking the course online? Is it the person that the federal funds are being paid for, or someone else?

Third, online has virtually no overhead compared to a brick & mortar institution. If the tuition (and federal monies committed) is the same in both cases, then the institution is either making exorbitant profits, or it is extremely inefficient in course delivery.

8. 11182967 - June 18, 2010 at 10:15 am

Much of the "overhead" for online courses lies in the development costs and the ongoing purchase and maintenance of hardware and software. These costs are not insignificant. Hardware has to be robust, usually requiring backup systems. Software updates frequently, requiring reinstallation (often into a larger campus system of constantly updating software). Faculty must be trained in using the course tool (and updates require retraining).

Most institutions pay faculty to create online versions of classes. This is usually much more labor intensive than creating a new lecture course since it involves mastery of course tools systems and multimedia, as well as recasting assignments and testing instruments. Many faculty also indicate that the actual instruction take much more time since they are likely to have to interact with students on a much more individual basis--online classes are not simply the broadcasting of a lecture.

Further, much of this technology is now used in blended classes which require both circuitry and bricks and mortar. And then there are the implications of possible changes in "fair use" which will likely result in the same sort of revolution which has transformed the music industry. What used to be free may soon no longer be.

This is not to say that that there are no cheap, academically questionable online classes out there in Virtual U. But as online and blended instruction matures it is more likely that quality will prevail in the market--if we learn to produce and measure quality by end results.

9. bstevens - June 18, 2010 at 10:17 am

I just wish everyone would make an effort to understand the issue, the facts, and the situation before they make stupid statements and useless and counterproductive laws. I suppose everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but one is not entitled to state an opinion as a fact unless one actually knows what one is talking about.

10. tgroleau - June 18, 2010 at 10:27 am

This discussion about defining credit hour is interesting but I think there's a much larger story here: A Congressional committee brought in the President of North Central to question her about North Central's policies.

We have a new federal law specifying when our textbook decisions have to be made and published. There's a push to tie financial aid to measures of gainful employment. Now Congress is sticking their nose into North Central's accreditation standards.

It's easy to point fingers at the schools we think are "doing it wrong" and cheer when the government intervenes but I doubt that most of us want the government camping out at OUR school and telling us how to run things.

Read my 4/14/2010 comment (2nd comment after the article) at http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Obamas-Defunct/22533/

11. joncrispin - June 18, 2010 at 10:33 am

The idea that online course delivery has low overhead is a falsity on many levels. This falls into the trap that "it's just web pages, right?" Hosting, bandwidth, data storage, course development, training, etc... reaches into the millions in a year for any significant amount of course delivery.

It also amazes me the notion that only for profit schools would potentially inflate credit hours in order to garner more funds. If anyone thinks the public institutions wouldn't do this as well then their leaving in a dream world. If this were the case then public institutions would not raise tuition every single time the amount of Title IV available increases.

Also, how do traditional private institutions of higher ed get a pass on this entire discussion?

12. educationfrontlines - June 18, 2010 at 10:51 am

No one is awarding Carnegie Units (K-12) or credit hours (tertiary) for "mere seat time." To assert that is to belittle the work teachers and professors do to evaluate their students.
A student who merely puts in the "seat time" will get an "F" and have to "sit again." The Carnegie Unit for K-12 is 120 hours in one course, usually meeting 4-5 times a week in 40-60 minute classes for 36-40 weeks. The credit hour of course is the class hours (usually a 50 minute "hour") per week in college with multipliiers for labs and practica. In some states, there is a minimum of 15 contact hours required for one credit hour. The inability of online courses to demonstrate such time is the driving force for this movement.

Yet, we do not let medical students sit for the board exams until they have finished medical schools and we do not let law students sit for the bar exam until they have finished law school. Why do we have this so-called "seat time" requirement? Because the exams are merely a dipstick measure of a small portion of the complex presentation and surgical skills required by the practitioner. You do not learn to argue a case or perform surgery by studying for a written test. You only learn that over time in the company of teaching professionals. Simply, advocates of replacing credit hours and Carnegie Units do not see a difference between an education and an examination (Chu Hsi, 1199). The movement in K-12 toward teach-to-the-test and high stakes exit exams has moved us toward a national standardized curriculm and has eliminated the K-12 academic freedom that provided the variable and creative teaching that was a hallmark of U.S. education. We cannot ignore the fact that learning takes time and that a good teacher uses internal-to-course quizzes and tests to calibrate the student learning pace and evaluate each student. Moving to external test-driven "outcomes" ends that academic freedom and responsibility. We only have to look at the K-12 disaster to see its teach-to-the-test effects. At the college level, there are many countries that likewise use standardized "outcomes"---don't expect future Nobel Prizes from those cookie-cutter factories.

Already in my state there are cheap courses and programs that violate the credit hour requirements (both face-to-face but especially online) and many student "customers" are eager to "buy" the easiest courses. This undermines the value of bonafide courses and degrees. The Carnegie Unit and the credit hour are our first line of defense against the awarding of credit for breathing.

John Richard Schrock

13. intered - June 18, 2010 at 11:12 am

In time, historians will point to this period of transition, albeit a long one, from education's "work ethic" in which the primary metrics were indicators of time-on-task to the newer "results ethic" where student learning and how that learning is applied will become primary constructs for institutional effectiveness.

When we reach this point, we will have yet to resolve the question of criterion versus normative referenced learning. It serves this culture's ethic to focus on value added. Many of us don't feel good about the idea of a knowledgeable student receiving an 'A' for doing no work at all while a less knowledgeable student receives a 'C' in the same class but only after putting in many hours of hard work. Yet, these unsettling events will occur in criterion-referenced educational settings where effort is largely irrelevant. The question is, "Can you factor the polynomial or not?"

Value-added calculations of learning outcomes and impact are much less jarring to our general work ethic and, accordingly, represent a smaller step forward from our current preoccupation with effort. How much does the student know, going in? How much does he know, going out? The difference is our product. In some contexts, value added assessments can make a lot of sense. Sculpture and composition come to mind. In other contexts, they are inadequate. We need to know that the student can calculate the correct size for the beam necessary to hold the building. How much his learning increased recently is largely irrelevant.

At the end of this historically significant transition, we will see that we need a blend of both kinds of assessment and, at that time, our longstanding reliance on effort will become largely irrelevant, except, perhaps, to our personal sensibilities. And by the way, we will also see that resource expenditures can now be meaningfully brought into the equation. For the first time, we will be able to examine cost per unit of proficiency and cost per unit of gain.

Does this mean that the feds are simply ignorant of these issues? Of course not. A better view lies in the historical perspective as well. Guaranteed student loans and other forms of aid were, for the most part, established to help students with their finances while they undertook the efforts usual and customary to securing knowledge, credits, degrees, etc. Hypothetically, a rational person would not object to acquiring the knowledge, perspective and wisdom of a bachelor's degree by swallowing a pill. One the other hand, there would be no public interest in providing assistance to the "student" for the "work" it took to "earn" the degree.

The feds are in a difficult place. A theoretical shift in their perspective is called for and they don't manage change well. Clearly there are abuses in the system. I study them daily and in depth. I will tell you that the abuses are no respecter of the type of institutional charter. Only the motivations differ. Because of their size and enormously high taxpayer costs (easily $10,000 more per student per year than the for-profits, including loan default allocations), our public universities contribute the most to these problems.

Reelection-seeking politicians (a 24/7/365 proposition these days) who lack the political will, and accrediting executives who lack the professional sophistication necessary to seek the right kind of solution are part of the problem. Too many individuals want to reduce this issue to sound bites. As my old friend Michael Scriven used to say, "Any idea that will fit into a thimble deserves to stay there." Amen.

- Robert W Tucker

P.S. For other readers, all three points made by #7, @unabashedmale, are provably wrong on conceptual and empirical grounds. Uninformed chatter like this is another part of the problem.

14. 11272784 - June 18, 2010 at 11:44 am

OK, now that we're 50 years past the time when this discussion should have been held, we're getting around to it. IMO the acreditors should handle this with no interference from Congress...part of accreditation is that quality standards and criteris vary based on which body is accrediting. Why should that change? And just wait - in another 50 years "they" will realize that online courses might need to be evaluated differently from face to face courses. I can hardly wait.

15. dwilliams5 - June 18, 2010 at 11:57 am

I'm on board with learning outcomes assessment over seat time. Can the student do the kinds of things (skills or thought processes) that the community of us believe they should be able to do after successfully completing the course?

The issue seems to be, in some disciplines more than others, a lack of common agreement on outcomes. My colleagues in chemistry and mathematics say that their community has pretty standard agreement on what undergraduates at each level should be able to do. In my own discipline, history, it's a little less clear. For my colleagues in literature, they seem to be in disarray. That's not a criticism, just an observation on the state of those disciplines in this moment.

For instance, what should students be able to do when they get out of a course in American Diplomatic History? A group of diplomatic historians might be able to come up with some minimum content facts standards, but then who wants to focus on minimum content standards? In college, is history about minimum content acquisition or developing ways of thinking or is it acquisition of wisdom? Probably all of the above.

Content standards are like seat time, easier to measure and though often not easy, at least easier to define. I think than the less tangible, though no less important elements, are what get us stuck in the learning outcomes assessment and reporting process.

By the way, Congress is certainly the body to address this. Watch C-SPAN and see how much "butt time" those folks put in. Many of them will say that their effectiveness comes from doing their homework elsewhere (by email, conversations over coffee, stumping in the district on weekends, office hours with constituents, and the like). "Don't measure my seat time, measure my effectiveness," they say every two to six years. Might be cool to dashboard their attendance at general sessions and committees, etc. But, then maybe they'll want to do that with faculty, whose pay is drawn from those federal student grants and loans.

Pot, let me introduce you to Kettle; oh, and this is Skillet.

This last part was not intended to be a constructive observation, sorry. Robert Tucker, I agree wholeheartedly with you, and especially your last body paragraph.

16. softshellcrab - June 18, 2010 at 11:59 am

Great! Rules, standards! I love it. And coming from Democrats, no less! Maybe Hell just froze over. Don't give room for willywogging here. They should have a hard and fast rule for a definite, stated class meeting time (and not too short). 50 minutes is okay. I never know why we can't just call an hour an hour and say 60 minutes. But I can live with 50, which my school uses. But we need definite, rigorous, enforced class meeting times. And while they're at it, they can go after the abusive online programs that have no standards whatsoever (in my school, we won't count online "anything" beyond basic principles -if we know it was taken online, no transfer credit.

17. intered - June 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Please, Mr. Schrock, the assertion that ". . . advocates of replacing credit hours and Carnegie Units do not see a difference between an education and an examination" is illogical and has no basis in fact. Sticking to science for a moment, time-on-task metrics demonstrate weak correlations with behavioral proficiencies and depend on variables exogenous to their construct, such as intelligence, motivation, emotional health, related knowledge, and more. Seat time was a decent metric when college was a boutique business serving the rich and the smart in a pre-cloud world, and the Carnegie unit did a decent job of operationalizing the idea. Do you really believe that learning and measurement sciences have not progressed since 1906? Do you deny that the application of these sciences have made it possible to achieve significant reductions in time-on-task required to achieve standardized proficiencies? Do you believe, as portions of your writing seem to, that time, qua time, is a dependent variable in education?

You rest a good deal of your argument on the professorial evaluation. While I agree with you that this process, if done well, is an integral part of teaching well, are you aware of the embarrassingly low validity of teacher evaluations as practiced today? The same student will be evaluated to a significant difference: by different teachers of the same subject, by the same teacher on different days, if the student's name is changed, and in accordance with the effort the student has been perceived to invest. Looking at the typical MC professorial test, 20-40% of the items show what we call negative discrimination indices, i.e., weaker students have a higher probability of answering the item correctly than stronger students; 10-20% of the items don't contribute to the discrimination of the test at all. This is for MC tests. The findings are worse for most other forms. In contrast, some instructors are diligent in creating and maintaining valid and authentic assessments of student learning and proficiency. Unfortunately, the proportion is too small to justify your reliance in this process. We were unaware of the highly relevant facts in 1906 because we the applicable measurement sciences had yet to be developed. There were no IRT theories and statistics. There were no alpha coefficients, there were no discrimination indices. We had an excuse then. We have none now.

Last, and most important to me, this is the student's game, not ours. We are service providers. If students tell us they care about workplace impact, then that assessment dimension is ethically obligatory upon us. The average age of college students is close to 30. We have no business telling them that seat time matters when they hired us to give them knowledge and skills.

18. akprof - June 18, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I don't see the problem - the proposed definition of a credit hour is exactly what most institutions use, with adaptations for shorter terms (e.g., in a 7.5 wk session, students spend 2 hr/wk in class and 4 hours/wk outside of class for one credit!! The emergence of on-line courses makes things a bit muddier, but I would be surprised if any of my on-line students didn't agree that they spend approximately 4 hr/wk of activity (on-line, reading, completing assignments) for each credit of the course. And if someone cam complete the work with an hour/wk less of class, perhaps those are the students who are simply more capable on the topic!

19. gahnett - June 18, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Seat time is definitive. Learning is relational.

Setting a "minimum" standard such as amount of hours put in is harmful if those students who understand the material faster MUST spend the rest of the time thinking about the subject, which can damp enthusiasm for the work. So, I agree with Ms. Manning.

20. gadget - June 18, 2010 at 02:23 pm

This concern over the differing amounts of time needed to learn something is misplaced. A standard such as one hour in direct instruction and two hours in outside work such as reading, homework, organizing notes, etc. is not complicated by the fact that students will enter with different levels of prior knowledge, cognitive abilities, motivation, and so forth. Put it in statistical terms: this means that in a normal distribution of students, 68 percent will spend about this much time in direct and indirect instruction, no matter how that occurs. The remaining students will spend less or more time depending on the various external factors. This does not seem difficult as a course design objective, and can be periodically assessed with student data.

BTW, when I went to college, we told the rule of thumb was three hours of work outside of class for every hour in class.

21. bernardjsmith - June 18, 2010 at 02:23 pm

Unabashedmale: Measuring "seat time" is easy but that does not make such measurements meaningful or valuable. Measuring competence is harder and it just may be a mite more significant. if we were more prepared to measure outcomes rather than inputs then it would not really matter whether student A with a great deal of knowledge takes a study with student B who has to really struggle to master the same material(Intered)) If what we are looking for is adequate mastery of the material then when A can show mastery of community-accepted breadth and depth of knowledge A is acknowledged and when B can demonstrate similar breadth and depth , B is acknowledged.
rplegon has it right, I think.

22. intered - June 18, 2010 at 03:43 pm

@bernardjsmith: Your comment seems to misunderstand my point about effort. Aside from that, the solution you imply rests on criterion-referenced logic which, as I said, is appropriate for much, perhaps the majority, of instruction and learning in higher education. However, there are many legitimate contexts in which norm-referenced logic is at least as as appropriate (i.e., a balance of each is sought in the assessment) or is more appropriate than criterion referencing (i.e., the assessment is correctly norm-referenced). You dismiss these contexts in your reference to my comments.

Separately, while I note that you, @rplegon, others, and I are in agreement as to the largely irrelevant nature of seat time, I do not agree that the basis for this claim is contingent upon changes in the learning environment or platform. Irrespective of platform and pedagogy, we need not guess as to the empirical relations between proxy measures, such as time-on-task metrics (of which seat time is among the more common), and the dependent variable learning (however defined in a specific context). These relations have been studied for decades. As I indicated, aggregate time-on-task measures show statistically significant but modestly low correlations with valid, independent assessments of the learning outcomes of interest. It is quite likely that these same correlations obtained in 1906 but we lacked the conceptual and methodological sophistication to determine them.

Thus, seat time was never a great metric, it was merely the best one we had available to us at that time and, given the vastly narrower range of inputs into the system of higher education in 1906, it was possible for that small number of professors teaching a small number of students to calibrate seat time against other metrics to arrive at solutions that were as good as we were capable of knowing. That time is long past. Now and in retrospect, then, seat time is a weak proxy metric for what we care about. The exception is government aid which was designed to support the effort normally required to earn degrees. Many changes in the educational environment, including modern learning sciences and schools playing scientifically unjustified games with credit hours and time-on-task have skewed the results of governments' polices to provide assistance.

23. susangautsch - June 18, 2010 at 04:58 pm

goes to show, when you're measuring seat-time, you're measuring the wrong end of the student.

24. profmomof1 - June 18, 2010 at 06:20 pm

At my institution we also have the opposite situation -- departments that have courses with enormous amounts of in-class time required for few credits -- in one case, there's a 6-credit graduate course that has in-class lecture and demonstration for 15 hours per week, plus students put in at least 10 hours a week outside of class. Instead of making it a 12-credit course or prioritizing and cutting out material, this is done so that the department can cram more and more stuff into the course. Trying to teach every single fact known in that field. And then also the faculty have to teach more credit hours than otherwise would be allowable by the faculty contract. So if we have minimum standards, should also have maximum standards.

Some comments on the online discussion -- any genuine online program has provisions in place to ensure that the person getting the credit for the course is the one taking it -- they require exams to be taken at a well-proctored center where you have to show ID. This also adds to the overhead, as that means a multi-computer test center has to be funded, with a group of trained proctors, and staff to coordinate scheduling of the various individual tests, etc. And just administering an online program, working with faculty development and reviewing quality and workability of online courses, helping students with technical issues, etc. requires a fairly extensive and technologically educated staff and their offices and facilities.

25. commserver - June 18, 2010 at 06:26 pm

Why the concern about credit hour? I have heard of teachers 'talking' the whole period and teachers who have a lesson plan and know what they are going to teach.

The concern about online courses is also of some dubious nature. If a course evolves around the delivery of lessons via computer technology then the ability of the student to watch the webcam as often as needed to get the necessary understanding is important. I would like to see a student in a real classroom setting up a video camcorder and recording the class.

When my wife was getting her MBA in finance she would tape record the lecture and then transcript it. This isn't easy since there might be problems with the sound quality.

26. linpol811 - June 19, 2010 at 01:31 am

I have previously taken online courses and am enrolled in one now. It is difficult to determine how much time is actually needed outside of a course. This week only required 6 hours of work. Next week will require more because of the nature of the assignment. It takes some major effort to stay on track even though the instructor is there to guide. Individuals responsible for defining credit hour should take other possible factors into consideration when making the decision.

27. cerebellum - June 21, 2010 at 10:38 am

I'm a little frustrated with the "links" in this report. The link in the first line of the article takes you to a Chronicle article that says nothing about proposed rules to define a credit hour.

The link in the 1st line of the 5th paragraph (proposal) takes you to a page not found error. It would be useful to have clear and concise information about the proposed standards, but the Chronicle has not provided this.

28. amiller - June 21, 2010 at 10:55 am

Interesting discussion above. However, most seem to missing the point. Accrediting agencies are charged with sorting the legitimate organizations of higher education from the many scam operations out there. As one of my friends frequently notes, "Education is about the only commodity that the customer is willing to pay more for less." (MB) So what criteria should be used? Credit hour to "contact hour" or only outcomes assessment or a combo? The public needs to be protected. When a business hires someone a BA or MBA, aren't certain knowledge and skill sets expected? When a student pays good money (or the public pays because we often subsidize) for an education, what assurances are there that even though the student may want the easiest and quickest route, we still deliver what is needed?

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