Guidelines for Computing Course Credit/Contact Hours

UAF Faculty Senate policy was recently updated in spring of 2015 to reflect changes to UA Regulations at R10.04.090 F.2 which state that, "A credit hour is an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates not less than: 1) one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or 2) at least an equivalent amount of work for other academic activities as established by the institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours. Equivalencies to this standard may be approved by the chief academic officer of the university or community college.”

One academic credit hour of non-laboratory instruction at UAF will consist of 800 minutes of lecture or equivalent instructional activities plus 1600 minutes of student work outside of class (Meeting #206, April 6, 2015; reference past motions from Meeting #180, February 6, 2012; Meeting #141, February 5, 2007; Meeting #3, March 25, 1988).   It is understood that an average student will be expected to spend 1600 minutes of study and preparation outside of class in order to meet the learning objectives for the unit of credit in lecture or equivalent instructional activities. 

Related to credit hours is the length of the semester.  This was established as Senate policy, "The UAF Faculty Senate moves to establish a 14-week instructional period for the Fairbanks campus with provision for an additional examination period during each semester."  (FS meeting #21, October 15, 1990)

From Motion passed at Meeting #206 (April 6, 2015):

A credit hour represents an amount of work that reasonably approximates not less than:

  1. one hour of classroom or other faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or
  2. at least an equivalent amount of work for other academic activities, including laboratory work, internships, practice, studio work, and other academic work.

The following standards establish the minimum requirements for one academic unit of credit for the course formats commonly used at UAF:

  1. 800 minutes of lecture or equivalent instructional activities plus 1600 minutes of student work outside of class.
  2. 1600 minutes of laboratory (or studio or other similar activity) plus 800 minutes of student work outside of class.
  3. 2400  minutes  of  laboratory  (or  studio or other similar activity)
  4. 2400 - 4800 minutes of supervised practicum
  5. 2400 - 8000 minutes of internship (or externship, clinical)
  6. 2400 - 4800 minutes of supervised scholarly activity

Credit hours may not be divided, except one-half credit hours may be granted at the appropriate rate.  

For short courses and classes of less than one semester in duration, course hours may not be compressed into fewer than three days per credit.  Any existing semester-long course that is to be offered in a “compressed to less than six weeks” format must be approved by the college or school's curriculum council and the appropriate UAF Faculty Senate Committee (SADA, Core Review, Curriculum Review or GAAC). Any new course proposal must indicate those course compression format(s) in which the course will be taught.  Only approved course formats will be allowed for scheduling.

Given the above information the formula used for computing credit/contact hours is 800 minutes (13.3 hrs) per credit.  This equates to approximately 1 hour of lecture per week for a normal 14 week semester.  For courses that do not employ lectures, but that are intended to achieve learning outcomes equivalent to those of a lecture course (e.g., some eLearning classes), 800 minutes of structured instructional activities are expected per credit, in addition to at least 1600 minutes/credit of other work that the student completes independently.  “Structured instructional activities” is not restricted to mean synchronous interaction with an instructor, but rather faculty-designed instructional activity intended to facilitate student learning.

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From existing guidelines:

Practica, internships, and supervised scholarly activity differ from lab instruction in that there is no structured daily educational exercises nor daily instructor evaluation, and a significant portion of the activity is not supervised by the instructor of record. 

A practicum is a hands-on supervised work experience done by a student either as part of or in conjunction with an academic class as an educational strategy to attain the class objective.  A faculty member, usually the class instructor, supervises the work, establishes the objectives and evaluation metrics, evaluates the outcome and assigns a final grade.   Credit for practica requires a minimum of 2400 minutes of work per credit in addition to the contract hours of the associated class (e.g., a 3 credit class would require a minimum of 7200 minutes of practicum work).  Whether the practicum is embedded in the associated class or whether it is listed as a separate class, the same metric applies.  Credit for class-related practica can range from 1-3 credits for any given class.  Diversion from these guidelines can be granted if discipline or accreditation specific requirements for practica exist. 

An internship (also called externship or clinicals as discipline-specific terms) is a supervised work experience which is a capstone experience tied to a student's major or career goal.  The internship involves a student working in an agency or other professional setting under the supervision of a designated practicing professional.  The UAF faculty member serves as the instructor of record, approves the work activities and goals, and evaluates the outcomes.  The instructor also assigns a grade upon review of the completion of the assignments.  Credit for internship can range from 1-15 and requires a minimum of 2400 minutes of work (3 hours/week for 14 weeks) with the employer for each credit earned.  Diversion from these guidelines can be granted if discipline or accreditation specific requirements for internships exist (e.g., NCATE accreditation for teacher certification programs). 

A supervised scholarly activity is one where the student meets at least once a week with the instructor to discuss progress and future plans, but the work itself is basically unsupervised.  A UAF faculty member serves as the instructor of record and approves the work activities and goals, evaluates the outcomes, and assigns the final grade.  Activities are part of a formal course; otherwise they are simply "research" or "thesis" credit.  The student must prepare a final written or oral report on the work performed.  Credits for typical scholarly activities should be awarded at a rate of 2400-4800 minutes of work (3-6 hours/week for 14 weeks) per credit. 

Following the title of each course, the number of credits is listed for each semester.  Thus "3 credits" means three credits may be earned.  Credit may not be given more than once for a course unless a course has been designated as repeatable for credit.  Figures in parentheses at the end of course descriptions indicate the number of lecture; laboratory; and practicum, internship, or scholarly activity hours the class meets each week for one semester.

Generally a 1 credit course meets once a week for 1 hour for 14 weeks, plus a 2 hour final (1+0).  A 3 credit course meets 3 hours a week for 14 weeks, plus a 2 hour final (3+0).  A science course for 4 credits typically meets for 3 lecture hours and 3 lab hours for a 14 week semester plus a 2 hour final (3+3).  An Art course for 3 credits meets 1 lecture hour and 4 lab hours for 14 weeks plus a 2 hour final (1+4).  An internship meets at varying times during the semester as scheduled by the individual student and instructor, but includes supervised work in a professional setting for 3-10 hours per week for a 14 week semester.  A student who worked 9 hours weekly could earn 1, 2, or 3 credits as determined by the faculty to be appropriate for the discipline (0+0+9). 

Examples of credits hours are:  (1+0) 1 credit, (3+0) 3 credits, (3+3) 4 credits, (1+4) 3 credits, or (1+0+40) for 6 credits, where the first number is the lecture hours, the second number is the lab hours, and the third number is practicum/internship/scholarly activity hours.

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