Is a New ‘Gold Standard’ Needed for the Student Credit Unit?

Jane Wellman, is the executive director of the National Association of System Heads, and the founding director of the Delta Cost Project.  In 2003, she joined Tom Ehrlich and a team of researchers on a national study of uses and alternatives to the student credit hour: “How the Student Credit Hour Shapes Higher Education:  The Tie That...

The following quote is from this blog post.

The student credit hour  “system” is the major currency of higher education.  It is a Mobius strip of a measure:  turned one way, it measures academic credits.  Turned another, it’s a measure of resource use, faculty workload, staffing, enrollments, and pretty much everything else.  It is loosely regulated by accrediting agencies (primarily interested in measures of academic credit), and by the federal government (primarily interested in preventing fraud in the administration of Title IV funds).  In economic terms, it is a floating currency; the value of units is quasi-market based and not standard across all institutions and disciplines.  As “non-traditional” types of educational delivery have grown, and along with them use (and potential abuse) of federal student aid, the federal government has pushed toward more prescriptive time-based measures for units, even as the accrediting agency standards have become more permissive, to focus units on assessments of learning and outcomes and less on time. ...

If the problem with the current credit hour system is primarily related to the delivery of financial aid to non-traditional providers, then the fix should be confined to that—and should not leech into an expanded governmental role in academic policy.  By the same token, accreditors and institutions should be doing more to be explicit about their policies for the measurement and awarding of credits.  Total consistency in this matter is probably not a good thing; greater transparency however would be.

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Tags: #Assessment, #ChangeMojo, #CreditHour, SEN, SENv25n41


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