Assignment of Credit Hours
In its traditional day program, Albright uses a course-unit system to support a greater depth of learning. Each course unit is the equivalent of four credits at schools using a credit system, so the thirty-two units required for graduation is equivalent to one hundred and twenty eight credits. For classes that meet three hours weekly, the fourth credit is earned through alternative learning opportunities that occur outside the classroom and are above and beyond the expected academic readings, homework, and examinations. This is typically referred to as the “fourth-hour of quality.” In the ADP general education courses are four credit hours and major courses are three credit hours. An ADP degree comprises forty-eight credits in major courses and seventy-eight credits in general education and elective courses. All courses taken at Albright College which are credit-bearing and count towards the completion of a degree comply with state of Pennsylvania and federal regulations pertaining to the assignment of credit hours regardless of format or mode delivery, in accordance with requirements of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
I. CREDIT HOUR DEFINITIONS
Pennsylvania regulations state that “A semester credit hour represents a unit of curricular material that normally can be taught in a minimum of fourteen hours of classroom instruction, plus appropriate outside preparation or the equivalent as determined by the faculty” (PA Code, Title 22, section 31.21), using a fourteen-week semester as its typical standard (excluding final examinations). Further, state regulations allow that an “innovative calendar arrangement” is “permitted provided that credits and degrees awarded under the arrangement satisfy the minimum requirements as specified in § 31.21.” The federal definition of credit hour (Title 34, §600.2) states: 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 ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or (2) At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution including laboratory work, internships, practical, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.
Albright courses comply with state and federal guidelines.
II. CREDIT HOUR ASSIGNMENT POLICIES
In the traditional day program, Albright College follows a semester system. Both fall and spring semester classes run for fifteen weeks, which includes one exam week. Albright also offers accelerated course opportunities of varying duration in the traditional day program between semesters, in a January interim and two summer sessions. The ADP offers three or four sessions per semester. Courses meet for five, six, or seven weeks. Regardless of calendar, all courses meet the federal government’s regulations for credit hours.
The faculty is responsible for the curriculum, and the faculty Curriculum Development Committee ensures an appropriate level of outcomes and adherence to scheduling expectations during the new course approval process, which includes syllabus review. The Registrar’s Office reviews the class schedule prior to the start of each semester to ensure that all classes are scheduled for the minimum number of minutes. Any discrepancies are brought to the attention of the academic administration or the academic department for correction. Also, periodic review of academic programs includes a syllabus review by the Curriculum Committee.
Following is a general overview of credit-hour assignment in different instructional scenarios. Note that laboratory courses are non-credit and therefore not included.
Traditional Day Program
1. Lecture and Seminar
Albright uses the course-unit system, equivalent to four credits per unit. The courses in the traditional day program run in fifteen-week semesters for the fall and spring semesters, which includes one final exam week. Lecture and seminar courses typically meet either for three fifty-minute, two eighty-minute or one one hundred and seventy-minute class period(s). All courses that meet three hours per week adhere to a “Fourth Hour of Quality” policy to account for additional instructional hours and meet the requisite sixty instructional hours for the equivalent of four credits. The fourth-hour of quality mandates an extra hour of work outside of class and all syllabi must include a statement about how the fourth-hour will be met. The full policy concerning the fourth hour of quality can be found at http://www.albright.edu/sloan/Fourth%20Hour.html. Classes may also meet their fourth-hour requirement through an additional contact hour, and some do so. Among those that rely solely on contact hours, art studios meet five hours per week. In addition to instructional time, all courses expect two hours of outside work for each in-class hour.
2. Independent Study
Each department provides opportunities for different levels of independent study of topics that no regular course addresses in the desired depth or breadth, and may at times offer as independent instruction courses in the catalog not available to a student in a given semester. The minimal hour requirements and learning objectives are the same as for any other credit-bearing course. The instructor is required to keep a record of the meeting times as well as the academic work required of and submitted by the student. These practices are evidenced in the required course syllabus, which is attached to the Independent Study Proposal form that must be approved by the supervising instructor, the department chairperson, academic advisor, and the dean or provost. Two units of independent study may be counted toward degree requirements.
3. Internship for Credit
Each department provides three levels of internships, each one reflecting the level of expertise and responsibility expected of the student. The minimal hour requirements are the same as for any other credit-bearing course. The student must spend between one hundred and thirty to one hundred and fifty hours on-site. In addition to on-site hours, periodic contact with the instructor overseeing the internship as well as written work are required. The student is required to keep a detailed record of on-site hours, verified by the on-site supervisor. The instructor is required to keep a record of meeting times as well as the academic work required of and submitted by the student. Such practices can be documented by the course syllabus, which is attached to the Student Internship Agreement for Academic Credit and Internships for Credit Procedures; these are approved by the supervising faculty member and the academic dean or designee.
4. Accelerated Courses
January interim and summer courses in the traditional program maintain required minimum contact hours of forty-five hours, plus the fourth-hour of quality and two hours of additional work per every one hour in class, but these classes follow a much more intensive schedule. January interim classes run for a minimum of three weeks. There are two summer sessions; typically summer courses meet for five weeks, although some courses run six to seven weeks. Summer and interim courses cover the same content and contain the same student learning outcomes as courses taught during the regular semester. The Registrar advises faculty of credit hour needs when announcing the request for summer or interim courses, and reviews all class schedules once submitted prior to student registration. Syllabi document instructional time and outside work.
5. On-Line and Hybrid Courses
A limited number of on-line courses are offered in the traditional day program over either January interim or summer sessions. On-line courses deliver all instruction via technology with no face-to-face instructional time. Hybrid courses offer twenty-five to fifty percent of course activities outside of face-to-face instruction. Both online and hybrid courses follow expectations outlined in an instructional equivalencies chart that is a required part of the online/hybrid course development process.
All on-line and hybrid courses cover the same content and contain the same student learning outcomes as courses taught during the regular semester. All syllabi document instructional equivalencies and outside work, which add up to sixty hours for a four-credit course.
Half-unit courses are equivalent to two semester hour credits. Therefore, face-to-face classes must meet for a total of thirty hours (including final), half the number of hours that a four-semester hour course accounts for in a fifteen-week semester. Hybrid and online half-courses must demonstrate thirty hours of instruction. Although half-unit courses may meet less frequently, for a shorter duration, or for shorter class times, class times must occur within regularly scheduled time blocks unless course requirements demand it be otherwise.
Accelerated Degree Program
All ADP courses follow the federal definition of a credit hour, as outlined in more detail in the ADP “Assignment of Credit Hour” policy. As an accelerated program, courses use a schedule of instructional equivalencies to achieve expected instructional time (forty-five hours for three-credit courses and sixty hours for four-credit courses). In addition to instructional time (face-to-face and equivalencies), all courses assign two hours of outside work for each instructional hour.
ADP offers general studies courses and courses that are part of a cohort-based major. Courses in each ADP major are three-credit courses that meet one evening per week for four hours in a five, six or seven week schedule, with additional hours met through stated instructional equivalencies to meet the forty-five hour expectation. General studies courses in ADP are four-credit courses that meet one evening a week for four hours across seven weeks, with the additional time being met through stated instructional equivalencies totaling sixty hours.
The Accelerated Degree Program credit hour equivalency guide was developed according to guidelines set forth by the Council for Accelerated Programs (CAP).
Online or hybrid courses taught in ADP are subject to identical requirements as described above under “On-Line and Hybrid Courses.”