Part 3 - Federal Requirements
  

4.9  The institution has policies and procedures for determining the credit hours awarded for course and programs that conform to commonly accepted practices in higher education and to Commission policy.  (Definition of credit hours)

Compliance
Partial Compliance
Non-Compliance

Narrative

The University of New Orleans includes the following definition of a credit hour in the University Regulations section of the Catalog:

"In accordance with Federal Government guidelines, The University of New Orleans defines a credit hour as (a) the amount of student time investment that reasonably approximates one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours out of class student work for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or  (b) at least an equivalent amount of work as outlined in (a) for other academic activities as established by the University including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours. In accordance with commonly accepted practices in higher education, the University of New Orleans operates on a 50-minute hour for this definition."

For each course, the course syllabus documents the amount of in-class (or other direct faculty instruction) and out-of-class work required to earn the credit hour(s) assigned to the course. Out-of-class work will include all forms of credit-bearing activity, including but not limited to, assignments, readings, observations, and musical practice.

Where available, the university grants academic credit for students who verify via competency-based testing, that they have accomplished the learning outcomes associated with a course that would normally meet the requirements outlined above (e.g., AP credit, CLEP, and departmental examinations). UNO defines a credit hour as (a) the amount of student time investment that reasonably approximates one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours out of class student work for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or (B) at least an equivalent amount of work as outlined in other academic activities as established by the University including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.

In accordance with commonly accepted practices in higher education, the University of New Orleans operates on a 50-minute hour for this definition. This definition of an hour of measurement is based on the IPEDS definition published by the National Center for Education Statistics:

"A unit of measure representing the equivalent of an hour (50 minutes) of instruction per week over the entire term. It is applied toward the total number of credit hours needed for completing the requirements of a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award."

Fifty clock minutes per week per credit hour for approximately 15 weeks provides approximately 750 minutes instruction time per credit hour, which adheres to the University of Louisiana System Policy "Academic Programs" on minimum length for academic courses.  This policy is defined as:

"For each semester hour of credit, a traditional lecture or laboratory course shall strive to meet a minimum of 750 minutes.  Final exam periods may be counted as class time when computing required hours."

Furthermore, UNO's calculation of course length adheres to Louisiana Board of Regents’ Policy on "Seat Time for Academic Credit".  As noted in Board of Regents policy,

'All classes must be of reasonable length and include both content and contact sufficient to maintain high academic quality and standards commensurate with credit hours awarded for a "traditional" three-semester hour lecture class.’ 

The University of New Orleans expands on this definition by stipulating not only the number of hours of instruction, but also by stipulating the number of hours (or equivalent) that students will be required to devote to each course outside of class. Students are informed of the responsibility the University expects of a minimum of two hours of out of class work per credit hour pursued through the a statement listed under the University Academic Regulations section of the Catalog (Credits and Semester Hours).:

University policy explicitly aligns with both SACSCOC and federal policies on the awarding of credit hours. The majority of course offerings at UNO are three-credit courses and therefore the academic calendar is developed primarily around three-credit course class meetings. Before each academic term, the academic departments propose the schedule of courses of class meetings for three-credit courses which meet one, two, or three times a week to their college for approval. The Schedule of Courses provides the number of class meetings for each month of the semester as well as the total number of meetings for the semester.  For the 2013 – 2014 Academic Calendar, each semester hour of credit ranged from 740 minutes to 765 minutes. As seen in the Registrars' Calculation of Instructional Minutes, UNO has increased class time effective the 2014 – 2015 Academic Calendar and adjusted the number of meeting times to readily satisfy this requirement with class times ranging from 765 minutes to 790 minutes per credit hour.

The course schedules established by the University conform to the basic principles of both SACSCOC policy and Federal regulation 34 CFR 600.2 Definitions in terms that focus on the amount of time devoted to academic work for each credit hour earned.  However, as described in additional information provided by the Office of Postsecondary Education dated 18 March, 2011,:

"a credit hour is a unit of measure that gives value to the level of instruction, academic rigor, and time requirements for a course taken at an educational institution. At its most basic, a credit hour is a proxy of a quantity of student learning." 

"The credit hour does not emphasize the concept of "seat time" (time in class) as the primary metric" (p.3).

Adherence to accepted policies for award of credit hours at The University of New Orleans is one of several factors evaluated during the extensive process of internal review for approval of courses and programs, and is evident in the student learning outcomes established by each program (refer also to CS narratives 2.7, 3.4.6, and 4.4).

Application of these principles is also evident in the processes used by the University to determine the award of transfer credit.  The Office of Enrollment Services uses the Master Course Articulation Matrix published by the Board of Regents and university transfer guidelines to ensure consistent application of policies for award of credit that are compliant with institutional, system, SACSCOC, and federal policies.

University of New Orleans credit hour procedures establish guidelines for determining responsibility for achieving student learning outcomes and equivalency of achievement of student learning outcomes irrespective of mode of delivery and/or lack of comparability. Specifically, Administrative Policy AP-AA-05.2, Credit Hour Determination states:

The responsibility for ensuring that the credit hour requirements for time and student learning outcomes are met lies with the faculty member instructing the class and with the academic department chair.

The student learning outcomes for a course must be the same regardless of whether the credit hour(s) is delivered in the traditional format or by equivalent academic activities. 

In situations where a credit hour(s) is offered in a non-traditional format and there is no class section offered in the traditional format, department chairs will consult with the instructor to ensure credit hour(s) requirements are similar to the traditional format. This includes but is not limited to internships, independent studies, experiential learning activities, and online courses.

At UNO, common practice is that courses designed for online learning have first been developed for face to face delivery. Thus, format is changed to fit online modalities, but content workload remains the same. 

The UNO curriculum proposal and approval process ensures faculty and administrators review new course proposals and course changes for course descriptions, including clinical, internship or other experiential components, student learning outcomes/objectives, and the credit hours awarded before new courses or course changes are approved. The New Course and Course Change Proposal Form required in the review process includes course description and content, course objectives/student learning outcomes, course level, credit hour(s), goals, assignments, and form of student evaluation. (Please see Comprehensive Standard 3.4.1 for a detailed description of the curriculum proposal and change process).

 

 

 

Supporting Documents

Document Description
Document Icon2014-2015_Calendar2014-2015 Academic Calendar
Document IconAdd_Drop_Change_Curriculum_FormAdd Drop Change Curriculum Form
Document IconAP-AA-05.2_Determination_of_Credit_Hours_for_a_Distance_Education_CourseUniversity of New Orleans Administrative Policy AP-AA-05.2 Credit Hour Determination
Document IconBOR_Master_Course_Artic_MatrixBoard of Regents Master Course Articulation Matrix
Document IconBOR_Policy_Seat_TimeBoard of Regents Policy on Seat Time
Document IconFed_Reg_Credit_HourCredit Hour Defined in Federal Regulation
Document IconIPEDS_Def_CreditIPEDS Definition of Credit Hour
Document IconSACSCOC_Pol_Credit_HrsSACSCOC Policy on Credit Hours
Document IconUL_System_Bylaw_Chap_1_Sec_VIIUniversity of Louisiana System Bylaw/Rule Part Two, Chapter I, Section VII Academic Programs Statement on Minimum Length for Academic Courses
Document IconUNO_Cal_2013_2014University of New Orleans Academic Calendar 2013-14
Document IconUNO_Catalog_Definition_Credit_HoursUniversity of New Orleans Catalog - Definition of Credit Hours
Document IconUNO_Regis_Cal_Instruc_MinRegistrar’s Calculation of Instructional Minutes for 2014-2015
Document IconUNO_Transfer_GuideUniversity of New Orleans Transfer Guidelines
Document IconUS_Dept_Ed_Letter_Credit_HourU.S. Department of Education Letter (March 18, 2011) providing Guidance to Institutions and Accrediting Agencies Regarding Definition of a Credit Hour