Credit Hour

What is a Credit Hour?

The Federal Credit Hour definition states 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:

  • 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
  • at least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other activities as established by an institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading toward to the award of credit hours. (Source: Code of Federal Regulations (34CFR 600.2)).”

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) defines an assignment of credit hours as “the institution’s assignment and award of credit hours shall conform to commonly accepted practices in higher education. Those institutions seeking or participating in, Title IV federal financial aid, shall demonstrate that they have policies determining the credit hours awarded to courses and programs in keeping with commonly-accepted practices and with the federal definition of the credit hour … and that institutions also have procedures that result in an appropriate awarding of institutional credit in conformity with the policies established by the institution. (Source: Assignment of Credits, Program Length, and Tuition (FDCR.A.10.020)).”

Western’s methodology is based on the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) definition, outlined in the Educational Services Manual, page 12. The definition reads, “Associate degree and Liberal Arts courses must be assigned credit and be approved by the system office before offering to students. Assignment of credit will be based on the types of Instruction.”

Why will courses be reviewed for Credit Hour alignment?

Faculty will review their courses to ensure that courses/programs are delivering on the promises made to students when they enrolled in a program and registered for courses. The audit of courses for credit hour requirements will determine if the learning activities embedded in the course align with the competencies of the course, assess students in a manner that is appropriate and relevant, and determine if student outside-effort tasks and assignments are realistic and attainable for students.

The credit hour review of all courses will be used by faculty during their Comprehensive Program Evaluation to make revisions, adjustments, or changes to their program and courses.

When and how will the Credit Hour review be completed?

Review of courses will be completed on a three-year rotation cycle that will begin one year prior to their Comprehensive Program evaluation. Each instructor will review each of the courses he or she is teaching each term in that review year. They will record their final results in the Credit Hour Audit form (found below) and submit the completed form (1 per course/per instructor) to the Evaluation and Compliance Coordinator. Documents, resources, and support will be offered through Academic Excellence to assist faculty with the process.

While the results of the review will be used during each Program’s Comprehensive Review cycle, courses that are significantly outside of the norm will work with the Academic Excellence team for quality alignment purposes.