Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Credit Hour

I have been asked several times over the past few months to define a credit hour.  First, we should not be looking to define a credit hour.

The credit hour is based on a history of “time” in class.  The Carnegie Unit credit hour definition was developed between 1890 and 1900.  The first influence of the defined unit was from the National Education Association; they appointed a committee to address issues on college requirements.  The second influence to the creation of the Carnegie Unit, as it came to be called, was a foundation created by Andrew Carnegie to pay retirement pensions for college and university teachers.  In an effort to define who would receive these benefits, the Carnegie Foundation and the General Education Board surveyed institutions across the U.S.   It was determined that those eligible to receive the pension benefits must be from an institution that accepted the unit plan for admission, which was defined as carrying any one of four courses over five days a week.  Thus, a faculty member who had a load of 12 credit units in a semester were considered fulltime employees and could receive full time pension benefits for the number of years worked at this level.  The foundation stipulated that it was not counting learning attained, but time spent on the subject to determine faculty load.   Because most universities did not have a pension program for their instructors, they quickly adopted the standard unit measure for their courses. Courses that met one hour a week for 15 weeks or 15 hours of time were worth one credit unit.  The credit unit was defined in order to calculate faculty load and was not meant to demonstrate student learning. Education was shaped by a system designed for industrial factories.  Time on task equals a certain amount of money.  Unfortunately, because money was the issue, institutions blindly allowed the system to develop and flourish.  As the age of accountability came into full view, institutions are now required to prove that students "learn" as a result of "attending class".  The time based measure of the credit hour does not measure student learning, and was never meant to measure it.  In 1909, the Carnegie unit was accepted across U.S. institutions.

In this day of multiple delivery methods, the use of time to document achievement of a degree has long passed.  Many innovative programs, including Prior Learning Assessment and the Council of Adult and Experiential Learning, have changed the way undergraduate and graduate degrees are earned.  Accelerated and intensive delivery formats are just one more step in the progress toward learning outcomes.

Accelerated programs have generally been defined as less time with instructor-student contact (as compared to  the traditional Carnegie unit) and quality and effectiveness is measured by the students’ achievement of the course learning objectives.  If education is about learning, then the measurement must be the student's achievement not the time spent in a classroom.

Shedd, J. (2003). The history of the student credit hour (pp. 5-12) New Directions for Higher Education, 122. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.
Walberg, H. (1988). Synthesis of research on time and learning. Educational Leadership, 45. 76-85.

Second,  please read the American Council on Education letter to the Department of Education.  This is the best articulation that I have read on the issue. 

All education programs must continue to address this issue through learning outcomes.  Mark your calendars to attend the CAP Annual Conference.  We have accreditation personnel who are deeply involved in these issues presenting.  Be looking for that brochure!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Final Regulations (Almost)

For those who might have missed the news, on October 28, 2010, the Feds released some of the final regulations concerning higher education institutions.  You need to catch up by reading Inside HigherEd (Almost) Final Rules.  Also, review the Federal Regulations:
  1. Program Integrity Issues
  2. Gainful Employment
Start looking at your programs in light of the new regulations and mark your calendar for August 4, 5, & 6, 2011 to join CAP in Denver, Colorado for a conversation about these issues.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Quicker Degrees

A really good article to read is A Federal Impediment to Quicker Degrees by Senator Lamar Alexander. We have known for years that there were financial aid issues for the adult population.  Now quicker degrees are in the news.   University Business Magazine new issue has a featured article entitled Three to Degree.  CAP is mentioned in this article as a resource.    Remember we have to get the word out that accelerated programs have been working with shorter time frames for over 40 years. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Accelerated Programs in the News

Others are beginning to see that learning formats can be changed and held to the same learning outcomes.   Thank you to Melissa Ezarik for investigating and writing an article about shortened time for a degree!  I recommend reading "Three to Degree" in the September 2010 University Business magazine. More universities are looking at shortened time frames for degrees and less time in the classroom.  The programs highlighted in this article are not necessarily focused on the adult student, but on college students who are focused and don't need that exploratory time to find a degree match. There is more support of innovation in higher education!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mark your Calendars

The week of September 27th, NBC News  is presenting a series on "Education Nation"  examining and redefining education in the U.S.  "NBC programs including “Nightly News,” “Today” and “Meet the Press,” as well as offerings on MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo, will include “[s]pecial news coverage and programming airing across all NBC News programs and platforms will extend beyond the two-day summit,” the company said in its initial press release." (InsideHigherEducation). 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Looking for Volunteers

CAP is Looking for Volunteers.
I hope this message finds you doing well.  I know the August push has arrived and hopefully the enrollments at your institution are up.  Please take a moment to breathe and read this short message.

We had a dynamic CAP Annual Conference on July 21 - 23, 2010 in Denver, Colorado, hosted by Metropolitan State College of Denver. We developed new energy and enthusiasm for our jobs and for the accelerated program delivery model.  We also discussed the viability of CAP, which I am happy to say is a thriving organization.  The Executive Board and Jeannie McCarron have done an excellent job this past year trimming the budget and coming through with a balanced budget plan.  One of the initiatives the Executive Board is taking on this year is to connect with the membership.  We want to hear from every CAP member this year!  At our last Board meeting, we created a new position: Membership Connection. This sub-committee chairperson will coordinate our CAP volunteers. 

CAP volunteers?  What is that?  I am so glad you asked!!

If you are willing to volunteer one hour (60 minutes) a month (yes a month) to assist the CAP Membership Connection Team, then you are a CAP volunteer.  Please email Jeannie McCarron ( right now to become a member of the team!  The Membership Connection Chair will have a list of the members of CAP and he/she will divide up that list among the volunteers and assign everyone five to ten people a month to contact via email or phone call.

Why would you contact a member in CAP?  Another great question!

As you might have heard (if you reading the Accelerated Program blog or the CAP Newsletter), then you would know that accelerated programs are being attacked from within and without.  For CAP to be a proactive organization and a voice for Accelerated Programs, we must hear what is happening to our members and their institutional programs.  Our Membership Connection Team members will chat with colleagues from another institution and ask how things are going.  Then, you will be asked to email who you contacted, any updated information (job titles, email, phone) and triumphs or challenges back to our Member Connection Team Chair who will make a monthly report to the Executive Board.   It is as easy as that!

CAP needs volunteers to spend one hour (60 minutes) a month talking with other CAP members.  Please join us in this endeavor to reach everyone in our organization this year!  Email Jeannie McCarron at right now!

Looking for Volunteers for just One Hour a Month!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Scrutiny Continues

Please know that I am in NO WAY condoning bad behavior on the part of any institution (for profit, non profit, or public).  However, quality programs have the potential to be penalized because of the actions of others exposed for unethical practices.

The news continues in InsideHigherEd:
The August 9th article, Has the Conversation Changed, still has the for profit institutions in the news.  What I want to highlight is the attach on accreditors and the ideas of thinking the "entire orchard" is bad. 

"Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and other members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voiced concerns about the GAO's findings and cornered the leader of a national accreditor, who insisted that his agency’s standards were “rigorous,” even though the accreditor had given approval to some of the campuses where the GAO found problems. (While it’s not an accreditor’s responsibility to hunt for fraud, some senators wondered how people examining the institutions could miss such seemingly endemic problems."

“Are we talking about a few bad apples or are we talking about the entire orchard being contaminated by a business model that churns students, that provokes the kind of recruitment and unethical conduct we saw in the GAO, because of a need to increase profits?” Harkin asked, rhetorically, at the hearing. His repeated use of "systemic” to describe the problems suggested that he is going after the whole orchard.

This view of higher education is upsetting for all educational professionals in the field.  All CAP institutions should be documenting their quality and writing their Senators and Congresspersons. Tell the the good side of the story.  It seems the "bad" is the only one being shared.