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Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013

Response to Senate Recommendation: Policy on Contact/Credit Hours

At its March 8, 2013, meeting, the College Senate voted to recommend that the president revise the Policy on Contact/Credit Hours as indicated in the language below. The changes are indicated in [UPPERCASE ITALICIZED BOLDFACE TYPE].

Buffalo State
Directory of Policy Statements

Policy Number: I:10:00
Date: DRAFT: December 2012
Revised: October 2012
Original: June 1976

SUBJECT: Credit/Contact Hour Relationship

The State University of New York, like most of American higher education, has adopted a variant of the traditional “Carnegie Unit” as a measure of academic credit. This unit is known in the State University by the familiar term “semes­ter credit hour” and is the primary academic measure by which progress toward a degree is gauged. It is recognized that such a unit measures only a part, albeit a major part, of a composite learning experience based on formally structured and informal interactions among faculty and students.

Over the past several years for academic purposes, some faculties have allowed modifications of the classical Carnegie definition of a semester credit hour, which has stipulated that 1 semester credit hour be awarded for 15 sessions of 50 minutes’ duration in classroom lecture-recitation, each requiring two hours of outside preparation by the student. Today there are many types of educational experiences with which credit-hour assignment may properly be associated.

In the interest of accurate academic measurement and cross-campus comparability, the following definitions and prac­tices apply in controlling the relationship between contact and credit hours. These definitions constitute a formalization of current and historical policy in order to ensure consistency throughout the State University of New York. Courses may be composed of any combination of elements described, as for example, a lecture course that also has required laboratory periods or a lecture course having an additional requirement for supervised independent study or tutorial activity.

A semester credit hour is normally granted for satisfactory completion of one 50-minute session of classroom instruction per week for a semester of not less than 15 weeks. This basic measure may be adjusted proportionately to reflect modified academic calendars and formats of study. Semester credit hours are granted for various types of instruction as follows:

  1. Lecture, Seminar, Quiz, Discussion, Recitation
    A semester credit hour is an academic unit earned for 15 50-minute sessions of classroom, [DISTANCE, OR HYBRID] instruction with a normal expectation of two hours of outside study for each class session. Typically, a 3-semester-credit-hour course meets three 50-minute sessions per week for 15 weeks for a total of 45 sessions.
  2. Activity Supervised as a Group (Laboratory, Field Trip, Practicum, Workshop, Group Studio)
    A semester credit hour is awarded for the equivalent of 15 periods of such activity, where each activity period is 150 minutes or more in duration with little or no outside preparation expected. Forty-five 50-minute sessions of such activity would also normally earn 1 semester credit hour. Where such activity involves substantial outside preparation by the student, the equivalent of 15 periods of 100 minutes’ duration each will earn 1 semester credit hour.
  3. Supervised Individual Activity (Independent Study, Individual Studio, Tutorial)

    (a) One credit for independent study (defined as study given initial guidance, criticism, review, and final evaluation of student performance by a faculty member) will be awarded for the equivalent of 45 50-minute sessions of student academic activity.

    (b) Credit for tutorial study (defined as study that is given initial faculty guidance followed by repeated, regularly scheduled individual student conferences with a faculty member and periodic as well as final evaluation of student performance) will be awarded on the basis of 1 semester hour credit for each equivalent of 15 contact hours of regularly scheduled instructional sessions.
  4. Full-Time Independent Study (Student Teaching, Practicum)
    If a student’s academic activity is essentially full time (as in student teaching), 1 semester credit hour may be awarded for each week of work.
  5. Experiential Learning (Internships, Service Learning)
    At its discretion, an institution may award credit hours for learning acquired outside the institution that is an integral part of a program of study.

    When life or work experience is to be credited as a con­current portion of an academic program design, as in an internship, 1 semester credit hour will be awarded for each week of supervised academic activity [OF AT LEAST A 40-CLOCK-HOUR WEEK] that provides the learning considered necessary to pro­gram study.
  6. Credit by Examination
    At its discretion, an institution may award semester hour credits for mastery demonstrated through credit by exami­nation. When such credit by examination is allowed, it may be used to satisfy degree requirements or to reduce the total number of remaining hours required for a degree.
  7. Short Sessions
    Credit hours may be earned in short sessions (summer ses­sions, intercessions, etc.) pr