Whereas, The United States Department of Education (USDE) defines the credit hour in Title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §600.2 as follows:
Credit hour: Except as provided in 34 CFR §668.8(k) and (l), 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, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours;
Whereas, Title 5 §55002.5 defines the credit hour as requiring “a minimum of 48 hours of lecture, study, or laboratory work at colleges operating on the semester system or 33 hours of lecture, study or laboratory work at colleges operating on the quarter system,” and Title 5 §§55002 (a)(2)(B) and (b)(2)(B) state that a credit “course requires a minimum of three hours of student work per week, per unit, including class time and/or demonstrated competency, for each unit of credit, prorated for short-term, extended term, laboratory, and/or activity courses,” but unlike USDE 34 CFR §600.2 and the Program and Course Approval Handbook (PCAH, 5th Edition) Title 5 does not include any minimum time requirements for out of class student work, also known as homework hours;
Whereas, Accrediting agencies are expected by USDE to assess an institution’s compliance with USDE regulations related to higher education, including the credit hour as defined in 34 CFR §600.2, when evaluating that institution’s accreditation status; and
Whereas, The inconsistency between the definitions of the credit hour found in Title 5 §§55002-55002.5, USDE 34 CFR §600.2 and the Program and Course Approval Handbook (PCAH, 5th Edition) may cause confusion at colleges about the appropriate ratio between classroom hours and direct faculty interaction and homework hours, and colleges may interpret the use of the word “minimum” in Title 5 as allowing significantly more student work per week per unit of credit than what is normally expected of college students in the United States system of higher education;
Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges work with the Chancellor’s Office to revisit the definition of the credit hour as stated in Title 5 §§55002-55002.5 to determine whether any changes are required to achieve alignment with the United States Department of Education definition of the credit hour as stated in 34 CFR §600.2; and
Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges provide guidance to local senates and curriculum committees regarding the appropriate application of the definitions of the credit hour as currently stated in Title 5 §§55002-55002.5 and 34 CFR §600.2 and based on the established professional norms for higher education in the United States.
5C has formed a work group to look at all Title 5 regulations that address the credit hour. Initial draft revisions to Title 5 are in progress and were read at the BoG in May 2017. 2017 -18: The co-chair will provide an update to the field regarding the progress of this resolution.