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Skidmore College Policy on Contact/Credit Hours

Unit of Credit

The policy described below follows guidelines set forth by the New York State Department of Education and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The unit of credit used at Skidmore College is the semester hour.  Consistent with the traditional "Carnegie Unit" accepted by most American colleges and universities, one credit represents completion of one 50-minute class period per week over a 15-week semester.  In practice, Skidmore schedules a 55-minute class period to ensure compliance.  For certain non-traditional and individual academic activities, the College uses 60-minute class period or its equivalent.  In all cases, the College expects two hours of outside work or preparation for every 55-60 minutes spent in class (or its equivalent).  One semester hour of credit therefore represents ~3 hours of academic work per week or 45 hours of academic work per semester.

Activities supervised as a group, such as studio, laboratory, and shop classes for which little outside preparation is expected, usually earn one credit for each three hours of attendance. Where such activity involves substantial outside preparation by the student, one credit for two hours of attendance is earned.

Credit/Contact Hour Relationship

Source of information: State University of New York, Memorandum to Presidents from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Programs, June 30, 1976.  Adjusted to outline Skidmore's guidelines. 

Semester credit hours are granted for various types of instruction as follows:

  1. Lecture, Seminar, Discussion
    A semester credit hour is an academic unit earned for fifteen 55-minute sessions of classroom instruction with a normal expectation of two hours of outside study for each class session. Typically, a 3-credit course meets for three 55-minute sessions per week for 15 weeks for a total of 45 sessions per semester.  A typical 3-credit course requires a total of 90 hours of outside work or preparation.

  2. Activity Supervised as a Group (Laboratory, Practicum, Workshop, Group Studio)
    A semester credit hour is awarded for the equivalent of 15 periods of such activity, where each activity period is 165 minutes or more in duration with little or no outside preparation expected.  Forty-five 55-minute sessions of such activity would also normally earn one semester credit hour. Where such activity involves substantial outside preparation by the student, the equivalent of 15 periods of 110 minutes duration each will earn one 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 hours of student academic activity, representing an average of 3 hours of activity per week over 15 weeks.
    (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 fifteen 55-minute instructional sessions.  The College expects that students will work a minimum of two hours in preparation for each regularly scheduled session.

  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. Short Sessions
    Credit hours may be earned in short sessions (summer sesĀ­sions, intercessions, etc.) proportionately to those earned for the same activity during a regular term of the institution, normally at no more than one 3-credit course per week of full-time study.

Flexible Fourth Credit Hours

A three-credit course requires 90 hrs of assigned work over a 15-wk semester.  Adding a flexible fourth credit hour requires an additional 45 hours of assigned work. Proposals for a flexible fourth credit hour must be submitted to the Curriculum Committee with a rationale and syllabus to account for the additional hours.  As with all proposals to the Curriculum Committee, proposals for a fourth credit hour must describe the learning goals and means of assessment for activities required for the fourth hour.

On-line and Blended Learning Courses

Consistent with the College's expectations for supervised individual activity and the flexible fourth credit hour, on-line and blended learning courses earn one semester hour credit for 45 hours of academic activity.  This activity may include but is not limited to:  real-time lecturing (in class or via streaming technology), on-line learning tutorials, projects, or discussion, the preparation required for students to engage in the course, and assignments used for the assessment of student learning.  Proposals for on-line or blended learning courses must be submitted to the Curriculum Committee with a rationale and syllabus to account for number of hours devoted to academic activity.  As with all proposals to the Curriculum Committee, proposals for on-line or blended learning courses must describe the learning goals and means of assessment for required activities.

Travel Seminars

Short-term travel experiences guided by the faculty are awarded semester-hours credit according to the number of instructional hours as defined for lectures, seminars, and discussion sections. Each equivalent of 13.75 hours of instruction and 30 hours of student preparation yields one semester hour of credit.

Internships 

With faculty sponsorship, professional experience may be granted semester hours credit.  Each semester hour credit requires 45 hours of supervised activity in the field.

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