Anyone who has worked in higher education for any length of time is familiar with the temptation to confuse the crude accumulation of credit hours with discerning actual learning. The temptation has been almost irresistible to students and universities alike. For decades, students, colleges, and employers have been more than happy to trade in the abiguity. Far easier to count credits than determine actual competence or depth of learning. It is one of the major broken elements  in our national higher education system. It’s time to retire the credit hour as the dominant measure of academic learning.

According to Inside Higher Ed,  “Andrew Carnegie never intended for the time-based credit hour to be used to measure student learning. A new report from the New America Foundation and Education Sector, which tracks the standard’s history, says the credit hour has become a measure and a proxy for what students are supposedly learning. ” And that’s a misuse of the measure.

“An over-reliance on the credit hour, which links the awarding of academic credit to hours of contact between professors and students, has led to many of higher education’s problems, according to the report,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

“There is pretty compelling evidence that what we have right now isn’t working,” said Amy Laitinen, deputy director for higher education at the New America Foundation and the report’s author.

One obvious concern is that colleges often reject transfer credits, wasting students’ money and time, in part because they don’t trust what constitutes a credit hour at another institution, according to the report.

Read more at Inside Higher Ed.

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