Reinhardt University SACSCOC Compliance Certification

3.4.6 Practices for Awarding Credit

The institution employs sound and acceptable practices for determining the amount and level of credit awarded for courses, regardless of format or mode of delivery. (Practices for awarding credit)

Judgment check box Compliance

Narrative

Reinhardt University has sound and acceptable practices for determining the amount and level of credit, regardless of format or mode of delivery as demonstrated by written policies on credit hour definitions as well as internal and external review processes for the approval of amount and level of credit in courses.

In January 2017, the Office of the Provost distributed to all full and part time faculty the credit hour and contact time policies [1] along with guidelines [2] for the application of Reinhardt’s credit hour policy in all varieties of course formats.   These policies have been incorporated into syllabus statements in face-to-face courses like ENG 103 [3] and BUS 201 [4] as well as distance education courses like CRJ 420. [5]

Definition of academic credit

Reinhardt University Credit Hour Policy

Academic units are responsible for ensuring that amount of credit hours are awarded only for work that meets the requirements outlined in the following policy, which adopts the Federal Definition of a Credit Hour (described in 34 CFR 600.2, effective July 1, 2011) as follows:

For purposes of the application of this policy and in accord with federal regulations, 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:

1. Not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours 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 outlined in item 1 above 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.

This credit hour policy applies to all courses at all levels (undergraduate, graduate, and professional) that award academic credit on an official transcript regardless of the mode of delivery including, but not limited to, fully online, hybrid, lecture, seminar, laboratory, studio, directed study, or study abroad.

The expectation of contact time inside the classroom and student effort outside the classroom is the same in all formats of a course whether it be in online, a hybrid of face-to-face contact with some content delivered electronically, or one delivered in lecture or seminar format. Similarly, the expectation of contact time inside the classroom and student effort outside the classroom is the same for regular semesters and shortened sessions (i.e., Spring I or Spring II Sessions).

Courses that have less structured classroom schedules, such as research seminars, independent studies, directed studies, internships, practica, studio work, as well as courses offered in shortened sessions or in online or hybrid formats, at a minimum, should state clearly expected learning outcomes and workload expectations that meet the standards set forth above.

This policy is published in the Undergraduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, [6] the Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, [7] and the Faculty Handbook 2016-2017,  “Appendices.” [8]

Level of academic credit and course sequencing

The level of academic credit awarded is determined by faculty expertise about the level of prior skill needed to succeed and the level of skill achieved in a course.  In general, the 100-200 level courses are introductory and survey courses, usually requiring few or no prerequisite courses.  The 300-400 level courses are more advanced and usually require prerequisite course work. At the graduate level, 500-600 level courses become more in-depth and rigorous leading to mastery of an area within a discipline.

For example, English degree program courses at the 200 level require skills from 100-level writing courses.  English courses at the 300-400 level require successful completion of a 200-level English course. [9]  Similarly, most Business degree program courses at the 300-400 level require the successful completion of general education and Business courses at the 100-200 level. [10]

Academic Programs and Curriculum Committee

The Reinhardt faculty has primary responsibility for determining the amount and level of credit awarded for courses, regardless of format or mode of delivery.  As stated in the Faculty Handbook 2016-2017, [11] new course proposals and course revision proposals are generated by faculty within academic programs/schools.  Then the proposals must gain several levels of approval:  the program coordinator/director, the school dean, faculty Academic Programs and Curriculum Committee (APCC), [12] and the faculty senate.

The APCC approves the awarding of academic credit based on internal and external factors.  Reinhardt’s “Curriculum Change Cover Sheet” [13] provides a place for faculty to propose amount and level of credit for a new course based on their professional expertise about the required credit hours and skill level.  The Cover Sheet also has a place for faculty to propose a change in amount or level of credit for an existing course.  For an external comparison, the “Curriculum Change Guidelines” [13] state that, when applicable, a proposal should include a rationale for the proposed new course or change and a list of programs at similar regionally accredited institutions that have the proposed course and/or a list of similar schools that have the proposed course. Once approved by the faculty senate, a new course must be approved by the provost and the university president, providing additional scrutiny of amount and level of credit.

In 2015, the Faculty Senate affirmed that distance education courses should have faculty oversight for course design, including amount and level of credit. [14]

For example, in 2015-2016, the academic coordinator of the Bachelor of Healthcare Administration (B.H.A.) program, an online degree-completion program, proposed a 3-credit hour course at the 300-level to address the program learning outcome, “Graduates will identify and describe the structure and components of the U.S. healthcare system.” The proposal for “HCA 309-The US Healthcare System” [15] included a reference to a similar course at St. Leo University. The proposal was approved in 2016.

As another example, during the academic year 2016-2017, the Biology faculty proposed a new 4-semester credit hour, general education,100-level Biology course for non-Biology majors.  The course proposal discussed recommendations from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A Call to Action.” [16] The proposal also referred to other SACSCOC accredited colleges and universities with a similar course. [17] The APCC and the Reinhardt Faculty Senate approved this proposal, including the amount and level of credit, in February 2017.

For a graduate-level example, in 2014-2015, the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program director proposed a second course in research methods, MPA 611. [18] The rationale for the second course explained that comparable graduate level programs in the state of Georgia (at the University of Georgia, Kennesaw State University, Georgia State University, and University of North Georgia) require two research methods courses as part of their MPA degree programs. The second course, “MPA 611 – Applied Statistics for Public Decision Making,” was approved by the APCC and subsequent levels of approval.

As a final example, in February 2017, a proposal from the Mathematics faculty [19] recommended changing the level of credit for two existing courses, based on 1) a 2016 assessment of student learning outcomes and 2) a 2016 curriculum map assessing each course to see if the subject or skill was “introduced, reinforced, or mastered.”  One 300-level course was determined to reinforce a skill, so it was recommended to be reassigned 200-level credit.  One 200-level course introduced a skill, so it was recommended to be reassigned 100-level credit. This mathematics proposal was reviewed and approved by the APCC, the faculty senate, the provost, and the president.

In all cases, the various levels of the review process illustrate sound and acceptable practices for determining the amount and level of credit.

Amount and level of credit awarded for transfer credits.

Reinhardt’s transfer credit policy [20] allows a total of 40 semester credit hours from a regionally accredited institution may be applied toward a Reinhardt University associate degree, and a total of 80 semester credit hours may be applied toward a Reinhardt University baccalaureate degree.  Applicants with a transferable two year degree (A.A. or A.S.) from a regionally accredited institution may consider the general education requirement fulfilled.  Otherwise, transfer credit is evaluated on a course-by-course basis.

When possible, individual courses are equated to courses offered at Reinhardt University to determine amount and level of credit.  Similarly, credit from authorized examinations, like Advanced Placement (AP) or the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), is matched to established Reinhardt courses for determining amount and level of credit. [21] If a direct equivalent is not offered by Reinhardt University, the academic credits are evaluated by the respective academic School Dean. If there is no direct match, but the transfer course is collegiate level, it may be awarded 100-level general elective credit and recorded as such on the student’s transcript.

Reinhardt also has policies evaluating experiential credit, military credit and international credit.  For experiential credit Reinhardt follows the recommendations of the American Council of Education (ACE) and the Council for the Advancement of Experiential Learning (CAEL).The Reinhardt University Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017 outlines the application procedure for experiential credit, which involves the student preparing a substantial portfolio with documentation demonstrating that the appropriate learning outcomes have been achieved. [22] No one has applied for experiential credit during the past five years.  Applicants may also be awarded lower-level elective credit for certified military training. The Registrar’s Office will evaluate military credit from the Joint Services Transcript, following the recommendations of the American Council of Education (ACE), and transcripts from the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) for the amount and level of credit. A sample student transcript with different kinds of transfer credit illustrates how credit is awarded and recorded. [23]

Reinhardt follows best practices for international students.  All transfer students must submit official transcripts from all colleges attended.  Transcripts from outside the United States must be evaluated from an official credit evaluation service, like World Education Services (WES) or Josef Silney and Associates, with a course-by-course evaluation. [24] Reinhardt determines the amount and level of credit on the basis of the evaluating service’s recommendations.

Conclusion

Reinhardt University employs sound and acceptable practices, involving internal reviews and external agencies, for determining the amount and level of credit awarded for courses in face-to-face, hybrid, and online courses, undergraduate and graduate.

 

Supporting Documents

[1] Reinhardt Credit Hour Policy

[2] Reinhardt Syllabus Guidelines for Credit Hour Policy

[3] Sample syllabus with credit hour policy:  ENG 103

[4] Sample syllabus with credit hour policy:  BUS 201

[5] Sample syllabus for an online course with the credit hour policy:  CRJ 420

[6] Definition of Academic Credit, Reinhardt University Undergraduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p.43

[7] Definition of Academic Credit, Reinhardt University Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 23

[8] Credit Hour Policy, Faculty Handbook 2016-2017, “Appendices,” pp. 16-17

[9] English course descriptions and prerequisites

[10] Business course descriptions and prerequisites

[11] The Reinhardt University Faculty Handbook 2016-2017, “Procedures for Effecting Curriculum Changes” p. 41

[12] APCC Description, “Appendices” of the Faculty Handbook 2016-2017, p. 3|

[13] “Curriculum Change Cover Sheet and Guidelines for Materials and Evidence to Support Curricular Changes” 2016-2017

[14] Online Programs, “Appendices” of the Faculty Handbook 2016-2017, pp. 23-25

[15] B.H.A. new course proposal, HCA 309, “The US Healthcare System,” 2015-2016

[16] “Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education:  A Call to Action” (AAAS)  http://visionandchange.org/files/2011/03/VC-Brochure-V6-3.pdf 

[17] Biology new course proposal, 100-level, “Biology Essentials,” 2016-2017

[18] MPA 611 Course Proposal, 2014-2015

[19] Math proposal to change level of credit, 2017

[20] Transfer credit policies Reinhardt University Undergraduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, pp. 18-19

[21] Alternative credit Reinhardt University Undergraduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, pp. 44-46

[22] Experiential learning policies

[23] Transcript with various kinds of transfer credit

[24] “International Students,” Reinhardt University Undergraduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, pp. 17-18