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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 of Compliance

Sam Houston State University follows the policies established by The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Chapter 4, Subchapter A, section 4.6, to determine the number of contact hours necessary for 3 hours credit [1]. According to these guidelines, “Three-semester-credit-hour courses should contain 15 weeks of instruction plus a week for final examinations so that such a course contains 45 to 48 contact hours depending on whether there is a final exam.” Courses that award less than three (3) credit hours typically require more than one or two hours a week but combine lecture and application. For example, the majority of 1-hour classes are lab classes which meet each week for 2-3 hours. Within these 2-3 hours, there is typically one hour of didactic presentation and the rest of the time is spent in applying the material. “Courses delivered in shortened semesters are expected to have the same number of contact hours and the same requirement for out-of-class learning as courses taught in a normal semester” [1]. Rules concerning the implementation of shortened courses are addressed in Sam Houston State University Academic Policy Statement 860110 [2].

Credit hours awarded for synchronous distance learning courses use the same guidelines as traditionally delivered courses. Credit hours awarded for asynchronous courses match those for synchronous courses and face-to-face courses based upon equivalent content. Example syllabi are provided for two classes where the same course is offered on-campus and through a distance format. The syllabi indicate similar content and expectations providing evidence that the online classes are making similar demands and would require similar amounts of work to satisfactorily earn the credit hours awarded [3] [4] [5] [6]. The Undergraduate Catalog defines credit hours as “a unit of measure attached to academic courses, usually reflecting the number of lecture hours per week a course meets in a fall or spring semester [7]. Both the undergraduate and graduate level catalogs also indicate the number of credit hours for each course listed in the departmental inventory [8] [9].

When new courses are proposed, each department is required to complete a form indicating the proposed number of hours to be awarded as well as an outline of the 15-week sequence. This data is used as part of the department’s justification for the course to include the number of hours to be awarded [10] [11]. The Curriculum Review Committee reviews the integrity of the proposed courses and programs before recommending the courses and programs to the Academic Affairs Council [12].

Supporting Documentation
Documentation Reference
Document Title
[1] Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Rules and Regulations, Chapter 4, Subchapter A, Section 4.6
[2] Academic Policy Statement 860110 - Shortened Format Courses
[3] Syllabus - HIS 377 (distance)
[4] Syllabus - HIS 377 (face-to-face)
[5] Syllabus - ASE 579 (distance)
[6] Syllabus - ASE 579 (face-to-face)
[7] "Credit Hour" Definition - Glossary of Terms - Undergraduate Catalog, 2006-2008
[8] Course Descriptions - Political (POL) Science - Graduate Catalog, 2007-2009
[9] Course Descriptions - Accounting (ACC) - Undergraduate Catalog, 2006-2008
[10] Curriculum Form B, Request for Addition of a New Course
[11] Curriculum Form B, Request for Addition of a New Course - Example - BIO 434
[12] University Curriculum Committee


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Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX 77341
(936) 294-1111