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Sticking With Credit Hour

By Paul Fain

The credit hour is an inadequate unit for measuring student learning. Yet no better replacement for higher education’s gold standard has emerged, and getting rid of it right now would be risky.

That’s the central theme of a high-profile report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. In response to growing concerns about reliance on the credit hour, the foundation two years ago formed a 27-member committee to “consider how a revised unit, based on competency rather than time, could improve teaching and learning in high schools, colleges and universities.”

The report, which the foundation released today, stops well short of calling for a competency-based standard. One key reason, it said, is the deeply ingrained role the time-based credit hour plays.

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