Distance Education Guidelines

Number of Student Hours

One of the important roles that your campus' curriculum committee plays is ensuring that the units offered for each course are commensurate with the student hours necessary for the course, both in and out of the classroom (CA Ed Code, Title 5 ยง55002). This total number of student hours is shared on the course outline of record, approved by your local curriculum committee, for each class you teach and this is essential information for you and your students!

As clarified by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, "Clearly some students will put in more or less time, depending on their ability and level of personal commitment; however, the structure of the course in terms of semester or quarter units presumes this normative standard and is the basis of scheduling within the academic calendar."

As we've already noted, distance education courses in CCCs are defined as equivalent in quality to their traditional, face-to-face counterparts. The number of student hours necessary for each course is an essential piece of information for you to understand as you begin to design and develop your online course content and this information is determined based on the Carnegie Unit relationship. Keep in mind, the number of hours necessary for the completion of an online course should be equivalent to the number of total hours necessary for its traditional counterpart (including in-class lecture/lab and out of class study time).

### Section 55002.5. Credit Hour.

(a) One credit hour of community college work requires a minimum of 48 hours of lecture, study, or laboratory work at colleges operating on the semester system or 33 hours of lecture, study or laboratory work at colleges operating on the quarter system.

(b) A course requiring 96 hours or more of lecture, study or laboratory work at colleges operating on the semester system or 66 hours or more of lecture, study, or laboratory work at colleges operating on the quarter system shall provide at least 2 units of credit.

(c) The amount of credit awarded shall be adjusted in proportion to the number of hours of lecture, study or laboratory work in half unit increments.

(d) A district may elect to adjust the amount of credit awarded in proportion to the number of hours of lecture, study or laboratory work in increments of less than one half unit.

### Guideline for Section 55002.5

In this section, the basic unit of college credit is defined to avoid reference to specific term lengths (previously described in terms of hours/week over a 16-week term). A **minimum** of 48 hours on the semester system (or 33 hours on the quarter system) of lecture, study, lab work is required for one unit of credit regardless of term length. The section establishes the minimum expected time on task (lecture, study, and or lab work) that is necessary to award one unit of credit. In practice, the number of hours varies among institutions, but is generally within the range of 48-54 hours per unit for colleges on the semester system. For each hour of lecture, it is assumed that students will be required to spend an additional two hours of study outside of class. The number of units awarded for laboratory courses is generally based entirely on the number of hours of laboratory work, presuming that students complete most required work in class.

The following examples apply to semester units:

Lecture or Lab Only Courses

- One-unit lecture course = 16 hours (minimum) in-class lecture plus 32 hours (minimum) out of class study
- One-unit laboratory course = 48 hours (minimum) in-class laboratory

Lecture and Lab Combined

- Three units = 32 hours (minimum) in-class lecture, 48 hours (minimum) in-class laboratory, plus 64 hours (minimum) out-of-class study. In this case, two units are awarded for lecture and one unit for laboratory.

In determining the number of units to be awarded for courses, colleges should consider total lecture, outside study, and/or laboratory** **hours. For example, a course for which 3 units is awarded may meet 4 hours a week over a semester and still be in compliance with these regulations if it is determined that the increased classroom time serves to decrease outside study time.** **In general, however, the units awarded for lecture and lab hours specified in the examples above apply. In the new version of the Program and Course Approval Handbook, examples that illustrate scheduling additional contact hours and making some adjustments in homework requirements will be provided. In this way, the next version of the Program and Course Approval Handbook will provide additional guidance related to the relationship of hours to units.

When the combination of lecture, study, and/or laboratory work reaches 96 hours on the semester system, 66 hours on the quarter system, or twice the number of hours locally required for one unit, part (b) of this section requires that students will earn at least 2 units of credit. This part of the regulation is new and may affect the number of units awarded in some disciplines that offer courses with a number of contact hours mandated by professional certification requirements.

The amount of credit awarded shall be adjusted in proportion to the number of hours of lecture, study, or laboratory work in half unit increments, but a district may elect to adjust the amount of credit awarded in increments of less than one half unit. It is not permissible to approve credit courses with zero units of credit.

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