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How Do Credit Hours Assure the Quality of Higher Education?: Time-Based vs. Competency-Based Debate

Abstract : University credit hours have traditionally been used as a time-based proxy of student learning outcomes, and they eventually contribute to a value of an academic degree, diploma, or certificate of higher education. Following the American model, Japanese higher education introduced a credit hour system after World War II to promote student self-directed learning outside of classes, however, this system has not functioned as well as originally intended: Japanese university students study for much fewer hours than that is required by law and that of their cohorts in other countries. Additionally, the overwhelming amount of in-class study is one of the factors impeding out-of-class study. In the U.S., credit hours have been used as a means of deciding federal funding allocations, but some institutions have indulged in malpractice such as credit hour abuse, fraud, and inflation. In response to the problem of misuse of federal financial aid based on credit hours or the need for greater accountability for student learning outcomes, the federal government has recently redefined credit hours as well as encouraged institutions to seek federal approval for their competency-based programs that decouple learning from the credit hour. There have been discussions on what the credit hour system demonstrates with respect to academic activities and learning outcomes, and how it should be evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively in terms of both external accreditation and internal quality assurance. If credit hours are regarded as common currency, the recent U.S. movement in rethinking its system can bring major changes in the manner of interpreting and assuring quality of this currency. Based on document analysis regarding government policy, university efforts, and quality assurance (accreditation) in Japan and the U.S., this study addresses time-based vs. competency-based debate and helps us rethink how the credit hour could assure the quality of higher education.
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Submitted on : Monday, December 11, 2017 - 5:29:34 PM
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Ayaka Noda. How Do Credit Hours Assure the Quality of Higher Education?: Time-Based vs. Competency-Based Debate. 2016. ⟨halshs-01661156⟩

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