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2020 Fall Teaching Resources from the Remote 2.0 Committee: Time Requirements

Curated resources for faculty reviewed by members of the Remote 2.0 subcommittee.

Overview

W&J, like many private institutions of higher learning, measures its offerings in course units; however, it often needs to translate those course units into credit hours for purposes of funding from the federal government (student aid, for example) or for reaccreditation.

Calculating Time Requirements for a Course

 A credit (or semester) hour has generally been defined as a weekly minimum of 50 minutes of contact time plus 100 minutes of independent work over a semester (definitions vary, with federal guidelines looser than those from the Pennsylvania Department of Education or from our accreditation body). Most W&J courses convert to 4 credits.

Figuring out contact time and reporting this information was easy when all W&J courses met entirely in person. We used the following cut-and-dried way of calculating four credits for a typical one-semester lecture/discussion course:

  • Approximately 3000 contact minutes scheduled in WebAdvisor, with independent work described on submitted syllabuses assumed to be adequate.

This system may continue to work for many courses in Fall 2020; however, JayFlex courses and remote courses not scheduled in WebAdvisor for at least 200 minutes of contact time a week for each student may need another method to demonstrate credit-hour compliance.

Estimating Workloads

Dr. Betsy Barr, Mr. Allen Brown, and Dr. Justin Esarey of Wake Forest University have devised a very good online tool, the Workload Estimator 2.0for determining average time on task over the course of a semester in different modalities. It allows you to add up both contact time and independent time, both in-person and online activities.

How to use

  • Plug in numbers for various types of assigned work.
    • Some boxes ask for weekly averages and some for semester totals.
  • Plug in a number for class duration (weeks)
    • "14" will include the remote final-exam week after Thanksgiving
  • Plug in a number for live meetings each week
    • Estimate this per student, not per faculty member (relevant if you are doing JayFlex in sections).
  • Aim for something close to this:

The tool serves as a good reminder of how long it probably will take a typical student to complete various kinds of assignments, but you can manually adjust the estimates. In "Resources," you will find links to alternate ways of estimating time for various activities if you prefer.

Admittedly, some students will take longer, some will take less time; an instructor, an A student, and a D student may have a different notions  of how much time should be spent on studying for a midterm or a final exam, but one needs some kind of number--this calculator will do well enough to work out what a course entails.

Just remember that it is easy to underestimate time for online asynchronous activities like writing on discussion boards and independent activities like reading/studying course materials and writing various kinds of papers.

Comments

  • An “hour” lasts for 50 minutes in Credit Land.
    • Count each thrice-a-week W&J class meeting as 1.34 hours.
    • Count each twice-a-week W&J class meeting as 2.00 hours.
  • A shortage of contact time can be compensated for by adding 100 minutes of independent time.
    • Example: four credits = 3 contact hours + 10 independent hours.
  • A lot of "rounding up" will happen; that is fine.

Putting a short statement on your syllabus laying out how your course meets the credit requirement would be laudable. See the Brown University sample statements in "Resources."

What sort of work can account for “contact time”?

Think of "contact" time as time in which the student is directly engaged with others--the professor, other students. That time can be synchronous or asynchronous. 

In classroom

  • listening to and taking notes on lectures or commentaries on the reading delivered by the instructor
  • watching presentations, demonstrations, videos
  • participating in discussions or debates
  • doing work in groups or pairs
  • taking exams, quizzes, midterms, finals
  • practicing skills and competencies
  • doing experiential activities (labs, studios, workshops, simulations, field trips, etc.)

Online, synchronous (video conference)

  • listening to and taking notes on "live" lectures or commentaries on the reading delivered in real time by the instructor
  • watching presentations, demonstrations, videos
  • participating in discussions, either oral or written (Zoom chat, Sakai Chat Room)
  • doing specific tasks in small groups or pairs in electronic breakout rooms
  • taking exams, quizzes, midterms, finals
  • practicing skills and competencies

Online, asynchronous

  • taking exams, quizzes, midterms, finals
  • completing accountability assessments
  • watching/listening to pre-recorded lectures or commentaries on the reading delivered by the instructor
  • watching/listening to recordings of in-person classes or video conferences
  • watching recorded presentations, demonstrations
  • posting, reading, and responding in online discussion platforms (Sakai Forums, WordPress blogs, etc.)
  • practicing skills and competencies
  • doing experiential activities (online labs, studios, workshops, simulations, "field" trips)
    • Some of these are not categories in the Enhanced Workload Estimator so should be categorized under “live meetings per week”
    • Experiential activities (such as a laboratory, studio, workshop, field work, practicum, workshop, studio) work with different calculations for contact time. Contact Lindsey Guinn if you need guidance.

What sort of work counts for "independent work"?

  • reading required materials
  • studying for quizzes, tests, midterms, and finals
  • solving homework problems
  • compiling source material, developing research plans, conducting research
  • drafting and writing papers and essays
  • developing and completing projects and assignments
  • preparing presentations (audio, video, slide show, oral)--this may sometimes count as contact time, depending on the circumstances)
  • meeting with the instructor (office hours, project check-ins)--this may sometimes count as contact time, depending on the circumstances)

Resources