World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Carnegie unit

Article Id: WHEBN0003551909
Reproduction Date:

Title: Carnegie unit  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Early entrance to college
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Carnegie unit

The Carnegie Unit and the Student Hour (also called a Credit Hour) are strictly time-based references for measuring educational attainment used by American universities and colleges; the Carnegie Unit assesses secondary school attainment, and the Student Hour, derived from the Carnegie Unit, assesses collegiate attainment.

Per its original definition, the Carnegie Unit is 120 hours of class or contact time with an instructor over the course of a year at the secondary (American high school) level. Strictly speaking, this breaks down into a single one-hour meeting, on each of five days per week for a total of 24 weeks per year. However, knowing that classes usually meet for 50 minutes yields a value of 30 weeks per year. However, further complicating the computation is the fact that American schools typically meet 180 days, or 36 academic weeks, a year. A semester (one-half of a full year) earns 1/2 a Carnegie Unit.[1]

The Student Hour is approximately 12 hours of class or contact time, approximately 1/10 of the Carnegie Unit (as explained below). As it is used today, a Student Hour is the equivalent of one hour (50 minutes) of lecture time for a single student per week over the course of a semester, usually 14 to 16 weeks.

History

These units came about, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, through a series of three disjointed events, all designed to standardize the collegiate educational experience.

Event One-Arbitrary Comprehensive Exams Discredited. Prior to this time (late 19th century) admission to post-secondary education involved comprehensive examination, either by public oral process, or private written process. These processes varied greatly among U.S. colleges and universities, due to the highly subjective nature of these types of examination. Eventually, these methods were slowly discredited due to their poor reliability and validity.

Event Two-Creation and Advocacy for Standard Education Unit. Charles W. Eliot[2] at Harvard University, in the late 19th century, devised both a contact-hour standard for secondary education, and the original credit-hour collegiate post-secondary standard. In 1894, the National Education Association endorsed the standardization of secondary education.[1]

Event Three-Widespread Enforcement of Standards by Carnegie Foundation. Widespread adoption of the 120-hour secondary standard did not occur until the Carnegie Foundation (established in 1906) began to provide retirement pensions (now known as TIAA-CREF) for university professors with the qualification that universities must enforce the 120-hour secondary standard. By 1910, nearly all secondary institutions in the United States used the "Carnegie Unit" as a measure of secondary course work.

As part of their framework, the Carnegie Foundation also established that both high school preparation and college "work" would include a minimum of four years of study.

On a parallel track, the Carnegie Foundation also underwrote the work of Morris L. Cooke's "Academic and Industrial Efficiency." Again, the motive here was to standardize educational outputs and faculty workloads. Cooke established the collegiate Student Hour as "an hour of lecture, of lab work, or of recitation room work, for a single pupil"[3] per week (1/5 of the Carnegie Unit's 5-hour week), during a single semester (or 15 weeks, 1/2 of the Carnegie Unit's 30-week period). (The Student Hour would technically be 1/10 of the Carnegie Unit: 1/5 hour per week times 1/2 year = 1/10.) ...

Use

Academic calendars

Some American colleges and universities do not use the semester as the basis of their academic calendar, but choose to use other academic terms, such as the "quarter" or "trimester" system. Most institutions also give credit for short sessions that occur in the summer or between standard semesters. In these cases, the length of the term is shortened from say 15 weeks (in a semester) to around 10 weeks for a quarter, and to as short as four weeks for shorter sessions. Then to create equity in student hours, adjustments are made either to the length of class time or to the assignment of course credit.

In short sessions, including the "trimester" system, the student continues to receive credits using the standard definition of the student hour. The adjustment occurs since students meet more often or for longer periods of time.

In the "quarter" system, students receive less than a full student hour, so students must take more classes to gain the equivalent class time of the semester system. When transferring credit, students credit hours are adjusted based upon the systems used between the two institutions.

Analysis

Today, the Carnegie Unit and the Student Hour are a cornerstone to the administration of higher education institutions. As higher education is undertaken by the "masses" in the United States, these tools provide the ability to manage and compare students, faculty, and institutions. These units continue as the basis for evaluating student entry into college, and for determining student completion of course work and degrees. Faculty workload, efficiency, and evaluation are rooted in these units. And comparison among institutions, such as that undertaken by U.S. News & World Report, relies heavily on these units. Public and private administrators and state legislators also use these values for budgeting and planning purposes.

However, many are critical of these units due to the arbitrary use of time as the basis for measuring educational attainment. Generally, the criticism is that student learning varies greatly even among individuals who teach the same material. Variations are even greater among the various faculty members, departments, topics, schools, colleges, and universities. This has become an even greater concern in this era of distance learning and telecommunication. Frustration is particularly high among those involved with transfer of credit among institutions.[1]

See also

References

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.