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College of Law

Florida State University

 

Credit Hour Policy

Policy and Procedures for Determining Credit Hours Awarded for Coursework

A.  The College of Law adheres to ABA Standards in determining the number of credit hours awarded for coursework.  ABA Standard 310(b) provides that:

A "credit hour" is an amount of work that reasonably approximates:

(1) not less than one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and two hours of out-of-class student work per week for fifteen weeks, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or

(2) at least an equivalent amount of work as required in subparagraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution, including simulation, field placement, clinical, co-curricular, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours.

B.  As provided by Interpretation 310-1, fifty minutes suffices for one hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction.  An “hour” for out-of-class student work is sixty minutes. 

C.  In accordance with Standard 310, the College of Law awards one unit of credit for an amount of work that reasonably approximates: (1) no less than 750 minutes of classroom or direct faculty instruction and 1,800 minutes of out-of-class student work, or a total time of 42.5 hours per credit; or (2) at least an equivalent amount of work for other academic activities, including simulation courses, field placements, clinical courses, moot court, mock trial, law journals, and directed independent studies (as provided by Standard 310(b)(2)).  These requirements apply to coursework that extends over any period of time, including semester-long courses and Summer session courses.  They also apply to distance education courses.  

D.  For specific types of classes, the following examples may be helpful:

Exam course: 42.5 hours per credit of time spent in class, preparing for class (e.g., reading and briefing cases, completing other assigned work or assessments), writing outlines, working with other students in study groups, and preparing for and taking an exam.

Paper course: 42.5 hours per credit of time spent in class, preparing for class (e.g., reading or completing class assignments or assessments), and researching and writing the required paper(s). This includes the typical law school “seminar.”

Field placement or clinic: 42.5 hours per credit of time spent in class, performing field placement or clinic work, preparing for class or completing class assignments (e.g., reflective writing assignments), and preparing for and taking an exam, if applicable.

Simulation courses: 42.5 hours per credit time spent in class, preparing for class (e.g., reading, completing class projects and other assignments and assessments, preparing alone or with other students for in-class simulations), and preparing for and taking an exam, if applicable.

E.  These policies and procedures shall be published in the College of Law’s website and included in its Bylaws.

Policy and Procedures for Assuring the College of Law Adheres to and Enforces the Credit Hour Policy

1.  Responsibility for Assuring Adherence to Standard 310 and the Credit Hour Policy 

The Dean’ designee, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, is charged with assuring that the College of Law adheres to ABA Standard 310 and the Credit Hour Policy.  This includes assuring that the methods and processes used to determine and assign credits lead to reliable, accurate results, and conform to commonly accepted practice in higher education.  It also includes assuring that the methods and processes followed in determining and assigning academic credit are documented, and that all requisite records are kept. 

2.  Determination of Credit Hours for New Courses: 

A.  At the time of approving a new course, the Curriculum Committee shall determine and assign the number of credits to be awarded for that course.  In doing so, the Curriculum Committee shall adhere to Standard 310 and the Credit Hour Policy. 

B.  A new course proposal submitted to the Curriculum Committee shall include a proposed syllabus and set forth:

(1) a course description;

(2) a statement of the expected course requirements, types of assessments, and course prerequisites, if any; and

(3) a statement from the faculty member proposing the new course that provides a justification for the number of credits to be awarded that takes into account classroom or direct faculty instruction, as well as the time to be spent on course-related out-of-class work.

C.  In determining and assigning the number of credits, the Curriculum Committee shall take into account:

(1) the type of course (e.g., first year doctrinal course, upper level common law course, upper level code course, seminar, simulation course, clinical course, field placement, and Directed Independent Study);

(2) the amount and difficulty of the assigned readings;

(3) the number and types of assignments students must complete during the semester (e.g., papers and simulation exercises);

(4) the number and types of assessments (e.g., final examination, midterm exam, research paper, quizzes, and short papers);

(5) other types of academically-related work (e.g., in the case of law journals, the amount of time spent on the completion of a note or comment, reading and evaluating journal submissions, and editing and cite-checking articles; and in the case of mock trial and moot court, the amount of time spent practicing, judging practice rounds, doing research, and writing briefs, and the time spent in actual competition);  

(6) any feedback from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the College of Law Registrar, and experienced faculty members;

(7) commonly accepted practice in higher education; and

(8) any other factors that the Curriculum Committee determines are relevant for determining accuracy and reliability of the credits being awarded.

D.  The Curriculum Committee shall submit a New Course Approval Report to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs that documents the factors and processes that it followed in determining and assigning credits.  This includes providing a justification for the number of credits to be awarded that takes into account classroom or direct faculty instruction, as well as the time to be spent on course-related out-of-class work.

(1) In the case of courses “that require attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction,” the Curriculum Committee shall provide a justification that the amount of work per credit hour reasonably approximates no less than 750 minutes of classroom or direct faculty instruction and 1,800 minutes of out-of-class student work, or a total time of 42.5 hours per credit.  See Standard 310(b)(1). 

(2) In the case of other academic activities, such as simulation courses, field placements, clinical courses, co-curricular activities, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours, the Curriculum Committee shall provide a justification that the amount of work per credit hour reasonably approximates at least an equivalent amount of work as no less than 750 minutes of classroom or direct faculty instruction and 1,800 minutes of out-of-class student work, or a total time of 42.5 hours per credit.  See Standard 310(b)(2).

E.  The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall review the New Course Approval Form and make a determination whether or not the number of credits that the Curriculum Committee assigned to the new course complies with Standard 310 and the Credit Hour Policy.  If the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs determines that the number of credits assigned is not in compliance, (s)he shall describe the problems identified and send the new course proposal back to the Curriculum Committee for further consideration. 

3.  Yearly Audit to Assure Ongoing Adherence to Standard 310 and the Credit Hour Policy

A.  Each academic year, the Curriculum Committee shall audit the College of Law’s current course offerings to ensure ongoing compliance with Standard 310 and the Credit Hour Policy. 

B.  In carrying out this audit, the Curriculum Committee shall, for each audited course, review:

(1) the course description;

(2) the syllabus;

(3) student feedback (e.g., in student evaluations, exit interviews, and self-reports of time spent reading, writing outlines, working in study groups, completing assignments, and studying for exams); and

(4) any other materials that the Curriculum Committee determines relevant for determining the accuracy and reliability of the credits being awarded. 

C.  In carrying out this audit, the Curriculum Committee shall, for each audited course, take into account:

(1) the type of course (e.g., first year doctrinal course, upper level common law course, upper level code course, seminar, simulation course, clinical course, field placement, and Directed Independent Study);

(2) the amount and difficulty of the assigned readings;

(3) the number and types of assignments students must complete during the semester;

(4) the number and types of assessments (e.g., final examination, midterm exam, research paper, quizzes, and short papers);

(5) other types of academically-related work (e.g., in the case of law journals, the amount of time spent on the completion of a note or comment, reading and evaluating journal submissions, and editing and cite-checking articles; and in the case of mock trial and moot court, the amount of time spent practicing, judging practice rounds, doing research, and writing briefs, and the time spent in actual competition);  

(6) any feedback from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the College of Law Registrar, and experienced faculty members;

(7) commonly accepted practice in higher education; and

(8) any other factors that the Curriculum Committee determines are relevant for determining accuracy and reliability of the credits being awarded.

D.  The Curriculum Committee shall submit an Annual Credit Hour Audit Report to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs that, for each audited course, documents the factors and processes that it followed in determining the accuracy of the credits being awarded.  This includes providing a justification for the number of credits to be awarded that takes into account classroom or direct faculty instruction, as well as the time to be spent on course-related out-of-class work.

(1) In the case of courses “that require attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction,” the Curriculum Committee shall provide a justification that the amount of work per credit hour reasonably approximates no less than 750 minutes of classroom or direct faculty instruction and 1,800 minutes of out-of-class student work, or a total time of 42.5 hours per credit.  See Standard 310(b)(1). 

(2) In the case of other academic activities, such as simulation courses, field placements, clinical courses, co-curricular activities, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours, the Curriculum Committee shall provide a justification that the amount of work per credit hour reasonably approximates at least an equivalent amount of work as no less than 750 minutes of classroom or direct faculty instruction and 1,800 minutes of out-of-class student work, or a total time of 42.5 hours per credit.  See Standard 310(b)(2).

E.  The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall review the Annual Credit Hour Audit Report and make a determination whether or not the number of credits being awarded for each audited course complies with Standard 310 and the Credit Hour Policy.  If a course is not in compliance with Standard 310 and the Credit Hour Policy, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs shall communicate the perceived deficit to the faculty member teaching the course, provide instructions for correcting the problem, and assure that the course comes back into compliance with the Standard and the Credit Hour Policy.      

F.  Each academic year, the Curriculum Committee shall review the Credit Hour Policy to determine whether any changes are warranted.