How the Student Credit Hour Shapes Higher Education: The Tie That Binds: New Directions for Higher Education

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Jane V. Wellman, Thomas Ehrlich
Wiley, Aug 21, 2003 - Education - 144 pages
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The student credit hour (SCH) is truly the coin of the realm within the U.S. system of higher education. Initially designed to translate high school course work, it now measures everything from student learning to faculty workload. It shapes how time is used, and how enrollments are calculated, and underpins cost and performance measures. This American invention is one of the features that knit together our otherwise disparate system of higher education. Yet, the rationale for the metric has long since gone unexamined, and the measure itself may be perpetuating bad habits that get in the way of institutional change in higher education. The chapters in this book deconstruct the SCH credit hour and how it has come to be used in American higher education, to examine whether it has become an obstacle to needed change. It is a fascinating journey into the sociological evolution of the current organization and governance of American higher education.

This is the 122nd issue of the quarterly journal New Directions for Higher Education.

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About the author (2003)

THOMAS EHRLICH is distinguished university scholar at San Francisco State University and a senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

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