The institution employs sound and acceptable practices for determining the amount and level of credit awarded for courses, regardless of format or mode of delivery.
 

Compliance Judgment: In compliance

Narrative

East Carolina University (hereafter, ECU or the institution) employs sound and acceptable practices for determining the amount and level of credit awarded for courses. These include practices for awarding credit for courses, regardless of format or mode of delivery. This report describes the following aspects of these practices:

Definition of a Semester Hour of Credit and Course Level

As a constituent member of the University of North Carolina (UNC), East Carolina University (hereafter, ECU or the institution) complies with definition of a credit hour stated in UNC Policy 400_1_6 when developing degree curricula and courses for both face-to-face and distance education instruction:

All UNC campuses must ensure that every course offered for academic credit adheres to the standard of a minimum of 750 scheduled minutes of instructional time or the equivalent per credit hour. The time may include required examination periods, but may not include study days. 

ECU’s specific regulation, Definition of a Semester Credit Hour, is contained in the institution’s policy manual to inform students and faculty of how credit hours are defined.  Procedures and practices at both the campus and UNC-General Administration levels assure that determination of credit hours conforms to commonly accepted practice in higher education and to Commission policy.  This definition applies regardless of format or mode of delivery.  For clinical, seminar, independent study, studio, field study, and internship courses that do not fit a traditional format, a comparable degree of faculty contact (or interaction) is required per credit hour.

The ECU undergraduate catalog describes how undergraduate-level courses are numbered and how course level is indicated by course number. Courses numbered 0001-0999 are considered remedial, and these courses accrue no credit towards a degree and are not calculated towards a student's grade point average (GPA). Courses numbered 1000-1999 are first year courses. Courses numbered 2000-2999 are sophomore courses. Courses numbered 3000-3999 are junior courses.  Courses numbered 4000-4999 are senior courses. 

The ECU graduate catalog describes how graduate-level courses are numbered and how course level is indicated by course numbers.  Five-thousand-level (5000-5999) and six-thousand-level (6000-6999) courses are master’s courses. Undergraduate students may be admitted to five-thousand-level courses if the students have completed the published prerequisite(s) or with the written permission of the instructor, chairperson of the department, director of the school, or dean of the college in which the course is offered. Seven-thousand-level (7002-7999) courses are doctoral courses. Qualified master’s students may enroll in seven-thousand-level courses if they have completed the published prerequisite(s) or with the written permission of the instructor, chairperson of the department, director of the school, or dean of the college in which the course is offered.

Procedures for Evaluating Credit Hour and Level for Newly Approved Courses

When a new course is proposed, the course must be approved by the department, the college or school, the University Curriculum Committee (undergraduate) or Graduate Curriculum Committee (graduate), and the ECU Faculty Senate (undergraduate) or Graduate Council (graduate). These faculty groups all review a proposed course to determine the appropriate course level and amount of credit to be awarded, consistent with the standards described above.  If a committee does not approve the amount or level of credit proposed, the proposal is returned to the originating unit for reconsideration.

The campus approval process for new courses or for revising new courses is well documented and can be found in the ECU Faculty Manual, Part VI, Section VII.

Courses such as independent studies, independent research, selected readings, selected topics, etc., that vary in the number of credit hours based on the volume of content covered or work performed, are carefully documented and reviewed in accordance with the Guidelines for Courses with Varying Credit HoursNew course proposals or proposals to revise existing courses that include varying credit hours must identify how the topic is chosen and must include a listing of potential topic areas.  All course proposals for varying credit hours must have clear, identifiable methods of determining what needs to be completed for differing numbers of credits.  

The ECU Office of the Registrar strictly enforces course prerequisites, as well as student classification requirements (e.g., junior, senior, graduate student) to register for courses. This enforcement also applies to courses delivered off campus or in alternate formats.

If a new course is proposed to be delivered off campus and/or in an alternative format, the new course goes through the same vetting process as that for a face-to-face course.  This includes titles, descriptions, course objectives, content, etc. The amount and level of credit awarded a course is the same for face-to-face and online or alternative delivery format courses.  According to the ECU Policy on Distance Education, “there shall be no distinctions in academic rigor or content between programs offered through distance education and those offered on campus.”

Evaluation of Equivalency of Courses Delivered Off Campus and in Alternate Delivery Modes

The university policy on distance education specifies the expectations for courses taught off campus or in an alternate format: 
"Distance Education Courses and Programs:  Programs offered via distance education shall be consistent with the mission of East Carolina University and the academic unit offering the courses or programs. There shall be no distinctions in academic rigor or content between programs offered through distance education and those offered on campus. Development of new online programs and courses will follow the same development and approval procedures as for face-to-face programs and courses (Part V, Section III). Selection of courses and programs to be offered via distance education is the purview of the offering academic unit. The academic units shall provide oversight of programs and courses delivered via distance education to ensure that each is coherent and complete and has learning outcomes appropriate to the level and rigor of the course or program."

The university has taken the following specific actions to determine whether these expectations are met for off-campus and alternately formatted courses.

1.       Program Assessment Reports: ECU requires assessment reports for all educational programs, including those that are delivered at an off-campus location (e.g., more than 50% of the course work for the program is delivered at an off-campus site) and individual degree programs that are delivered online. Examples of program evaluation reports are provided below for the MS in Communications Sciences and Disorders. The degree program is offered via on-campus/traditional delivery and via off-campus/distance education. The evaluative reports provided below indicate that the program learning outcomes are expected to be the same for the degree program offered in different modes or locations. The courses in these programs use the same syllabi at all locations and establish the same program (student learning) outcomes, means of assessment, and criteria for success. Thus program assessment reports provide a means of evaluating the comparability of the courses taught off-campus and online.


Degree Program

Program Outcomes

MS in Communications Sciences and Disorders

Praxis Pass Rates

 

Employment Rates

 

Student Survey

 

Alumni Survey

 

Program Completion Rates













2.     Design of Online Courses: ECU faculty members teaching any distance education courses have access to consultation, implementation, and support from appropriate supporting units (i.e. Office for Faculty Excellence, Information Technology and Computing Services (ITCS), college instructional support consultants, library services, etc). The university provides appropriate equipment, software, and communications access to faculty who are designing online courses.

3.       Student Evaluations of Courses/Instructors: The Student Opinion of Instruction Survey (SOIS) consists of four surveys, conducted each semester to obtain student evaluation of instruction.  Each of the four forms of the survey consists of a common core set of 18 questions, plus demographic questions. The distance education survey is used for all courses in which at least 25% of the instruction is delivered by a non-face-to-face method.  This survey includes 20 additional questions (highlighted green) that address web-related aspects of online courses. Question 41 is no longer used in SOIS surveys but has yet to be removed from the form. The item has been redacted. Administered by Institutional Planning, Assessment and Research (IPAR), these surveys are used by course instructors for course development purposes and by administrators for assessment purposes. Comparisons of traditional and alternatively formatted course evaluation results are given in Table 1a. and Table 2b. below.

Table 1a. Comparison of Face-to-Face (FF) and Online (DE) SOIS Summary Course Rating Means

Table 2b. Comparison of Face-to-Face (FF) and Online (DE) SOIS Summary Course Rating Means

4.       Instructor Perspectives on Teaching Distance/Online Courses: In fall of 2011, the university surveyed faculty who have taught online/distance courses.  Highlights of the survey can be found in the Faculty Online Teaching Survey.


ECU has demonstrated ongoing procedures that determine the amount and level of credit of each course, regardless of the mode of delivery of any course, so that ECU’s standards and procedures ensure that the institution’s practices are sound and acceptable for determining the amount and level of credit awarded for courses offered. Thus, ECU is in compliance with Standard 3.4.6. In addition, ECU has demonstrated its recurring analysis of the efficacy of each mode of delivery, thereby providing continued justification for the amount of credit awarded and the level of the course.



Documentation

Reference Title

Location

Alumni Survey

Alumni Survey

Definition of a Semester Credit Hour

Definition of a Semester Credit Hour

Distance Education Survey

SOISform-DE

ECU Faculty Manual, Part VI, Section VII

Part V - Curriculum Development

Employment Rates

Employment Rates

Faculty Online Teaching Survey

Faculty_Online_Teaching_Report

Graduate Catalog

grcat1112

Guidelines for Courses with Varying Credit Hour

varyingcredithours

Information Technology and Computing Services

ITCS

MS in Communications Sciences and Disorders

MS Communications Sciences and Disorders

Office for Faculty Excellence

Office for Faculty Excellence

Policy on Distance Education

Faculty Manual part6

Praxis Pass Rates

Praxis Pass Rates

Program Completion Rates

Program Completion Rates

Student Opinion of Instruction Survey

IPAR - Assessment - Surveys - SOIS

Student Survey

Student Survey

Table 1a. Comparison of FF and DE SOIS Summary Course Rating Means

Table 1a. Comparison of FF and DE SOIS Summary Course Rating Means

Table 2b. Comparison of FF and DE SOIS Summary Course Rating Means

Table 2b. Comparison of FF and DE SOIS Summary Course Rating Means

UNC Policy Manual 400.1.6.

3.4.6 UNC Policy 400.1.6

Undergraduate Catalog

ugcat1112