Re-thinking the credit hour?

Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Receives Funding to Rethink the Carnegie Unit | Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of TeachingSince 1906, the Carnegie Unit, or credit hour/student hour, has been the standard unit by which student progress and mastery in American secondary schools and colleges have been measured. The Carnegie Unit was originally created in 1906 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a means by which professors could argue for pensions, but it quickly became the standard by which student levels of educational attainment were measured across the board.

Today, with the rise of alternative means of education such as online programs and the recognition that student learning does not always take place according to strictly definable time tables, there have been increased calls for a reassessment of the Carnegie Unit.  Even the Education Department at times as suggested that a review of the Carnegie Unit would be helpful, and various higher educational institutions have begun experimenting with their own measures, although none of these have spread widely or become uniform.

Based on their recent winning of a $460,000 grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation will attempt to be at the forefront of the movement to reform the standard they created over a century ago.  The Carnegie Foundation will seek in their research to evaluate how a new standard, based on student competency rather than on time spent learning, might improve the American educational system.

Of course, the difficulty will be in transitioning to a new system, even if a new system is agreed upon.  The current system is so engrained and so widespread that systematic reform will, even with agreement from all parties concerned, be a massive task.  Beyond this challenge, there are still those in higher education who support at least some form of the time-based, current model.

For more information, please see these sites: