Credits can be described as a way of determining how much of an effort has been put on learning a particular subject or a course based on the number of hours spent in various aspects of learning. These can include face to face lectures, practical or lab work, field visits or any other learning activity which relates to awarding a particular qualification or a degree in recognition of the learning that has taken place.
When looking at different training programmes world wide, it is apparent that, there can be certain differences in the way that we allocate credits or else the measures that we take in determine how much of credits are to be allocated in each instance. Due to this wide variation, there are professional bodies and governmental agencies implementing standards in order to bring about a consensus on how we allocate credits and how should these credits be interchanged and used in different settings. This would not only benefit the students for continuous education but it will also facilitate the academic agencies or institutions to standardize their training programmes in order to provide an education which is both higher in quality as well as recognizable worldwide.
For a particular course or a study programme to attract a particular number of credits, the following criteria will be looked into at the designing stage of the learning programme.
What are the expected outcomes of a particular course of study? How much learning should take place in order to achieve the intended outcomes? What are the ways that needs to be used in order to make the students learn? How much of time should each learning activity take? How much of credits can be allocated for one particular unit, course or else to a learning activity?
A credit will therefore derive from the number of hours spent in completing a learning task or a course. Thus, when a designated number of credit hours are completed, it is possible to award the number of credits that are allocated for the said duration. In general, 12 – 15 hours of learning per semester can be assigned one credit whereas 6 hours of learning would derive 0.5 credits. But, it should be remembered that, the 12 – 15 hour demarcation is usually made for lecture sessions whereas practical or lab sessions would derive a credit only after completing more number of credit hours than for lecture sessions.
In brief, a course designer or an institute should determine the number of credit allocations for a particular course by taking into account the actual learning that takes place, the hidden learning that should take place, number of hours spent on each learning activity, the requirements of professional bodies, academic and accreditation agencies as well as the demand from the students.