Eligibility of Learning Experiences to be Evaluated
Organizations select courses for evaluation in consultation with NCCRS staff. Learning experiences that meet the following criteria may be eligible for evaluation.
- Formalized learning experiences officially sponsored by the organization requesting the evaluation may be evaluated. Unsupervised on-the-job training that is not evaluated or graded. Formal learning experiences can take the form of traditional classroom instruction, computer-assisted instruction, online learning, interactive video, correspondence courses, programmed instruction, or examinations for professional certification or licensure.Individualized independent study (contractual learning) cannot be evaluated.
- Courses taught by vendors and that an organization neither keeps records for nor exercises control over cannot be evaluated; however, if the vendor keeps records on course participants, the vendor may have the courses evaluated.
- Learning experiences must be at the postsecondary level. Length or intensity alone does not mean that courses are comparable to college-level instruction. Organizations are encouraged to make a preliminary self-assessment by comparing their courses with course descriptions in college catalogs or in consultation with college faculty or other professionals in higher education. Finally, it is up to the evaluation team to determine whether courses are at the college level. NCCRS does not evaluate courses and programs that are exclusively designed for and offered to a K-12 youth audience.
- Classroom courses must include a minimum of 15 contact hours (50 minute hours), unless it can be demonstrated that learning outcomes are exceptional in proportion to instructional hours. Otherwise, shorter courses might be grouped with another course (or courses) in the same content area for the purpose of establishing credit recommendations. Conversely, 15 contact hours does not always equate to one semester hour of recommended credit. This is in part because noncollegiate courses often contain material that is very specific to the organization, in contrast to general or theoretical material. While this material may be vital to achieving an organization's training goals, it may not be considered comparable to college instruction. Therefore, the instructional hours that contribute to the credit recommendation may be less than the total number of contact hours in a course.
- Learning experiences must be taught by instructors with qualifications appropriate for college-level instruction in their subject areas. Instructors may be either employees of the organization or independent consultants hired to teach courses for the organization.
- Learning experiences must include some means of testing students' mastery of course content (e.g., written exams, reports, oral presentations, skill performance, role plays, supervised laboratory experience, or other assessments). For evaluation instruments other than machine scoreable tests, criteria for grading should be clear. For example, a computer program might be evaluated on efficiency, readability, clarity of documentation; written business communications might be evaluated on clarity of purpose, organization, appropriateness of tone, and conciseness; oral presentations should be evaluated using a checklist that includes points for both delivery and content.
- Course content must be documented through a detailed syllabus (course outline), textbooks, lesson plans, instructor's manual, student workbooks, completed homework assignments for at least three students. Samples should represent a range of categories: excellent, average and below average grades (technical courses should show the extent of calculations required of the student), graded exams from the same three students as the homework assignments, examples of any other student work that contribute to the final grade, class rosters, and grade lists. The organization should also indicate how all exams and assignments are weighted to calculate final grades for the course.
- If the learning experience has been offered in the same form for some time preceding the evaluation, and the organization would like past participants to be able to benefit from the credit recommendations, the team can backdate their recommendations up to five years. The content for past years must be clearly documented through exams, course syllabi, class rosters, student records and, when available, completed student work and instructional materials.