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An understanding of the formula for calculating contact hours requires
some background and understanding of the types of courses offered
at Colorado State as well as the CCHE enrollment reporting
First, there are two basic types of courses for which we calculate
contact hours. These are identified with a code called "workload
type". The workload type definitions follow:
Second, it is important to note that IR calculates
contact hours only for those sections and FTE enrollments
that we are reporting to CCHE as state-funded RI FTE
enrollments. Non-RI students and sections (such as Continuing
Education sections) do not have contact hours calculated.
Third, all enrollment numbers used in contact hour calculations
are census date enrollment numbers. If one looks at other
datasets extracted at a different point in time the same
formulas would yield different results due to students that
add or drop the section.
CCHE defines "contact hours" as that time in which the student
is involved in direct face-to-face instructional contact with
the faculty member(s) teaching a particular section. The
CCHE definition for a base contact hour is 750 minutes of
section meeting time. In order to calculate the contact
hours one needs to calculate the total number of minutes
(during a semester) that the students are being instructed
by a faculty member.
Calculating contact hours is done differently according to
the workload type of a particular section, and any available
scheduled meeting times for that section. The first priority
for calculating contact hours is to use the actual scheduled
meeting time information for the section. Not all types of
sections have scheduled meeting times, but if meeting times
are available and assigned to a section the contact hours
are calculated using the following information about the section:
In an example course below the contact hours are calculated:
Formula components used to calculate total meeting time minutes
and contact hours:
The begin/end dates DO NOT include finals week--which is allowed
to be counted in the contact hour total; however, the begin/end
dates do include a week in which classes do not meet (Thanksgiving
week or spring break) so the formula above produces a result
that is extremely close and reasonable.
Many sections, however, do not have scheduled meeting times and
therefore contact hours must be derived by making the assumption
that there is an understanding by the offering department that
is communicated to the students in terms of reasonable expectations
for contact hours given the type of course being taught and the
amount of credits being earned by the student.
CCHE has minimum guidelines expressing the minimum number of
weekly contact hours expected to receive 1 credit. This varies
depending upon the instruction type (delivery method) of the
section. These minimum guidelines are listed below:
In the information above the contact ratio is 1 for a "lecture"
section meaning that a student enrolled for 1 lecture credit
is expected to meet for 1 base contact hour during the semester.
A base contact hour is 750 minutes. For internship sections
one is expected to meet for 3 base contact hours per 1 credit
earned (2250 minutes).
Therefore, sections without formally scheduled meeting times
are assumed to be meeting the required number of minimum contact
If a lab course is required to have a minimum of 3 weekly contact
hours and the meeting time calculations show only 2 weekly contact
hours, a check is made to see if the section also has an
"hours arranged" component. If so, it is assumed that 2 of the
weekly contact hours result from the scheduled meeting times and
the remaining 1 required contact hour is met with the "hours
arranged" work that is done by the student outside the formally
scheduled lab time.
Generally all "E" workload courses have scheduled meeting times
and the contact hour calculation for those is straightforward.
It's also true that nearly all "S" type courses are variable
credit and therefore do not have formally-scheduled meeting
times so the contact hours are derived from the above guidelines.
There is a very small portion of sections, however, that are
"S" type sections AND have scheduled meeting times. Since the
calculation of contact hours should be a measurable item the
meeting times are always used (as opposed to deriving contact
hours from a ratio) when available. Less than 1 percent
of those "S" sections with meeting times the contact hour
calculations yield results that are significantly higher than
the minimum required contact hours according to CCHE formulas.
It is entirely possible (and also permissible) that any section
actually meets more contact hours than the required minimum.