63. Standardizing Courses and Their Nomenclature & Numbering Systems

This county’s educational system should function as an actual integrated system rather than the current conglomeration of systems. The entire span and range of education from preschool or before all the way up to the highest levels of structured formal education in universities should be categorized and organized using a standardized system for the naming and numbering of the courses. Each course should have a name and number that would be shared by all other courses in the country that contain practically the same outline. The benefits of having a standardized naming system should be obvious. A standardized naming system would significantly simplify the process of planning an educational career, especially for students who transfer between institutions. A standardized numbering system (a continuous one beginning with kindergarten or even before) would help students by giving them another tool to more accurately sense the degree of course difficulty or level of advancement. If necessary, to uniquely identify a course as one taught by a particular school, the name of the school (or its abbreviation) simply could be appended to the name of the course when printed on a transcript or anywhere else.

Many institutions or school districts have their own methods of naming classes as well as their own procedures for determining what topics are included in those courses. The result is a confusing system containing similarly named courses containing significantly different content and significantly different names ascribed to similar courses. Among other things, this results in the frustrating reality of seemingly equivalent courses not being accepted for credit at transferring or other institutions. A system incorporating a greater degree of standardization between both course names (including course numbers) and actual course content is needed to reduce confusion and improve the transferability of coursework while reducing the amount of accidental or intentional redundant learning required to fulfill transfer requirements to other institutions.

As a general rule, educational institutions need to create courses that discuss standard blocks of knowledge. Courses that discuss blocks of knowledge that differ from other standard blocks of knowledge by more than 20% would be classified as nonstandard courses. Using these criteria, it would be much easier for educational institutions to determine whether such courses meet their standards and fulfill their transfer requirements.

Students who have taken courses that contain less than 80% of the material included in equivalent standard courses at the transferring institution should be granted partial credit and then should be allowed to do one of two things to achieve full credit. They could either take additional courses, preferable other required courses for their degree, that fill in this gap in knowledge, or they could be told exactly what subjects or topics to study and then told to study that and take a test to demonstrate their satisfactory understanding of that material whenever the student is ready. The institution offering or requiring the original nonstandard courses should be required to offer the means by which to fulfill any requirements needed to complete the equivalent standard courses, although any institution should be allowed to offer them. Using such procedures, students would not be required to waste time engaging in the redundant learning involved with taking a full term course to make up for a relatively minor content deficiency in a course taken at the previous institution.

Redefining ‘Units’ Into ‘Average Total Hours Required’ for Completion of a Course

One ‘unit’ should be equal to one hour of work or study for the course (including class time). ‘Units’ should be called ‘hours’ instead and should not be stated in any other derived terms such as number of hours per week because the number of weeks are not the same for all courses. Instead, to communicate to the student an estimate of course difficulty and workload, the total number of hours estimated for successful completion should be stated in all course descriptions. For example, a course that takes an estimated 200 hours for the average student to complete would be described as a 200 hour course. To get an accurate idea of exactly how much time students are spending on a given course, school administrators or teachers themselves (perhaps right after finals are administered) could have students fill out a questionnaire asking how much time they think they have spent studying and working in this course. School administrators could revise the estimated hours needed for successful course completion as necessary.

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