Credit Hour System and Student Workload at Alexandria University: a possible paradigm shift

Alsaeed Alshamy


The study aims at investigating the perceptions of both academics and students on student workload in Credit Hour System at the Faculty of Education at Alexandria University (Egypt). It uses the wider international experience of higher education reform, including Tuning Africa Project — II, to propose implications for policy and practice on how the real work hours needed by a student to achieve the learning outcomes specified in the curriculum and to pass a course or module are adequately estimated and to contribute to the definition of the basis of a Credit System for Africa. The data have been collected through questionnaires administered to 26 participants: 11 academics (one academic per course) and 15 students (each student surveyed 11 times across all courses of the Professional Diploma in Education). The main findings show significant differences between the perceptions of academics and students on student workload almost across all courses, where students’ estimation of the number of hours needed to complete the independent work during the semester were much higher than that of academics except for fieldwork (site visits). The independent workload as estimated by academics is 62% of students’ estimation. Significant differences were found between the perceptions of students on the number of hours required for each type of independent work across different courses except “preparation and follow-up work for scheduled classes”. The highest average of estimations of the number of hours was given to course N. 11 (World Trends in Quality Assurance Systems); whereas the lowest average was given to course N. 5 (Assessment of Quality in Educational Institutions) across all different types of independent work. Only 36.4% of academics have taken students’ feedback on workload into consideration when planning the workload for their courses. It was also found that 92% of students were not informed about the number of hours planned for independent work at the beginning of the course. In addition, 88% of students were not asked to express their feedback about workload. These findings indicate that there are no unified regulations among academics to the estimation of student workload. It is also made clear that the process of estimating student workload in Credit Hour System at Alexandria University is staff-centred rather than student-oriented as the majority of academics follow traditional methodologies in the estimation of student workload. It is also enunciated clearly that there is marginal coordination between academics teaching in the same programme. It can be concluded that student voice about their workload is not adequately considered as their feedback is not taken into consideration, which can be interpreted in light of the absence of a “paradigm shift” from staff-centred to student oriented approaches to the estimation of student workload.


Alexandria University; Tuning Africa Project II; credit hour system; student workload; competence-based learning; higher education

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