Learning at Harrisburg University
The goal of learning at Harrisburg University is to obtain the relevant knowledge, competence, and experiences to best be prepared for an enriching career. Learning is, therefore, a multi-faceted activity that occurs throughout and across the college experience; it integrates both academic learning (acquiring and applying new knowledge) and student development (learning about oneself). Competency-based learning outcomes with programs that are intentionally designed to be engaging, integrative, and experiential are emphasized. There are four inter-dependent program characteristics that help define the Harrisburg University experience:
- Highly Available: The University provides learning experiences to meet the student’s needs. This is demonstrated through one or more team-taught general education courses, the use of technology inside and outside of the classroom, and the non-curricular or co-curricular learning opportunities available.
- Highly Collaborative: The student develops knowledge and skills through shared experience, as opposed to learning in isolation or in competition with each other. The faculty is responsible for creating learning environments based upon the premise that knowledge can be gained from everyone. The student has the advantage of learning from the minds and experiences of classmates, business mentors, or future employers.
- Highly Experiential: The University deliberately ensures that learning is highly linked to both practical and professional experience. This represents a shift from one-way (faculty to student), text-heavy content delivery to a more robust learning model that deliberately values experience, both inside and outside the classroom. Experience is emphasized through Projects I and II for undergraduates and industry-related internships and/or practicum opportunities for the adult student.
- Highly Applied: The learning conversation focuses on the practical application of knowledge. The intention is to shift the question from “How do I remember this information?” to “How can I act on this information in order to create knowledge that is both useful and actionable?” In this way, learning becomes an exercise in both preparation for career and readiness for life.
Learning Assessment at Harrisburg University
Harrisburg University’s model for the assessment of student learning is structured to support learning goals. The goals of the programs and courses are clearly defined and are relevant to the mission of the University. Course syllabi establish specific learning objectives, articulate the instructor’s expectation of the student, and outline the standards against which the student’s learning will be measured. Learning assessment of coursework and experiential learning is creative, in that it goes beyond instructor-driven evaluation through examinations and papers in most cases, and is done both inside and outside the classroom by faculty, business and academic professionals. Further, student learning around each of the University competencies is a focus of assessment activities. Student learning assessment is anchored in the use of ePortfolios throughout the student’s program of study. The University is committed to improve its program offerings by comparing student assessment outcomes to the program and course goals.
Competencies and ePortfolio
Competency-Driven and Across-the-Curricula: A hallmark of the Harrisburg University experience is competency-driven education. The student will be expected to demonstrate mastery of eight universitywide competencies:
- Critical Thinking
- Teamwork and Collaboration
- Information Literacy
- Ethical Decision Making
- Global Awareness
- Civic Engagement
Regardless of the student’s program of study, employers and community leaders desire these competencies; they also serve the broader purpose of preparation for life and citizenship.
ePortfolio Requirement: Harrisburg University defines an ePortfolio as an organized, media-rich collection of documents that allows the student to demonstrate competence to a multitude of audiences. The ePortfolio will be central in how the student organizes, develops, and reflects upon learning. It will also be a lever for assisting the way in which faculty develop curricula, view teaching, and deliver content. Ultimately, the ePortfolio will be a coalescing force for making tangible and visible the University-wide competency program while serving as a key tool in evaluating student success.
Credit Hour Policy Program Instructional Equivalencies
Seeing the wide variety of course delivery, Harrisburg University adopted the method of assigning “learning hours” to each course. Each “learning hour” represents one hour per week of student engagement, including both instructional and outside of class activities.
Three “learning hours” are equivalent to one traditional semester credit hour. It is a variation of an older standard often used by universities requiring a 3-credit hour course to provide 42 total contact hours of instruction between students and faculty/instructors and 84 hours of out-of-class work (total of 126 hours).
Harrisburg offers traditional 14-week semesters, sub-terms, and an accelerated format. Regardless of the format or delivery, all programs whether online, blended/hybrid, executive weekend, accelerated, sub terms or traditional classrooms must meet the 126-learning hours for a 3-credit course (3 credits * 3 hours/credit * 14 weeks = 126 hours). Adherence to these regulations enhances the quality and rigor of the academic programs and is achieved by utilizing the “instructional equivalencies” detailed below.
Harrisburg University faculty establishes the learning-based interactions (when, where, how and why) including frequency, duration, evaluation and assessment techniques. These guidelines recognize the need for the faculty to actively manage the learning space, both in and outside the classroom. This policy is extremely important in helping faculty in the design and teaching of courses and in the student learning. It is the responsibility of the faculty to deliver academic quality regardless of delivery format. Provided below is an outline of acceptable “Instructional Equivalencies”:
||Rate of Equivalency
|Blogs, Journals, Logs
||Students’ opportunity to apply learned concepts or for reflection on learning experiences; to be shared with instructor and/or classmates for thoughtful analysis, feedback and assessment.
||1 private online posting= ½ learning hour
1 shared online posting (required to read all classmates’ postings)= 1 learning hour
|Cases studies & problem-solving scenarios
||In-depth analysis requiring utilization of higher order analytical skills which relate to course objectives and is shared with instructor and/or classmates for feedback and assessment.
||1 case study analysis & posting= 1-3 learning hour
|Required Online Chat rooms for group projects
||Instructor led opportunities for collaborative, synchronous learning with specific expectations for participation & feedback. (Chats are posted for review.)
||1 hour online chat= 1 learning hour
||Instructor led opportunities for collaborative, synchronous learning with specific expectations for participation & feedback. (When possible, calls to be recorded for review.)
||½ hour call = ½ learning hour
||Instructor-guided or mediated threaded discussion that directly relates to course objectives and which has specified timeframes, expectations for participation, and thoughtful analysis.
||1 posting (requires reading all postings)= ½ learning hour
1 posting (requires reading all postings and reply to a minimum of 2)= 1 learning hour
|Field trips, tours and experiential learning (to include virtual tours)
||Students participate as individuals or in groups in analyzing an activity & preparing a paper or presentation, to be shared in whole or in part with instructor and/or classmates.
(Facilitator or Instructor-Led)- 1 hour tour= 1 learning hour
(Student(s) alone without instructor or facilitator)- 1 hour tour plus reflection paper= 1 learning hour
||An instructor mediated culminating activity with specific learning objectives; students collaborate via e-mail, chat rooms, discussion boards, wikis, and/or face-to-face contact to research, analyze, synthesize, & prepare project with instructor receiving periodic updates & providing guidance to group.
||1 hour = 1 learning hour
||An instructor mediated culminating individual project/thesis with specific learning objectives; student and facilitator collaborate via email, chat, discussion boards, and/or face-to-face to research, analyze & prepare project/thesis with instructor receiving periodic updates and providing guidance and feedback.
||1 hour = 1 learning hour
|In-Class Instruction, Presentations, & Tests
||Instruction, presentations, and tests provided in person in live classroom setting.
||60 min. = 1 learning hour
|Instructional CDs, PowerPoints, Videos
||Instructor-mediated to expand upon and clarify course concepts and objectives.
||Reviews & posts response to 1 unit= 1 learning hour
|Lecture activitywritten or audio
||Opportunity for students to develop questions, comments, or observations, to be shared with classmates & instructor through discussion board postings or participation in chat rooms.
||Reviews 1 lecture & posts response= 1 learning hour
|Library Research (instructor led)
||In-depth instructor led opportunity for students to research scholarly articles or professional journals that relate to course objectives; to be shared with class in a designated manner.
||Research for 1 five page project= 1 learning hour
Research for 1 3-5 page paper= 1-2 learning hours
||Opportunity for instructor to assess students’ subject knowledge and provide feedback on students’ progress.
||1 hour test = 1 learning hour
|Reflection Paper or Article Review
||Instructor guided activity for students to apply learned concepts and relate practices to personal experiences or apply higher order analytic skills in assessing scholarly articles or professional journals.
||1 private posting= ½ learning hour
1 shared posting (required to read all classmates’ postings)- 1 learning hour
|Service-Learning Project; Jr and Sr projects, capstone
||An instructor led service project with specific learning objectives that integrates community service with academic study; faculty provides guidance, support, and feedback to students and students shares experience and reflection with fellow classmates via emails, chats, discussion boards, and/or face-to-face.
||1 hour = 1 learning hour
||Instructor led desktop to desktop or classroom video streaming instruction for collaborative, synchronous learning with specific expectations for participation and feedback. (i.e., Moodle, Adobe Connect, Skype, etc.)
||60 minutes = 1 learning hour
|Web-Quest (Internet Research)
||Instructor guided opportunity for students to research information on the Internet that enhances student learning and addresses specific course outcomes; findings shared with the instructor and classmates.
||1 in-depth posting= 1 learning hour
*Researching, PowerPoint/video reviews, WebQuest activities, reading articles, etc. are considered “homework” assignments. The Rate of Equivalency denoted pertains to posting, reviewing, sharing, and providing student-to-student and/or instructor-to-student feedback.
Adapted from Misericordia University, Dallas, PA and modified for Harrisburg University.
Structure of the Program
The undergraduate program structure is designed to provide the student with basic foundation knowledge, program specific knowledge, opportunities to apply new knowledge, and the flexibility to explore interesting topics. All undergraduate degree programs have the same five structural elements: 1) Foundation courses, 2) General Education courses, 3) Program Requirement courses, 4) Experiential courses, and 5) Elective courses. The number of credits covered by the structural elements adds up to the total of 120 credits needed for graduation. Each structural element has specific credits and course requirements associated with it. Generally, the breakdown of credits by structural element is 18 credits in Foundation courses, 30 credits in General Education courses, 48 - 50 credits in Program Requirement courses, 12 credits in Experiential courses, and 10-12 credits in Electives.
The purpose of the Foundation courses is to provide the student with mathematics and communication knowledge and skills that will be used throughout the selected program of study. More importantly, mastery of foundational knowledge and skill is required for success in science and technology careers.
Every student must complete 9 credits of mathematics courses: MATH 120 - College Algebra , MATH 280 - Introductory Statistics , and MATH 220 - Calculus I or MEBA 375 - Statistics for Managers .
Additionally, every student must complete 9 credits of communication including the following topics: composition, speech, and advanced composition and technical writing.
Courses in English, communication and math, with a grade of C or higher, may be transferred from other institutions to the Online Bachelor’s Degree Program.
The purpose of general education is to offer the undergraduate student a dynamic platform for both foundational and skill-based learning to prepare them for a well-rounded life during which they will make informed decisions, contribute to society, and become lifelong learners. General education is a degree requirement for each undergraduate student.
Given the sheer vastness of knowledge and the rate at which new knowledge is developed, the student typically cannot command mastery or deep expertise in the broad areas known as the sciences, social sciences, humanities, or applied knowledge domains such as entrepreneurship or leadership. The purpose of general education is not to produce experts. Instead, the goal is to integrate contributions from multiple fields to give the student more comprehensive explanations and understandings of the world. In essence, general education - and all academic work at the University, begins within a framework of applied and self-directed learning.
The Mind courses are cross-disciplinary, applied courses. The student is required to successfully complete at least 30 credits of general education, 24 of which should be the Mind courses.
Two 2-course sequences totaling 12 credits are part of the first-year program.
Two other Mind courses are 6 credits and usually team-taught.
The remaining 6 credits can be additional Mind courses or General Education (GEND) electives. Credits from other institutions are acceptable with a grade of C or higher and evaluated upon admission.
The student will complete 12 credits of experiential learning. The University is committed to preparing students for careers and career advancement in science and technology fields. Part of what makes the degree program unique is an emphasis on experiential learning, which includes an internship, two projects, and a seminar course. By connecting the classroom, workplace, and research experiences within the program, the student can gain a range of marketable skills. These skills are linked to the eight competencies at the heart of the University’s curriculum in addition to the learning goals within the student’s program of study. The experiential courses are expected to provide the student with an enhanced resume prior to graduation from the University.
Seminar Course - The seminar course provides the student with the support and skill development needed to effectively conduct research for academic results and to progress and achieve the University competencies. The student engages in critical thinking to acclimate their re-entry into college and emphasize civic engagement, career planning, and professional ethics. This seminar is designed to facilitate the student’s transition into developing an ePortfolio that includes evidence of experiential and competency-based learning.
Projects - Both project courses challenge the student to identify, investigate and analyze a particular topic or problem in the program of study and concentration. A key objective is to apply skills, methods, and knowledge obtained in previously completed courses with independent thinking and research; the final product represents the successful and purposeful application of knowledge. Projects are undertaken with the close mentorship of a faculty member and may involve a community partner. Projects can involve academic-based research, needs analyses, development plans for external organizations, market studies and business proposals. The student develops a unique plan and contract and establishes individual learning goals in consultation with a member of the Online Bachelor’s Degree Program faculty and/or Office of Experiential Learning.
Internship or Occupational Practicum - An internship allows the student to apply classroom experiences to the workplace at an off-site placement, where ideas are tested, and competencies and skills are developed. For one 7-week session the student interacts with professionals in an external organization to explore career options related to the student’s program of study. Each student is responsible for finding and completing an internship. The student is provided a list of available opportunities and is guided through the process of obtaining and completing the internship. A student can enhance post-graduation career prospects by integrating this external experience into the academic program.
Or the student can elect to complete a 3-credit Occupational Practicum course in place of an internship. Discussion and approval with the Offices of Experiential Learning and Online Bachelor’s Degree Program is required.
The elective component of the curriculum provides the student opportunities: 1) to explore disciplines not included in the foundation, general education, and program requirements; or 2) for study beyond the minimum requirements in the program discipline.
Outline of Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs
The curriculum requires a minimum of 120 earned credits to fulfill the Bachelor of Science degree requirements. The courses are distributed in the following required areas: foundation, general education, experiential, program, and electives. Each requirement is detailed as follows:
Foundation Courses - 18 credits
English and Communication (9 credits)
General Education Courses - 30 Credits
All the following courses - 24 credits:
Six (6) credits chosen from the following:
Experiential Courses - 12 credits
- SEMR: Cornerstone (3 semester hours)
- Project I (3 semester hours)
- Project II (3 semester hours)
- Internship or occupational practicum (3 semester hours)
Electives - 10-12 credits
Program Requirements - 48 - 50 credits
Bachelor of Science Degree - total of 120 credits