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2nd Oct 2018 at 5:35 pm #68020
Dear Members. Could members advise me on whether it is mandatory to comply with Notional hours when designing and implementing a credit bearing short course. I understand that “notional hours” is the average time for learning, but is this just a “nice to know” guide – to what extent should a learning programme have to comply to this, if at all? Thnx.
3rd Oct 2018 at 8:30 am #68032
Hi Kate, One of the requirements when applying for programme approval is to set out how the notional hours will be met and achieved. Remember this is normally made up of formal classroom based training and practical work or POE development. Some learners will achieve all of the “stages” faster than others but as providers we must take the average into consideration when developing and delivering training.
In addition one of the areas we consider as evaluators is – how the notional hours” have been met.
Hope this helps you.
3rd Oct 2018 at 8:38 am #68033
This has always been a sore point, but it seems that the mere fact that it is described as a “notion” (idea, belief, concept etc.) indicates that it is not a fixed point. SAQA indicates the following in their Developing Learning Programmes for NQF-registered Qualifications and Unit Standards document:
Do credits dictate learning time?
The number of credits assigned to a unit standard or a qualification can only be a guide to the average learning time. Learners learn in different ways, some learn faster and others more slowly. Experienced educators will adjust their learning programme accordingly to accommodate particular groups of learners. For example, it may mean that you have to prepare, in advance, additional material that the faster learner can be challenged by, or set up a peer group which can assist slower learners to grasp new concepts. There is no ‘exact’ measure of learning time which will apply to every learner!
There seems to be various interpretations of what notional hours are, particularly among some ETQA/QAP practitioners, but in essence it is a guideline and not a definite duration. To complicate matters, a notional hour is a mix of contact time, self study, assessment both formative and summative and workplace experience, which in the legacy qualifications pretty much left the allocation of time to each section to the discretion of the provider.
There is no publication or guideline that specifies notional hours as mandatory. In developing material, the notional hours are a back of the mind guideline, with the focus on addressing content (according to the relevant Assessment Criteria and CCFO’s) at the level prescribed. Anyone claiming that notional hours is a fixed duration needs to look at the definition of a notion, as well as defining the performance of an “average” learner.
9th Oct 2018 at 9:28 pm #68153
Dear Nigel and Des. Thank you for your valuable input. I believe the illuminating issue in regards to notional hours is that during the design phase of the qualification and associated unit standards, the hours were the first consideration (the time an average learner would need in order to attain competence taking into account the breadth, depth and demands of the qualification). Credits were then assigned once these hours had been ascertained. So even though the notional hours are a “guideline” it is important to be mindful that some (serious?) contemplation occurred in the background.
10th Oct 2018 at 2:00 pm #68166
Whether the contemplation was serious or otherwise would have depended on those responsible for developing the qualifications. I think being reasonably guided by the credits is the answer to development of a learning programme. Personally I prefer to focus on maintaining content to the level prescribed, as all too often developers become too involved in content and exceed the level to which it should be addressed, which includes the level of activities supporting the presentation. There are many ways to then adjust according to the average guideline presented by the credits and notional hours.
The current range of human capabilities makes the notional hours a very difficult issue, but as a guideline, we have to trust that Facilitators and Assessors make the right preparations when training and assessing to address the differences in their audiences. For a developer to address all eventualities in a learning programme would be impossible and unmanageable.
24th Oct 2018 at 2:44 pm #68392
I also use the notional hours as a guide. The SOs tell how much information to pass on, and the ACs will tell you how to assess. Take all of that and put it in Learner Guide and Workbook. Once you have developed your Facilitator Guide, you should be able to tell how long your program should be. So far, I have never exceeded the notional hours in my development, but I have come short. And that is acceptable. Whatever you do, don’t over expose the learners to information, stick to the SOs. Don’t assess outside of the scope, stick to the ACs. And lastly, prove competence and you’re good to go.
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