Updating the definition of learning hours

Closed 23 Jun 2017

NZQA (in conjunction with the Tertiary Education Commission and Ministry of Education) has updated the definition of learning hours for it to include all learning activities undertaken by students enrolled in a qualification or programme.

This reflects changes in the types and methods of learning being used by tertiary education organisations (TEOs) and provides the education sector and all learners with a common understanding of learning hours.

Why did it need to change?

The definition required updating because the range of ways learners can and do achieve learning outcomes is increasing rapidly (e.g. use of on-line learning). There has been confusion about how and what to record as directed and self-directed learning activities.

NZQA’s proposal to update learning hours

Current definition of (notional) learning hours

Credit value

All qualifications on the NZQF have a credit value. The credit value relates to the amount of learning in the qualification.
In determining the amount of learning in a qualification, a qualification developer estimates how long it would typically take a person to achieve the stated outcomes in the context specified and to demonstrate that achievement through assessment. This determines the credit value for a qualification. One credit is equivalent to ten notional learning hours.

Notional learning hours include:

  • direct contact time with teachers and trainers (‘directed learning’)
  • time spent in studying, doing assignments, and undertaking practical tasks (‘self-directed’)
  • time spent in assessment.

A typical learner can usually complete 120 credits of learning in a year.

Proposed definition of (notional) learning hours

NZQA proposed to update the definition of notional learning hours to:

All planned learning activities leading toward the achievement of programme or qualification learning outcomes

One credit remained equivalent to ten notional learning hours.

Implications for TEOs

This definition reflects that all learning within an approved programme is planned (i.e. directed). TEOs will need to outline to learners all of the learning activities that make up the total learning hours of the programme.

Previously, TEOs were not required to detail what makes up self-directed learning. The proposed definition requires TEOs to provide details and keep evidence.

For further details see What it might mean in practice.

Summary of feedback

Feedback on this consultation closed on 6 pm Friday 23 June 2017. See Outcome from consultation on updating the definition of learning hours for more information.

  Question Related section of the proposal
1 Do you agree with the updated definition of 'notional learning hours'?  Proposed definition of notional learning hours
2 What additional information, if any, do you think should be provided to describe the learning activities that will make up the total learning hours of the programme? Please explain your answer.  What information does NZQA expect as part of an application for programme approval?
3 Currently, what information does your organisation give to learners in advance about the learning activities associated with the programme?  What information would be provided to learners?
4 What additional information will your organisation provide to learners to explain all the learning activities expected?  What information would be provided to learners?

How did NZQA use my response?

Feedback was aggregated so individual responses could not be identified. Your response was only used in relation to this specific consultation.

Releasing public information under the Official Information Act 1982

NZQA is sometimes asked, under the Official Information Act 1982 (the OIA), for copies of submissions on the public feedback it undertakes. NZQA values openness and transparency, and submissions will be released when requested.

The OIA Act allows some information to be withheld to uphold New Zealand law and citizens' rights. Information is sometimes withheld to protect the privacy of individuals, commercial sensitivities of organisations, as well as details of any cases still being processed through the New Zealand justice system.

If you believe that releasing your personal details or any part of your submission will be prejudicial to you or your organisation, you can provide a reason with your submission or if NZQA contacts you about a relevant OIA request.

What happens now?

From 1 January 2018, all new programmes submitted for approval by NZQA need to be written in accordance with the updated definition.

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