GLOSSARY OF DEFINITIONS
The following definitions are provided in order to assist institutions in understanding and interpreting the Accreditation Criteria. The definitions include some of the most commonly used terms and are defined to reflect their most common usage. These normative definitions drawn from no single source are offered by way of example rather than limitation. The Council recognizes the evolving and dynamic nature of American postsecondary education. It has no intention of imposing rigid expectations. When an institution departs from these norms it may be called upon to defend the academic integrity of the questioned activity.
Ability to Benefit. A determination made by the institution that, in the absence of a high school diploma or GED certificate, the student will be able to benefit, with or without remediation, from the program(s) offered at the institution. The determination should be made before the person is financially obligated or enrolled in a program.
Academic Probation. Students placed on academic probation are subject to increased scrutiny of their academic achievements due to a previous history of academic difficulty. The probation policy must define the conditions of probation, including how long a student may remain on probation and the requirements for being removed from probation. The institution may establish additional policies as it desires.
Academic Credential. A certificate, diploma, or degree stating that the student has been graduated from a certain curriculum or has passed certain subjects.
Academic Year. A period of time generally divided into two semesters, three quarters, or their equivalent, in which a full-time student is expected to complete the coursework equivalent to at least two semesters, three quarters, or their equivalent.
Additional Space. Part of the main or branch campus. Additional space and the campus are within walking distance or adequate transportation is provided by the institution between the locations.
Accreditation. The process whereby a nationally recognized agency or organization grants public recognition to a unit of an educational organization (such as a school, institute, college, university, or specialized program of study) indicating that it meets established standards of quality as determined through initial and periodic self-study and evaluation by peers. The essential purpose of the accreditation process is to provide a professional judgment as to quality of the educational institution or program(s) offered and to encourage continual improvement thereof.
Achievement Test. A test which measures a student's existing skills and knowledge (that which has been taught to the student) in particular areas such as reading, math, map skills, grammar, etc.
Aptitude Test. Aptitude and its tests refer to the ability/potential to do schoolwork in different areas such as mechanics, art, clerical procedures, verbal, and numerical ability. (Important factors such as home environment, familiarity with the English language, and physical and psychological well-being at the time of the test all affect this kind of measure.) Aptitude tests often are timed, often are multiple choice, and are "normed" for cutoff score on a nationwide sampling of students.
Applied General Education. Applied general education is defined as courses that involve the application of principles and concepts in communications, humanities and fine arts, mathematics, natural and physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and technology to the practical affairs of a specific occupation or occupational cluster. Applied general education courses enhance the ability of an individual to apply academic and occupational skills in the workplace. Examples of applied general education courses include technical writing, business writing, business statistics, business mathematics, organizational behavior, and human relations.
Area of Concentration. In a degree program, the focus of study. Also known as the major. The requirements for the major or area of concentration are based upon clearly defined and articulated learning objectives, including a mastery of the knowledge, methods, and theories pertinent to a particular area of inquiry, discipline, or field. General education and other courses not related to the major do not qualify as concentration coursework.
Articulation. An understanding or agreement between institutions to accommodate the movement of students and the transfer of credits between institutions.
Asynchronous Interactions. Teaching/learning interactions between students and instructors which take place intermittently or non-simultaneously with a time delay.
Audioconferencing. Structured voice-only teaching/learning interaction among individuals or groups in two or more sites.
Blended Course or Blended Learning. A course or learning activity that combines online and face-to-face, in-class sessions. Also called "hybrid" course or learning.
Bulletin Board System (BBS). A computer-based online community which allows participants to interact with each other through text messages.
Calendar. The system by which the institution structures its school (academic) year. The three common types of calendars are the semester, the quarter, and the trimester. The semester calendar is generally composed of two semesters of 15 to 17 weeks of classes each, including final examinations. The quarter calendar is generally composed of three quarters, usually with 10 to 12 weeks of classes each, including final examinations. The summer quarter is sometimes subdivided into terms of shorter length. The trimester calendar is composed of three 15-week terms including final examinations. The third may be subdivided.
Category Grant. An institutionally financed award to all students who qualify by meeting the published standards for a grant to similarly circumstanced students, such as a grant to active members of the military.
Certificate. A document issued to evidence completion of a course, seminar, or an academic program. An academic program awarding a certificate is usually shorter in length than a program resulting in a diploma. See definition of a Diploma.
Chat Room. An online or virtual meeting space for multiple learners to engage in real-time text-based discussions.
Clock (or Contact) Hour. A minimum of 50 minutes of supervised or directed instruction and appropriate break(s).
Community Resources. Individuals, organizations, or businesses that provide information, guidance or support to an institution, such as professional and trade associations, employers, guest speakers, and advisory committees.
Competency Test. A test with pre-established standards to measure performance. An example would be a spelling component consisting of ten questions where a score of seven or more is passing. The cutoff "pass-fail" point is referred to as criterion referenced. Usually used for promotion or graduation purposes, these tests are not standardized nationally.
Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI). A type of self-paced instruction that uses the computer as the primary medium for tutorials, drills, repetitive practice, simulation, or games.
Connect Time. The amount of time that an online student has been logged on to the education provider’s computer or server for a particular session. The connect time may be used by a school to monitor an online student’s “attendance” and participation in a class session.
Course. A single subject described in an institutional catalog or bulletin.
Credit. (1) The quantitative measurement assigned to a course generally stated in semester hours, quarter hours, or clock hours. (2) The recognition awarded upon successful completion of coursework.
Credit Conversion. The process of converting units of credit based on one kind of calendar to units based on another kind of calendar. For example, the three most common calendars convert as follows: quarter hours multiplied by two-thirds equal semester hours; semester hours multiplied by one and one-half equal quarter hours; and trimester hours are equal to semester hours unless the trimester is of less than 15 weeks' duration, in which case the number of weeks and length of class sessions must be considered. While the institution may present itself as credit-without-term, one of the three traditional calendars must be used.
Credit Hour. A unit by which an institution may measure its course work. The number of credit hours assigned to a traditionally delivered course is usually defined by a combination of the number of hours per week in class, the number of hours per week in a laboratory, and/or the number of hours devoted to externship times the number of weeks in the term. One unit of credit is usually equivalent to, at a minimum, one hour of classroom study and outside preparation, two hours of laboratory experience, or three hours of internship or practicum, or a combination of the three times the number of weeks in the term. The number of credit hours assigned to a nontraditionally delivered course must be determined and justified by the institution and approved by the Council.
Credit Hour, Quarter. The number of credit hours assigned to a traditionally delivered course consists of a minimum of 10 classroom lecture periods of not less than 50 minutes each and which assumes outside reading and/or preparation; 20 laboratory clock hours where classroom theory is applied and explored, or manipulative skills are enhanced; 30 hours of external discipline-related work experience with indirect instructor supervision or employer assessment; or an appropriate combination of all three. The number of credit hours assigned to a nontraditionally delivered course must be determined and justified by the institution and approved by the Council.
Credit Hour, Semester. The number of credit hours assigned to a traditionally delivered course consists of a minimum of 15 classroom lecture periods of not less than 50 minutes each and which assumes outside reading and/or preparation; 30 laboratory clock hours where classroom theory is applied and explored, or manipulative skills are enhanced; 45 hours of external discipline- related work experience with indirect instructor supervision or employer assessment; or an appropriate combination of all three. The number of credit hours assigned to a nontraditionally delivered course must be determined and justified by the institution and approved by the Council.
Credit Hour, Trimester. A minimum fifteen-week term. Trimester credits are equivalent to semester credits.
Curriculum. A program of courses fulfilling the requirements for a certificate, diploma, or degree in a particular field of study. (See definition of Program.)
Degree. Credential awarded as official recognition for the successful completion of an academic program.
Degree, Advanced. A degree beyond the bachelor's degree (e.g., M.A., M.S., M.B.A., Ph.D.).
Degree, Associate. The academic credential granted upon successful completion of an educational program of at least two but less than four academic years of college work.
Degree, Baccalaureate. The academic credential granted upon successful completion of an educational program of at least four academic years of college work.
Degree, First Professional. The first degree signifying completion of the minimum academic requirements for practice of a profession. A first professional degree is most commonly a bachelor’s degree, but is sometimes a master's or doctorate (e.g., M.L.S., J.D., M.D.).
Degree, Graduate. (1) In general, any degree conferred by a graduate division or a graduate school of an institution of higher education. (2) More specifically, all advanced degrees, and also all first professional degrees which are conferred by graduate schools.
Degree, Professional Doctorate. The degree signifying completion of the advanced academic requirements for practice of a profession. A professional doctorate degree is most commonly a practitioner-based degree beyond the master’s degree level (i.e., J.D., Ed.D., DFA, DBA, etc., but excluding the Ph.D.).
Degree, Specialized. The credential granted upon successful completion of an educational program of at least two academic years or equivalent of college-level work which includes an emphasis on occupational and technical course work.
Diploma. A document issued to evidence successful completion of an academic program. A diploma is awarded for programs varying in length from only a few months to those lasting several years and awarding degrees.
Distance Education or Distance Learning. A structured educational situation in which the students and instructors are physically separated. Distance education supports regular and substantive interaction synchronously or asynchronously between instructor and learner, among learners, and between learners and learning resources through one or more interactive technologies.
Electronic Learning or E-learning. Refers to a wide range of methodologies used in the delivery of instructional content via Internet, satellite broadcast, interactive TV, CD-Rom, etc.
Employer Satisfaction. The level of employer satisfaction is a required element of the Campus Effectiveness Plan (see Section 3-1-111 of the Accreditation Criteria). Employer satisfaction and the level of satisfaction are defined by the institution based upon information collected on a regular basis from employers who have, or might, hire graduates from the programs offered by the institution. Recommended information includes a survey of local employers as well as non-local employers who have hired graduates. Satisfaction questions should cover different aspects of career preparation in general (such as professionalism, foundational and soft skills) as well as specific skills in the particular field and the overall satisfaction of the employer with the preparation of graduates provided by the institution.
Enrollment, Full-Time Equivalent. The equivalent number of full-time students at an established census date, equivalency being established by dividing the total student credit hours by the assumed normal individual load of credit hours.
Externship. See Practicum.
Face-to-Face or F2F. Refers to the traditional classroom teaching/learning environment. Also known as Instructor-led Training or ILT, on-ground training, or on-site training.
Faculty Contact Hours. The total hours of scheduled instructional activity spent by instructional faculty as of a specific period of time. If a course meets three hours per week for 15 weeks, it yields 45 contact hours.
Faculty Development. The activities by which faculty gain knowledge and skills to enhance expertise in the specific area(s) of instruction or on new curriculum concepts, theories and techniques of instruction, and educational media. The institution must demonstrate that the balance between methodology training (in-service) and content knowledge enhancement (professional growth) is appropriate for the individual faculty member. All activities must be documented. (See also “in-service training” and “professional growth”)
Financial Aid. Student financial assistance funded by state or federal programs and administered by the institution.
Follow-up. The study of any group of students or former students of the institution who have shared a common experience to determine if patterns emerge in their subsequent actions or behavior which prove useful in understanding, counseling, and establishing policies for other students; for example, a study of the number of graduates who have entered graduate schools or a study of the number of graduates who have obtained employment.
Four-Year Institution. (1) Literally, an institution of higher education offering four years of college-level work culminating in a bachelor's degree. (2) In common usage, distinguished from a two-year institution, and characterized by offering four or more years of coursework normally creditable toward a bachelor's or higher degree or equivalent award. In addition to coursework normally creditable toward a bachelor's or higher degree, four-year institutions may also offer other types of instruction; e.g., courses in general and continuing education, short courses, occupational curriculums leading to an associate degree, etc.
Full-Motion Video. Transmission of the complete action taking place at the originating site.
General Education. Those areas of learning which are deemed to be the common experience of all "educated" persons, including subject matter from the humanities, mathematics and the sciences, and the social sciences.
General Education. Humanities—Courses in fields such as literature, philosophy, logic, foreign language, art, music appreciation, and communications, including rhetoric, composition, and speech; but excluding business communications, spelling, letter writing, and word study.
General Education. Mathematics and the Sciences—Courses such as biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, and mathematics theory and analysis, including algebra, trigonometry, geometry, calculus, and other advanced mathematics courses, but excluding business mathematics and basic computations.
General Education. Social Sciences—Courses such as history, economics, political science, geography, sociology, anthropology, and general psychology, but excluding courses such as practical psychology, selling techniques and social or business behavior.
Graduate Satisfaction Level. The level of graduate satisfaction is a required element of the Campus Effectiveness Plan (see Section 3-1-111 of the Accreditation Criteria). Graduate satisfaction and the level of satisfaction are defined by the institution based upon information collected on a regular basis from students who have graduated from the programs offered by the institution. Recommended information includes the results of survey of graduates who left the institution at least six months prior to being contacted. Satisfaction questions should cover different aspects of the program and the institution as well as overall satisfaction of the graduate with the preparation for the position provided by the institution.
Graduation Rates (when available). ACICS is developing a measure of graduation rates that is comprehensive and applicable at the program, campus, and institution level. Once the measure has been implemented through the Campus Accountability Report and validated, the graduation rate will be a required element of the Campus Effectiveness Plan (see Section 3-1-111 of the Accreditation Criteria). The comprehensive graduation rate is defined by ACICS in terms of the number of students who have completed or graduated during a reporting year, divided by the number of completers and graduates plus the number of students who have withdrawn, and expressed as a percent. The graduation rate, also called the graduates-to-leavers ratio, is calculated at both the program and campus levels, based upon data submitted for the annual Campus Accountability Report (CAR) and according to the detailed formula and terms defined in the Guidelines and Instructions for the Campus Accountability Report, which is available on the ACICS website. The detailed formula includes definitions, adjustments, and exclusions for calculating completers, graduates and withdrawals.
Home Institution. In a case where an institution collaborates with another entity for the delivery of distance education courses, “home institution” is the campus through which the student enrolls for the course. The Home Institution is responsible for assuring that accrediting standards are met, for providing on-campus services, and for clearly demonstrating through a formal Consortium Agreement the roles and responsibilities of the Home Institution and the Host Institution, which may deliver the distance education courses and specified online services. The Consortium Agreement must be approved by ACICS and must provide for evaluation visits to the Host Institution as may be required by ACICS.
ACICS expects the Home Institution to offer a minimum of 25% of a program if courses are delivered under a distance education Consortium Agreement with an approved accredited institution, and to offer a minimum of 75% of a program if courses are delivered under a distance education Consortium Agreement with an approved unaccredited entity.
Host Institution. The institution which collaborates with an accredited institution in delivering distance education courses and specific online services as described in a formal Consortium Agreement approved by ACICS. The Consortium Agreement must provide for evaluation visits to the Host Institution as may be required by ACICS.
If the Host Institution is an approved unaccredited entity, it is subject to an evaluation visit once every three years as required by ACICS.
Humanities. See General Education (Humanities).
Hybrid Course or Hybrid Program. A hybrid course is one which mixes face-to-face, traditional classroom instruction with online instruction. A hybrid program is one which offers or requires a percentage of the required courses in a program online. ACICS requires the school to clearly outline the percentage of online activity included in a course or a program. Institutions are required to apply for and secure approval prior to initiating any distance education activity and also when it increases its distance education activity to the extent that it constitutes 50% or more of a program.
Independent Study. Independent study involves a high level of independence and self-direction on the part of the student to read, conduct research, and complete written examinations, reports, research papers, and similar assignments designed to measure the student’s grasp of the subject matter. Under the supervision of a faculty member, a learning contract signed by the student and institution shall be developed which outlines specific learning objectives, texts, supplemental readings, course requirements, evaluative criteria, and examination dates. Because independent study classes are the exception and not the rule, the number of courses that a student will be allowed to take independently should be limited.
Information Technology. Method or modes of delivering training, education, or research information via current or new tele-communications technologies, such as television broadcasts, closed circuit television systems, cable television, satellite transmissions, computers and computer-based access to external learning resources, videotape and interactive video disc, audio by disc, tapes or broadcasts, and other such information and telecommunications systems that alone or in combination assist in teaching and learning.
In-Service Training. Special planned and systematic experiences sponsored by an institution and related to curriculum and instruction that affect the majority of the faculty in a collective fashion. In-service education has as its major goal the updating of teachers in (1) subject matter, (2) curriculum concepts, (3) new theories and techniques of instruction, and (4) new educational media. The most common activity is a lecture by an outside speaker on a subject related to curriculum, the institution, or a societal issue.
Integrated Learning System or ILS. A network system that provides a complete package of curriculum, assessment capabilities, record keeping, and other aids to monitor and manage student learning activity.
Internship. See Practicum.
Laboratory. A setting, usually with equipment, where students apply knowledge or instruction acquired in another setting, usually a class lecture or outside reading, to enhance skills and solve problems. Normally, two hours of work in a laboratory setting with an instructor present has the credit equivalency of one hour of classroom lecture.
Learning Management System or LMS. A system to manage courses created by a variety of publishers and providers. The LMS also helps the school manage online or distance education activity by providing critical reporting mechanisms.
Learning Object. An e-learning content module which is reusable, easily classified and stored in a data repository.
Lecture. A setting, usually a classroom, where a teacher instructs students in the theory, principles, or history of an academic or vocational subject. To maximally benefit from such instruction, a student is assumed to have done outside preparation. Two hours of preparation for each hour of lecture instruction are generally assumed.
Loan. An advance of money, generally evidenced by a promissory note, on the agreement to repay absolutely such advance, with or without interest.
Lower-Division Course. Generally, a survey course that includes an introductory overview of a particular area of knowledge. These courses often do not include a prerequisite for enrollment and frequently are offered to freshmen and sophomore-level students. Lower-division courses usually carry course numbers in the 100–299 or 1000–2999 range.
Mathematics and the Sciences. See General Education (Mathematics and the Sciences).
Need-based Grant. An institutionally financed award to a student who demonstrates a need for financial assistance in order to participate in the educational program. Need-based grants must be made available to all students on the same terms.
Online Learning. A term used interchangeably with Internet-based Learning, Web-based Learning, or Distance Learning.
Outcomes. The effectiveness of an institution is determined by its outcomes. In determining effectiveness, institutions are required to evaluate the following outcomes: placement rates (in field, related field); graduate pass rates relative to minimum quantitative standards for state licensing examinations; employer satisfaction as determined by periodic surveys of those who employ graduates; graduate satisfaction as determined by periodic surveys of graduates; and student satisfaction as determined by periodic surveys of current students. Institutions also may use additional outcomes in evaluating effectiveness.
Placement Rate. The placement rate is a required element of the Campus Effectiveness Plan (see Section 3-1-111 of the Accreditation Criteria). The Placement Rate is defined by ACICS in terms of the total number of completers and graduates minus those who are not placed (employed) in their field of study or a related field of study, divided by the total number of completers and graduates. The placement rate is calculated at both the program and campus levels, based upon data submitted for the annual Campus Accountability Report (CAR) and according to the detailed formula and terms defined in the Guidelines and Instructions for the Campus Accountability Report, which is available on the ACICS website. The detailed formula includes definitions of in field and related field placement, adjustments, and exclusions for students not available for placement. Three years of placement rate data are required in the CEP, and the institution is required to define and publish goals for placement rates. ACICS also publishes standards for campus-level and program-level placement rates which accredited institutions are expected to meet or exceed. Institutions falling below Council standards are subject to planning requirements, monitoring, show cause directives or negative action including loss of program approval, campus inclusion or institutional accreditation.
Practicum. A supervised practical experience that is the application of previously studied theory. Normally, three hours of work in a practical setting has the credit equivalency of one hour of classroom lecture. Under the supervision of a faculty or staff member, a written agreement shall be developed that outlines the arrangement between the institution and the practicum site, including specific learning objectives, course requirements, and evaluation criteria.
Professional Growth. The process by which employees gain knowledge and skills which enhance their expertise. Professional growth may be accomplished through a combination of the following activities: membership and participation in educational associations, professional organizations, continuance of education, concurrent related business experience, educational research, and awareness of current practices and standards. Attendance at seminars, conventions, field visits, vendor shows, equipment exhibits, etc., are excellent opportunities for instructors to gain enrichment. Professional writing by an instructor is also an example of professional growth.
Program. A sequential grouping of courses which forms a considerable part, or all, of the requirements for an academic credential or an occupational objective. May refer to the total educational offering of an institution. See Curriculum.
Record, Permanent Academic. The official document on which is listed the courses attempted, grades and credit earned, and status achieved by a student.
Record, Student. A file which may contain the following: a record of the student's scholastic progress, the extracurricular activities, personal characteristics and experiences, family background, secondary school background, aptitudes, interests, counseling notes, etc.
Refund. Return of money, cancellation of obligation, or otherwise resolution of the debt.
Regular student. A student who is enrolled in a program leading to a certificate, diploma, or degree at an institution and is satisfactorily progressing toward program completion in compliance with the Standards of Satisfactory Progress as stated in Sections 3-1-420 through 3-1-423. Any other student attending the institution is considered in an extended enrollment status and is not eligible for government student aid.
Retention Rate. The retention rate is a required element of the Campus Effectiveness Plan (see Section 3-1-111 of the Accreditation Criteria). The Retention Rate is defined by ACICS in terms of the total student enrollment, minus those students who withdraw, divided by the total student enrollment and expressed as a percent. The retention rate is calculated at both the program and campus levels, based upon data submitted for the annual Campus Accountability Report (CAR) and according to the detailed formula and terms defined in the Guidelines and Instructions for the Campus Accountability Report, which is available on the ACICS website. The detailed formula includes definitions adjustments, and exclusions for calculating total enrollment and withdrawals. Three years of retention rate data are required in the CEP, and the institution is required to define and publish goals for retention rates. ACICS also publishes standards for campus-level and program-level retention rates which accredited institutions are expected to meet or exceed. Institutions falling below Council standards are subject to planning requirements, monitoring, show cause directives or negative action including loss of program approval, campus inclusion or institutional accreditation.
Scalability. Provisions available for a computer application to handle expansions in size, volume, or number of users without undue disruption.
Scholarship. (1) The quality of a student’s achievement in the student’s studies. (2) A financial award which does not involve repayment. A scholarship may be institutionally financed or funded by a third party. It is awarded by the institution in accordance with published standards which describe student qualifications and the source of funding. Reasons for the award may include one or more qualifications such as the student’s performance (or potential for performance) in the educational program of the institution, financial need, talents sought or service valued by the institution or the third party.
Self-paced Instruction. An educational delivery method by which a student progresses through a course or program of study in residence utilizing either computer software or instructional materials and resources. Students progress through the course or program at their own pace with limited interaction with the instructor. The instructor, however, is responsible for overseeing the progress of the student and for evaluating and grading the student.
Simulations. Computer applications that offer highly interactive options for the learner to practice skills, model or role-play in realistic scenarios.
Social Sciences. See General Education (Social Sciences).
Student, Full-Time. A student who is enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours per term or its equivalent.
Student Learning Outcomes. Student Learning Outcomes are a required element of the Campus Effectiveness Plan (see Section 3-1-111 of the Accreditation Criteria). Student Learning Outcomes are defined by the institution based upon information collected on a regular basis by faculty in the programs offered by the institution. Recommended information includes data on student learning outcomes of job-specific courses as well as the outcomes of general education courses, where applicable. Measures should, where possible, be applied rather than abstract or theoretical, integrated rather than fragmented, and program-level rather than course-level or institution-level. Examples of data include student externship/practicum grades, student portfolio grades, capstone course grades, GPA, CGPA, pre– and post-tests, Ability-to-benefit (ATB) and other entrance or course placement assessments, graded portfolios, standardized tests, professional licensure exams, program reviews, skill checklists, competency tests, clinical work, and senior projects. Placement data should not be used as a measure of student learning outcomes.
Syllabus. A description of how the course will be taught with a planned arrangement of materials and activities. The minimum requirements for a course syllabus consist of the title and course description, course number, course prerequisites and/or corequisites, instructional contact hours/credits, learning objectives, instructional materials and references, topical outline of the course, instructional methods, out-of-class learning activities and assignments, assessment criteria, method of evaluating students, and the date the syllabus was last reviewed. A course syllabus should be reviewed to ensure that it reflects the most recent trends, developments, and instructional materials for the specific subject areas. A current syllabus prepared and utilized by instructors in guiding and directing the learning experience of the students is necessary to ensure the quality of instruction.
Synchronous Interactions. Teaching/learning interactions between instructors and students which take place in real time or simultaneously through the use of various online technologies. These may include: virtual classrooms, audio- or videoconferencing, Internet teleconferences, etc.
Term. (1) A calendar unit. (2) Division of the school year during which an educational institution is in session; it may designate the summer term or may be used as a synonym for quarter, school term, semester, or trimester. Historically, a term has been any one of the two or three major periods during which classes were in session, specifically referred to as the fall term, spring term, etc.
Terminal Degree. The highest credential generally available in a discipline, which usually is an earned doctorate such as Ph.D., Ed.D., J.D., or D.B.A. In some disciplines, however, the master’s degree is considered the terminal degree. Examples include the M.F.A., M.S.W., and M.L.S.
Threaded Discussions. Online classroom activity in which the instructor may post a series of messages on a particular topic and invite the students to participate in the discussion forum.
Transcript. A copy of the permanent academic (educational) record at an institution of higher education. It becomes an official transcript when the seal of the institution is affixed and the signature of an authorized person is appended.
Two-Year Institution. (1) Literally, an institution of higher education off ering the first two years of college-level coursework. (2) In common usage a two-year institution is distinguished from a four-year institution and is characterized by offering at least two, but less than four, years of an organized curriculum. The curriculum may be of the transfer type (with credits normally transferable at full value toward a bachelor's degree), terminal-occupational, or open-ended. Two-year institutions include junior colleges, technical institutes, and semi-professional schools. In addition to organized curriculums, two-year institutions also may offer other types of instruction, e.g., courses in general education and adult education, short courses, and special lectures.
Upper-Division Course. Generally, a course that presents more specialized course content and is more rigorous than a lower-division course, and that often includes at least one prerequisite. Upper-division courses usually carry course numbers in the 300–499 or 3000–4999 range.
Validated Test. A nationally recognized, standardized or industry-developed test which consistently measures what it is designed to measure, e.g., ability of non-high school graduates to benefit from post-secondary education.
Videoconferencing. A teaching/learning activity which uses video and audio signals to communicate with student groups at diverse locations.
Webinar. A synchronous online conference in which the teacher or presenter may communicate with students via text, audio, video, electronic whiteboard and other devices. The event may include listener participation and archived for asynchronous delivery.
Withdrawal. The termination of a student's attendance in a class or in all classes before the end of the term.