Workload Expectations

The portfolios prepared for each contracted GLT course may seem long, but remember, they represent the work of an entire semester. What does a semester’s worth of work entail? The U.S. Department of Education standard reads as follows: “One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out of class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit.” In other words, every 3-unit undergraduate course represents at least 120 hours of “classroom” and “out of class” work.

On a conventional campus, you would typically attend class for three hours a week for 15 weeks (for approximately 45 hours of in-class time), and then have out-of-class work estimated at two hours for every hour in class per week (or 80 hours total). You would read texts, compose response papers, take quizzes, sit for a midterm and/or final, and, as a culminating assignment, research and write a 20-page term paper.

While GLT students typically don’t utilize a conventional “classroom” as part of their program of study, they are expected to invest a minimum of 120 hours working on every 3-unit GLT course. Course-related tasks typically include traditional exercises like reading and writing, but they also involve unconventional learning activities like:

  • Participating in community events
  • Informally interviewing family members
  • Collaborating in some form of community outreach

These unconventional learning activities enable the community to serve as the classroom and its residents as educators. Though nontraditional, these activities are (a) intentional, (b) structured, (c) related to course subject matter, and (d) incorporated into a course product.

The 30–50 page GLT report should not be compared to a library-based “term paper” produced for an on-campus course. Rather, each report becomes the primary means for demonstrating what you have learned during GLT, and what grade best represents the breadth and depth of that learning. As you plan, gather information, and begin to read and write, try to imagine someone else scoring your work and deciding, based on what you have written, what course grade (not term paper grade) you deserve.