What does ‘student contact time’ mean?

‘Student contact time’ refers to the tutor-mediated time allocated to teaching, provision of guidance and feedback to students. This time includes activities that take place in face-to-face contexts such as on-campus seminars, labs, studios and workshops, as well as off-site work-based learning, placements and educational visits. Student contact time also includes tutor-mediated activities that take place in online environments. Online contact time can be synchronous (using real-time environments such as Skype or Blackboard Collaborate) or asynchronous (using tools such as tutor-moderated discussion forums, blogs or wikis). Online contact time is always characterised by personalised tutor presence and input within a specified time-frame. This definition is based on the one provided by the QAA (see page four of the Contact Hours document).

Student contact time, together with time allocated for independent study and assessment, determines the total student study hours for a module or programme. Although there are separate hours allocated for each of these activities, they should always be clearly linked together in order to support effective learning.

The University of Northampton defines high quality contact time as structured, focused, purposeful and interactive.

What is ‘student contact time’?

'What is contact time?' video screen shot. Click to watch.

To find out more about how we define the various types of learning and teaching activities, as well as to see how these map to the KIS Categories, have a look at our Types of Student Contact Time web page.

To see how we are explaining this to students, please see the How we teach page on the public website.