Friday, November 17, 2006

Academic Workload

Look! A post with substance! I thought I would take advantage of the increased traffic and put a topic up for discussion.

Here at my U, there is quite a disparity in teaching load between departments- even within the same college (i.e., Arts & Sciences). A handful of our departments have PhD programs, many have Master's programs, and some have no grad programs. Some of the differences in teaching load can be linked to these grad programs (or lack thereof), but there are still differences among departments with the same highest degree. For example, some departments give their pre-tenure faculty a reduced load for the entire probationary period. Others (such as mine) give a reduced load for the first year on the job, but then go to full load. Recently, our administrators have been discussing an 'equitable workload' policy and at the same time, my department has been recommended to develop our own policy on the subject. There is much bitterness and controversy over this idea and discussion. The bottom line is that certain faculty (who are more research-active) would teach the same or less than now, while others would teach MORE than they do now. Some fear that this would make teaching a punishment for not being active enough in research. Meetings we've had on the subject have not made much progress. My feeling is that under our current policy (based solely on number of courses taught and NOT on credit-hours, number of students, or class size), we already have variable teaching loads. Some people teach lots of seminars that meet once week and have less than 10 students. Others teach several 4-credit classes with labs, or even 3-credit classes with labs. Some teach 90-student general education courses, but there are others who rarely do so. Some teach Tuesday/Thursday only, while others are here every day.

My questions to everyone out there is this: How does your department or university determine teaching load? Are there variations between faculty in the same department? I think my department needs to see how others do it elsewhere and see if any of those fit for us- otherwise, our discussions are going nowhere!



Anonymous said...

by number of courses. and fist year is reduced by one course. all undergrad though in my dept...

but there is this one prof who teaches the same two classes every year, repeated times, is one of those got tenure and then stopped researching types, and some people have said, maybe person should have to teach more? its not fair that those who are publishing are teaching same amt as those who are not. i don't know though. this person is not a good prof and seems like is too lazy to research anymore. so if i were the students, i would not want this prof to be teaching a higher percentage of the dept's courses.

rented life said...

It seems here that everyone gets a 4/4 load. However at the U I was at, they were on rotation. No one had 4/4 but it woudl rotate so many grad/undergrad per person per semester so that each year or each semester some people were getting a chance to focus more on research than other sem/years. I thought that seemed pretty fair. It did seem that certain prof. however only taught 1 or 2 a sem no matter what.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

We all teach 15 credits per semester (we are a CC an research isn't expected). There are some departments who have been more creative at fulfilling that requirement than others... writing and math labs count in the teaching load etc. There are also huge differences in class size. My discipline has three courses with 50 students per semester while others, especially the technical areas, have a cohort of 25 in a YEAR.