Is "a lot" one word or two? Jay Schalin at the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy:
While the UNC system has not yet revealed the 2012 figures for tenure-track professors, the Pope Center has obtained the official tenure-track teaching load average for Appalachian State University for the Fall of 2011: it is 3.2 courses per semester. But is it correct?
Appalachian State is a particularly good representative example: while not a large research institute, it is the sixth largest school in the system, the largest of the non-research intensive schools. And its official FTE average for the Fall of 2011 was 3.6, just .1 over the system average of 3.5, while its 3.7 course average for 2012 FTE average was exactly the system average of 2012.
The Pope Center is conducting its own faculty teaching load study, and we were provided access to some official enrollment data at Appalachian sent to Delaware Study researchers for the Fall of 2011. This data had gone through a “grooming” process from the “raw” data found on the registrar’s website. The grooming consisted of adjustments made jointly by an ASU staff member and the department heads for use in the Delaware Study.
The Pope Center computed teaching load averages in strict accordance with the Delaware Study guidelines for both groomed and raw sets of data for a three-department sample at Appalachian State. We found anomalies in the university’s groomed data for the Fall of 2011, such as courses mislabeled as lectures, which count toward the workload average, rather than as independent study classes, which do not. These anomalies inflated the Biology department’s official average for tenure-track professors from 3.0 courses to 3.8 courses.
It also drove up the average for our three-department sample (History and Economics were the other two) from 2.8 to 3.3—just above the school’s official 3.2 Delaware Study average for that semester. The difference between the official figure and our findings is not just a rounding error—a 0.4 increase in tenure-track faculty workloads strictly applied throughout the entire UNC system would mean savings in excess of $100 million....Of course, with so much money riding on state officials’ perceptions of UNC faculty workloads, there is an incentive for UNC officials to inflate their averages. Those with authority over the system—whether legislators or Board of Governors members—need to make sure that doesn’t happen. The way to do it is to conduct a more objective, more transparent accounting of faculty teaching loads that will include a critical examination of the data.
I'm one of the department heads who "groomed" the data ... whatever that means. Was my honesty called into question?
Here are three comments:
To reflect real teaching workload we must considering the number of students taught. Budget cuts did not necessarily increase the number of courses taught or require more part-time adjuncts when the number of students in each course was increased. This has been the "on the ground" trend across departments for years. Teaching more students per course with the same number of courses & faculty. How many students taught is the key workload number not how many courses.
That has not been the case in the UNC system in recent years. The system's enrollment has been stable during the period discussed, so if you have the same number of students taking the same number of classes, and professors are teaching the same number of courses, there is not going to be any big jump in the number of students per class.
And just now, "John Whitehead": said:
Budget cuts seem to have increased the number of students taught in the Department of Economics at Appalachian State University (one of the departments singled out for study). By my count using publicly available data (deleting sections with 1 student and ignoring MBA and other non-ECO classes taught by members of the economics faculty), the number of students taught has increased from 3533 in the 2007-08 academic year to 4119 in the 2013-14 academic year. The number of sections has averaged 88 with a range of 81 to 97. The three highest numbers-of-sections has occurred in three of the last four years. The average class size has averaged 42 with a range of 41 to 45. Two of the highest three average class sizes has occurred in the past two years.
I'm not quite sure why the Pope Center has chosen economics for the teaching load study. I think that most measures show we are teaching our fair share of students.