As I’ve been thinking about the revision of our FYC program, I’ve been breaking this business down into its component parts. Fundamentally, if we truly want to revise our program, that means faculty and students doing different things from what they are doing now. So this morning I was thinking about these component parts in terms of time.
Let’s say my job is 45% teaching, 45% research, and 10% service. (It’s probably more like 45/30/25 with most of my research getting done in the summer when I’m off-contract, but you get the idea.) So I’m on a 3/3 load, which means that each course is 15% of my workload. Let’s say I work a 50-hr week, that might mean, time-wise, that I’m spending 7.5 hours/week on each class. How does that break down?
- Classes meet for 3 hr/wk
- 1 hr a week doing the reading for the course (a very conservative estimate, though maybe about right for an FYC course).
- 1.5 hours spent in course prep, office hours, bookkeeping, responding to e-mails, etc.
- 2 hours a week responding to student writing
Two hours a week on student writing or 30 hours a semester. Let’s say I have 20 students. That works out to 1.5 hours per student per semester. In our current FYC course, it would be typical to evaluate at least 3 essays, plus a mid-term and final portfolio. So I can devote 15 minutes to each essay and still have time to meet for one 15 minute conference. Of course I don’t really calculate my time in that fashion, but that’s one way to look at it.
Interestingly, if you look at our full-time lecturers with 100% teaching responsibilities and 4/4 teaching loads, things change somewhat. They might be able to spend 10 hours a week per course (assuming a 40-hour work week). That would open up an additional 2.5 hours per week or say 35 hours a semester, giving you 3 hours per student. You might even increase this slightly if teaching multiple sections reduces prep-time. (Though let me say that that’s a lot of hard work!)
Anyway, my point isn’t really to look at the difference between different ranks of faculty, though I think this does indicate that instructors might be in a better position to provide the kind of one-on-one support many students require (and I believe they often do provide better support of this kind).
My point instead is to suggest that one way of rethinking an FYC program is to ask how we are going to make use of our time.