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I was wrong (or I may have been wrong)

In a recent musing, I reflected on the large number of student credit hours I taught over the past three-year period.
While it’s a large amount, I realized that it may be inappropriate to claim that I taught the most students, or even had the largest workload. Why? Because that computation does not necessarily count lab courses (or workshop-style courses) appropriately. If they are multiplying the number of students by the credits taught, then faculty who teach lab courses get zero credit for their labs [1].

How much of a difference does that make? Let’s consider a colleague in Chemistry, who I’ll call Tam [2]. This semester, Tam is teaching one section of Organic to 24 students . That would give Tam credit for 96 SCH. But Tam’s also teaching three sections of Organic Lab to 17, 20, and 16 students. If we credit those at 2 each (similar to the half-course teaching credit most science faculty get for teaching labs), that’s another 106 SCH, more than doubling Tam’s workload to 202 SCH. And it triples the number of students Tam is teaching. What about the spring? Tam is teaching two four-credit classes capped at 24. We’ll assume those fills. Tam is also teaching one lab capped at 20. Let’s see … that gives Tam 24x2x4 + 20x2 = 232 SCH.

As the example suggests, failing to account for lab courses seems inappropriate. Perhaps we really should be doing Weekly Student Contact Hours rather than Student Credit Hours as a measure of work. But does anyone keep records of how long classes are supposed to meet? I’m not sure.

I see that if Tam continued this workload for all three years, Tam would be at a total SCH of about 1300 SCH. I still have more, but I think it’s close enough that I can’t really claim that I taught the most nor that I taught the most students. That’s okay, I’ve enjoyed teaching the students I’ve taught over the past three years, and that’s all that really counts.

Speaking of workload, I wonder what metric our Task Force on Faculty Workload will use.

Someone asked Sam, did you write this because someone pointed out the issue? No, no one pointed out this issue. I was just thinking through the data again and realized that there were more factors at play.

[1] That’s only in the SCH counting system. Grinnell science faculty do, by and large, receive teaching credit for teaching labs.

[2] You can assume that I chose Tam because T comes immediately after S.

Version 1.0 released 2017-10-24.

Version 1.1 of 2017-10-25.