Skip to main content

I win! (I think)

One of the things I’ve been trying to do during fall break is to write my report for my triennial salary review [1]. The report starts as a document automatically generated by Sedona [3]. At the top of the report is a list of our teaching responsibilities for the past three years. One part of the report is a total SCH [4]. I have 1541. When presented with data like that, I consider it important to understand it in context. Is that a lot? A little? Slightly more than average? Slightly less?

So I did the sensible thing. I asked the Dean’s office. Interestingly, even though all of the reports give this number, no one seems to have done any analysis. The amazing and incomparable Terri Phipps generously ran about a dozen reports and said (approximately): I don’t see anyone else with more than about 1000 SCH.

Then I did the next sensible thing. I wrote to our Office of Analytic Support and Institutional Research (OASIR). The folks in OASIR are wonderful. Their response started with context (approximately): We don’t know when people are on leave or have other responsibilities [5], so these numbers are not perfect. And we use the add/drop date for all enrollment data. It appears that the Sedona data are different [6].

OASIR also provided me with a useful table for tenure-line faculty.

3-year (2014–15 to 2016–17)
Faculty Count 163
Minimum 8
Maximum 1568
Average 648
Median 626
25th %ile 448.5
75th %ile 827

Hmmm … 1568 is higher than 1541. So I asked. Under the OASIR calculations, that 1568 does represent my SCH. I win! I think that also means that I taught more students than anyone else in this three-year period, since I teach what I think is a larger-than-normal variety of one-credit and two-credit courses.

But I was also chair during that three year period. So I have more time now, right? I wonder how many SCH I’m teaching this semester. Let’s see … 37x4 + 34x4 + 24x4 + 30x2 + 33x2 = 506. If I did six semesters at this level, I’d be at twice my prior level. But don’t worry; this semester is a clear outlier; I knew I’d be teaching a significant overload. Next semester, I only anticipate teaching 32x4 + 20x2 + 20x2 = 208. Hey, in one year, I’ll beat the three-year average/median. I win again. That is, I don’t have to worry that my leave will put me below average.

The Dean recently convened a Task Force on Faculty Workload. I believe that task force is also looking at Weekly Student Contact Hours (WSCH). Since CSC 151 is either a 4 hour (last few years) or 4.5 hour per week class (this year) and CSC 321/22 is a 6 hour per week class, I assume that I’m even more of an outlier on WSCH. I wonder if they will share those data.

In any case, I now understand why I seem to have trouble getting all of my grading done.

But hey, aren’t numbers fun?

[1] I suppose some background is in order. I know, I’ll write a separate musing [2].

[2] I’d started to put the information in this musing. But describing triennial salary reviews detracts from the primary point of this piece.

[3] Have I written about Sedona? It is among the most hated pieces of software on campus.

[4] I believe that SCH stands for Student Credit Hours. For each course, it appears to be the number of students enrolled in the course times the number of credits associated with the course.

[5] One might expect that OASIR would have easy access to all the data on campus. One would be wrong. Grinnell still has a long way to go before we are truly a data-driven institution. That’s probably good.

[6] Data standards exist for a reason. However, as I said, Grinnell has not yet figured out how to centralize data, so it gets recomputed and when it’s recomputed, it often uses different forms.

Version 1.0.1 of 2017-10-23.

Version 1.0 released on 2017-10-22.