Quantifying Academic Faculty Workloads
1998 Annual Conference Proceedings
Recently there has been a ground swell of persons demanding more accountability at public colleges and universities. Members from the Board of Education and legislators are asking administrators and departments to justify and explain how faculty time is being spent. During the 1993-94 academic year, the Construction Management and Engineering Department at Boise State University undertook an assignment to address these issues and to develop a useful formula to access the workload of individual
... aculty members in the department. The Construction Management and Engineering Department consisted of ten faculty members teaching the courses in a well-established 2 to 3-year Engineering Transfer program and a Construction Management Bachelors Degree program. Since 1993-94 the Engineering offerings at Boise State University have grown. We now offer full 4-year B.S. Degrees in Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. The 25 current faculty are divided by degree program into 4 separate departments under a new College of Engineering Dean. Faculty workload priorities have changed somewhat. There are indications that faculty members may be asked to devote a larger percentage of their time to research. Boise State University has a liberal arts community college history and has traditionally emphasized undergraduate teaching rather than graduate programs and/or research. In 1993-94 the official standard teaching load was understood to be 12 credits of teaching with some service and research also required for faculty promotion or tenure. This is not a very clear definition. Large enrollment classes are more work per credit than those with small enrollment. Required lab sections may be listed as zero credit with students getting credit for the lab as part of the lecture class credit. Standard traditional classes have well-structured textbooks that are easy to teach from, while newer specialized classes may have no good textbook available. Teaching several sections of the same course is much easier than teaching several different courses. Some faculty questioned whether the work was being fairly divided. The workload formula was developed to be consistent with established practice and translate the actual workload accounting into easier to understand units, hours per week and equivalent work credits. Developing and testing the workload formula was the collaborative effort of all 10 faculty members in the 1993-94 CM&E Department. Debating issues consumed many, many faculty-hours at department meetings but the finished formula was unanimously approved. That 1993-94 workload formula is presented and explained in this paper.