One Full-Time Non-Tenure-Track English Department Faculty Member’s Typical Semester

New Faculty Majority has posted Lee Kottner’s “The 1:1 Fallacy of Contact Hours,” and it serves as the perfect counterpart to SEIU’s Faculty Forward report, “Professors in Poverty.” Kottner provides an example of the hours actually worked each week, particularly adjunct faculty who teach writing-intensive entry-level courses. The thesis, alluded to in the title, is that the formula for calculating the wages for a typical 3-credit course is based on a fundamental understatement of the hours spent preparing for class, meeting with students, and not only grading work but providing meaningful feedback. Even the most recent improved guidance provided by the IRS for how to calculate these hours falls well short of a realistic view and accounting of the labor done by the more than 1,000,000 adjunct faculty across the country (not to mention graduate assistants). The “reasonable” 1:1.25 ratio suggested should be more like 1:4!

So inspired by the post, I decided to post a calculation of my own hours and work. I prepared this analysis last spring, but never did anything with it until now. One crucial distinction I would like to make very clear: I am not adjunct faculty, but have been full-time non-tenure-track contingent faculty since Fall 2011. So my thesis is not quite the same, although there is overlap in both my and Kottner’s assertion that there is a gulf between common perception and what faculty actually do in addition to in-class contact hours. So, here is a breakdown of my typical 4-course load, the hours I worked and the pages I read:

Contact hours and preparation time during the semester:

  • Average number of courses taught = 4
  • Average number of contact hours, per week (in-class) = 12 hrs
  • Average additional contact hours, per week (office hours and ad hoc student meetings, including emailing) = 6 hrs
  • Average number of hours of preparation, per week (reading/grading/feedback, printing/copying/uploading) = 35 hrs
  • Average number of hours spent working, per week, during the semester = 53 hours

Pages of student work read/graded/commented on:

  • 23pp of essays per student in ENG 110, multiplied by 18 (students per section), multiplied by 2 (sections taught) = 828pp
  • 12pp of essays per student in ENG 150, multiplied by 33 (students per section), multiplied by 1 (sections taught) = 396pp
  • 12pp of essays per student in ENG 250, multiplied by 33 (students per section), multiplied by 1 (sections taught) = 396pp
  • 15pp of homework per student in all courses (15×102) = 1,530pp
  • Average number of pages of student work read in one semester = 3,150pp

During “vacation”:

  • Average number of hours spent working, per week (creating new courses, revising existing courses, researching and reading new texts, creating new materials such as comprehension reviews, essay assignments, and weekly homework assignments) = 10 hrs
  • Average number of hours spent researching and writing non-class materials, per week (“faculty development”) = 15 hrs
  • Average number of hours spent working, per week, between semesters = 25 hours
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