Policy

Every course with a WR prefix attaches an additional load credit when calculating faculty load. This policy applies to all on-campus courses and to distance courses taught in-load, excluding weekend college courses.

This policy does not apply to distance courses taught overload or by adjuncts, a blatant inequity English/Writing faculty deplore. We believe equal work should receive equal pay, and distance courses require as much if not more work (especially considering discussion is usually handled in writing).

Rationale

Writing instruction, which serves the entire campus by better preparing students for success, requires significant individualized, hands-on student assistance. Most writing courses assign at least four student texts with multiple drafts on which the instructor comments in the margins and at the end regarding issues such as audience, purpose, content, structure, style, and Standard Written English. In addition, instructors respond to informal in-class or journal writing every week and may conference with students to support their learning.

The plus-one load credit recognizes this additional work of writing response and conferences is at least equivalent to a lab. See attachments for national standards (NCTE) and helpful load calculations (Haswell memo). This plus-one load credit is particularly important given that EOU enrollment caps on most writing courses are higher than the 20-student maximum recommended by the NCTE.

The load credit also recognizes that teaching writing well is time-consuming because it draws on expert responding techniques and process writing strategies that writing teachers weave into their courses. Facilitative feedback from trained faculty encourages significant improvement in student writing. While peers or TAs can provide time-saving and mutually beneficial feedback, such feedback cannot replace the tutelage of expert faculty, particularly at the first-year level. English/Writing values experts working with first-year students by ensuring that all English/Writing faculty teach WR 121.

History

Load arrangements have historically been negotiated individually by disciplines teaching courses in question. After years of faculty complaints, George Venn approached Dean Sandra Ellston in 1998 with a formal request to recognize the additional work load associated with writing courses. Information provided by faculty such as Donald Wolff and Marilyn Ewing indicated that English/Writing loads–sometimes four courses per term plus other in-load responsibilities like The Voice, Oregon East, and Ars Poetica–were overwhelming, resembling community college loads. One result of such heavy loads was that some senior faculty reduced their FTE to protect the quality of their teaching (Thomas Madden and George Venn). In addition, research indicated that many other universities employed similar strategies for helping writing faculty handle the labor-intensive parts of their job.

Based on this review and in consultation with English/Writing faculty, Dean Ellston crafted the Plus One Writing Policy, which was approved by Provost Bruce Shepard, included in his strategic plan, and implemented in Fall 1998. Rather than raise credits and seat time for students, the Plus One Writing Policy was a way to continue to allow students to take a variety of writing courses while easing the burden of instruction and paper response time. The Plus One Writing Policy now appears in Article 12 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Associated Academic Professionals and EOU.

Statement on Class Size and Teacher Workload: College

Prepared by the NCTE College Section, 1987

In an era of increasing public concern over the writing and reading ability of college students, it is especially important that the workload of English faculty members be reasonable enough to guarantee that every student receive the time and attention needed for genuine improvement. Faculty members must be given adequate time to fulfill their responsibility to their students, their departments, their institutions, their profession, the larger community, and to themselves. Without that time, they cannot teach effectively. Unless English teachers are given reasonable loads, students cannot make the progress the public demands.

Economic pressures and budgetary restrictions may tempt administrations to increase teaching loads. With this conflict in mind, the College Section of the National Council of Teachers of English endorses the following standards:

1.  English faculty members should never be assigned more than 12 hours a week of classroom teaching. In fact, the teaching load should be less, to provide adequate time for reading and responding to students’ writing; for holding individual conferences; for preparing to teach classes; and for research and professional growth.

2.  No more than 20 students should be permitted in any writing class. Ideally, classes should be limited to 15. Students cannot learn to write without writing. In sections larger than 20, teachers cannot possibly give student writing the immediate and individual response necessary for growth and improvement.

3.  Remedial or developmental sections should be limited to a maximum of 15 students. It is essential to provide these students extra teaching if they are to acquire the reading and writing skills they need in college.

4.  No English faculty member should teach more than 60 writing students a term: if the students are developmental, the maximum should be 45.

5.  No more than 25 students should be permitted in discussion courses in literature or language. Classes larger than 25 do not give students and teachers the opportunity to engage literary texts through questions, discussion, and writing. If lecture classes must be offered, teachers should be given adjusted time or assistance to hold conferences and respond to students’ writing.

6.  Any faculty members assigned to reading or writing laboratories or to skills centers should have that assignment counted as part of the teaching load. Identifying and addressing the individual needs of students is a demanding form of teaching.

7.  No full-time faculty member’s load should be composed exclusively of sections of a single course. (An exception might occur when a specific teacher, for professional reasons such as research or intensive experimentation, specifically requests such an assignment.) Even in colleges where the English program consists mainly of composition, course assignments should be varied. Repeating identical material for the third or fourth time the same day or semester after semester is unlikely to be either creative or responsive.

8.  No English faculty member should be required to prepare more than three different courses during a single term. Even if the faculty member has taught the same course in previous years, the material must be reexamined in the context of current scholarship and the presentation adapted to the needs of each class.

9.  The time and responsibility required for administrative, professional, scholarly, and institutional activities should be considered in determining teaching loads and schedules for English faculty members. These responsibilities cover a broad range, such as directing independent study, theses, and dissertations; advising students on academic programs; supervising student publications; developing new courses and materials; serving on college or departmental committees; publishing scholarly and creative work; refereeing and editing professional manuscripts and journals; or holding office in professional organizations.

English/Writing, Eastern Oregon University
Approved as amended 4/24/07

Texas A&M University­—Corpus Christi
College of Arts and Humanities
6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, Texas 78412  (512) 994-2651

 

Memorandum

To:            English faculty
From:        Rich Haswell
On:            April 7, 1999
About:      Class load and writing courses

For the discussion on workload for English faculty, I would like to put on the table a fact that all writing teachers know:  A bona fide writing class requires unusual amounts of teacher work because it requires individual attention to students.

By bona fide, I mean a course that focuses on analysis and argument, requires drafting and substantive revision on all major writings, and sets individualized student work-in-progress as the primary text in the classroom.

The attached sheet calculates the work required of a teacher in the typical TAMU-CC first-year writing course:  25 students, four substantial out-of-class essays, one required individual conference, end-of-the-semester portfolio of writings.  The total is 231 hours.  That is the most conservative estimate, and a more realistic one probably would add at least 20-30 hours.

Notice that an 8-hour day of 15 weeks of 5 working days a week adds up to 600 hours.  With two writing courses, and with one third the preparation time allowed for the second course (30 minutes instead of 90), the total is 402 hours.  With three writing courses, the teacher is already working overtime (633 hours).

The calculation helps explain why the College Composition and Communication Conference Committee on Professional Standards states that “No more than 20 students should be permitted in any writing class.”  It also helps explain why, across the nation, first-year regular composition classes average 22-23 student—and this is at universities of the rank that TAMU-CC occupies and of the quality to which TAMU-CC aspires.

I assume the reduction of the 25-student cap for English 1301 and 1302 is not feasible at this time.  But there are others ways of recognizing the reality of faculty work-time.  On the one hand, teachers can help schedulers fill all sections to the cap.  Teachers can also continue to produce a course that is one-on-one and cutting edge, a course that can help retain students and that the University can advertise as taught by regular faculty and as enhancing the first-year experience.  In turn, administrators can compensate for the labor-intensive nature of this course, perhaps by allowing a course release to anyone teaching two or more writing classes any one semester.  Without compensating tenure-line teachers  for the abnormal workload of writing courses, the department will continue to lose dedicated faculty and will continue to signal that faculty cannot devote quality time to service and to the kind of scholarship needed to develop and maintain a respectable graduate program

Estimated time-on-course for a teacher of college writing

The following calculation of is for a first-year course of 25 students, four substantial out-of-class essays, one required individual conference, end-of-the-semester portfolio of writings.  It is the MOST CONSERVATIVE estimate.

Individual evaluation of four out-of-class papers (per student)

  • Each paper assignment, original commenting                    20 minutes
  • Each paper assignment , reading new drafts, grading        20 minutes
  • Total minutes per paper                                             40 minutes
  • Total of four papers                                                  160 minutes

Other evaluation and diagnosis (per student

  • In-class work (reading essays, quizzes, exercises, etc.)    30 minutes
  • One required conference                                                    15 minutes
  • Portfolio:  individual assistance and final evaluation        25 minutes
  • Total minutes per student                                           70 minutes

Total evaluation time (25 students)

  •  Summed evaluation per student                                      230 minutes
  •  All students in the class (times 25)                              5,750 minutes
  • Converted to hours                                                           96 hours

A composition class is not just diagnosis, evaluation, and grading of individual students. It is a course like any other course, and there is the usual work required to prepare, deliver, and administer it

  • Preparation time (two hours per one hour class)                 90 hours
  • Teaching time in class (3 hours a week, 15 weeks)              45 hours
  • Total per comp section                                                      135 hours

Total work load associated with a writing course

  • Work with individual students                                             96 hours
  • Other work for the course                                                  135 hours
  • Total                                                                                   231 hours

As I say, 231 total hours is a very conservative estimate.  Two careful studies, where teachers kept track of time on course, arrive at considerably higher work time for first-year writing teachers with classes of 25 students:  281 hours (University of Arizona, 1994) and 312 hours (Florida International University 1998).