Sunday, December 16, 2012

Teaching loads: sessionals vs. regular faculty, UVic English

Who does more teaching in the UVic English department, sessional instructors or regular faculty, and what distinctions are there in their teaching responsibilities?

At this point I don't have the data to compare ourselves against other departments at UVic, or against English departments at other Canadian institutions, but in time I hope to obtain that information.

All data is current as of December 16, 2012. Note that I'll be talking in terms of sections rather than courses (since we teach multiple sections of many courses), and that I'm not distinguishing between 300- and 400-level courses, because our program considers them equivalent. Also note that I'm excluding courses taught through the Faculty of Engineering by instructors associated with English.

As well, I use the terms "sessional instructor" and "regular faculty," even though there are distinctions within each category, and some overlaps between the categories. Another day I'll talk about some of those issues, but for today I want only to consider them as distinct categories.

Part 1: Sections taught
Excluding directed readings and independent projects, such as MA graduating essays or PhD dissertations, we're offering 213 sections in 2012/13, namely 190 undergraduate sections and 23 graduate sections. All graduate sections are taught by regular faculty; one graduate section is being taught by a regular faculty member from another department.

Of the 190 undergraduate sections, sessionals are teaching 98, while regular faculty are teaching 92. A year-by-year analysis complicates matters usefully, though, especially when we divide the courses into writing courses (composition, technical writing, and professional writing) and into literature courses.


Sessional writing
Sessional literature
Sessional total
Regular total
Regular writing
Regular literature
100-level
63
16
79
15
3
12
200-level
4
4
8
15
0
15
Upper level
3
8
11
62
7
55
Totals
70
28
98
92
10
82

In other words, the sessionals' 98 sections are concentrated at the first year (79 sections), and in writing courses (70 sections). Fully 63 of the sections taught by sessional instructors are first-year composition courses that don't lead into second-year or upper-level ENGL courses; sessionals are responsible for only 12 literature sections at second-year or above.

Part 2: Students taught
Of course, it's not enough to look at the number of sections taught: we should look as well at the number of students taught, and it's interesting as well to consider waitlists and enrolment levels.


Sessional registered
Sessional waitlisted
Regular registered
Regular waitlisted
100-level
2691
592
1117
111
200-level
252
42
470
9
300- & 400-level
351
66
1815
93
Totals
3294
700
3402
213

It's worth remembering, I think, that 720 seats for regular faculty in 100-level courses come from the 4 sections of the 180-seat ENGL 147 (currently with 39 empty seats, for a total of 681 registrants). The other 88 sections taught by regular faculty have 2721 registrants, for an average class size of 30.92 students; the figure rises to 36.98 if you include ENGL 147. The average class size for the sessionals' 98 sections is 33.61, which is even more impressive when you recall the cap for ENGL 135 (which accounts for 55 sessional sections) is only 36.

It's also worth noting that on average, waitlists are longer for sessionals' courses than for courses taught by regular faculty, at all three undergraduate levels.

I'm not drawing any conclusions here today: you can do that yourselves. Let me know in the comments what some of those might be, and in a future post I'll drill deeper into some of the statistics, and respond to any comments or questions that might show up in the comments area.

2 comments:

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  2. In answer to a few email queries, loosely organized around these two questions: Is there anything to get indignant about here? Why are you telling me this?

    I'm not saying there's anything to get indignant about: no conclusions, like I said in the post. It's just that these kinds of things are inside a black box; nobody ever runs the numbers, even though it's possible for individual people to run them. I've got all the data for every department in Humanities, for example, but it's a slow process when you don't know everyone involved, because there's no code in the registration data for the professional category of the instructor. I'll be running those early in the new year to do some comparative work.

    Also, there's a sense in the larger UVic faculty community that English hires too many sessionals. The department has consistently said that we don't hire many more than any other department does, and that ours aren't teaching inside our degree program but in service courses. Indeed, we've argued that English sessional instruction has been concentrated in first-year writing courses that don't serve our own undergraduate programming. This will let people check these assumptions and claims.

    It may be useful to know that we have about 35 regular faculty. As is typical, there's also a theoretically unlimited number of sessional instructors, though it's limited by the available budget (and ethic al considerations). As academics know, sessional instructors (contingent labour, adjuncts, whatever your local term for them) are hired for one course at a time, without any guarantee of getting another course that term or of getting hired ever again, unless they achieve some form of officially recognized continuing status.

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