Monday, November 29, 2010

Beryl from Bentonville Sends in an Early Thirsty: How Much Do You Work?

One of my favorite series of posts on RYS concerned the amount of hours faculty work, and appeared in August and September of 2007.

It started with a Biology proffie from a community college who tracked his hours over the course of a school year and figured he was in the 2800 hour range. (52 weeks at 40 hours, would of course be 2080 hours.)

That was followed by someone who was called "Mr. Bullshit," who himself called "bullshit" on the Biology prof. Mr. Bullshit figured his work for the year at more like 400 hours, a remarkably different number.

They then published 8 replies that came in from other RYS folks, some of whom who called "bullshit" on Mr. Bullshit, but some who expressed that perhaps the lower number wasn't as insane as it first appeared.

Mr. Bullshit then weighed in once more, fessing up that he hadn't spent much time figuring in research and grading. Even then his schedule sounded light to me.

I know faculty jobs vary widely, and it's not just rank and discipline, but a variety of other forces, that keep us "at work" for longer or shorter periods of time. But I'd love to know how much you work.


  1. I don't remember this series, but I have to say I was startled to read Mr. Bullshit's least until I did my own.

    I'm never going to cop to 13 hours a week, but I'd safely say 20 hours a week at 30 weeks a year for 600.

  2. I'm an adjunct writing instructor at a university and a community college. Teaching and planning consume 36 hours a week. During those weeks when I have grading -- which is about 12 of 16 weeks in a semester -- I do about 50-55 hours' worth of work. When you factor in end-of-semester grading blitzes and prep work on evaluation materials (once a year), that's about 800 hours a semester, or 1600 hours in a year where I don't teach in the summer. If I do teach in the summer, that's an additional 100-200 hours in the summer term (depending on how many sections I have).

    It seems like I work a lot more than that. I guess it's all crammed into a short period with lengthy breaks between terms. And, of course, grading freshman comp essays slows down time and generally makes everything worse, so there's that to consider.

  3. I know my answer because I'm a little obsessed with what I spend my time on. (More chocolate, please, less waiting in line.)

    I'm at a very teaching intensive CC and I "work" (teach, plan, grade, and so on) 30 hours a week for 32 weeks a year.

  4. Oh, maybe 25 on busy weeks, but on light weeks (without grading), it's only about 10.

  5. I teach in person and online. I research and I do admin meetings. I am also a hired research assistant.

    That's 15 hours per week for in-person teaching; 20 hours per week for online teaching; 5-15 hours per week personal research, 3 hours of weekly meetings, and 13 hours required weekly for the research assistant job. Total per week: 56 to 66 hours per week. I work 7 days a week always. The minimum I work on any given day is 6 hours and the maximum 14.

    I worked 8 hours on Thanksgiving, 10 hours the day before, and 12 hours each the two days after. Today was lighter, with only 7 hours.

    I would assume, then, that I work at least 2860 hours a year. Even if you take a few summer or in-between semester weeks where I only do the online stuff, it's still a pretty intense load of maybe down to 2600 hours.

    And this is perhaps the most depressing comment I've made. I must go have a beer.

  6. On teaching days I do about 9 hours of work, some during the day, some in the evening. On Fridays probably more like 5. Sat & Sun. 4 each. So that's 49 hours/week. In the summer I do the best I can, but childcare can be a bitch, so maybe it only works out to 2-3 hours/day.

    So when I do the math, that means I make around $31/hour, which is exactly half that my friend who has a two-year degree makes.

  7. In class teaching 9 hours a week. Most weeks no grading at all. 2 hours a week of office time, which I confess is mostly for eBay and Amazon and

    Then at midterm I have a week where I check my TA's grading at the rate of maybe an hour a day for 5 days. Double that at midterm.

    One committee a semester at 4-5 1 hour meetings and maybe 2 hours (total) other stuff I look up for the committee.

    26 total weeks over 2 semesters. 303 hours for the year.

    Then my own writing, which happens to be in my field and therefore qualifies as scholarship, and that's always in the summer. Say 15 weeks solid of 10 hour weeks. So 303 + 150. 450-something.

    I make $93k, but it's a very expensive city.

  8. I hate that I can't edit my comment when I mess it up.

    Should read:

    Then at midterm I have a week where I check my TA's grading at the rate of maybe an hour a day for 5 days. Double that DURING FINALS WEEK.

  9. Hmm... I wish I knew if you folks were pre- or post-tenure. It would really help me contextualize your workload. I’m dangerously close to that 2800 hour mark. But that’s not shocking given that it is my first semester at an R1 institution and I have two new course preps. I feel like I only stop working to surf CM and to dream about tenure and the nebulous possibility of a 30 hour work week.

  10. I'm post-tenure CC faculty. I have some administrative duties this year, so I get a small stipend and a course release, putting my teaching load at 4-4. All those courses are online. In any given week, I spend about 8-10 hours teaching class, 8-10 hours for office and advising time, about 12-15 hours either in or preparing for meetings, about 2-3 hours solving people's tech problems or my own for my online courses, and another 8-10 hours on the miscellaneous administrative duties I must fulfill. Depending on where we are in the term, grading can take anywhere from 2 to 10 hours per week. I also spend at least a couple of hours a week doing pedagogical research. When the institution gives me a special research project or grant work, that adds another 5-10 hours per week.

    As the budget gets tighter, we have to do more and more things ourselves since we keep laying off clerical staff. The longer I've been here, the more I've had to do, and the longer it takes. I have some colleagues who work fewer than 30 hours per week. They teach their classes (often showing films and letting out early), don't keep office hours, and grade only some of their papers. (They get the work-study students to grade for them.) They either refuse committee service after tenure or agree to serve and then just never show up/come late/leave early and never get around to doing the assigned work.

    Those of us who do what our contracts require and take seriously the administration's admonition that tenure means more responsibility to the college, not less, joke bitterly about the "part-time tenure-track" positions.

  11. I don't know how many hours I work. I just know it's too fuckin' much.

  12. God, Reg, I hate you. Well, not hate, but the envy boiling up is so much that it's hard to quantify. And so I will return to work. Because I have another 3 hours of research tonight before I can go to bed.

    $93k. You suck. Or rather, I wish I were you.

  13. I have a 2-3 course load (2 courses one term, 3 the next), plus office hours to which no one comes, but still, I'm here in case they do, so it averages out to 12.5 hrs contact time per week during term time (26 weeks a year). Plus 1-3 hrs per class prep time, call it an average of 2, so add an average 20 hr/week for 26 weeks. Plus marking, call that another roughly 90 hours over the course of the year (360 students, but I have some TA assistance for the biggest class). Plus admin, which can suck up 2 hrs a week for the big class (email, setting up quizzes, dealing with appeals, organizing TAs, etc); less for the other 4 classes, so call it 3 hrs a week for 26 weeks. Plus committees, and I seem to be on a hella committees this year full of people who have nothing better to do than schedule frequent meetings, probably averages out to no more than 1 hr er week but they are always a fresh insult when they happen, because they always take time I was expecting to be able to use doing something else. Plus stuff for my national organization, maybe 30 hours this year. Oh, 40, I'm organizing and grading an essay contest this year, I forgot.

    Plus research, and guess what gets skimped on? If I could do 10 hrs/ week during the summer that would be another 160 hours.

    So, during term time, 36 hrs/week, more or less, if it were evenly distributed. Unfortunately it's not, and I have a "slow" term when I'm supposed to also be researching, and a "heavy" term in which I'm working 60 hrs/week easily, not counting marking. During summer, much less.


  14. I am completing my 27th year, and am now chair. That means 4 hours per week of teaching (30-50 students), plus 10 or so hours of grading, 5 hours with graduate students, another 5 for meetings, and 20 or so for paperwork and putting out fires.

    As an untenured faculty member, I taught 3 classes of 35-45 per semester, with a total of about 25 different courses in the first 7 years, for 45-50 hours per week.

    With tenure came more meetings, but only 4-5 courses per year.

    I have also taught or had grants for 40 hours per week, 10 weeks per summer, every year.

  15. Monday through Thursday, I'm on campus from 8:00 a.m. until at least 5:00 p.m. (it's later some nights). I'm at a CC where I teach a 5/5 load. I also serve on two college-wide committees, two department committees, and I'm required to do professional development that amounts to a few hours every other week. Fridays are frequently consumed by committee work and other things the college requires me to do.

    In addition, I'm always grading at home. I try to get all of my prep work done in my office, but that's difficult to do because I share a very small office with another full-timer in a very busy and noisy area of the college.

    By the time I get home in the evening, I'm usually too spent to contemplate even looking at another student paper, so I often get up in the wee hours of the morning to grade and prep. I spend a lot of time working on the weekend, sometimes even going in on Saturday or Sunday when it's a lot quieter and I can work for uninterrupted stretches at a time.

    I work a lot. I don't know how many hours, but I work a lot.

    I would love to have my own office. I wouldn't do less work, but I'd work fewer hours because I'd be able to use my time more efficiently.

  16. Well, honestly, I COULD work about 20 hours a week during the semester and get everything done. I teach 4/4. 12 in the classroom, speed grading in a very disciplined fashion through my unattended office hours, and the other two hours scattered over some odd extra work like the occasional committee and stuff. No time for prep because I'd just be teaching the same shit over and over. No time for scholarship because I'm tenured and don't "have" to.

    That's what I COULD do. But that's not what I do. It's nice to know I could drop down to that when I get really fed up.

    Of course I haven't really answered the question, but I'm really too fucking lazy to try to figure it out.

  17. I think it's a good time to remember how different salaries are within the academy. Check these anectdotal stats.

    Salary reports.
    More salary reports.

  18. 1. I take Saturday off, in general.
    2. Five to seven hours on Sunday.
    3. T/R = 9 - 10 hours per.
    4. MW = 8 - 9 hours per.
    5. F = if I'm honest, 6 hours.

    Total per average academic week = 49, plus independent maybe 55?

    Summer work = Seven weeks of 12 to 14 hour days (study abroad) + another three to four weeks of 8 hour days.

    January "Winter Term" work = 8 hours per day, 15 days.

    I think what I'm saying here is that my work schedule fluctuates A LOT depending on the time of year and what my colleagues in other departments are up to...if we are under the gun for a grant, I work a TON on our mutual stuff as well as my grading.

    FWIW, I'm an adjunct at 2 different schools + revising diss + trying to publish + working on interdisciplinary project w. sciencey-types.
    **Anybody find that tracking this on a daily basis makes you do more work? Less work?

  19. I currently have about 14 hours of required contact time per week, with about 1 more hour of extra prep. time (I do most of my prep. during the unattended office hours).

    If you add in tutoring, I work about 24 hours a week.

    I can grade all of my classes' essays in 3 hours total, so that doesn't add much.

    As for those who prep for 3 hours per 75-minute class session, what the FUCK are you possibly doing during that time? If you've taught the course for a while, you should have all of this shit memorized by now, no matter how complex the topic. I'd say you're overpreparing like crazy.

  20. I'm dying for someone to explain a 10 hour day on campus, or 5 of them. I truly don't understand what it is you're doing for 10 hours. I mean no disrespect, but what takes all that time?

    Of course when a new class starts up, there's a lot of prep. Yes, you probably spend 70-90 minutes in class maybe 2-4 times each day. Office hour. Maybe a meeting.


    Could one of your 50-70 hr a week person show me a typical day?

    I mean, it's 11 here and I'm still in pajamas. I have a class at 2:30 and one at 4:15. I have a half hour in my office. No meetings today. No prep. No grading. I'll be on campus from 2 until 5:30.

  21. I've been lurking here since September or so, and it appears to me that many of you must be community college teachers. The kind of course load and on-campus hours suggest a much different experience than what I and my colleagues face.

    I have no doubt that a 4/4 or 3/3 load must be very hard to deal with, but I just can't weigh in on many of the complaints here because they are so foreign to me.

    Now, if someone wants to write more about colleague-sniping or publishing, then I'll be all over that misery.

  22. Oh, don't Will and Reg W have it easy? Good for them.

    If you have misery to share, please do so. But don't cast aspersions because so many of us have heavier (5/5 for me) loads than you.

  23. It does seem like a community college board, with about 20 active posters.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    There are a good number of commenters.

  24. This should be easier to find than this, but does anyone know the number of junior or community colleges versus regular ones in the US?

    I suspect that are more of the former, but I'm having trouble finding anything other than a total number of 4000 colleges in the US.

  25. 1,173 community colleges

  26. Before I realized how much fuckery the university was getting away with by paying me next to nothing for my youthful enthusiasm, where TT and T'ed faculty put zero effort into their classes, I worked long crazy hours. After I clued in and got bitter enough to participate on fora like this, my hours dropped off dramatically. By then my preps were done, and I wouldn't add anything new to my courses. It got so I could skim my notes and go in otherwise cold. I'd say some scary shit at the start of a course to get the lousy and lazy students to drop it, so I'd have fewer students. (You have to time that just right though, so it's not too soon that you get a bunch of adds) I'd turn out the same assignments with minor tweaks, I even reduced the number of them. I held office hours when no one would show up. I still got a decent distribution of grades, and my evals were on the high end--certainly nothing to set off alarms. I should have earned an oscar for my portrayal of someone who gives a fuck. I was pretty good at lecturing, keeping it light, funny, and we all know the kids like funny. I wasn't going to give the university any more than what they were paying for. I had settled on what I figured a fair hourly rate was, divide that into what I was paid per course, and made it my mission/mandate not to put one extra unpaid minute into it. It worked.

  27. Who are these new people? I don't know half the names in these comments. Somebody is pulling our chain.

    Reg W. isn't real. neither is Wimpy Will.

    Somebody is bored.

    I know the names of all 34 people who read this slowly dying site.

  28. (For background, and in response to ELS and Will, I teach a 4/4 all-writing-intensive load on a multi-year renewable but non-TT contract at an R2 state school, with a salary of just over 40K. I am not required to do either research or service, but would like to do both, and do some of the latter when I can find/make the time. My TT colleagues teach mostly 2/2 loads, perform both research and service, and start at about 60K).

    @Reg: I can easily explain a 10+-hour day on campus: arrive between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. (when both traffic and parking are more manageable) and work in my office (answering overnight emails, perhaps updating and/or posting a handout or assignment prompt, either for my face-to-face or for my hybrid classes, all of which have a lot of small moving parts, and/or reading online posts on which I hope to build class activities/discussion) until it's time to go to my 9:00 class (c. 8:45).

    Between 9:00 and 3:00, meet with 3 75-minute classes face to face, and hold an office hour (which usually turns out to be more answering of email/creating and updating of assignments, while eating lunch). Those 6 hours also include 15-30 minutes of time in my office which isn't an office hour (which is also usually spent emailing, updating, and/or reading, with a bit of eating over the keyboard), and 45-60 minutes of passing time (walking to and from classes -- we have a pretty big campus -- and answering student questions before or after class, which, along with email, is where much of the traditional "office hours" interaction takes place these days).

    Once I'm back in my office c. 3 p.m., usually with a cup of coffee, I may take a brief break, but then it's on to more email, and, if I have any energy left, to catching up on all the prep tasks that take more time and/or concentration than has been available earlier in the day. If I'm really tired, I may read and grade posts, or do more simple updating of assignments, as well as answer email (remember, in this scenario, which includes two hybrid classes, I have one class that I didn’t see face to face, but that still has ongoing work, and therefore ongoing questions, responses, etc.) It's very easy to have these activities stretch 'til 5 p.m. (at which point it makes sense to stay until at least 6 -- traffic again), and, especially toward the middle/end of the semester, I often end up leaving 12 hours or (much) more after I arrived. I don't claim to be particularly efficient in those hours (in fact, I know I'm not, because I'm tired), but there are things I really have to get done before I leave, in part because I know if I go home, I won't be able to force myself back on to the computer. Since my students are mostly nocturnal, getting up very early the next day to post a prompt, etc., which works for me, actually delays the usefulness of that material for them by 24 hours.

    I think the key is that, although I don't necessarily make huge changes from year to year, my courses, like most writing-intensive/composition ones, aren't of the "prep it and forget it" type, nor do they include only a few major assignments/assessments. Even if I don't change anything major, a lot of the smaller pieces (prompts for discussion board posts, etc.) have to be continuously revised to fit the slightly different rhythms of different semesters, and to see if I can make them work, for me and for the students, just a bit better. And then, of course, the students respond to all those little writing assignments, and I have to, at the very least, read them and fill in a rubric, which is relatively efficient, but even something that takes 2-3 minutes (and very few activities genuinely take less than that) adds up when you have 90+ students. And there are always sure to be one or two students out of 90 who react to minor assignments, grades, etc. in a way that requires at least 15 minutes of emailing, head-scratching, googling, or similar activities.

  29. I know Wisconsin Will, and without giving too much identifying information, you can all rest assured that Will is worried about publishing because he is currently unemployed in the teaching arena. And prefers it that way.

    I'm sure he'll put up a big fight denying that, bragging about his R1 institution, but rest assured, that is his situation.

  30. I think it is probably difficult for a lot of people to come up with an exact number, because so much of our work varies seasonally.

    I teach a 2-2 (3 undergrad, one grad) two of which are lectures and two are seminars. That's 6 hours a week in class, plus three hours of prep (a lot less for lectures, sometimes more for seminars, especially grad seminars. I get TAs for my lecture classes, so I don't have to grade, but I usually grade around a quarter of each assignment because I find it is the only way I can gauge what's going on in the heads of the flakes. I’d guess that I spend ninety minutes a week on lecture class grading, and easily twice that on seminar grading.

    I'm usually on at least two committees, sometimes more. Conservatively that's another 3 or 4 hours a week on average.

    So that’s 16 or 17 hours a week for my standard work, not counting office hours, emails, and other bullshit, so let’s call it 20.

    Then there's the seasonal work. In the fall semester I usually write for at least one, usually two or three tenure cases at other schools. I'd prefer to do those in the summer, but a lot of places don't do it that way. Each one of those, done right, is 20 hours--so let's say five hours a week in the Fall on average.

    I also churn out somewhere in the range of twenty letters of rec a year in the peak application season of late Fall. Some of these are relatively easy--updating letters for grad students--but some are written ex novo. Let’s say an hour a week.

    Early in Spring semester we do grad admissions. Unlike a lot of places, we do it collectively. So let's say that from mid January to mid February I'm down for at least 20 hours of that, plus time spent on the phone with candidates trying to recruit them etc.

    I usually advise at least one senior thesis, which means at least two or three hours a week in the Spring semester if I don't want the flake to embarrass itself.

    I do a lot of external refereeing for journals and presses. This year I'm on leave, but I've already done two book manuscripts, and two articles. Who knows what Spring will bring.

    I read for grants. Not every year, but probably every other year. That's a 60-80 hour commitment when I do it.

    I've so far managed to dodge the external evaluator for a departmental review at another institution, but I can feel that particular train bearing down on me. I've also been nominated, but thankfully not yet elected, to posts in professional associations. That's going to suck too.

    I think all of that gets me into the standard American 40 hour work-week range, on average.

    But that's just the start. I have graduate students to tend to. Reading their work takes a hell of a lot longer than grading undergrad essays. So does, talking them up at conferences (sure, that's work too), holding their hands, kicking them in the ass, and generally coaching them on how to be in the profession.

    And I haven't gotten to my own work yet. I try to shoehorn in as much reading and writing as I can, but it doesn't always work out in-semester. But for eight to ten weeks in the summer I'm pulling eight-hour archive days, followed by at least an hour of get-my-thoughts-on-paper-before-they-fade writing. The rest of the year it is write it up and work towards the next book, the next article, the next merit raise.

    So what does it all work out to? Some weeks I work four days, others I work six. Some weeks I probably coast by with 30 hours, others I'm more in the 50-60 range. But either way, I'd guess it averages out to quite a bit more than 40 a week.

  31. I teach about 15 classes per year (of about 15 students per class on average), usually get in some published research, and earn less than a quarter what Reg does. 'Nuff said.

  32. Slave,

    That makes it sound like it's my fault. It's not.

  33. Reg, I hope you treat your grad students well.

  34. @Monkey

    That sounds like you're suggesting I don't. Why wouldn't I? They're in my program. I am their mentor. Their success is my success. I want them to finish here, get great jobs, and prosper. So, yes, I treat them very well. But I also teach them what I know.

  35. @Reg -
    No, it isn't your fault at all. Some of the blame is systemic, but it is mostly my fault.

  36. @Slave,

    I'd say it's MOSTLY systemic. I know a few adjunct slaves and they're eminently qualified for much better jobs, as I'm sure you are.

  37. I know I'm getting into this very late, but I want to add an observation I made earlier this semester. My division coordinator works too much.

    The man arrives on campus by 7:30 a.m. I know that is true because I couldn't sleep one night and there he was, already down to business, on campus. In the meantime, I returned home and went back to bed before going back to the office to teach. The division coordinator was still there when I left that evening at about 5:30 or 6.

    It would be easier for me to bitch about trying to teach and to learn to do administrative work (which is becoming a new task for me), and trying to write while still developing new courses. But the model I see before me is a man who is there before the sun rises; who is still there after the sun sets; who takes on teaching assignments that he isn't required to just to help out junior faculty/glorified adjuncts who are being exploited.

    When I watch my division coordinator, I realize that I could be working much harder even though I feel completely overwhelmed at the moment. I truly don't know how he does it, but I have massive amounts of respect for him and hope to learn his ways.

    And he takes it all in stride and never seems rattled. I. Am. in. Awe.

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