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In this week’s episode of how to become unacceptable in polite company, Richard Vedder makes the absolutely correct argument that we professors should be teaching more (and better):

In a study for the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, Christopher Matgouranis, Jonathan Robe and I concluded that tuition fees at the flagship campus of the University of Texas could be cut by as much as half simply by asking the 80% of faculty with the lowest teaching loads to teach about half as much as the 20% of faculty with the highest loads. The top 20% currently handle 57% of all teaching.

Such a move would require the bulk of the faculty to teach, on average, about 150-160 students a year. For example, a professor might teach one undergraduate survey class for 100 students, two classes for advanced undergraduate students or beginning graduate students with 20-25 students, and an advanced graduate seminar for 10. That would require the professor to be in the classroom for fewer than 200 hours a year—hardly an arduous requirement.

I’ve probably aired too much dirty laundry of late, so I will just say that I concur with Mr. Vedder’s assessment, and that even I have a teaching load that is reasonable to expect good research to come out of. My position is of a non-tenure track full-time lecturer. I teach 3 classes in the Fall (but two of them are the same class — two sections on Intro Economics and one course on Environmental Economics). On top of that I teach a “free” Sunday evening seminar that is probably as intensive as my formal classes. I advise 8-10 students on Independent Study projects and I do college and departmental advising in addition to a few other duties. In the Spring, I teach 4 classes (but two of them are the same class – two sections of Intermediate Micro, a class on Money and Banking and our Senior Honors Seminar), in addition to running the Sunday evening “free” seminar, the independent study projects (somewhat fewer) and my advising duties. I quite like it, and I certainly work hard, but even with that teaching load and the over 600 students I teach each year, I could be publishing reasonably good academic work if I were good enough and/or still could be doing a better job in the classroom or even teaching more.

5 Responses to “I Guess Richard Vedder Does Not Want to be Invited to Dinner Parties”

  1. Harry says:

    I continue to be impressed with Wintercow’s tireless effort to bring truth and enlightenment to his lucky students. Any guy who gets up early and gets a cup of coffee from a branch of a Great Slave Lake purveyor, and then goes on to his teaching job, and also manages to be a fellow at the AHI East and West, is someone I would hire for any job, however difficult, without hesitation. One hopes that Wintercow will write a bestselling book, and that his efforts will bring him and his family great happiness.

  2. Lauren Pierce says:

    I knew this was possible! Thanks for the eye-opening article. I know UT can be more productive if it really wanted to!

  3. Rod says:

    Another occupation for Wintercow — Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors for President Herman Cain.

  4. […] got a kick out of Wintercow20′s take on the post: I Guess Richard Vedder Does Not Want to be Invited to Dinner Parties. Published on June 13, 2011 in Higher Education. 0 […]

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