I Guess Richard Vedder Does Not Want to be Invited to Dinner Parties
June 8, 2011 Education

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" Comments
  1. Pingback: We Professors Should be Teaching More (and better) « Times of Texas

  2. 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.

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

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

  5. Pingback: Higher Education Again… « White Rock Kitchens

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