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.