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Monday, October 30, 2006

Tenure Blogging Part Two

Well, my department hasn't yet met. Nor have I quite finished the tenure file, as a matter of fact. I'm somewhat wanting to revise my earlier dismissive comment that it's just a glorified CV with a little commentary. I mean, it is. But, man, State U wants a *lot* of commentary. Nothing here is all that complicated; it's just sheer tedium. And pointless tedium. For instance, when I do my year-end report these days, I do it online, and the registrar's system automatically imports all of the courses, enrollment numbers, and so forth. I never see that stuff. But for the tenure file, I have to put it all in manually -- even though I've really never had any contact with these numbers before, and even though the computer system is in fact designed in such a way that I actually don't have access to the enrollment figures going back more than three or four semesters. I had to get the department administrator to search around for the files, and she's new and didn't know how to do it either. Ridiculous. (In fact, in the process of looking for the enrollment records, I discovered that, still more ridiculously, our online system allows me access to the "photo rosters" -- the ID photos -- of my students going back for as long as the system has been in place, which is to say, basically as long as I've been at State U; but the actual enrollment rosters are deleted after a year and a half or so. Completely crazy. What could anybody want with the photo rosters? Well, I guess I don't want to know.)

Apparently, if I get a single one of these enrollment figures wrong -- I've been told this by two different people, both of whom are in a position to know -- some administrator along the line in the College office is going to pull the file and go over absolutely every number in it, holding the whole process up, it seems, for weeks. So, basically, I'm being tested on information I'm not supposed to have access to, by people who do have access to it, and have been supplying it to themselves, automatically, at the end of every year when I submit my report.

This is the unmitigated and pointless tedium of tenure.

On the positive side, my regular teaching of an introductory Shakespeare class which routinely draws over 100 students (depending on the room that's available) means that my enrollment numbers are pretty high, at least for a humanities prof, which I'm figuring that the administrators will appreciate. I spent a couple of minutes today devising a brief statistical breakdown of my enrollments, after the actual semester-by-semester listing of the classes, in which I spelled out the totals for each semester, tallied up the absolute total number of students I've taught at State U, and then calculated the average number of students, per "normal" semester (ie, leaving out my misguided foray into summer teaching, as well as my semester of junior leave). I thought Simplicius might appreciate this, though he would undoubtedly have done something much fancier.

Here's the deal. I've taught 837 students, not counting independent studies, directed readings for orals and dissertations, and so forth.

That's 83.7 per semester, and an average of 41.85 per course.

If you factor in the summer course I taught once, that brings the total number of students up to 881. But it doesn't, I think, really generate an appropriate adjustment to the averages, since summer semesters don't figure into the normal 2/2 load I labor under. I haven't yet gotten to the bit where I deal with independent studies, undergraduate theses directed, and so forth, but I don't imagine that'll change things hugely -- maybe it would add 8 additional students. There is, additionally, the matter of the grad student directed readings, which also show up as rosters with their own course numbers in our system, but that seems to me to represent a different category of labor altogether, and I'm not sure should be factored into the course average I'm talking about here. In any case, that, too, wouldn't significantly alter the numbers, I think: I'm guessing we'd be talking about another 15 students or so, taking into account each semester that each grad student appears on a roster with my name on it.

I'm going to tell my 10 grad students tomorrow that, in my eyes, they're 41.85 people.

  • At 10/31/2006 11:32:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    41.85 students per class is pretty high. And that one student who's only 85/100 there is really tough to teach! (thank you, thank you very much.)

    This semester I am teaching an average of 18.5 students per class. You'd think I couldn't really complain. And yet... you'd be wrong. I still hate grading and complain about it. That's just how I roll.


  • At 11/03/2006 05:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote…

    You early modern people.

    Can't you see that the operative information here is not the average number of students (of which there are actually just three: Smartypants; Couldtryharder; and Mouthbreather) but the definition of the verb to teach?

    Observe: I "teach" over 200 students this semester. On very good days, that is. On other days, I teach over 200 "students."


  • At 11/06/2006 10:20:00 PM, Blogger Inkhorn wrote…

    Oh, if you want to get into that, then I say we ban the word "teach" altogether, except when thoroughly, intensely, and satisfyingly scarequotified.


  • At 11/07/2006 06:30:00 PM, Blogger Inkhorn wrote…

    My final update on the numbers:

    852 total

    85.2 per semester

    I decided to include all the independent studies, directed readings, and assorted other nonsense, because of the way our tenure file is set up -- there just didn't seem to be any other place for that stuff to go, and since it shows up among the enrollment rosters, in it goes. Even though it's really more about "mentoring" than "teaching."


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