Faculty Senate Works to Implement and Improve the Workload Model

Productivity Model October 2016The Faculty Senate serves as the communication medium between the faculty and administration As a result, they play a vital role in communicating the new policy, and overseeing its implementation.

According to Dinesh Mehta, the Faculty Senate President, the Faculty Senate is “evaluating how [the productivity model] will affect faculty and students and is providing feedback to the administration.”

He explained that there has been a lot of “angst” amongst the faculty since an outline of the policy was proposed in March of this year.

“One thing to mention is that it has not been finalized,” Mehta said. “There has been feedback given to the administration, and they have been looking at it and are reviewing it with the different departments. Something different may emerge.”

Mehta voiced one of his concerns with the new policy, “Having some quantitative metrics is a good thing, but the three metrics of:  how many students a teacher is advising, how many student credit hours are being taught (which translates to how many students are in their classes), and how many research dollars they are bringing in, is pretty narrow; it doesn’t capture all of the things faculty do for the school.”

Illustrating the possible consequences of the evaluation system, Mehta stated, “Traditionally, the amount of teaching professors do has been measured by the number of classes they teach. Measuring the amount of teaching solely by the number of student credit hours is inaccurate. It is also often out of the teacher’s control. There are these ups and downs [in the enrollment of different departments] that depend on external factors.”

He continued to voice his concern with the policy, “This metric may incentivize faculty to teach required courses that generally enroll more students rather than electives that enroll fewer students. This could result in fewer electives being offered.”

The current version of the proposed policy  has “a one-size-fits-all approach” that doesn’t necessarily fit the variety of departments across campus.

“The idea of the policy is to have more equity among faculty so that someone isn’t doing way more work than someone else,” Mehta said. “This is a good goal, but the current drafted policy may not necessarily be the way to achieve it. I think the best way would to have a workload policy for each department.”.

Mehta described, “There is a trend in public universities to having larger class sizes, which this policy gravitates towards. By shifting towards larger classes, there is the hope of making it more cost effective, but there is a potential for reduced quality of instruction.”

Mehta concluded, “It is important for students to be informed and keep an eye on this, but the faculty and administration really do care about the students more than you might see in other places. I am confident that the right choices will be made to benefit the students.”

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