SSC colleagues, several people have asked great questions regarding faculty and overload hours and how the institutional measure for hours taught by full-time (FT) faculty works. We wanted to provide some food for thought on examining those issues further. Below is the SSC reported percentage of classes taught by FT faculty, compared to the reported mean among Ohio community colleges.1
Some additional numbers to consider in conjunction with this table:
- Approximately 7583 course hours were taught by all faculty in total for Fall 2013.2
- 377 contact hours and 371 credit hours, separately, were classified as overloads across 198 FT faculty.3
- Unfortunately, due to the possible variance that results from tracking in both credit hours and contact hours as well as possible variance in individual FT contract loads, it’s challenging to get an exact account but these data together suggest that between 18-21% of our “Taught by FT” rate reported for the College is actually FT overloads.4
- That equates to 8.1% – 9.97% of our total classes offered being taught as overload.
What does the “Taught by FT” percentage reflect? If this rate is consistently used across higher education as one comparative measure of quality, value, use of financial resources, and an institution’s investment in both education and its workforce, then we really should consider the entire context from which that measure is derived. It certainly seems misleading to institutionally report that 50% rate, which is already problematically low in itself, without accounting for the proportion that are actually paid at the already-exploitative adjunct wage and without explicit recognition that overloads by nature chip into the additional time and resources supposedly reflected by the “Taught by FT” rate.
These data reiterate that the SSC community would benefit from more full-time faculty positions. The number of overloads don’t fluctuate substantially from semester to semester, so clearly it is a consistent need.5 And not only does the proportion of overloads taught by FT faculty significantly restrict the available course pool for our valued adjunct faculty which is a serious concern, it also raises a further question: if there are so many FT faculty who consistently need to depend upon overloads as part of their salary, doesn’t that suggest the problem may be connected to the increasing reliance on part-time labor and the overall compensation structure rather than solely with changes in the number of offered courses?
None of this is to suggest that overload possibilities should be outright eliminated, but simply that there are larger contextual issues to consider and discuss. Particularly given the recent release of the College compensation plan for the upcoming year. We would also wonder if there are not similar structural issues with over-reliance on part time workers on the staff side as well, to the detriment of full-time positions.
~Our thanks to those of you who inquired about these issues.
1 The Key Performance Indicators summaries from which this table is drawn can be obtained via mystarkstate on the Reports tab, or just use the function to search for KPI Report.[back]
2 Estimate by extrapolating from the 50% taught by FT rate on the most recent KPI, assuming standardized contact/credit hours and figuring average contract load by number of faculty. Fall 2013 used because complete Fall 2014 overload data is not available. [back]
3 Obtained from requested reports from each of the academic division deans via public records request. The most recent semester for which overload information has been provided thus far, Spring 2014, reports similar credit/contact hour numbers.[back]
4 Accounting for both lower and higher range ends of credit + contact hours.[back]
5 A hypothetical example (using standardized contact/credit hours): dividing the overload numbers here by the typical contract load amount for full-time faculty would yield enough to assign a regular load of classes to 42 full-time faculty members.[back]