Worcester Polytechnic Institute

A Planning Program for Worcester Polytechnic Institute: The Future of Two Towers - Part Four: A Plan


A. Introduction

A major consideration in any educational program is the faculty required to execute it. In this chapter several kinds of faculty activity are described with an indication of how faculty might allot time to the various activities. This allotment must satisfy three conflicting objectives. First, there is the objective of seeing that the program can be carried through from the point of view of educating the students. Second, there is the objective of determining the number of faculty and thereby the cost of the program. Third, there is the objective of providing opportunity and reward for intellectual growth of the faculty themselves.

B. Faculty Activities to be Considered

In three areas, Study, Study-Conference, and Conference, establishing faculty duties is relatively straightforward. In the IS/P and advising areas, a definitive statement of duties is difficult.

1. Study. In the Study the student would be expected to do a great deal of outside work on his own. The instructor would be responsible for careful preparation of reading and problem lists and problem solutions. The instructor would require a ratio of preparation to class time of four.

2. Study-Conference. The Study-Conference should be given by a faculty member well qualified in the field. In general the duties would include three lectures per week, preparation of reading lists, and preparation of problem lists and outlines of problem solutions. The instructor in charge of a Study-Conference also would have the responsibility for overseeing the work of the Conference instructors. The Instructor in a Study-Conference should have a ratio of preparation time to contact hours of four.

3. Conference. The Conference is a 2.5 hours per week meeting of an instructor and six or fewer students. It is in the Conference that specific questions on the lecture material would be considered and details of problem solutions would be discussed. It is in the Conference that applications of the lecture material to areas of specific interest to the student would be made. (A Study-Conference in thermodynamics might have different Conferences for students interested in chemistry, mechanics, and physics.) It is expected that the Conference would eliminate much of the present faculty "office hours" and detailed paper grading. Because the material to be discussed and problem lists with indicated solutions would be the responsibility of the Study-Conference instructor, the instructor of a Conference would require far less preparation time, and a preparation to class time ratio of one is suggested. It is recognized that a significant fraction of the Conference work would be handled by graduate assistants, and a ratio of two might be more appropriate for beginning graduate assistants who would usually be attending the Study-Conference lectures.

4. IS/P (on-campus). A definition of duties of the instructor is difficult because of the wide variations in methods of operation. However, an attempt was made to establish a reasonable time allotment by inquiring of those faculty who currently handle a significant amount of IS/P students, "If you were doing nothing else, and the students were doing nothing else, how many students could you handle effectively on IS/P" The responses ranged between five and ten.

5. IS/P (off-campus). WPI has had negligible experience with this kind of activity. In general, WPI would retain control over the off-campus work, and temporarily one full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty member and one FTE graduate assistant have been assumed necessary for every 15 FTE students working on off-campus IS/P.

6. Advising. It is clear that under the proposed plan advising would be important enough to be part of a faculty member's load. The number of students each faculty member can advise effectively varies widely. The subcommittee on Advising Procedures recommended a maximum advisee/advisor ratio of 15. The Planning Committee have used this figure, since it coincides with the proposed student:staff ratio, and then estimated that advising 15 students would require on the average 10 percent of a faculty member's time.

7. Committee Work. Time required for committee work depends on the particular committee assignment and on the effort by the individual.

In general, it should be recognized that the duties of any individual faculty member must be based on the best interests of WPI and its students and not on any strictly enforced schedule of faculty duties. As pointed out in XII, THE ORGANIZATIONAL CONCEPTS, personnel development would be the primary function of the faculty group chairmen, and allotment of faculty time would become one of their major concerns. Faculty are professionals who must have time for their professional development. It is only fair, however, that some guidelines for teaching activities be understood. IS/P and research are closely related. Research totally unrelated to the academic program should not be considered in determining academic assignments.

It is recommended that WPI, as part of its faculty personnel policy, require at least one month's vacation a year.

C. Estimated Time-Allotment for Various Activities

Examination of Tables XIII-1 and XIII-2 which follow will show immediately that the Conferences would, comparatively, require a great deal of time. One quickly recognizes, however, that there would be a considerable difference in the time required between the first and second time one gives a Conference.

Table XIII-2 shows that the proposed allotments attempt to eliminate some obvious inequities in the present system by allowing time for preparation, advising, and IS/P work. Some departments currently include IS/P work in faculty effort reports, but the practice is by no means uniform.

Combination "H." in Table XIII-2 is included as a possible assignment for a half-time graduate assistant; this might be, however, a heavy load.

The question as to whether the proposed allotment allows for professional development of the faculty must be considered. First, the allotments have been based on 45 hours a week. Second, the I _ and Study-Conference activities would most certainly be in the area of the faculty member's greatest professional concern. To a large extent, project supervision by a faculty member currently requires spending endless hours maintaining and procuring equipment and supplies and instructing students in the use of tools and equipment. Under the proposed plan, most of this would be eliminated by the support of one technician for one or two FTE faculty members on IS/P work.

Table XIII-1
Examples of Possible Allotment of Time for Various Activities

Activity Fraction of Load Average Hours per week
Lecture 0.067 3.0
Lecture Preparation 0.267 12.0
Conference 0.055 2.5
Conference Preparation 0.055 2.5
Lecture 0.088 4.0
Lecture Preparation 0.356 16.0
off-campus 0.067/FTE Student 3.0/FTE Student
on-campus 0.15/FTE Student 6.75/FTE Student
Advising 0.007/Student 0.3/Student
Committee Work --variable--
Research --see IS/P--

Table XIII-2
Examples of Possible Allotment of Faculty Time

Proposed Plan Present Plan*
Activity Combinations Fraction of Load Total Hours per week "Credited Contact Hours" per week
2 S-C 0.668 30.0 6.
3 half-time IS/P Students 0.225 10.0 0.
15 Advisees 0.1 4.5 0.
Totals 0.993 44.5 6.
1 S-C 0.334 15. 3.
3 Conferences in one S-C 0.22 9. 7.5
6 third-time IS/P Students 0.3 13.5 0.
20 Advisees 0.14 6.3 0.
Totals 0.994 44.7 10.5
3 S-C 1.000 45.0 9.
Totals 1.000 45.0 9.
2 S-C w/repeated section in one 0.735 33.0 9.
2 Conferences, one each S-C 0.22 9.95.
6 Advisees 0.042 1.9 0.
Totals 0.997 44.8 14.0
3 Conferences in one S-C 0.22 9.9 7.5
15 third-time IS/P Students 0.75 33.8 0.
3 Advisees 0.021 .95 0.
Totals 0.99144.65 7.5
2 Studies 0.89 40 8.
16 Advisees 0.112 5.33 0.
Totals 1.002 45.33 8.
1 Study 0.445 20. 4.
6 Conferences in 2 S-C's 0.44 19.8 15.
16 Advisees 0.112 4.8 0.
Totals 0.997 44.6 19.0
3 Conferences in each of 2 S-C 0.44 19.8 15.0
Totals 0.44 19.8 15.0
1 Study 0.445 20. 4.0
1 S-C 0.334 15. 3.0
3 half-time IS/P Students 0.225 10.1 0.
Totals 1.004 45.1 7.0

*A "full load" by current reckoning is 12 "contact hours" per week.
** This is suggested as a load for an half-time teaching assistant.

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Last modified: Fri Mar 5 15:28:11 EST 1999