Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Help! Advice from the 'nets needed!

Team teaching; just found out that RNU doesn't really have a policy on team teaching. Arts & Sciences is trying to develop one, and yup, I'm on the committee that is to draft both policy and language.

Does your university/school/dept have a team teaching practice? Does it have a policy? Do you wish it did? What would it look like, how would it work? Input needed ASAP!

Our existing non-policy has been that team teaching took place in two areas: in the Honors program, as a Junior-Senior Honors seminar and more recently at the university level in what is laughingly called 'Liberal Arts Seminar' that aims for interdisciplinary freshman seminars, taught by two or more faculty. If one team teaches for the Honors program, each participating professor gets to count that class toward their total load. That is, if you're on a 3/4 contract, that one class counts as a full class toward your load. However, if you do the freshman LAS, a team taught class counts as .5 of a class. As I pointed out today, that solves nobody's problem of staffing one. What professor wants to have to do twice as many classes to get the same load count? And if you teach 2.5 in one term, that means you have to find another half-course load for the following semester, so that you'd do 4.5 there? What are you supposed to do for that .5 (or even less, potentially) class? Scheduling nightmare.

So we're obviously going to suggest that any class that is team taught - since it requires more work - be counted towards the faculty's load as a full class. That is just as obviously going to run into problems re: funding and class size, descriptions, cross-listing etc..

Any experience, suggestions, warnings, etc.. most welcome. Crowd-sourcing!


Anonymous said...

Hi there - I'm team teaching a course this term, but with a colleague from another department. The rule for us is that we each have to make minimum enrollment, and then the class "goes" and counts toward each of our teaching loads.

Flavia said...

I've team-taught only once, and it was a bit of a work-around since officially team-teaching only counts as half a class for each instructor.

We and our chair asked for the class to count for each of our workloads, but there wasn't the institutional will to construct a new policy. So, with our chair's active encouragement--and I believe the knowledge of our dean--my colleague and I taught two courses with different catalog numbers and slightly different titles that just happened to meet at the same time, one of which was assigned to a largish room in which we merged our classes. They both had low enrollment (~10 people), which weirdly no one cares about, so we wound up with just one normal-sized seminar.

If I were making a policy now to make the case for a single course counting for both people, I'd peg it to enrollment at a number that I thought the upper-administration would consider reasonable for two bodies doing classroom labor, which is to say, something higher than the minimum enrollment for a course at its level. So for a senior seminar, which we cap at 18, I'd suggest a minimum enrollment of 25 or 30, and for a 300-level class that normally caps out at 25, a minimum enrollment of 35 or 40.

Alternately, I imagine one might be able to make the case for a single course counting for each faculty member's workload if there were some other experiential or extra-classroom component. One of my colleagues (a poet) team-teaches a course on literature and the environment with an environmental biologist, and there are non-classroom requirements (attend poetry readings, analyze pond samples, etc.). Although it should be obvious that teaching a class with a partner is just as much work as teaching a class on one's own, anything that helps to emphasize the extraordinary nature of what team-teaching permits might be helpful--at least if you're dealing with upper-administrators like mine!

Susan said...

We don't have a policy. Or we sort of do, but it's not enforced. The theoretical policy is that only one person gets credit, so the other one gives their labor as a gift. There is a set of team taught courses that both instructors get credit for, but I don't know how much longer that will last, and may work only because it's a cross-listed course. Two of my colleagues are team teaching this semester, but they are doing a conjoined course (senior seminar/grad seminar) and one is teaching each.

If I were to create a policy, I agree with Flavia, I'd peg credit to enrollment, so you don't have people getting credit for team teaching a weirdly small group, whatever, that means on your campus.

JaneB said...

We work out a load for the module (which isn't just 'one course = one point", because since modules can be very different sizes, that leads to very different marking loads, so we have a simple calculation which goes something like 'hours of class activities x 3' [for preparing] + number of repeats of activities x 1 (for e.g. a discussion which is taught by having three separate seminar groups meeting with the lecturer, for large classes - you only get to count the prep time once) + 'number of students' [for grading, assuming 1 hour per student across the whole module' and then divide that by a standard module's hours - where a standard module is something like 30 classroom hours for 25 students with no repeats), then we divide THAT by the number of people in the team. So three of us teach a large first year module which works out at being nearly 3 standard modules' worth, so we get about 1 each, whereas two of us teach a graduate seminar which is actually about 0.8 of a standard module so we get about 0.4 each. We balance the odd 0.2 or 0.5 missing by sharing out the first year learning skills tutorials and the minor administrative roles within the department, and run the whole thing with carry-overs as necessary (so one colleague teaches an extra class every second year, but overall averages out at the 'official teaching load' for their status, so that's fine).

It's complicated! But nearly all our stuff is team taught for various reasons, and thus it seemed worth having a system in place which at least TRIED to make the work-comparisons equitable...