Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why Professors Drink 2013.01.23

The Spring 2013 semester started yesterday. Hopefully the first day wasn't a foretaste of things to come, because it flat-out sucked. Clueless students (even more clueless than usual, and greater numbers of them to boot), clueless faculty (ditto), and even more ignorant and arrogant then usual administrators. Example:

The State of Texas is still experiencing a budget crunch (the budget cycle is a two-year cycle, so we are still operating under the budget passed two years ago, when funds were tight). Our university responded by increasing the number of students necessary for a class to officially 'make' - that is, there must be a certain number of students registered for a class, or else that class is cancelled. It used to be that 5 students was sufficient. now it is 10. The university also increased the number of classes that each faculty member must teach. On the surface, that might seem to make sense. But...

We've had several classes cancelled that students needed to graduate. So the kids have to stick around for another semester or two, which forces many of them to choose between running up even more student loan debt or dropping out. Alternatively, the faculty is asked to teach a "special topics" course for which the faculty doesn't get paid, and which doesn't count towards our workload. I'm teaching one this semester for seven students. Two years ago that would have been a regular class. This year it's an 'off the books' class. Basically I had to choose between teaching an additional class 'for free' or screwing the students.

Now combine fewer classes being offered with an administrative mandate that the faculty teach more classes and what happens? Larger classes are split into multiple sections, which result in two or more faculty members teaching the same number of students that used to be taught by one. Money actually saved? $Zero.

In short, no money is saved, and the people we are here to help -- the students -- are adversely affected. When this is pointed out to the administration it is met with a blank stare and a shrug of the shoulders.

Here's another example. I teach a large online class - the Intro to Information Systems course. I've been doing this for several years now and have gotten it to the point where it runs pretty smoothly. Since it's an online course, I can teach large numbers of students (large for us is 100+) relatively efficiently and effectively. This semester one of the other faculty had a class that didn't make, so the powers-that-be split my online course in half and assigned the second half to him. He's never taught an online course before, so I'll have to hold his hand and walk him through the semester, effectively doubling or even tripling my workload for that course.

To make matters worse, the registrar's office screwed up the process of assigning students to the two different classes. They were originally registered for a single class - mine. Since the course was split, half of them had to be reassigned to the new class. However, some were assigned to both classes, while some were dropped and not assigned to either one. All this occurred on the first day of class, which of course got everyone confused and frustrated. When we finally figured out what had happened and contacted the registrar to get things straightened out, here was his response.
"Once the proper forms are submitted to our office, we’ll update accordingly."
That sound you just heard was the cap being removed from another bottle of Shiner...

2 comments:

Old NFO said...

Meh... I spent ALL day trying to move $$... Trade ya... At least you FOUND the problem!!! I can't even figure out who the @#@($ players are... sigh...

CenTexTim said...

I can't imagine the level of frustration that you experience dealing with that mess up there. I'd be bug-fucking climb-the-wall crazy by now.