I went on the market this year in order to leave my tenure track position at a small liberal arts college, with a 4-4 teaching load. I basically ignored any school with a 4-4 load, because I was hoping to find something that had a better balance between teaching and research. It may be my own bias, or the fact that I went on the market late (started sending applications in late December), but it seems that there are a lot of 4-4 jobs out there, more so than 3-3 jobs (at least in Cognitive). I also noticed that a lot of people posting on the wiki are folks in TT positions, looking for 'greener' pastures. I'm curious to know whether my observations are correct (lots of 4-4 jobs, more so than I remember when I was on the market before), and whether this is because more colleges are requiring 4-4 loads, or because these are positions that are opening up from people leaving their current positions, or that I just never noticed these positions before. Also, I wonder whether people think that a 4-4 teaching load is sustainable, long term for faculty. After 2 years of a 4-4 load, I feel almost completely burnt out, and my college has a high turnover for faculty (across all departments), and I wonder if this is the case at other colleges with high teaching loads.
Date: 08 Apr 2014 15:20
Number of posts: 7
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I think it may be the case that teaching schools post their jobs ads later than R1 schools. That may be one reason why the later appearing ads seem to include more teaching… 4-4 seems really tough to me. Hang in there!
4-4 is sustainable, but you have to lower your expectations of research. Not that your research quality will be less, but you're just going to take longer to finish projects and do fewer studies. At least in cognitive, it's usually relatively easy to reimagine a study as within subjects so you can collect fewer total subjects. I find that I have to work hard to make time for things that are important to me and not get caught up in just managing my classes. I am very fulfilled in my current position teaching 4-4 cognitive/neuro in a small department, doing high quality research at a slow pace, and doing meaningful service work. It's a life that graduate school doesn't really train you for, but it's totally doable once you figure it out. That being said, I'd love to head over to the greener pastures of 3-3 at a more prestigious school with a higher salary, but I'm also happy where I am.
Also - learning to be happy where you are is a serious life skill. They should teach THAT in grad school. And basic copier repair. I definitely could have used a class in how to unjam a copier.
I teach at a 3-3 and am looking for greener pastures. One thing that I found in some 3-3 schools is that they teach 3 4-cr classes - so, 12-cr per semester. I turned down two offers this year (I know, kinda stupid) in part because both had this teaching load. I asked people there what the 4-cr load is like, and some said it was closer to 3-3, others said it felt like a 4-4. Not sure if this is a trend but it feels that way.
I went from a 4-4 (4 different preps) to a 3-3 (3 different preps). Still busy, still have to manage time and expectations. But I'll tell you what— just having one fewer course to prepare for and grade makes a HUGE difference in my quality of life. The 4 credit courses just have more contact hours in the classroom. YMMV but my experience FWIW…
Anonymouse has some good insight. How a teaching-load is computed makes a big difference.
At many institutions, it depends on whether it's a straight 3-credit class or a class that's 3-credits + 1-credit lab. In the latter case, some schools count the 3-credit class + 1-credit lab (which usually lasts three hours) as "5 units" in the teaching load computation. So, it's worthwhile finding out how a school counts all of this. If a standard is to have faculty teach three 4-credit classes, each having some lab component, in a semester - wow, that's rough. Other schools have some sort of unit system, e.g. faculty teach "24 units" per year and a 4-credit class with lab counts as "5 units" while non-lab classes count as "3". E.g., teach 2 courses with lab one semester and 3 courses with lab the next or some other combo.
Class sizes make a big difference no matter what, as do the level of student. I find freshmen/sophomores tend to need a lot more attention and hand-holding than juniors/seniors.
Finally, don't overlook what faculty do outside of the classroom. Service expectations can vary quite a bit and can be horrific time drains (and time wastes). In the end, it's all a balancing act. I urge anyone on an academic job search to ask detailed questions about how teaching loads work and are calculated as well as office hours (how many hours are typical), and what faculty are service expectations exist and what faculty actually do. For this last question, I'd ask every faculty member I interviewed one-on-one with precisely what service they do at the college/university.