Journal of Nursing Education

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BRIEFS 

A Formula for Calculating Faculty Workload

Myrtle E Crawford, RN, MA; Gail Laing, RN, MScN; Marjorie Linwood, RN, BScN; Mavis Kyle, RN, MHSA; Audrey DeBlock, RN, MScN

Abstract

A problem common to all faculties of nursing in a university setting is that of having sufficient time to meet the demands and expectations placed on them. Faculty members are expected to teach, plan and supervise the clinical practice of their students, maintain their own clinical expertise, serve on committees, provide leadership to other members of the profession by being active in professional associations, take part in extension and continuing education programs for other nurses and, last but not least, do research and publish. It is not surprising that the day. week or academic year does not seem long enough to accomplish all these activities, and that a feeling of great pressure develops within a faculty group. Various attempts are made to equalize the load and to establish a rationale for allocating time to each activity. Comparative weighting of different types of activity is always a hotly debated issue. The comparison between the demands made on a faculty member's time in classroom teaching versus clinical teaching is particularly controversial.

In the larger university community the types of teaching traditionally recognized are lecture, seminar, laboratory, or reading class. Clinical teaching is not within the usual framework of reference of faculties of arts and sciences. Other professional faculties seem to handle the supervision of the practice component in different ways such as internship, blocks of practice time, or apprenticeship to practicing professionals. Current practice in the nursing field is that clinical practice must be concurrent with the theoretical component and must be under the supervision of the teacher.

As a faculty group we made a number of attempts to work out a formula for estimating our teaching load. We wished to be able to compare teaching loads within our faculty and as well, to compare our load with other departments and faculties of our university. Also, we were interested in comparing our teaching load with that of nursing faculties in other universités. During the last ten years several methods of equating classroom teaching and clinical teaching were tried and rejected. At two different times the members of our faculty kept diaries of time spent on the various components of their workload in an effort to arrive at an acceptable formula. These time studies did not succeed in adding much new information that could be used in developing such a formula.

In the fall of 1980 an ad hoc committee of the faculty was established to make yet another attempt at devising a formula for teaching load and workload. The terms of reference were to identify a reasonable workload for full-time and part-time faculty which would ensure internal and external equity.

A literature search was done; internal university documents and statistics were reviewed and unpublished materials from other faculties of nursing were studied. A formula was developed. The formula allows for equitable weighting of clinical teaching compared to classroom teaching. The key to the calculations of clinical time and lecture time is that credit is given for the actual hours of teaching; the differences in the two types of teaching are acknowledged through two separate factors for preparation time. Two hours of preparation time are allowed for each hour of lecture; one hour of preparation time is allowed for each three hours of clinical teaching. The idea of preparation time factor and the actual ratios of 2:1 for lecture and 1:3 for clinical teaching, which confirmed our own perception of equivalence, were adopted from Holliman (1977).

The formula is applicable in a variety of situations. It can be adapted to any setting, to academic terms of different length and to varying expectations of…

A problem common to all faculties of nursing in a university setting is that of having sufficient time to meet the demands and expectations placed on them. Faculty members are expected to teach, plan and supervise the clinical practice of their students, maintain their own clinical expertise, serve on committees, provide leadership to other members of the profession by being active in professional associations, take part in extension and continuing education programs for other nurses and, last but not least, do research and publish. It is not surprising that the day. week or academic year does not seem long enough to accomplish all these activities, and that a feeling of great pressure develops within a faculty group. Various attempts are made to equalize the load and to establish a rationale for allocating time to each activity. Comparative weighting of different types of activity is always a hotly debated issue. The comparison between the demands made on a faculty member's time in classroom teaching versus clinical teaching is particularly controversial.

In the larger university community the types of teaching traditionally recognized are lecture, seminar, laboratory, or reading class. Clinical teaching is not within the usual framework of reference of faculties of arts and sciences. Other professional faculties seem to handle the supervision of the practice component in different ways such as internship, blocks of practice time, or apprenticeship to practicing professionals. Current practice in the nursing field is that clinical practice must be concurrent with the theoretical component and must be under the supervision of the teacher.

As a faculty group we made a number of attempts to work out a formula for estimating our teaching load. We wished to be able to compare teaching loads within our faculty and as well, to compare our load with other departments and faculties of our university. Also, we were interested in comparing our teaching load with that of nursing faculties in other universités. During the last ten years several methods of equating classroom teaching and clinical teaching were tried and rejected. At two different times the members of our faculty kept diaries of time spent on the various components of their workload in an effort to arrive at an acceptable formula. These time studies did not succeed in adding much new information that could be used in developing such a formula.

In the fall of 1980 an ad hoc committee of the faculty was established to make yet another attempt at devising a formula for teaching load and workload. The terms of reference were to identify a reasonable workload for full-time and part-time faculty which would ensure internal and external equity.

A literature search was done; internal university documents and statistics were reviewed and unpublished materials from other faculties of nursing were studied. A formula was developed. The formula allows for equitable weighting of clinical teaching compared to classroom teaching. The key to the calculations of clinical time and lecture time is that credit is given for the actual hours of teaching; the differences in the two types of teaching are acknowledged through two separate factors for preparation time. Two hours of preparation time are allowed for each hour of lecture; one hour of preparation time is allowed for each three hours of clinical teaching. The idea of preparation time factor and the actual ratios of 2:1 for lecture and 1:3 for clinical teaching, which confirmed our own perception of equivalence, were adopted from Holliman (1977).

The formula is applicable in a variety of situations. It can be adapted to any setting, to academic terms of different length and to varying expectations of workload. At the University of Saskatchewan the average weekly teaching load is nine lecture hours per week (Statistics, University of Saskatchewan, 1980), and the normal term is 13 weeks.

Based on University of Saskatchewan averages, a normal teaching load for an academic year was determined to be 26 units.

Example: A faculty member shares a course with another teacher and teaches half the course. The course is taught three hours per week for one term. She also has 12 hours of clinical teaching per week for the term.

Therefore, the teaching load for the term is 9.88 units.

It was decided not to incorporate a factor for evaluation time in the formula. It was recognized that evaluation takes time but it was assumed that everyone would need a comparable amount of time for evaluation. While a teacher responsible for a lecture component of a course would have assignments and tests to mark, a clinical teacher would have care plans to mark and clinical evaluations to complete. Similarly, a factor for class size was not incorporated. The preparation time for lecture would not be greatly influenced by class size. Methods of evaluation would be adjusted to class size. Because of the nature of clinical practice the size of a clinical group of students is fairly constant. Therefore the preparation time and evaluation time would be similar for all teachers in clinical courses.

Other factors not included in the formula but to be taken into consideration in work assignments were: whether the faculty member was the principal teacher in the course, whether the faculty member was teaching the course for the first time, and whether the course was being taught for the first time. This formula was devised for undergraduate teaching only.

Based on an assumption that the teaching load should be 3/5 of the total, the overall workload was determined to be 42 units. The remaining units would be divided between research or practice of professional skill, committee work, administration, extension and public service. Using the university and faculty standards for promotion and tenure, 10 units were allocated for research and/or practice of professional skills and 6 units for committee work, administrative duties, extension and professional association work.

Table

FIGURE

FIGURE

A unit for research is equated to 27 hours. Therefore every faculty member in a fulltime tenurable position should have the equivalent of 270 hours or 7 weeks of time available for research or to practice professional skills. Units for committee work, extension and public service are calculated on hours of meeting time involved. Ten hours of meeting time are equivalent to one unit. Chairmanship of a committee would double the unit value. Work on a professional association committee is considered to be half the unit value as that of a university committee. For example, the present committees and sub-committees of our faculty would have the number of units in a typical year as shown in the Figure. If a faculty member carries a substantial load of extension or public service activities as an assigned or approved workload, the other components of the workload could be reduced. Only those activities necessary to maintain the minimum competency level required for promotion and tenure are counted as workload. Activities above and beyond would count for merit increase, early promotion or some other recognition. A faculty member in a term appointment or in a part-time position does not have to meet the requirements for promotion and tenure and therefore would have a higher proportion of units of teaching.

The formula for teaching load has been adaptable to courses where team teaching is practiced, for summer terms that are shorter than regular winter terms, and for equalizing the workload of faculty who do different types of teaching. Those whose main load is clinical teaching are more satisfied that their workload has been equated to those who primarily have lecture courses. Application of the formula to the curriculum, course by course has helped to determine the number of faculty required for each course. The formula has proven useful as an objective tool in presentations to the university administration regarding personnel requirements. It is anticipated that the formula will be valuable in projecting the faculty requirements for any new courses or programs.

References

  • Holliman, J. M. Analysing faculty workload. Nursing Outlook. November 1977, pp. 721-723.
  • Holmlund B. (Ed.). Statistics, University of Saskatchewan (Vol. 6). Saskatoon: University of Saskatchewan, University Studies Group, 1980.

FIGURE

10.3928/0148-4834-19830901-05

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