Letters to the Editor

Sharon McDonald: Too many classes

Regarding the April 7 Point of View “What UNC professors do”: Only someone who has never taught at the university level would seriously suggest a teaching load of four classes per semester.

The important number is not the number of classes but rather the number of hours in the classroom plus the hours of necessary class preparation time. A professor cannot simply walk into a lecture hall and start talking. An effective lecture requires significant forethought, planning and organization.

During my years as an instructor at the University of Maryland, the accepted estimate was three hours of preparation time for every one hour of classroom lecture. Therefore, teaching four classes per semester, with each having three lectures per week, would result in 12 lecture hours plus about 36 hours of preparation time, for a total of 48 hours per week. This would be in addition to preparing exams, grading exams and papers, holding regular office hours for students and attending required faculty meetings.

And, of course, a tenure-track faculty member also would be expected to write research proposals, carry out significant research, publish results and mentor graduate students.

The bottom line: A university teaching load of four classes per semester simply isn’t realistic.

Sharon McDonald