BASCOM HILL
SAIYNA BASHIR

The teaching workload of University of Wisconsin faculty and other instructional staff will be monitored starting in January, but no other parts of their jobs will see the same scrutiny, according to a proposal before the Board of Regents for approval Thursday.

The “Teaching Workload Policy” calls on UW System administrators and chancellors of individual campuses to develop policies for monitoring the number of hours spent teaching, rewarding faculty and instructional staff who teach more than a “standard academic load,” and publishing aggregate data on teaching hours on the UW System’s Accountability Dashboard website.

Details on how teaching workload data might be collected or what would constitute a “standard academic load” were not included.

The monitoring requirements, included in Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial executive budget released early this year, were removed by the legislative Joint Finance Committee only to be reinserted during final budget deliberations in July.

UW-Madison faculty members have raised concerns about the provision, saying that hours in the classroom represent only part of a professor’s job.

“The Packers don’t just work three hours on Sunday,” is how UW-Madison associate professor of education Nicholas Hillman put it in February in a tweet.

UW Instructor Workload

Campus-by-campus statistics on teaching hours, already posted online by the UW System, show more hours spent in the classroom by teachers at the two-year UW Colleges campuses, as well as at the four-year comprehensive campuses, than at research universities UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee.

But Hillman said he spends more time grading papers, giving thorough feedback and meeting with students than he does in the classroom, Hillman told the Capital Times. Add to that time spent advising students, responding to email questions and preparing class notes, he said.

UW-Madison officials also point out that many faculty members conduct research and are responsible for reaching out to the state’s citizens to share their knowledge.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank, in a Feb.22 blog post, emphasized the three prongs of her campus’ mission: teaching, research and outreach.

“Each of these services is important so any method of tracking faculty workload, as proposed in the budget, should include all three areas, not merely time spent in the classroom,” Blank said.

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A summary document on the teaching workload policy going to regents Thursday acknowledges that teaching is only one component of the total workload for faculty and instructional staff, but says the policy’s focus on teaching only is to meet a Jan. 1 legislative deadline.

“Future versions of the plan will include a system for reporting the broader work of faculty and instructional academic staff to include associated instructional activities, research, scholarship, creative activities, and service,” the summary says.

The policy is to be reviewed every five years for modification or rescission by the Board of Trustees, according to a draft.

Regents on Thursday also are expected to approve an outcomes-based funding model for UW institutions that will apportion a part of the UW System’s budget based on how well campuses meet statutory goals as determined by metrics developed by a task force of UW administrators.

“The model has been discussed through its development with legislative representatives and their staff members,” according to information in the regents’ packet of materials.

The goals and metrics include:

  • Growing and ensuring student access by enrolling more Wisconsin high school graduates, low-income and underrepresented students, and transfer students.
  • Improving student progress and completion by increasing the number of undergraduates who have earned 30 credit hours, 90 credit hours, undergraduate degrees, and post-baccalaureate degrees.
  • Expanding contributions to the workforce by increasing graduates in STEM and health-related disciplines, low-income graduates, and research and public service expenditures.
  • Enhancing operational efficiency and effectiveness by improving the ratio of expenditures to institutional funding compared to similar institutions, and the average number of credit hours required for an undergraduate degree; decreasing average student debt on graduation; and increasing the number of degrees awarded per 100 full-time employees.

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