Preface    Introduction    Assumptions
Tables        Questions    Self-Assessment


  Preface
I wrote this after I began reading the assessments offered COD graduates who had transferred to institutions in pursuit of higher degrees.  A consistent thread seemed to be that we, as instructors, led our students by the hand too much.  Students sometimes did not buy assigned texts and sought to pass based on attendance at lectures.  Based on personal observation, we also have some students who seek to pass without reading or attending lectures, though I hope that we correct this through inspiration before Darwinian selection takes hold.  Alternatively, the same assessment remarks might be viewed as a statement about our preparation of students in terms of the amount of work that we expect.  I began to wonder if we have set the bar too low rather than too high.  Make of this what you will, it is just food for thought.

  Introduction
This summary presents a general guide to the amount of potential work output students might be expected to produce during a College of DuPage quarter.  It is based on assumptions about the numbers of pages a student can read and compose in an hour.  In general, I have assumed a lower-than-national average output because of the unique pressures and conditions of community education.  (Let's face it, work, family, and/or assorted issues related to preparation for college study impact many of our students.)  I have based the numbers on personal experiences teaching at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Rutgers University-Camden, Lehigh University, Raritan Valley Community College, Luther College, and the College of DuPage. Clearly, others will have had different experiences based on a variety of factors, not the least of which is related to the discipline in which one teaches.  I do not claim that my assumptions are perfectly on target, but they are a place to start.

  Assumptions and Information
1. Students can read and extract information from an average of 10 textbook pages per hour.  This assumes a textbook with an average of one 1/4 page illustration per full page and in-text chapter divisions (sub-headings).  I sampled Peoples & Bailey's Humanity 5th ed textbook, which is not graphics intensive, and found that a full page of text (no graphics, no sub-headings, no special formatting) contained a maximum of approximately 1020 words (51 text lines, 10 words per sentence, 2 columns of text per page).    Most pages, however, contained the equivalent of a 1/4 page of graphics in the form of layout, special issue boxes, and page formatting.  Such pages included a total of 77 text lines in both columns, again with an avergae of approximately 10 words per text line.  This yields an average of 770 words for most pages.  Note also that the assumption of 10 pages includes front and rear chapter pages, including ancillary material such as web pages, lists of key terms, and study topics.  My assumption does not include completing any study topic questions.  Ten pages of text therefore equates to somewhere between 7700 and 10, 200 words.  A student is therefore asked to read between approximately 128 and 170 words per minute.

2.  Students can compose 2 pages of prose such as summaries, critical responses, and issue lists in an hour.  An average sheet of college-ruled composition paper has 28 lines on it, each capable of comfortably holding approximately 10 to 12 words (assuming "average" word length and handwriting).  This means an average page of handwritten text contains between 280 and 336 words.  Two pages contains between 560 and 672 words.  I think most would agree that the majority of students, here and elsewhere, can meet this minimal standard.

3.  Though potentially unrealistic from the standpoint of some students, academia expects between 2 to 3 hours of work on a student's part for each class hour s/he is enrolled in.  For purposes of this exercise I will assume the lower figure of 2 hours per quarter credit hour a student enrolls in.  This yields 10 hours of out-of-class work and 5 hours of in-class work class per week at the College of DuPage.

  
Expected Student Work Production
...per week
Time -->
Equal Distribution
2:1 Reading
1:2 Reading
Equal Distribution
2:1 Reading
1:2 Reading
Reading
50 pp
67 pp
33 pp
75 pages
100 pp
50 pp
Writing
10 pp
7 pp
13 pp
15 pages
10 pp
20 pp
Class
5 hrs
5 hrs
5 hrs
0 hrs
0 hrs
0 hrs

...per quarter
Time -->
Equal Distribution
2:1 Reading
1:2 Reading
Equal Distribution
2:1 Reading
1:2 Reading
Reading
550 pp
737 pp
363 pp
825 pp
1100 pp
550 pp
Writing
110 pp
77 pp
143 pp
165 pp
110 pp
220 pp
Class
55 hrs
55 hrs
55 hrs
0 hrs
0 hrs
0 hrs


  Questions
1.  How do your courses compare to the expected workload?
2.  What special activities and projects alter work expectation in your courses?
3.  Are the projected work loads here realistic?  If not, how can they be made better?
4.  Will increased communication about expectations help us, as educators, to be better teachers?

  Self Assessment - in part
1.  In Anthropology 100 I assign approximately 450 pages of reading.  The articles in Annual Editions tend to be text-centered with few graphics, so my assumption is that each page there takes longer to read than a page in the primary textbook I use.   I was surprised to see that I matched the first category of work assumptions reasonably closely in terms of reading.  I always assumed I assigned things on "the light" side.  Perhaps I do, but not so much as I thought.

2.  I use a student research assignment in the Human Relations Area Files as well as a kinship research and presentation assignment in this class.  I estimate that the HRAF assignment requires approximately 15 hours to complete and teaches students both research skills and familiarizes them with other cultures.  The kinship assignment requires about 10 hours to complete for most students.  The assignment helps teach the students about informants, interviewing, and kinship.  Applying these totals to the table, I find that I can only account for approximately 5 weeks worth of course time, given the expectations for reading and time in class.  Here, it seems to me, is where my assignments are light.  So it is that I intend to design a third project to fill that gap.  I am not sure what the assignment will be, there are so many choices.  I intend for the assignment to average approximately 15 hours worth of work, thus accounting for most of the time available in a COD quarter.

3.  I think the work loads are realistic.  Indeed, they may be a bit on the low side.  Given the nature of the community college in the United States, however, the expectations are likely appropriate.  I think the amount of hours spent on class preparation are, though, important since these help students develop a better feel for what the world expects of them.  Similarly, it allows us to offer courses that meet specific goals while also more closely meeting nation-wide discipline standards.

4.  I hope this does rake some muck.  As a faculty we need to be aware of each others standards and we need to establish minimum accepted standards.  If we don't do these things, and if we don't maintain that which we do manage to accomplish along these lines, a significant number of students will optimally forage through our offerings seeking the path of least resistance.