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Comparing teaching hours
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Vaqueiro



Joined: 18 Jun 2008
Posts: 28
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:17 pm    Post subject: Comparing teaching hours Reply with quote

There are quite a few posts comparing salary and benefits on this particular area of the international forums. I read those as much as anybody, but for now, I'm interested in setting up an international thread that compares the amount of time we spend in front of students each week. This is not a comprehensive employment survey, which would take things like faculty service requirements and office hours into account. On the contrary, this is a purposely specific question.

As an example, here is a comparison between my current workload and that of a friend (who happens to teach in a neighboring country):

Me: 90-minute classes * 10 = 15 hours/week in the classroom
Friend: 50-minute classes * 14 = 11.67 hours/week in the classroom

Me: (15 weeks * 5 days) - 1.5 off-days = 73.5 teaching days this semester
Friend: (15 weeks * 5 days) - 12 off-days = 63 teaching days this semester

Total (Me): 73.5 * (15/5) = 220.5 hours/semester (~441/year)
Total (Friend): 63 * (11.67/5) = 147 hours/semester (~294/year)

Ratio: 441/294 = 1.5:1. Conclusion: I spend 50% more time in the classroom than my friend, despite the similarity of our job descriptions. (If you are interested, my friend seems to have a higher office hours requirement as well as the responsibility of running a writing workshop; my requirements in those areas are much lower, but again, this question is specific)

In this case, one school's 50-minute (or 75-minute on Tuesdays and Thursdays), dismiss-a-few-minutes-early class is another school's 90-minute, bell-to-bell class. How do your positions compare?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9133
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you talking university, international school, or private language school? Pretty much totally different animals.
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Vaqueiro



Joined: 18 Jun 2008
Posts: 28
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
Are you talking university, international school, or private language school? Pretty much totally different animals.


In my case, a Japanese university. My comparison case was also a university. I'm not solely interested in university work, though.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9133
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've taught at three different universities, two in Europe and one in Canada. I don't honestly see any relatable characteristics between jobs in such utterly different regions, or any real reason to compare them.

But here are the basics anyway (full-time teaching load):

Canada 8 90-minute classes/weekly
Europe I 16 classroom hours weekly (full two hour classes)
Europe II very, very few classroom hours weekly + research and editing
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Vaqueiro



Joined: 18 Jun 2008
Posts: 28
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78: I can see how you don't see the point of the question; a lot of people will probably feel the same way you do, especially given the low number of responses.

I am not challenging the fact that every teaching situation is different (I've taught at three universities in three countries myself), but I'm a stats guy, and I like the idea of a variable I can actually work with. The comparison with a friend piqued my interest.

Thanks for your response!
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9133
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm really unsure what you mean by 'variable I can work with.' It's not as though one can run an analysis and then simply hop to whatever job one decides would suit best....

I'm both sceptical that there is any useful or concrete point to this, and curious as to what it may be, if there is one...

You might get more (and more useful) responses if you can provide some concrete point to the post, honestly.
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Vaqueiro



Joined: 18 Jun 2008
Posts: 28
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm surprised that you would say that. This is absolutely something one can use for analytical purposes. I wanted to focus on teaching load because, although it can affect quality of life as much as anything, it doesn't appear to get as much attention on the forum as salary. Additionally, it's a firm number that has a contractual limit, unlike prepping, meetings, club sponsorships, etc.

You're not convinced of the usefulness: Wouldn't you like to see something like an average teaching load per country, or a change in teaching load over time, or teaching load as a percentage of total time commitment to the job? These are interesting questions to me, and they can all contribute to the "state of the field" body of knowledge that people in other fields are lucky enough to have. (Aside: One would expect the researchers in TESOL programs to consider collecting this information, but I am not aware of anyone who is truly focused on it)

Here's one example: You've got two university systems referring to two different blocks of time as an "hour".
Japan: 1 teaching hour = 60 minutes
U.S., etc: 1 teaching hour = 50 minutes
This difference is important; both instructors are teaching one "hour", but one is working 20% more than the other. What is considered to be an "hour" or a "credit" in other places, and what effect does that have on the total amount of teaching time? Is there a great deal of variation? Questions like this interest me.

Is this more concrete?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9133
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Wouldn't you like to see something like an average teaching load per country, or a change in teaching load over time, or teaching load as a percentage of total time commitment to the job?


Here's why it's not working (and it seems I'm not the only one who thinks it isn't working, given the very few responses you've got).

I know quite a few teachers in the city where I am working this year. Their workloads range from people putting in 30+ teaching hours per week (and barely getting by financially) to people who are teaching something like 6 hours (and doing well financially), and everything in between.

A great deal of this depends on qualifications, experience, local reputation, contacts, luck, and a range of other factors (including whether one is eligible for a work permit in any given country).

If you want to ask how different institutions define a teaching hour, that's more concrete, but also pretty useless.
Again, in this one city where I am this year, different institutions define a teaching hour anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes. There simply isn't a standard that applies in a city, a country, or a region. It's really all linked to individual jobs and the institutions offering them.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vaqueiro wrote:
Here's one example: You've got two university systems referring to two different blocks of time as an "hour".
Japan: 1 teaching hour = 60 minutes
Just for the record, most of Japan's university classes are taught in 90-minute blocks of time. To use the local terminology, that is called a koma.

There is validity in spiral's question. The simple number of hours/minutes per week is insufficient to describe one's work load. Other factors are needed, such as the amount of committee work, extracurricular demands such as proofreading, no. of students under one's wing, and a very important item (here in Japan anyway) such as whether one is hired under limited term contract or tenured or just part-time. This last point relates to how much one gets in the way of benefits (if anything).
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artemisia



Joined: 04 Nov 2008
Posts: 867
Location: the world

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vaqueiro wrote:

...You've got two university systems referring to two different blocks of time as an "hour".
Japan: 1 teaching hour = 60 minutes
U.S., etc: 1 teaching hour = 50 minutes
This difference is important; both instructors are teaching one "hour", but one is working 20% more than the other. What is considered to be an "hour" or a "credit" in other places, and what effect does that have on the total amount of teaching time? Is there a great deal of variation? Questions like this interest me..

If youíre not in the desperate-for-a-job-will-take-anything category, then evaluating what a job offers really is a case by case basis depending on region. But, as has been pointed out, there can be huge variables within one region. Hours, salary, holiday allowances and other benefits are part of a basic package. Some are willing to compromise and accept very few hours and survive on little while other might be paid well for those very few hours, but be expected to do research and publish. Generally the latter have the academic credentials behind them.

Itís not just jobs and regions that are variable, people are, too. What you might consider to be reasonable number of hours could be completely unacceptable to another. I generally had a 60 minute hour per lesson while teaching in a high school. Sometimes somebody would get the bright idea that the 60 minute hour could be reduced to 50 minutes. Often this was to allow another teaching hour to be added to the day. Most teachers strongly objected not only to that, but also to having a reduced teaching hour, yet still being expected to deliver the same curriculum.

Shorter teaching hours may seem desirable, but this depends on who and what you have to teach. Some things require more time and not getting that time can be very stressful.
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Vaqueiro



Joined: 18 Jun 2008
Posts: 28
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems that I've forced too generic a category with too many possible co-factors. Fair enough. I do understand that we can't make sweeping assertions (and ideally not life-changing career decisions) based solely on teaching time.

So, perhaps a more comprehensive survey is in order. I took your ideas into account and created a questionnaire. Suggestions are welcome.

For university instructors:
1) What constitutes one teaching "hour" at your job?
2) How many of these "hours" are you expected to spend in front of the classroom per week?
3) How much time are you required to devote to extra duties per week?
4) Considering lesson prep, grading, student conferences, meetings, etc, how much time do you actually devote to your job, on average, in a week?
5) On a scale of 1-7, would you consider the teaching load to be reasonable when combined with your other duties?
6) On a scale of 1-7, do you consider the time you spend teaching classes to be sufficient to achieve your goals and objectives?
7) How many weeks per year are you not expected to be available to the university?
Cool How many public holidays and scheduled vacation days do you receive during an average term? (please specify whether your term is a quarter, semester, or other designation)
9) In which country are you located?
10) a. What is your highest level of qualification? b. Do you consider your workload to be low (1), normal (4), or high (7) in comparison to that of instructors at other positions at the same level of qualification?
11) Considering question #4, do you feel that you are compensated fairly (inclusive of salary and benefits) for the time commitment that you make to the job?
12) 1-7: Are you satisfied with the location of your position? (Follow-up) Do you believe you had to compromise on benefits or job conditions in order to teach in this location?
13) How long have you worked in EFL?
14) Related to #13, do you perceive that over the course of your EFL career your time commitment to your employer has decreased(1), stayed the same (4), or increased (7)?
15) What is your contract type (full-time, part-time, tenure, non-tenure, etc)?

In the future, I think that surveys on salary range, raises, promotions, professional development, management relations, class size, and workplace environment would be helpful, too.

spiral78: There do tend to be standards, even if they're not mandated. As Glenski said, most schools in Japan use the koma standard. Generally, American universities use the 50/75 system, and most courses are 3 credits. While I disagree that ESID (Every Situation Is Different) is the only viable answer, I see your point that there are tons of unquantifiables with every position.

Glenski: Thanks for the koma comment. When I came to Japan, one of the biggest surprises was finding out that I would be teaching koma and not 75-minute classes. Suggestions appreciated, especially contract type.

artemisia: Thanks for your input as well; I had not considered that teachers might desire the larger blocks of time. I agree that people have individual desires as far as job duties, but I also think that it is possible to collect and display information without biasing it. Additionally, there can be quite a bit of variation in salary, hours, etc, within an area, but in general, one can compare regions based on variance and range, not just average (and also variance in relation to job position).
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9133
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
For university instructors:
1) What constitutes one teaching "hour" at your job?
2) How many of these "hours" are you expected to spend in front of the classroom per week?
3) How much time are you required to devote to extra duties per week?
4) Considering lesson prep, grading, student conferences, meetings, etc, how much time do you actually devote to your job, on average, in a week?
5) On a scale of 1-7, would you consider the teaching load to be reasonable when combined with your other duties?
6) On a scale of 1-7, do you consider the time you spend teaching classes to be sufficient to achieve your goals and objectives?
7) How many weeks per year are you not expected to be available to the university?
How many public holidays and scheduled vacation days do you receive during an average term? (please specify whether your term is a quarter, semester, or other designation)
9) In which country are you located?
10) a. What is your highest level of qualification? b. Do you consider your workload to be low (1), normal (4), or high (7) in comparison to that of instructors at other positions at the same level of qualification?
11) Considering question #4, do you feel that you are compensated fairly (inclusive of salary and benefits) for the time commitment that you make to the job?
12) 1-7: Are you satisfied with the location of your position? (Follow-up) Do you believe you had to compromise on benefits or job conditions in order to teach in this location?
13) How long have you worked in EFL?
14) Related to #13, do you perceive that over the course of your EFL career your time commitment to your employer has decreased(1), stayed the same (4), or increased (7)?
15) What is your contract type (full-time, part-time, tenure, non-tenure, etc)?


And how much will you pay us for the considerable time it would take to complete your comprehensive poll, and how many of us will wish to post our personal details to such a degree on a public forum?

And I STILL don't see any practical application for this.

Imagine if 'you' (or whoevrer else may read this thread) liked 'my' package the best; you would still be extremely unlikely to qualify for any opening in 'my' niche, which is one of the many out there that really demand local contacts, reputation, and language skills.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8640
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, Spiral, with my Socialist ardour I am sure I could qualify to do any of the posters' jobs here, no matter how high the bar is set, no matter what specialist skills are required. Nothing can beat having full commitment to the Communist ideal and faith in a Glorious future! Local contacts? I have always a local Communist cell to fall back on. Reputation? Seriously, moi, the Great Vozhd?! Language skills? Russian will be readily understandable to anyone who wishes to be considered an intellectual or worthy of hiring me!
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

May I suggest spending some time creating something that will help you gather information anonymously and more efficiently: SurveyMonkey?
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Vaqueiro



Joined: 18 Jun 2008
Posts: 28
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:


And how much will you pay us for the considerable time it would take to complete your comprehensive poll, and how many of us will wish to post our personal details to such a degree on a public forum?

And I STILL don't see any practical application for this.

Imagine if 'you' (or whoevrer else may read this thread) liked 'my' package the best; you would still be extremely unlikely to qualify for any opening in 'my' niche, which is one of the many out there that really demand local contacts, reputation, and language skills.


Look, I've been reading your posts on ESL Cafe for several years, and I appreciate a lot of what you've had to say. Right now, though, I really think that you're missing the point. I'm considering the kind of stuff I wanted to know when I was sitting in grad classes in the US. I have years of experience with research methodology and statistics, and I'm considering using it to make information more accessible in our field.

1. The question of pay is ridiculous. Of course any survey should be on a voluntary basis. It's not Nielsen ratings.

2. A survey like this would definitely be private. People would not see individual "packages" (without permission). It would take five minutes to write it up on Survey Monkey or Google Documents and post a link on ESL Cafe.

3. Practical application:
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
http://epsl.asu.edu/epru/articles/EPRU-0504-110-OWI.pdf

4. "Niche market" employment: I am not disputing that the right qualifications will garner you a more prestigious position. I teach at a school that has scores of applicants for each position, and my hiring would not have been possible without certain specific quals and a few years' experience. Most people are more realistic than to expect the highest-level position straight away, though, which is why a range of salaries, hours, etc, would be beneficial.
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