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Release: Immediate

UI faculty devote 31.4 hours a week to teaching activities

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa faculty members spend an average of 31.4 hours a week on teaching activities, according to a study conducted by the UI Faculty Senate. Faculty members in the College of Liberal Arts, which provides more undergraduate instruction than any other college, devote an average of 37.4 hours a week to teaching activities.

The results of the study, which included all tenured and tenure track faculty, were reported at the February meeting of the State Board of Regents by Ed Wasserman, president of the UI Faculty Senate and professor of psychology.

The study marks the first time that the UI faculty has documented all of its teaching activities, including not only regularly scheduled classes, laboratories and seminars but also time spent preparing for classes, evaluating student assignments, holding office hours, advising students, providing individualized instruction, and working on special projects with honors, masters and doctoral students.

"We conducted this study because we want to be accountable to the Regents and the people of Iowa, and because we want to provide a richer picture of what it means to be a teacher at a research university," Wasserman said. "These findings demonstrate that faculty members spend a significant amount of time just preparing to teach in the classroom. They also demonstrate that substantial teaching takes place outside of the classroom."

"This comprehensive account of teaching activities reveals that faculty members across all colleges of the university are fully and responsibly meeting their teaching obligations to all of their students - undergraduate students, graduate students and professional students," Wasserman said. "This report shows that Iowans have every reason to be proud of the university, its faculty, and the education that their students receive here. The findings also attest to the fact that the university is exercising responsible stewardship over the intellectual and material resources that have been entrusted to it by the State of Iowa."

Other key findings of the study:

* Teaching activities make up the majority of the average faculty member's work week. According to annual reports to the Regents, faculty members work an average of 59 hours a week. Using that report as a basis for comparison, the Faculty Senate study suggests that overall, UI faculty members spend about 53 percent of their time on teaching. That percentage rises to 63 percent for liberal arts faculty. The rest of faculty time is divided between research and service.

* Full professors in the College of Liberal Arts spend about the same amount of time (37.4 hours per week) in the classroom and on other teaching activities as do associate professors (37.5 hours) and assistant professors (36.8 hours). In addition, the data show that full professors spend about the same amount of time (6.7 hours a week) in undergraduate and graduate classrooms as do associate professors (6.8 hours) and assistant professors (7.7 hours).

Assistant professors spend more time preparing for class and evaluating student work than associate and full professors, but that is to be expected because they are less experienced, Wasserman said. Full professors spend slightly more time than associate and assistant professors on advising students and working with honors, masters and doctoral students.

* The different academic missions of the individual colleges are reflected in the kinds of teaching activities faculty report. For instance, liberal arts faculty devote an average of 22 hours a week to undergraduate teaching activities and about 15 hours to graduate teaching activities. Faculty in engineering and nursing also spend more time teaching undergraduate students than they spend teaching graduate and professional students.

Faculty members in the other colleges, especially dentistry, law, medicine and pharmacy, devote most of their time to graduate and professional instruction, and only faculty in dentistry, medicine and pharmacy engage in an appreciable amount of clinical instruction.

"The differences among the colleges suggest that any global characterization of teaching at the University of Iowa, or at either of its two sister schools, will miss important differences in the missions and cultures of the colleges that constitute these universities," Wasserman noted.

The questionnaire was sent to 1,761 faculty members in November 1997. Over three-fourths of the faculty completed and returned the 20-item questionnaire, which asked them to document their teaching activities during the spring semester of 1997.