Monday, June 26, 2017
Pros and Cons of Pro-Rating
To further complicate things, our summer pay (like our extra course pay) is independent of our annual salary. It is higher than what adjuncts get, but looks better to a young faculty member than an older one. Which is good, because they need the money. We do not have any provision to pro-rate summer classes, but I think we do have per-student pay for some classes. (In that case, per student applies from 1 all the way to N, not just from 1 to 8 or 15, but N is still capped based on some workload limit we have.)
I'm not sure what I would do if offered that option. Some things scale with the number of students (like lab report grading), but exam writing and setting the rubric take as much time with 10 as with 20 and only takes a second step up when I need to go to two versions of the test. Exam grading isn't linear because there are efficiencies when multiple students get the same wrong answer. (No multiple choice for me.) My answer might depend on which students have signed up. Some are more fun to teach than others.
If you do have a policy of pro rating classes below some level, it better be done consistently and fairly! No special treatment or there will be hell to pay.
The Enormous State University solution is not to have any small courses (or to have them only as unpaid overload for salaried faculty).
The only small courses I've had in recent years have been done as overload (granted, my baseline teaching load is smaller than community college faculty loads).
One thing he did was to negotiate with the upper administration a deal wherein the department needed to average the minimum viable enrollment number, instead of having each individual course meet that minimum number. If the cap is, say, 33 people in a class, and I sign an extra 4 people in that means some other course can run at 4 people under the limit. For my department it worked out well because you can take on some extra load in the intro classes knowing that you'll be able to run a 200 level course that otherwise wouldn't make.
Which is all very well, until you are the chap stuck with several of the 10% exceptions (on the overload side) every year. Marking 50 essays while a colleague is marking 4 (for the same salary) is not conducive to collegial feelings!
But, for your problem, you could introduce a sliding scale, people who leave a course after teaching starts don't get counted in the salary as a full student loss but as a partial student loss.
So if there are 10 students on the first day of semester, 9 on the first teaching day and 8 on the 10th day of term, you could count that as
8*1 + 1*0.8 + 1*0.7
And you could charge students 0.25 for pulling out between the first day of semester and the 10th day.
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