What is it about the opening tulips, the flowering crabapple trees, and the blossoming lilacs that makes university administrators spring their half-cooked “brilliant” and “revenue-neutral” (i.e. Excellence Without Money) schemes on the faculty and students? Is it that they know we’re buried in end-of-term papers and exams that must be written and graded, and the last thing we need in our lives is more long meetings? Last year as you may recall, Baa Ram U. asked us to consider the scheme of “concurrent enrollment,” in which high school history teachers would be permitted to teach courses for which we in the History department would give Baa Ram U. credit. (The uni collects the cash, and we just provide the free credentialing service.)
This year, apparently one administrator has decided that we need to be more like prestigious, well-funded Ivies and elite SLACs. Of course, it would cost millions if not billions of dollars to accomplish this honestly, but that’s not on the table. (Duh!) What is on the table is switching from a typical 3-credit course model to a 4-credit course model, which would mean that students would take fewer but more in-depth and challenging courses. Now, this isn’t a bad idea on the face of it–except that to a faculty that hasn’t been able to hire for the past three years and which hasn’t seen a raise in that time either, it looks like it’s an attempt to effect a work speed-up: on a 2-2 load the regular faculty would teach 16 instead of 12 credit hours, and I have no idea how on earth our lecturers (who usually teach a 4-4 load) would carry on with 32 hours a week (!) of classroom instruction. I find it difficult to believe that it would take fewer than 8 hours to prep, grade, and conduct e-mail correspondance/hold office hours with students, etc.)
And if you seriously think Baa Ram U. is going to hold faculty credit hours steady (at 12 per year) and effect what would appear to the public to be a reduction in the regular faculty’s teaching load (from a 2-2 to a 2-1) in this economic and political climate, there’s a Christo project on the Arkansas River I’d like to sell ya.
Unsurprisingly, there is no data from our “peer institutions” on 4-credit classes, because guess what? They probably all recognize that it’s patently ridiculous for an underfunding large aggie to pretend as though it’s Swarthmore or Princeton. I’ll tell you what: as soon as Swathmore and Princeton and their peer institutions start permitting local high schools to give college or university credit for their courses, then I’m all in for the 4-credit switcheroo. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.
Do any of you have experience with this kind of hinky scheme? Tell me!