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Monday, December 11, 2006

Teaching loads

A year and half ago, when this blog was just wearing diapers, Gordon Smith over at Conglomerate did an informal survey of teaching loads at top 25 schools, finding that most schools in that cohort had moved in the last ten years to a 3 course or 9-10 hour credit teaching load. Some schools allowed banking to either supplement or supplant a formal sabbatical program.

I'm wondering whether since that post things have changed much. Over at Concurring Opinions, Jennifer Collins is inquiring about teaching loads and their relationship to long-term strategic planning. She has invited us to ask readers what the teaching loads being advertised at various schools are. Given the relatively young readership of this blog among law professors, I would think it is interesting to see what loads are being offered to new and junior prawfs generally, and especially outside the top 25 schools that Gordon initially posted on. Feel free to post relevant comments here anonymously or over at Co-Op, where Jennifer shrewdly asks: "If you have recently gone from four courses to three, has that made a meaningful difference in your academic life or in the number of course offerings at your school?"

Posted by Administrators on December 11, 2006 at 02:32 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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In response to Joseph's question, the effect of a move from 4 to 3 courses can be minimized by a number of factors. Indeed, it sometimes has a very positive effect because the 4th course in many scholarship-minded places was a very niche course/seminar with low enrollment. Not only is the class not very productive, but in the aggregate, such classes drain enrollment from more mainstream classes. Thus, when the teaching loads drop, some deans force professors to drop their niche course and the result is a more even spreading of students across a more relevant/mainstream group of courses. That doesn't address all of the effects of a reduction, but the rest is usually handled through visiting assistant professors and lecturers.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 12, 2006 2:44:57 PM

Forgive what is probaly a naive question, but when schools move from a normal load of four courses a year by each faculty member to three courses a year, assuming they do not increase the size of their tenured and tenure track faculty by 25%, do they: (i) offer fewer total classes, (ii) have adjuncts and visitors teach more classes, or (iii) come up with some other solution for course coverage?

Posted by: Joseph Slater | Dec 12, 2006 10:22:57 AM

At Notre Dame, first-year teachers have a 1-1 load; after that, untenureds have a 3 course, 9 or 10-credit load. Some senior faculty (though fewer and fewer) teach 2-2 loads.

Posted by: Rick Garnett | Dec 11, 2006 6:24:12 PM

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