How long does it take to teach a writing course?
The amount of time teachers have to spend with or on individual students has been carefully examined specifically for writing courses in college. In terms of issues like time per student and pay rates for teachers, it is clear that smaller classes are crucial. Richard Haswell of Texas A&M Corpus Christi has calculated a conservative estimate of the time involved in teaching typical first-year writing courses, using forty minutes per paper and allowing for two drafts, comments and grading, as follows:
25 students, four substantial out-of-class essays, one required individual conference, end-of-the-semester portfolio of writings.
The total is 231 hours.
That is the most conservative estimate, and a more realistic one probably would add at least 20-30 hours.
from Alice Horning’s The Definitive Article on Class Size from the Writing Program Administrators Journal, page 17.
This is going to be a problem for me. I am teaching six composition courses this fall. Yes, you read that correctly. Six. And in two of those courses, I am not allowed to use four papers. The students must have six. I used to do seven. Now however I am thinking six is good.
So, six courses. 6 x 231 = 1386
Hmm. Over fifteen weeks, that is almost one hundred hours a week. Dang, I hope that doesn’t really mean I’m going to be working that much. I have papers to write and publications to get out there.
Okay, now I am starting to scare myself. Maybe I should quit reading.
Could I get a research paper out of this? What if I wrote down how much I work?
No. That would be bad. I read very quickly. (185 pages of fiction in 45 minutes ) People might take my numbers and assume that all teachers could do that.
Hmm. I need to think about that.
Also, I was reading through my old papers and instructions and I found a complete set of letters that I wrote to students over their papers. I probably spent more time commenting on those papers than the students spent writing them. That’s not exactly a fun idea. BUT I do like the idea of my students having complete discussions about their papers.
That is not going to happen this semester with my six composition courses, though.