A Common-Sense Look at UNC Faculty Workloads

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This paper measures the teaching loads of faculty in the University of North Carolina (UNC) system.Cover Page

The impetus for the paper was a statistic provided by the UNC system to the North Carolina legislature’s Fiscal Research Division. It claimed that the system-wide average teaching load is 3.37 courses per professor per semester.

Based on the Pope Center’s knowledge of the UNC system, 3.37 courses seemed extremely high. So we conducted our own study.

Determining faculty workloads is not a simple process. Faculty members’ duties are usually divided among teaching, research, service and administration, and other activities. Arriving at a single number that provides a meaningful account of a professor’s production can be an exceedingly complex task.

However, the central purpose of a university is to teach; this study focuses solely on the amount of teaching that faculty do. As a result, the Pope Center has created a quick, simple, and meaningful measure of teaching loads that can be used for policy purposes.

We applied our method to data taken directly from the UNC system’s online course enrollments. This report is not intended to be a definitive empirical study on the topic of faculty teaching loads. It is instead intended to illustrate approximately how much teaching is actually done by professors in the UNC system, based on a representative sample of faculty.

(Editor’s note: Following publication, we were notified that some interdisciplinary courses were omitted at UNC Asheville. The following chart shows the corrected teaching load estimates for the four schools we sampled. For further discussion see: “UNC Asheville Responds”  and “The Final Say.”)




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