Quarter to Semester Calendar Conversion

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litdawg:
My university academic senate will be voting on calendar conversion soon, and I'm trying to discern whether the shift will fundamentally alter the cost-benefit ratio of remaining in this job. We're currently 3-3-3 and would convert to 4-4. Apart from the four different preps (I never teach multiple sections of a class), I'm concerned about the email/grading shift from 75 or so students to over 100. While I much prefer the semester schedule, a 4-4 load seems to all but guarantee little writing during the academic year (apart from January). I'm still pre-tenure and might be able to make a lateral move to a 3-3 institution if I'm lucky. I'm in a humanities field, so 4-4 is better than unemployment!

Has anyone else made this shift? Am I right to think this will be a major change in work load and teaching viability? The uni claims everything will balance out, but I'm not so sure.

dellaroux:
Two places to check might be Northeastern University and Ohio State University.

One has completed the conversion, the other is either about to or in the midst of it, I think.

You could probably find material in the school papers on the basics and then maybe locate colleagues in your field to contact individually from the department website to find out how it played out for them.

anon99:
I've not worked with the quarters.  How does your teaching time change (hours per week and number of lectures)?  For students, you can modify assignments/shorten exams to reduce marking, but keep in mind a 4-4 with 25 students/class would mean 200 students whereas with a 3-3-3 it would be 225, so you are actually teaching fewer students.  Having said that, I can't imagine doing 3 or 4 courses at a time and managing to get research done.  Yes I know people do it, but they are far better than I am.

cgfunmathguy:
I went through the shift as a student after my freshman year. Assuming that your "credit hours" are equivalent to "semester hours" (as they were at UndergradSchool), it should actually free up time for you. Consider the following based on a 10-week quarter and a 15-week semester.

3 credit hours = 2250 minutes of seat time (by most standards). For the number of weeks you'll be in class, that's 225 minutes of class time (for each class) in the quarter, and 150 minutes in the semester. If you're teaching three classes in the quarter and four in the semester, you come out ahead because:

3 x 225 = 675 minutes in class per week, and 4 x 150 = 600 minutes in class per week. I doubt (although you'll need to talk to your chair about this) that you'll get a fourth prep just because of the way classes will now need to be scheduled. That leaves you an extra 75 minutes per week for grading. Depending on your field, this may or may not be enough. In mine, it is, as long as I don't procrastinate.

litdawg:
The math is where I get tripped up. When I calculate on an annual basis, it all works out and I may even realize a reduction in workload as CGFunmathguy and Anon99 suggest. When I look at things on a weekly basis, I want to run screaming to the hills. How do I reconcile this? I feel like I'm one of the monkeys in Chuang Tzu's classic story:

"But to wear out your brain trying to make things into one without realizing that they are all the same-this is called "three in the morning." What do I mean by "three in the morning"? When the monkey trainer was handing out acorns, he said, "You get three in the morning and four at night," This made all the monkeys furious. "Well, then," he said, "you get four in the morning and three at night." The monkeys were all delighted.

There was no change in the reality behind the words, and yet the monkeys responded with joy and anger. Let them, if they want to. So the sage harmonizes with both right and wrong and rests in Heaven the Equalizer. This is called walking two roads."

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