Standard Course Equivalencies Working Group Final Report and Recommendations
For the University: Robert Bailey, Greg Crawford, Lori Livingston, Sylvie Brosseau, Caitlin Crompton, Krista Secord
For the Association: Mikael Eklund, Kim Nugent, Nancy Bergeron, Kerry Johnson, Elita Partosoedarso, Christine McLaughlin
This is the final report of the Standard Course Equivalencies Working Group (SCEWG) established in November 2017 by a Letter of Understanding (LOU) between the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (UOITFA). The SCEWG is comprised of six (originally four) representatives each from UOIT and the UOITFA, including the Provost and UOITFA President as co-chairs and a staff support person from each Party. The SCEWG was established “to ensure that the implementation of the new Article 16 Workload language will be fairly and transparently applied in 2018-19 and beyond” and that “all Teaching Faculty will have a new teaching load of the equivalent of a maximum of seven (7) standard courses“. Another mandate of the working group as set out in the LOU was “to better define and measure instructional activities in order to ensure appropriate equivalencies“.
Between January and June 2018, the working group met 17 times, beginning with a comprehensive survey of collective agreements covering faculty members across the country with a specific focus on definitions of a standard course and workload language (Appendix A). The working group also addressed issues and concerns specific to the UOIT context. These included lab-based teaching, face-to-face/online/hybrid teaching, scheduling, and an internal appeal process. Proposals from both Parties concerning the definition of a standard course were shared and discussed (Appendix B).
Standard Course Definition:
Although there was substantial discussion, the working group was unable to reach agreement on a standard course definition. Original disagreements centred on the use of credits or scheduled in-class hours (whether face-to-face, online, or hybrid) in defining a standard course. The norm, where defined, is three credits and/or three hours. Time is a globally recognized standard unit of measurement used to quantify work activity in many sectors and legislation such as the Employment Standards Act. A three-credit course at UOIT can mean anything. The working group moved towards general agreement that time would be a better measure of instructional activity. Unfortunately, the Parties cannot agree on recognition of three-hours of scheduled in-class time as a standard course. The Employer proposed recognizing the equivalent of up to 3 scheduled hours per week for lectures and up to 1.5 scheduled hours per week for tutorials over 12 weeks as a standard course; based on past workload assignment, the Association contends, based on analysis of its data, that this could result in a 50% course load increase for its members, which would not meet the goal of alleviating and reducing workload concerns raised.
Scheduled in-class hours were proposed by the Association to mean only the amount of time scheduled to be in a course, whether face-to-face, online, or hybrid; to use a common example, one three-hour lecture or lab would be three scheduled in-class hours. Many other teaching duties arise from scheduled in-class hours, such as drop-ins and scheduled office hours, set up and preparation. Teaching duties can include but are not limited to activities laid out in Article 16.02, not all of which fall under the umbrella of course load assignment considerations. Such activities may be a normal part of workload activities, and may not be accurately reflected in scheduled hours allocated. The collective agreement requires that the the portrait of each individual course load assignment be framed by Article 16.05 d).
Standard Course Equivalencies:
The process for assigning course load and determining equivalencies is set out in Article 16.05 d), which states that:
Teaching Faculty Members’ Teaching workloads may vary. The normal course load for a Teaching Faculty Member with a seventy percent (70%) Teaching load responsibility is the equivalent of a maximum of seven (7) standard courses per year. Workloads shall be consistent with the norms in the discipline. In assigning this component of a Teaching Faculty Member’s workload and whether there will be any variation in the number of courses, the Dean shall consider the following factors:
- the career stage of the Teaching Faculty Member;
- the Teaching Faculty Member’s area of expertise;
- class size;
- the number of separate courses/sections taught by the Teaching Faculty Member;
- whether the course or lab is team taught;
- the number of scheduled contact hours per course;
- whether the course is to be delivered in a compressed timeframe (e.g., in the spring/summer Academic Term);
- whether or not the Teaching Faculty Member has ever taught the material before;
- whether or not the material or course being taught is newly developed;
- whether the mode of delivery for the course has been changed;
- what is appropriate and reasonable for the discipline;
- the number of hours of student counseling/advising;
- the number of undergraduate student projects supervised, capstone students, internships, independent study students, clinical supervisions, and undergraduate thesis students;
- the extent of teaching support provided by teaching assistants and similar personnel;
- the extent of support provided for designing, setting up, and preparing for Teaching; and
- co-supervision of graduate students.
The working group agreed we could better understand and implement the factors listed above. For example, there is a past practice of recognizing a section of a course as a standard course; other factors listed above have not been weighted so heavily in the past. Although class size is one of the factors considered in Article 16.05 d), there was disagreement about exactly how it should help define a standard course. Employer representatives suggested a range of 25-75 students in a standard course section, while the Faculty Association argued that teaching a small group of students may require as much or more effort than other types of course load assignment. Current average class sizes for our members, based on course reports the Employer provides the Association each term, indicate an actual median course size of less than 50 depending on the Faculty. The Association will not agree to higher workload norms than those already in place.
The Association is aggrieved by the Employer’s resistance to the Association’s proposed approach to valuing lecture- and lab-based teaching in an equitable manner. The Association asserts that there are no exclusions in our current collective agreement, so the standard course language to which the Parties agreed needs to cover all who fall within its scope regardless of the diverse types of teaching in which members may engage.
As the Association raised in bargaining and beyond, lab-based teaching has carried an especially unsustainable workload. It feels that scheduled contact hours have been especially excessive and they do not account for many additional hours performing teaching duties such as lab preparation, set-up, developing lab manuals, updating teaching materials, etc. The Association believes that it reached an agreement in good faith to rectify such unsustainable past practices by negotiating new language capping course load assignment at the equivalent of a maximum of seven. Both parties agree that workload assignment for all Teaching Faculty Members needs to be equitable, reasonable and sustainable. Although the Association persistently presented what it feels are existing inequities as a key issue, this has not yet resulted in meaningful resolution. For its part, the Employer feels that because the working group was unable to come to consensus on the definition of a standard course, agreeing on the weighting of different types of teaching, including, for example, lab-based teaching and lab coordination, was also elusive.
The working group discussed and agreed to equal weighting regardless of mode of delivery. Teaching in an online or hybrid format can require as much, if not more, work than face-to-face teaching. For example, preparation and student engagement can increase due to the individualized nature of online and hybrid learning.
Scheduling can be a workload stressor. The working group agreed in principle to enhanced consultation in scheduling processes. Such consultative processes should provide ample time for feedback and preparation of Teaching activities. Specific teaching assignments must be finalized before July 1 of each Academic Year, but this should not prevent Faculties from developing consultative processes much earlier than the ascribed deadline.
Internal Appeal Process:
The working group achieved consensus in principle on an internal collegial appeal process for workload assignment. This measure is intended to help resolve workload concerns in a speedier, less formal and more collegial manner before they become subject to the grievance and arbitration process.
- That anyone responsible for course load assignment receive training on implementing Article 16.05 d) in assigning course load; the Association and Employer shall share training materials used for workload assignment purposes.
- A standard course, regardless of mode (i.e. face-to-face, hybrid or online), will have equal weighting.
- The University will implement best practices in scheduling in order to provide optimal schedules. Best practices include, but are not limited to:
- Early meaningful consultation with instructors.
- When inputting components of courses into the scheduling system, instructor names will be attached whenever possible; where this is not possible, the instructor will receive detailed reasons why.
- Lab sections will be hard coded into the schedule whenever possible; where this is not possible, the instructor will receive detailed reasons why.
- Work-life balance will be meaningfully considered as a part of scheduling.
- That the Parties agree to a collegial internal appeal process, and that the Teaching Faculty Joint Committee develop an agreeable process.