June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.696.1 - 11.696.14
How Much Work Are You Really Doing? Introduction
The published teaching schedule is often an embarrassment to both faculty and administration because it suggests that a full time faculty member is working eight or perhaps twelve hours each week and seven months a year. We try to sell the idea that the remaining time is spent on “preparation”, but no one seems to be buying. This paper offers a method of determining workload based on evaluation of process time for all the activities associated with teaching. Analysis is based on classic methods of work measurement, specifically the use of a system of predetermined times. New methods are presented for analysis of common tasks such as grading. Using these methods, a statement of process time in the form of a distribution rather than a point estimate is developed. As an exercise, the impact on workload due to a change in course content and teaching methods is examined. As an example of the possible extension of these techniques, a method of determining student workload and its effect on student success is presented.
What is Work?
There is a motto that I have found to be particularly inspiring when I think about the Economics of everyday life. “Naked came I into the world and Naked shall I leave it, and nothing have I to barter my way but my attention and my time.” The motto inspires me because, as an Industrial Engineer, I am in the business of appropriately placing people in the workplace. Sometimes I have an opportunity (rare) to design a workplace around the capabilities of the employees. I am employed because I have the ability to determine how long a job should take and what skills a person needs to do the job and a list of other things too long to include here. The one thing they all have in common is time and the ability to deliver somebody’s attention to the job. The one thing they all have in common is work!
In the century and a quarter that we have been in business, Industrial Engineers have come to understand very well how to measure, allocate and manage work of certain types. We find ourselves less capable with work of other types because, perhaps, we lack the appropriate tools. But when it comes to “pure service work” like teaching, we seem to be “clueless”. It’s not that work isn’t there. A day at teaching will leave anyone fatigued. The requirement to maintain a pace can cause a degree of tension that may limit the quality of the product. The need to engage in other time-consuming activities may cause an “operator” to reduce the amount of time that is voluntarily added to the production task. An employer will expect a certain level of productivity out of a teaching staff although with “productivity” we have yet another key concept that everyone understands but nevertheless seems to evade definition. Surely there is enough here to whet the engineer’s appetite. Perhaps the biggest obstacle is that, for good reasons, we don’t want to know how much work we’re really doing.
Perhaps if we assemble the proper tools we can find a way. Three tools will be necessary to start, a good model, some comfortable ethical principles and a toolbox filled with the principles of good old fashioned work measurement. The first step is to develop a model
Flynn, J. (2006, June), How Much Work Are You Really Doing Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/759
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