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I am wondering, for full time university teachers (not those who also have research responsibilities), what is generally the number of hours per week that they teach? I currently teach 20 hours per week and find the load quite heavy giving me little time to prep new modules with quality. Adding to that the responsibility of marking and it is not uncommon that I end up working more like 50-60 hours per week to teach 20.

Are these numbers average? High? Low?

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What is a "typical university teacher"? What subject do they teach? How long have they been teaching? How quickly does their subject change? How many of their classes this year did they teach last year? Are they teaching Masters or Bachelors? –  EnergyNumbers Jan 25 '13 at 7:28
    
@EnergyNumbers - Your questions are good, my question is across the board...how do they vary? I teach undergraduate now but am starting to teach some graduate modules and wonder what I should expect as time goes on. –  earthling Jan 26 '13 at 2:42
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

There is no “typical” number in this matter. Let's take a few examples:

  • UK, lecturer: it's usually a full-time position, so you have to put in 35-40 hours per week. The ratio of lecture time over all the rest (preparation, departmental committees, etc.) depends on the contract, but I have rarely seen it pushed past 1:1 (which means roughly 20 hours of teaching, maybe 25 at most).

  • France, associate professor (maître de conférences): junior-level position, supposed to be half teaching and half research. This has a fixed number of 192 teaching hours per year. If you consider that those are spread on 30 weeks, it gives 6.4 hours per week. Even considering it is not a teaching-only position, that number is lower than the one you quote.

  • France, full professor (professeur des universités): same number of hours in theory, but as you gain seniority you can do more full-class teaching (with bigger groups), of which every hour counts as 1.5 hour in your yearly total. Through this, and other mechanisms, senior professors usually have fewer hours to teach.

  • As a point of comparison: a French high-school teacher would have 18 teaching hours per week.

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Depends to different parameters, but university generally expects each academic staff works

  • 40% research

  • 40% teaching

  • 20% involvement in committees and university meetings

Of course, different personalities have different interests to focus on either of research or teaching activities. That's why, some take more courses than others.

In addition to personal interests, needs of school is another issue. For instance imagine one of the lecturers needs to stay at hospital after injury in accident. Head of school asks one of the academic staff to cover his/her absent colleague.

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A full teaching position is different from a general position. If they pay someone to teach they will make sure he teaches to the max and 60% of his time will not be spent on other things. The percentages you refer to in my understanding are for a normal research and teaching post not a teaching only position. –  blackace Jan 25 '13 at 5:09
    
Yes, percentages are for a normal position, which contributes in all areas. –  antmw1361 Jan 25 '13 at 5:13
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20 hours per week for most teaching only positions is normal. I have seen Profs with major research responsibilities that at times have had 20 hours of teaching as well.

My rule of thumb for a course: You will spend 2 to 3 times the amount of teaching you do preparing the first time you teach a course and this decreases as years go on for that same course (a new course requires considerable amount of time for preparation again).

First time I was teaching advanced thermodynamics and fluid mechanics courses I was spending two full days per 2 hours of teaching actually! but then after three years it was down to preparing 2 hours for 2 hours of teaching.

Your numbers seem right to me. In short 20 hours of teaching = virtually no time to do research.

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and this decreases as years go on — [citation needed] 15 years into the job, it still takes me 5+ hours to prepare a 1-hour lecture for the first time. –  JeffE Jan 25 '13 at 4:49
    
@JeffE Well said! I meant it for the same course. If its a new course as you rightly say it will still take considerable amount of time. I updated the answer. –  blackace Jan 25 '13 at 5:00
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I assume you are talking about in term time teaching per week and not total teaching per year/52. I have never heard of a permanent full time position having a heavier teaching load than a 5-5. Some people then choose to teach summer courses (but this wouldn't effect you teaching hours per term week). Often this type of load includes some repetition so you might only have to prep 7 courses of which only 1 might be a new prep. The amount of classroom contact time for each course might be as low as 3 hours but could climb to 6. There might also be some office hour contact (which you might count as teaching contact). Many full time teaching jobs have lighter loads and can be as low as 3-3. Research intensive departments can have typical teaching loads as low as 1-1. Adjuncts often teach as high as 6-6 in order to make ends meet.

There is so much more than just the number of taught hours that influence teaching load. I think you need to look at number of classroom hours, number of unique preps, office hours, and marking.

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What do the two numbers in "1-1", "5-5" mean? –  Federico Poloni Jan 26 '13 at 0:23
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@FedericoPoloni: I think e.g. "1-1" means 1 course one semester, 1 course the second semester, assuming two semesters in the year. It is US terminology. –  Faheem Mitha Mar 22 '13 at 21:11
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