Saturday, July 19, 2008

Quick consultation

I love you folks for this kind of consultation. For those of you who like thinking strategically (which I'm really bad about), here's my question...Please bear with the long explanation. :)

I teach a first-year course. (Well, actually, I teach two: part one and part two.) Part one was initially capped for next year at 80, and I was watching enrolments. It maxed out. And all of a sudden the cap had been raised to 100. I was pissed off; I had no idea who had authorized raising the cap. I certainly hadn't been consulted. (Hmmm, I sense a theme. Do you?) The course quickly maxed out at 100. I have just the one TA, so was concerned - and pissed off about the continued lack of consultation. But was also happy, because higher numbers make it easier for me to argue for a new hire in my program; as you'll recall, I'm the only one, and I desperately need a colleague in a particular area to make the program a viable option. So I've been ambivalent, but decided not to fight the raising of the cap (if I could even figure out who had authorized it) in the interest of growing the program.

I've had one student query about whether there is any possibility of over-enrolling the course, which indicates that if the cap were to be raised even higher, there would probably be students to fill it. There is no possibility of letting anyone else in, though, because the room it's scheduled in only holds 100.

But today my Chair emailed me and asked if I wanted to change the room so we could raise the cap even higher. I'm torn. Part of me wants to because of the way this will help me argue for program growth. But part of me doesn't want to because of the workload it would entail. My instinct is to reply by explaining my qualms about it and asking if I could have another TA - if I could have another TA, I'd support raising it to 140.

Here's the thing: Resource scarcity. My Chair and I are potentially going to be pitted against each other in the fall...He'll be advocating for a hire in his area and I'll be advocating for one in mine - through him. It is he who will make the case to the Dean for another hire. Given that he already has several people in his program, and I have only one in mine, I think I have a better case. But still. I need as much justification as I can possibly muster for getting a new hire; the more students I take on, the better the chances. Do you, oh wise people who have administrative savvy, think that it is okay, given that, for me to not immediately go for a raising of the cap, but only on the condition that I get another TA?

As I type this, I think, of course, dummy!! Do not think of this as a game of sacrifice! Do not get into the strategic game at any cost, taking on an unmanageable number of students for some "greater good" in an institution that hasn't been very good to you! That you don't even want to stay at!

Am I right? No further raising of the cap unless I get another TA, even if I harm my chances of another hire?


Brigindo said...

I definitely wouldn't agree to raising the cap without another TA. This way you are acknowledging that in fact your program can grow but not without more resources. So the potential is there but there is no way you can grow it all alone. If you were to raise the cap and teach without a TA it could say to the powers that be - she can do it without any help at all. I would also mention, when insisting on the additional TA that really you need one currently since the cap has already been raised.

My institution has a formula for the number of students and number of TAs - is there such a formula (written or not) at yours?

Psychgrad said...

At the very least, you should ask for another TA. But, I would also reiterate how nearly doubling enrollment clearly demonstrates a need for more course offerings in your area (and, therefore, another hiring in your area).

Belle said...

I'd also raise the issue of the mysterious increased cap and ask for clarification. The additional TA is a no brainer; it should be automatic for that sized class.

Maggie said...

I agree with everyone else but especially belle. The additional TA is a no-brainer. Good luck!!

Hilaire said...

Thanks all, for confirming my instincts.

Brigindo - We don't have a formula for TA's that's campus-wide. (Stupidly.) Different units do it on their own terms. I'm going to find out what the other big courses in my unit have in terms of TAs.

This place has scarcity in the number of grad students right now, so there may not even be an additional TA available.

And while I'm at it, I'll ask about the mysteriously already increased cap.

Sheesh, this place.

Bardiac said...

I'm with the others in thinking don't let them raise the cap. If you do, then the powers that be will think a bigger course is fine, and they can deliver the program with fewer resources (and even a TA is WAY cheaper than another faculty member).

You could offer to raise the cap if you can drop another course, or add a section of one instead of another, but only if you're teaching a course you don't want that an adjunct could teach?