Teaching is a mammoth part of faculty members’ — and coaches’ — jobs, but their work does not end when students leave the classroom or field. There’s preparation, advising, grading (lots and lots of grading), research, and more.
This summer, APSCUF is going behind the scenes to show you how faculty members and coaches continue to devote themselves to affordable, quality education even when class is not in session.
For our inaugural post, meet Christine Karpinski, an assistant professor of nutrition at West Chester University.
I want to start off by saying that I love my job. I taught my first class in 1999 and immediately found my calling, after having worked outside of academia for 10 years. This blog post is in no way a complaint about my workload.
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t exaggerate, and my stories are always short and to the point. So let me get to the point: I work an average of 60 to 70 hours per week during a semester. Oh, did I mention that the 60 to 70 hours includes Saturdays and Sundays? Anyone who doesn’t understand that faculty must work on weekends doesn’t understand what it takes to manage four courses per semester and an average of 120 students.
So let me explain how those hours add up. Let me start on the weekend, because that’s truly where it begins. I typically work for 10 hours each weekend. This entails grading weekly assignments and larger papers/projects. Then there are the emails (about 20 per day). I also need to prep for the upcoming week. I never teach the exact same material in any given semester, so I am constantly updating my notes, slide, handouts, etc. Oh, and then there are more emails.
In my current position, I teach four classes per semester, so I’m standing in front of a classroom full of students for 12 hours each week, but that’s the easiest part of my job. I advise about 60 students about their schedules and professional aspirations, which adds up to a minimum of 900 minutes each semester. Then there are my five office hours, when any student or advisee can pop in with questions or concerns. In between classes and office hours, I spend several hours a day organizing, grading, and answering emails. These hours also entail collaborating with fellow faculty on projects, scholarship, and service. My most time-consuming service is my work with the WCU athletes for more than six years: providing nutrition services. For the past few years, I have mentored a group of nutrition undergraduate students who are interested in working with athletes. Mentoring these students adds many more hours to my work with the athletes than if I had just done the work myself — but it’s important work. Lastly, I attend approximately three to four hours of department and committee meetings every week. My service on these committees at all levels varies week to week, but on average takes about three hours of my time. Outside of all of this is my scholarship — which often falls by the wayside during a semester.
All told, I work an average of 10 hours per day, 10 hours per weekend, and several evenings each week. What I’ve told you is the truth — and I find great satisfaction in every hour I give to my job.
By the way, I haven’t even discussed the innumerable hours I work each winter and summer (while off contract) to prepare for the next semester, and to continue with my writing, research, and service. But that’s for another day …
Christine Karpinski is a board-certified specialist in sports nutrition and an assistant professor in West Chester University’s department of nutrition.