Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What Do Academics Do With Their Time?

This what my Tuesday (today) looks like:

7:00-9:00: Try to get some writing/research done
9:30-10:30: Debriefing meeting about a humanities scholarship offered this year by Messiah College
10:30-11:00 Answer work related e-mail
11:00:-11:30: Meet with my administrative assistant
11:30-12:15:  Answer e-mail and prepare for Wednesday department meeting
12:25-2:00:  Class: Pennsylvania History
2:00-3:30: Meeting with humanities department chairs
3:30-5:30:  Advising meetings with students
Evening:  Try to get a bit more writing done and answer e-mail

According to this study of Boise State professors, academics spend 30% of their time "doing administrative tasks unrelated to teaching and research."  They do most of their work alone and work "well over a 40-hour week."  Here is a taste:

The most surprising finding of our analysis of practices was that faculty spent approximately 17 percent of their workweek days in meetings. These meetings included everything from advising meetings with students (which could be considered part of teaching or service depending on the department) to committee meetings that have a clear service function. Thirteen percent of the day was spent on email (with functions ranging from teaching to research and service). Thus, 30 percent of faculty time was spent on activities that are not traditionally thought of as part of the life of an academic. Twelve percent of the day was spent on instruction (actual lectures, labs, clinicals etc.), and an equal amount of time was spent on class preparation. Eleven percent of the day was spent on course administration (grading, updating course web pages, etc.). Thus, 35 percent of workweek days was spent on activities traditionally thought of as teaching. Only three percent of our workweek day was spent on primary research and two percent on manuscript writing.

On the weekend, faculty spent 23 percent of their time on class preparation, 13 percent on course administration, 10 percent of their time on email, nine percent of their time at workshops/conferences, eight percent of their time in professional conversations, seven percent of their time on professional travel, four percent of their time on manuscript writing, and four percent of their time on what we termed housekeeping, which included cleaning up files, straightening offices and labs and updating computers, among a myriad of other more rare activities.

Read the entire report here.