Quality Enhancement Plan
GOAL 3: The College will maintain policies related to student/faculty enrollment ratios and faculty workload for online instruction that support effective teaching and learning.
This goal represents one of the specific charges to the Rationale and Management Subcommittee, and their conclusion was that the existing policy at CVCC is consistent with the policies at benchmarked institutions and is conducive to the primary aims of providing superior online instruction and of protecting the integrity of face-to-face courses.
The Distance Education Policy and Procedures Manual
developed by the College in 2001 details the following "Credit Hour Workload Formula for Web and Compressed Video Courses":
Courses with a funding ratio of 1:10, 1:12, 1:15, or 1:16 having enrollments of 1 to 9 students are prorated. For example: 9 students equals a 90% workload. A course with 10 to 20 students equals a 100% workload. A course with 21 students equals a 110% workload.
Courses with a funding ratio of 1:22 having enrollments of 1 to 9 students are prorated. For example: 9 students equals a 90% workload. A course with 10-22 students equals a 100% workload. A course with 23 students equals a 110% workload. (19)
The Rationale and Management Subcommittee looked at similar policies at twenty-two benchmarked community colleges to reach the conclusion that CVCC's policy is in accordance with current practice at other model institutions.
The Committee found the lowest maximum number was 15 students at Baltimore City Community College, and the highest maximum of 30 students at Wytheville Community College in Virginia. Most institutions surveyed, however, had enrollment limits in the 20-24 student range (see Appendix B). Moreover, based upon its research, the committee found the majority of benchmarked institutions have determined that optimal faculty-student ratios should be consistent with the following proposition:
[T]he amount of time necessary to teach online escalates with increasing numbers of students. To ensure effective learning, faculty must incorporate active learning strategies such as group projects, group discussions, writing assignments, classroom assessment techniques, etc. Developing, managing, and grading these activities takes additional time and effort. (Wells 1)
In accordance with this philosophy, the majority of institutions surveyed require the same minimum number of students per course in order for that course to "make" as they require in traditional face-to-face courses. At CVCC, this minimum number is ten. At the same time, many of these institutions lowered the maximum number of students per course to allow for the increased time required to teach web courses. This practice too is reflected in the College's policy.
Faculty workload limits as expressed in the number of credit hours taught are not decided by the College. These limits are determined by the Virginia Community College System and apply to all the community colleges in the state. However, these limits do not conflict with the findings of the Rationale and Management Subcommittee. That is, fifteen credit hours (even if all are online courses) is currently regarded as a fair teaching load.
Objective 1 - Year One through Five: Undertake a bi-annual review of the current policy by a committee composed of both faculty and administrators.
This objective shows that the College recognizes that policies need periodic review and that the College is committed to seeing the policies regarding faculty teaching load for online courses are examined every two years. As online teaching becomes increasingly common, more research will be conducted, more data accumulated that will help faculty and administrators formulate sound decisions regarding class sizes and teacher workloads for online instructors.