Feb 2016 Advocate: Questioning “supersized” class pay rates


Questioning how faculty are paid for “supersized” classes

by Greg Erion, Skyline, History

I teach history as an Adjunct Professor at Skyline Community College. Recently I had a rather serendipitous experience that might be of interest to fellow instructors.

Because I teach part-time, I am not averse to having the cap raised on enrollment in the one or two classes I teach each semester. The cap for most history classes is 45 students. With the cap removed, students waitlisted can join the class and not have the uncertainty of wondering whether they will get into a needed course hanging over their head. In these cases, without fail, the number of students enrolled jumps into the low 50’s, and as the term progresses, class size falls into the low 40’s for the semester below the original 45 limit.

That has been my experience until this semester when the first day of instruction began with 76 students.After seeing this, I became aware that if a threshold of 70 students holds weeks into the semester, it becomes a “supersized” class and extra compensation results. Anything less than 70, extra compensation would not apply. Not having looked for this consequence, the potential of having 20+ students in the class was daunting. If less than 70 stayed, no recompense, the situation becomes dismal.

In retrospect, I could have followed a more prudent path, just having waitlisted students add the class under existing procedures. In the bigger picture for full-time or part-time instructors, allowing students to enroll over the maximum cap offers no incentive for any number of reasons, including but not limited to a greater workload, and larger and less manageable class sizes.

Having gone through this however, the thought came to mind that perhaps a gradation of class sizes above the upper limit might be of interest to fellow instructors. In the case of classes where the upper limit is 45, perhaps a gradation of class size might work, say 45-57 students some incremental pay; 58 to 69 still more incremental pay and 70 or more the present arrangement. This would be an alternative to all or nothing as presently exists.
I do not share this to advocate, but to share the experience. If you have an opinion on this sort of arrangement, please send your thoughts to the Advocate or discuss your ideas with your union representative.


Below is the current relevant contract language on large class pay:

Article 8.14    LARGE CLASS PAY:
A large class for the purpose of additional compensation under the terms of this Article is defined as having 70 or more students enrolled at census…
Assignment to teach a large class is voluntary…
Additional compensation is at the special rate of pay and does not affect the FLC for the course. The compensation is consideration for the extra time needed for required paperwork.
Additional weekly compensation for large classes:
70-94 students 3 hours
95-119 students 4 hours
120-144 students 5 hours
145-169 students 6 hours