Recent Scholarship on Community Colleges: TYCA Workload Issues Committee’s “White Paper on Two-Year College English Faculty Workload”

William Christopher Brown, Midland College
1 May 2023

The 2022 “White Paper on Two-Year College English Faculty Workload” by the Two-Year College English Association (TYCA) (published in Teaching English in the Two-Year College; began with a survey administered in Fall 2019 (292). The survey consisted of 39 questions and “included six demographics, twenty-eight closed-ended, and five open-ended questions about faculty work environment, expectations, and experiences” (292). The committee received “1,062 responses,” which focused on “teaching, service, and professional development” (292). The White Paper was written with the goal “to set in motion changes that help two-year college English faculty and their students thrive” (293).

The White Paper is divided into five sections:

  • “What Is the Workload of TYC English Faculty?”
  • “Workload Issues for Two-Year College English Programs”
  • “Workload Standards for Two-Year College English”
  • “Program Strategies for Workload Equity”
  • “Advocacy Strategies for Effecting Change”

I will organize this review to mirror the White Paper’s structure. This review will focus on key ideas, though the full report contains many interesting details that I did not have space to include.

“What Is the Workload of TYC English Faculty?”
The survey revealed that “56 percent” of the respondents were “off the tenure-track, and 44 percent” held “tenure-line positions” (293). The committee learned that “57 percent” regularly teach overloads (293). Seventy-five percent reported “‘a lot’ of autonomy” over their classes (293). However, “little autonomy” is held over course load or the “mode of delivery,” with only “12 percent” having “‘a lot’ of control over their schedule” (294)

In addition to teaching, two-year college English faculty provide a significant amount of service to their institutions. Service is a “defined element” in “employment contracts” for “66 percent” (294). Although some reported that service was not a requirement, “22 percent” still contributed service, often without recompense (294). The TYCA Workload Issues Committee noted that service often falls “disproportionate[ly]” on both English and Mathematics departments because of developmental courses associated with their fields (294).

Professional development is a regular part of “89 percent” of college English faculty’s lives, though “5.5 percent” did not participate in professional development (294-295). The committee noted that “barriers to … professional development activities … were lack of resources (money and time), lack of relevance to their teaching work, and lack of (or no) value attached to professional development by their employing institution” (295).

“Workload Issues for Two-Year College English Programs”
Community/technical college faculty “teach far more students each semester than any professional organization recommends” (295). Two-year colleges require heavy workloads, but faculty often willingly take on overloads “to compensate for low salaries, leading to even higher workloads” (295). Following the trend across all of higher education, full- and part-time contingent labor continues to grow (296).

“Completion agendas” also affect two-year college faculty (296). Some colleges face state mandates to minimize or “eliminate developmental education” and to speed up the process by which students filter through developmental programs (296-297).

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) faculty often maintain even higher workloads because they “serve on hiring and tenure committees; mentor faculty; and lead institutional diversity, equity, and inclusion work” (297).

“Workload Standards for Two-Year College English”
This section offers recommendations for “sustainable workloads” at two-year colleges. The committee recommends equitable pay for “teaching, service, and professional development” (297). Course load should be fewer than “four composition classes per term,” with a “maximum of fifteen credits each semester” (298). The committee recommends that courses should not have more than “twenty students per writing course” or more than “fifteen students for developmental” classes of all kinds (298). Course overloads are discouraged (298). Academic freedom should be the norm for faculty rather than “rigid rules” (298). Faculty should be paid for developing, updating, and reviewing courses (298).

“Program Strategies for Workload Equity”
Two-year colleges should emphasize quality in teaching rather than quantity (299). Faculty at two-year colleges often have the students who are least prepared for post-secondary education, yet colleges create conditions that impede the ability of faculty to help at-risk students because of heavy teaching loads and rigid requirements for numbers of papers and word lengths of papers (299).

Faculty who teach developmental classes often have to revise their curricula based on state-mandates (299). These faculty should be supported in these revisions by taking into consideration the time that goes into updating courses (299).

The committee re-emphasized the importance of academic freedom and instructor autonomy (299). Professional development should be a priority (300).

Colleges should also not use a service model for “program coordinator positions”; instead, program coordinator roles should be part of the budget (300).

“Advocacy Strategies for Effecting Change”
The TYCA Workload Issues Committee recommends “using existing structures in new ways” to improve faculty workload conditions (301). They note that “standing service responsibilities” and “academic councils or senates” can be potentially useful ways to influence policies that affect faculty workload (302). They encourage faculty to embrace “activism” and “collective action” (302-303).

Final Thoughts
One of the key takeaways for me was the challenge of fair compensation for faculty. Faculty at two-year colleges have such heavy teaching loads that their work lives can be taken up with simply trying not to fall behind on grading or trying to keep up with mandates on teaching from the State. However, some of this workload derives from many faculty members’ willingness to take on extra classes to increase their salaries. The report’s emphasis on fair compensation for faculty’s various professional obligations would help them to feel less compelled to take on extra work. Manageable workloads for fair compensation would allow faculty to develop professionally. Improving the working conditions of faculty improves the students’ experience of colleges (303).

The TYCA Workload Issues Committee’s “White Paper on Two-Year College English Faculty Workload” is an important document that reminds us that we are part of a larger field with a consistent set of problems across the country. The strategies they recommend at the end have great potential in helping faculty to make a difference at their local levels.

Works Cited
TYCA Workload Issues Committee. “White Paper on Two-Year College English Faculty Workload.” Teaching English in the Two-Year College, vol. 49, no. 04, 2022, 292-307.