No research for you

Because you don’t have time for it, says Chris Lawrence:

[T]he absolute worst teaching schedule possible for an academic who has a research expectation features 1-2 hour breaks between classes. As currently constituted, my schedule for the fall, with classes at 9:30 (MWF), 12:30 (MW) and 4:30 (MW), seems almost explicitly designed to ensure I will not be productive at all on Mondays or Wednesdays. On the other hand, at least that leaves plenty of time for the other useless academic time-suck — office hours. (You almost cannot imagine the cheer that went up when we learned that we only have four scheduled office hours per week required next year rather than our current six.)

And no, he’s not trying to hide from the students:

In point of fact, I actually go out of my way to encourage students to visit during office hours or meet with me before or after class if they need to discuss something with me; while I frequently talk to students immediately prior to or after class, the number of unique office visitors I see in a semester is usually countable on one hand. And most of them have already told me they are coming to visit, thus defeating the point of having “drop-in” hours. If anything, I’d prefer it if more students did come to my office hours unannounced, but since virtually none bother it seems like a waste of time for all involved.

I’m not any kind of academic, but in my particular workplace, one of the few ways to get any work done is to dodge meetings, no matter how brief they may be or how “important” they’re believed to be. I suspect this is probably close to being a Universal Truth.


  1. Dick Stanley »

    30 July 2009 · 9:27 am

    Indeed, work-by-committee is an oxymoron.

    OT, in case you’re not actually ignoring this on purpose:

    CG, consider yourself tagged. I hope you play these Reindeer games:

  2. sya »

    30 July 2009 · 9:30 am

    I’ve always thought it was kind of rude to drop by a prof’s office randomly–so I usually make appointments beforehand. Except for this one time when some other students and I camped out in front of one prof’s office in protest against TAs who were refusing to give help. And having been a TA myself, the only office hours that seem to be used by undergrads are right before exam time.

  3. fillyjonk »

    30 July 2009 · 11:02 am

    Mostly-yes on the uselessness of one or two hour blocks. However, there are some odds and ends of research that can be done in that time, depending on what you do (sorting, counting, weighing…much of the ecological stuff I do can be done in shorter stretches). You can also read journal articles (which I should really do more of) during those blocks of time. (Though realistically: I re-read the material I’m covering in my next class and then surf the web. And then feel bad about it later.)

    We are expected to hold no fewer than 10 office hours a week, but as my research lab is four steps away from my office, I figure I can just as easily work in there as I can sit in my office. (And anyone who isn’t bright enough to find where the research lab is, when I have a sign on my door saying “I’m in my lab – room 229” probably should be pursuing some major other than biology.)

    I get an awful lot of grading done during office hours.

    I will also admit to having brought knitting projects with me for those office hours when I have no grading to do and am between research projects, or where the current project is one that cannot be tackled in a two-hour or so chunk of time.

    I don’t object to students “randomly” showing up; what I object to is someone showing up when I’m mid-survey and expecting me to drop everything that moment to help them. If they’re willing to either hang out while I finish up the immediate task, or come back in some allotted length of time, I’m happy to meet them.

  4. McGehee »

    30 July 2009 · 1:32 pm

    And anyone who isn’t bright enough to find where the research lab is, when I have a sign on my door saying “I’m in my lab – room 229″ probably should be pursuing some major other than biology.

    Like cartography?

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