The Workload Document

Ah, January. The start of a new year. A time to resolve to do old things better and to do new things. A time to reflect. And, if you’re one of those lucky enough to have an employer who embraces such things, a time to document your work because, apparently, getting things done is not enough.

If you’re an academic like me, then you’ve already taught your classes, published your research, decided things in committee. But this is not enough in the modern era of the so-called knowledge economy, which is increasingly managed by people who have no knowledge of the actual work, everything must be quantified, counted. In education, this means counting the obvious, like publications and presentations, and the dumb, like the number of butts who filled the seats in a particular classroom.

I am sitting this morning in front of my own organization’s latest incarnation of its Workload Document, which some of us, since we are an English department, call by a version of its acronym (WLD), wold, giving it that Anglo-Saxony feel of a wood, like the one in which wolves lurk. The WLD began life a decade or so ago as a two-and-a-half-page, landscape-oriented table into which you crammed stuff. I see that this year’s version has grown to nine pages and includes space for “self-evaluation,” which the forms describe thus:

Self Evaluation can assist you to: improve the educational experiences you provide for your students, identify the professional education you need to further develop your capacity to teach and research well and, prepare for your performance review with your department head. Self-evaluation can range from personal reflection to formal assessment. Based on a constructive self-evaluation of your abilities to teach, conduct research and scholarly activities, and participate in service activities.

Gosh, isn’t our administration the best-est? They are just always looking out for us? (And, yes, my first thought was who in their right mind is going to offer that bunch ammunition? The bullets are flying fast and furious here in Louisiana. There is talk of killing universities, and they have already eliminated faculty lines and departments.)

Here’s an outline of this monstrosity:

  • Planning and Self Evaluation
  • Teaching – with 23 rows for classes taught (Is that even legal to teach that many courses at a single university? Never mind legalities, is that even physically possible? Is the administration revealing its hopes here? Are they hiring cyborgs? Converting us to cyborgs? Because I’m pretty sure that teaching 23 courses in a year means you don’t sleep and that means I’m going to have to be a cyborg.)
  • Research – page here, but big boxes
  • Service – half a page here, small boxes.
  • Administration – up to a page now. It used to be a line or two. Indication of the direction of the wind in these parts?