The Impact of Faculty Workload in Applied Music on Research Productivity

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As the importance of research for all university professors increases, the application of research to the area of applied music is still vague. Consider Martin and Berry's paradox: a university hires a professor mainly to teach, but retains or promotes him almost entirely on the basis of his scholarship.1 In that respect university professors align their priorities with respect to the three areas of academic activity—teaching, research, and service. It would seem that professors across all disciplines should have similar utilization of time in their working toward this end of promotion and tenure, but in actuality this is not common. The portioning out of teaching responsibilities, committee assignments, and other administrative duties is often heavier at the bottom of the academic ranks than at the top, where most of the paid research activity is centered. This concentration of workload in the teaching area necessarily leaves less time for the research important for the evaluation of junior faculty members. It is instruction combined with departmental service that constitutes a major influence on research productivity.

The problems of assigning workload are cited continually. A statement on faculty workload was prepared by Committee C of the American Association of University Professors and endorsed at the 56th Annual Meeting as Association policy.2 The guidelines in this report include a definition of maximum teaching loads for effective instruction at the undergraduate and graduate levels; a description of the procedures that should be followed in establishing, administering, and revising workload policies; and an identification of the most common sources of inequity in the distribution of workloads. The report recommends teaching loads of nine hours per week for undergraduate instruction, six hours per week for instruction partly or entirely at the graduate level. It states that faculty should participate fully in the determination of workload policy, both initially and in all subsequent reappraisals at regular intervals. It also cites six common sources of inequity in workload distribution: the degree of course difficulty, the number of different course preparations, the introduction of a new or a substantially revised old course, class size, research, and responsibilities other than teaching and research. If the expectation of research is only of "general preparation" (the report continues) no additional reduction in faculty workload is indicated. Usually, however, something beyond that general preparation is meant: original exploratory work in some special field of interest within the discipline. If this is the expectation, such research, whether or not it leads to publication, will require additional time. It is very doubtful that a continuing effort in original inquiry can be maintained by a faculty member carrying a teaching load of more than nine hours, and it is worth noting that a number of leading universities desiring to emphasize research have already moved or are now moving to a six-hour policy. Although faculty members expect as a matter of course to serve in student counseling, on committees, with professional societies, and in certain administrative capacities, a heavy commitment in any of these areas or in too many of these areas at once will of course impair the effectiveness of the faculty member as teacher and scholar. A reduction in workload is manifestly in order when an institution wishes to draw heavily on the services of an individual in this way or when he is engaged in community or governmental service. With respect to the applied music teacher, performing in faculty service groups on and off campus would certainly come under this category of service to the institution and to the community. The determination of workload by the faculty unit responsible for individual assignments depends on nothing more complex than an accurate estimate of the hours that these additional duties will require.

McLaughlin, Mahan, and Montgomery state two difficulties in workload decisions among faculty: determining capability of individuals (which differs by discipline area) and quantifying faculty activities (creative scholarship, committees, and professional endeavors).3 Bunnell has outlined three major problems in defining workload: clarifying purposes, identifying major functions and activities, and defining appropriate measures for each function and activity.4 Applied music presents a particular difference from most other disciplines and even a difference from music theory and history: the instruction is based on a one-on-one relationship of teacher to student. How do we equate teaching individuals to the teaching in a classroom situation? How do we determine how many private lessons constitute a full load? How do we resolve the problem of a professor not having a full load of private students? How does his/ her adjusted workload affect research productivity?

Robert John shows that college and university administrators are more likely to reward the music scholars (music theory and musicology) than the successful performers.5 What kind of research can the performer/teacher do equivalent to analyses, compositions, and historical studies? An answer is sorely needed to assist those in the more creative end of music in their own research activities.

Defining faculty research has been an administrative nightmare. Stone and Norton use the term "scholarly activity" as a synonym for faculty research.6 Their studies of twenty-two journalism administrators have shown that faculty with heavy teaching loads in skills areas (certainly learning to perform well on a musical instrument or with the voice is a skill!) are not able to do as much research, and that the polled administrators would avoid coming down hard on non-productive faculty in light of the former. Linsky and Straus reiterate two common measurements of research, publication score and citation score.7 How does the applied music instructor fare in this type of evaluation?

A fascinating study in productivity within procedures of collective bargaining has been completed by Goeres. His committee has cited thirteen specific recommendations of computing workload.8 In addition to workload by contact hour the committee set specific amounts of instructor credit hours to equate to such activity as direction/production of a play and of a concert. Can this also apply more closely to the time and preparation of performances by the applied music faculty for campus functions, recruitment of prospective students, and entertainment and education for the general public?

Very commonly those applied music teachers with less than full studios are given classroom instruction, academic advising, student teacher supervision, committee responsibilities, and duties involving the recruitment of new students in varying degrees of combination. The National Council of Teachers of English has recommended strong consideration of time necessary for administrative, professional, scholarly, and institutional work in figuring workloads.9 In addition the Council calls to mind time for study and thought and the fulfillment of responsibility to students, the department, the profession, and themselves. Teague and Grites's survey of 326 contract agreements has shown that problems of recognition, support, and direction concerning academic advising need to be addressed.10 Hansen's study at the University of Minnesota reveals a surprising statistic that full-time faculty involved with advising spent an average of 55.9 hours per quarter performing tasks associated with advising.11

The tenth proposition of Bean's causal model of faculty research productivity asserts that successively higher levels of undergraduate teaching responsibilities are likely to lead to successively lower levels of individual research productivity.12 Together with Arnold's poll of speech communication administrators13 agreeing that faculty should be given released time for non-teaching responsibilities and factors of workload maximum including length of teaching day, number of consecutive classes, number of different class preparations and workdays per week, the workload of applied music teachers needs critical study.14

In achieving a balance of teaching, research, and service, the workload for applied music instructors should reflect a small number of different areas of assignment, released time for student recruitment, released time for campus performance duties, and careful consideration for real time involved with academic advising, student teacher supervision, and classroom responsibilities. In turn more effective use of time in creative research, professional activity, and publication can be defined and attained in applied music areas.


1T. Martin and K.J. Berry, "The Teaching-Research Dilemma," Journal of Higher Education 40 (1969):697.

2American Association of University Professors, Committee C on College and University Teaching, Research, and Publication, "Statement on Faculty Workload," AAUP Bulletin 56 (1970):30-32.

3Gerald W. McLaughlin, Beatrice T. Mahan, and James R. Montgomery, "Equity among Assistant Professors in Instructional Work Load," Journal of Research in Higher Education 18 (1983):132-34.

4Faculty Workload, ed. Kevin Bunnell (Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education, 1960), 25.

5Robert W. John, "Degrees, Titles, and College Music Teaching," Music Educators Journal 66 (1979):59.

6Gerald Stone and Will Norton, Jr., "How Administrators Define the Term 'Faculty Research'," Journalism Educator 35 (1980):40-42.

7Arnold S. Linsky and Murray Straus, "Student Evaluations, Research Productivity, and Eminence of College Faculty," Journal of Higher Education 46 (1975):89.

8Ernest R. Goeres, Faculty Productivity: Collective Bargaining Perspectives (Morgantown: West Virginia University College of Human Resources and Education, 1978), 2-4.

9National Council of Teachers of English, "Guidelines for the Workload of the College English Teacher," College English 38 (1977):875.

10Gerald V. Teague and Thomas J. Grites, "Faculty Contracts and Academic Advising," Journal of College Student Personnel 21 (1977):43.

11Evelyn Unes Hansen, "The Advising Time Inventory," Alternative Higher Education 4 (1980):221.

12John P. Bean, "A Causal Model of Faculty Research Productivity" (paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York, 1982), 15.

13William E. Arnold, "Workload Equivalencies and Minority Placement in Speech Communication," in A Symposium on Faculty Retention, Tenure, Promotion, and Graduate Department Evaluation, ed. Robert N. Hall (Washington, D.C.: Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1977), 29.

14Goeres, Faculty Productivity, 4.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 24/10/2018

John Dressler is Professor of Horn and Musicology at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. In addition to teaching applied Horn lessons, the undergraduate music history sequence, special topics in l9th- and 20th-century musicology, he has been successfully been leading a film music course for non-music majors there since 2006. This course brings together a diverse population and introduces its members to the scores of Max Steiner, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Bernard Herrmann, Elmer Bernstein, as well as to the more widely-known John Williams, Danny Elfman, James Horner, James Newton Howard, Randy Newman and the like. Dr. Dressler holds a Bachelor of music Education degree from Baldwin-Wallace College, plus a Masters and Doctoral degree from Indiana University. In addition to his teaching at Murray State he is a member of the Horn section of the Paducah Symphony Orchestra, the Jackson (Tennessee) Symphony Orchestra, and substitutes with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. He is also the organist at Fountain Avenue United Methodist Church in Paducah, Kentucky.

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