A couple weeks ago, we surveyed the students in EECS 280 to get feedback on how to improve the operation of the course after we received complaints about long wait times (i.e., hours) for meeting with instructors. About 620 students registered for the course with two faculty, 13 TAs (of which 6 are quarter time), and 4 graders to cover three lecture sections, 16 discussion sections, approximately 25 office hours, nearly 24x7 coverage of the piazza forum, and grading each week. Taking into account part-time staff (1 faculty + 1 double-time faculty + 7 full TAs + 6 1/2 TAs approx= 13), there is effectively a 620:13 ratio of students to instructors or 47:1.
Here's the original survey, and the results. Short story: we agree the wait times are too long, and we'd like to see improvements in the student-to-instructor ratio. In the meantime, we are load balancing office hours to increase availability at certain peak times (at the expense of decreasing availability for hands-on exercises in the classroom and other things). Unfortunately, we were denied requests for additional graders. Human resources requested that we instead divert TA hours from in-person student interaction to grading homework. Human resources further admonished the staff when one TA accidentally exceeded the allowable hours. We're trying to figure out ways to do more with less.
The data, please:
|The data indicate that a small number of students experienced excruciatingly long wait times. |
At busy times, the more typical wait is about an hour.
|Data indicate that very few students are willing to accept "group" office hours to cut down on wait times. |
It seems that students strongly prefer 1-1 debugging sessions because of the personal nature of individual programming assignments.
|Surprising to the staff, the data indicate that students overwhelmingly prefer the whiteboard over the chalkboard. Boo!!|