Lab Overload

This semester I am teaching two lecture sections and four (3-hour) laboratory sections of Organic Chemistry each week. This is, in effect, double of what I was teaching last year at this time, since the enrollment in Organic Chemistry doubled this year compared to last. At Dominican University, teaching a lab section is worth half of a lecture course. A full load is teaching the equivalent of 3 (usually 3 credits apiece) lecture courses. Organic Chemistry is a 5 credit course since, in addition to laboratory, there is an extra hour of lecture during the week. Fortunately, I have two top-notch undergraduate laboratory assistants this year that have made the whole thing almost manageable. We are also in the second year of having a part-time stockroom manager who keeps track of chemical inventory, storage, and hazardous waste. This is a lot of changes for me and I am trying to adjust accordingly. I enjoy the labs, but four labs a week is a lot of contact hours. Some days I feel like a high school teacher where one class follows the next. One thing that I need to do better is to streamline assignments, correcting, grading and preparation that I developed when I had less than 20 students in my entire class. I’m not sure that I have found a good balance of careful yet efficient grading in the laboratory yet.

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