What exactly is Academic Freedom?

Academic freedom is part of our collective agreement (Article 13) which while complex, is a broad right that you can exercise in your workload discussion with management.

In plain language, academic freedom enables faculty to:

  • Speak about academic issues without fear of reprisal.
  • Design and teach a course using your professional judgment, including determining the delivery style, course materials, and evaluation methods you feel are best for student learning.
  • Assign grades without interference from managers.

Want to know more? Check out Academic Freedom Explained.

Evaluation Factors: What are they and which one is right for my course?

You are assigned hours for each week to evaluate your students’ progress and provide them with feedback. The hours that are given to you on your Standard Workload Form (SWF) are based on the types of assessments you have provided in your courses and detailed in your Learning Plan (LP). Our collective agreement identifies three types of evaluations:

  • “Essay or project” (Ratio: 1:0.030 per student)
    • Marking essays, essay-type assignments or tests, projects, or student performance based on behavioral assessments [11.01 E 2 (i)].
    • Includes weekly reflections and students’ performance based on behavioral assessment includes such techniques as presentations in class which the professor then further assesses after the class.
  • “Routine or assisted” (Ratio: 1:0.015 per student)
    • Grading by the teacher that occurs outside of the teaching contract hours of short-answer tests or other evaluative tools where mechanical marking assistance or marking assistants are provided [11.01 E 2 (ii)].
  • “In-process” (Ratio: 1:0.0092 per student)
    • The evaluation is performed entirely within the teaching contact hour [11.01 E 2 (iii)].

It is also possible to have a blended evaluation factor if more than one type of evaluation is used. However, the blended factor must give you enough time to complete all the marking. For example, if heavier weighted assignments in your class are presentations, projects, reflections, or essays and you have some Blackboard tests for low-stakes formative assessments, do not accept a mixed evaluation factor [11.01 E 2 (iv)]. Refer your SWF to the Workload Monitoring Group (WMG).

WMG and Me: Success Story #1

In early fall 2020, an SLC faculty member challenged their SWF and the evaluation factors (EF) they were assigned by management. The member successfully argued that their weekly reflection assessment deserved the highest weighting (1: 0.030) compared to a lower evaluation factor they were originally assigned.

How does this decision affect you as a full-time member?

When compiling learning plans that include reflections as assignments, professors should consider using the phrasing –

“the evaluation requires a student to reflect on a matter and provide his or her thoughts on various issues related to the matter being considered” and that the instructor will “assess the students’ thinking” in their feedback.

Given the Workload Resolution Arbitrator (WRA) decision, and using this language in the Learning Plan (LP) to describe the assessment, it will help ensure the Professor is successful when in discussions with management and/or at a WMG.

WMG and Me: Success Story #2

In early fall 2020, an SLC faculty member challenged their SWF and the preparation factors (PF) they were assigned by management. The member successfully argued that when teaching two sections of the same course but on different schedules (14 weeks vs. 7 weeks condensed), the second instance of the course is not a repeat.

How does this decision affect you as a full-time member?

If you teach two sections of a course that start or end at the same time, but the sections are on different cycles (i.e, one is over 14 weeks, and the other is over 7 weeks), then BOTH sections are “Established B” and each must be assigned a factor of 0.6 (and NOT 0.6 for one section and 0.35 for the other.)

Want to know the full details of these two success stories? Check out the full summary on our new website: https://slcfaculty.ca/decisions-of-the-workload-resolution-arbitrator-wra/

Learn more about Standard Workload Forms.