I'm working on my syllabi and calendars for my courses, all three of which are at least somewhat new this semester.
I'm teaching Intro to Lit, and doing all writers who are people of color, so that's a challenge. Right now, I'm trying to figure out how much reading (of a modern novel) I can realistically expect first year students to do in a given week. I'm guessing somewhere in the range of 150 pages (it's a three hour a week class, so that would be about 50 pages for each class hour, or 50 pages for each 2-3 hours outside of class that I expect them to work). Does that sound right?
I looked at Karl Steel's reading calendar for "Small Things," a graduate seminar he's teaching. Doesn't it look fun and interesting!
What strikes me is how much reading he assigns. Of course, this is for a PhD grad program seminar, so one assumes the students are taking only one or two other courses (and teaching, themselves, probably) and have done some of the reading before (I'm sure they've read "The Prioress's Tale," mostly, for example.
But when I think of doing that reading myself and prepping to teach the readings (or a similar level of readings in my own field, well, it's pretty overwhelming.
I teach senior seminars for undergrads here, and sometimes MA seminars, and I assign maybe half as much reading in a week. For one thing, I know none of my students will have read the texts I'm teaching, unless it's a Shakespeare play that they may have encountered in high school.
But equally, I have to create reading assignments that I can do myself. And here's where teaching 11 credits a semester really hurts, I guess, because I'm reading and grading for three classes, and one of them is a first year writing class which requires loads of feedback on student writing.
So, I wonder if my teaching load leads me to assign lower reading loads for my senior/MA seminars, and if that means my students aren't getting the reading intensity they should for those courses?
I also have to plan on teaching readers who are less prepared as readers, if that makes sense. I can't give my students something that assumes they know about the Romantic era in even the most basic way without taking time to catch them up on what the Romantic era was (that's on my mind now because I'm teaching a ecocritical Shakespeare course, and we're reading some introductory stuff that refers to Romanticism). What I'm getting at is that I only assign readings that we'll be able to discuss in class. My students, wonderful as they are, mostly won't read well enough to get a theoretical argument without help from class discussion.
So, the questions of the day are:
How much time do you expect students to work on your course stuff per hour of meeting time?
How much modern novel reading do you think a first year student can do in an hour or two?
How many of your students are working half time or more at a job? How does that impact their school work?
How much reading do you assign for a senior seminar in your field? How many hours? How much of the reading do you need to discuss in class?