L&S teaching metrics - department summary sheets

The College of Letters & Science has long adopted a legacy approach to budgeting in which departments have received roughly constant shares of the L&S budget. But given tight budgets and shifting student enrollments, the College is working to allocate scarce resources more efficiently. Reallocation between departments will be based on multiple criteria: research productivity, teaching productivity, teaching quality and high-impact practices, outreach, and other relevant factors suggested by departments. Both quantitative and qualitative data will be considered.

While teaching productivity is merely one factor affecting reallocation, the L&S teaching metrics provide useful data for decision-making. A summary sheet is sent annually to each department, typically in late summer. The teaching metrics compare one measure of teaching output (credit hours) to several measures of teaching input (faculty FTE, faculty payroll, instructional FTE, instructional payroll) as well as the department’s total 101 payroll. To facilitate comparison across departments and over time, outputs and inputs are computed as a proportion of the L&S total. Output is then divided by input to obtain the metric. For instance, a department that teaches 2.2% of L&S credit hours and requires 1.7% of L&S instructional payroll would score 2.2/1.7 = 1.29 on the %-credit-hours-per-%-instructional-payroll metric.

This specification of the metrics implies that 1.0 is a useful benchmark – the share of credit hours produced by the department is exactly equal to the share of resources it received from the College. Beyond the level of the metric, its change over time may also help determine whether reallocation is warranted. Some types of instruction necessitate lower student-to-instructor ratios. Without measures of teaching productivity in similar departments at peer institutions, it may be difficult to know the “right” level for a department’s metrics. However, even in the absence of external benchmarks, one may usefully compare the department’s past productivity to its current productivity. Falling metrics clearly reveal the potential for higher productivity, and the historical average might help suggest the “right” level for the metric.

The following data is provided in the summary sheets:

credit hours: computed using credits‐follow‐instructor (CFI) method. Credit hours are summed over fall and spring semesters. Excludes credits taken by students enrolled in L&S non‐pooled (131) programs.

undergraduate credit hours: removes graduate and special student credit hours.

faculty FTE (all funds): includes faculty paid on all funds (e.g., gift or research funds as well as 101), and all activities

faculty FTE (101): includes only faculty paid on fund 101 (all activities).

TA FTE (101‐2): includes teaching assistants on fund 101, activity 2

instructional FTE (101‐2): includes all faculty, academic staff with instructional titles ,TAs and Lecturer (SA)s paid on fund 101, activity 2.

faculty payroll (101): corresponds to faculty FTE (101).

instructional payroll (101‐2): corresponds to instructional FTE (101)‐2.

101 payroll: includes all appointment types (and all activities) paid on fund 101.


Please feel free to contact James Montgomery (jdmontgomery@ls.wisc.edu), Associate Dean for Fiscal Initiatives, or your divisional associate dean with any questions.