Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hours for Teaching and Preparation Rule of Thumb: 2-4 Hours of Prep for 1 Hour of Class

Many instructors may wonder how much prep time to spend on a class. Prep time can mean different things to different people. Many instructors assume prep time includes only the time spent getting ready for a particular class. Other instructors include meetings with students, advising, meetings with other faculty, professional development, and the numerous tasks and responsibilites of teaching.

The University of California at Berkeley included a discussion of actual preparation hours for class.
The newsletter contained the guidelines that distinguish between a class a teacher has taught before and a new class. For a class taught before, the teacher should plan to spend 2 hours out-of-class for each hour of class for preparation and grading. For a new class, the teacher should plan to spend 4 hours out-of-class for each hour of class.
The Office of Educational Development. Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching, Learning, Academic Planning and Facilities. "Instructor Preparation Time." 

Other experts concur. The DeCal site answers the question: "Developing a Course: How Much Planning Time Should I Allow for Getting a Good Class Together?"
"Most teachers spend at least two hours in prep time outside class for every hour spent inside class. Most teachers working with material for the first time spend three or more hours in prep per every one hour in class."»

Teaching and the Case Method Harvard Business School Press. "Spend a maximum of two hours prep time for each class hour."


  1. Useful post - I plan to reblog it again as addendum to ACA hours discussions, split between low ball prep time to keep courses or aim for mid range (but still low) ratio to be more accurate and qualify for health care and programs as well as wage and hours / full pay for hours worked

    Here the updated link for "Instructor Preparation Time"

  2. Interesting piece on tenure citing your work

    1. Thank you very much for sending this link! So many hours go into preparing for classes, and we must stand our ground to those who belittle or are ignorant of our efforts.

  3. Is there a state law requiring employers to pay for prep time? Specifically Florida, at the college level?

  4. Holly, this is a good question. This blog is from Washington State. Many adjunct faculty in Washington State are not paid for prep time, but the unemployment office will often count prep time hours so that adjuncts qualify for unemployment benefits, if they survive the numerous appeals. But this is an important point, that not only affects salary, but also workload.

  5. How many hours on an average a content developer may take if he / she is writing a content which is to be delivered in a training room (standup training) in one hour or so approx.?

  6. Dr. Jagannath,
    Thank you for your question. I'll offer my take on it, and would also like to hear from others. Generally, writing content probably adds to the prep. time. Some factors include the type of training delivery (computers? paper? books?); your familiarity with the content; the audience familiarity with the content; the assessment process. So, I don't know if there is an "average." Speaking from experience, the type of training you are describing, and writing the content, could take between 5 to 10 hours in preparation, maybe more, maybe less, but this is just my opinion.

  7. depending on where you work - initially at the university it was about 1-2 hrs now after doing it for several years the need for prep time goes way down and if you administer exams online with self marking it is great to save time

  8. Dear "Stuff I Like,"
    I'm glad to read about lessening prep time. At the same time, for some profs, who teach classes such as writing, the prep time never goes down significantly. There's the everpresent question of whether prep time includes out-of-class student and faculty meetings, keeping up with research, professional development, etc. Best Regards to You!