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Q&A: What does my job look like?

A reader recently asked me the following question:

Some of the language we use here (South Africa) is a little different. Could you clarify what you mean with 3:3 or 4:4?. If you are teaching 3-5 courses, is that full semester (half a year) courses? Or ‘just’ involved in some way with the course? Is it repeat classes? Or 3 – 5 completely different modules?
Particular relevant is then what else is on your plate. Do you also supervise thesis work of other students, work on your own credentialing, research and publish, admin etc?

My answer was as follows. You can also have an insight into my days here:

Dear Kerry, thanks for asking! In Ecuador we have 3 semesters: Fall, Spring, Summer (short semester). I used to teach 3 courses in Fall (mid august – mid december) and 3 in the Spring (January – May). Each course is 3 hours of class a week (2 times 1,5 hours), and we don’t have TAs (unless the course has more than 40 students – I never qualify for this). So I do all the teaching, grading, and course material development. There are courses that I teach each semester, but it can also be that I have to set up a new course. Once, I had two modules of the lab class, but generally these are 3 different courses. In addition to that, we all teach in the final course (a preparation for the comprehensive graduation exam or thesis course – students can chose the thesis option or final exam option here). We also tutor first-year students, and I am the academic supervisor of the student chapters of the ASCE and ACI. Besides that, I do research and publish. I have limited administration duties – I try to avoid admin as much as I can, but there are always department forms and reports that need to be prepared. I hope this gives you an idea of what my work is composed of.

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