Dear Scotty,

Looking over contracts and working conditions manuals is a hobby of mine. I noticed that the Full-time Faculty contract has things like LHE, discipline factors, performance factors, and contact hours. There are many formulas that make the information confusing to me. Can you help explain what LHE represent and how I can understand it better? I feel these conversion formulas could help me with another formula I’ve been working on with nuclear transmutation… I’m so close to an energy neutral method for turning lead into gold. As Jerry Maguire famously said, “Help me help you.”

-Douglas “Dr Evil” Powers

Dear Dougie,

While I don’t think this message will help you take over the world, understanding LHE is an excellent goal. MiraCosta’s use of LHE is not something common to other schools but is pervasive here, and the history is interesting. It involves a lot of calculations by famous names like Jonathan Cole, Peter Morrison, and Freddie Mercury. Okay, the last one there isn’t completely accurate but all of this coming together was like a Bohemian Rhapsody.

The idea of classroom faculty work was envisioned as part of the 40 hour work week where there were 5 hours of institutional service and 5 hours of student contact. That left behind 30 hours per week to form both contact hours and preparation time. Each lecture hour equivalent (or LHE) is associated with the amount of work agreed upon for those courses. Each LHE has 2 hours of work associated so that a load of 15 LHE will be equivalent to 30 hours of work per week and the 40 hour week remains intact.

Workload Factors - Discipline and Performance

It’s important to note that the 2 hours can be split up between in-class and prep-time differently, which brings up the workload factors:

If the contract shows your discipline has agreed upon less preparation/evaluation time for a particular course, then there is an associated number called a “discipline factor” which will be less than 1. (See Contract section C.3.1)

If the contract shows your discipline has agreed upon more preparation/evaluation time for a particular course, then there is an associated number called a “performance factor” which will be greater than 1. (See Contract section C.3.2)

If the contract doesn’t show either of these for a particular course, then both discipline and performance factors will be 1.

Through negotiations over time, a list of courses with associated workloads has been created, and new courses are most often matched up with the workload in the discipline. The process for determining workload factors is always the same: ask yourself, how many weekly contact hours of this course would it take for someone to make a full load? Since the load is 15, we divide 15 by this number of contact hours and end up with a ratio in decimal form. (See Contract section C.3.3)

Examples of Calculating Performance or Discipline factors:

Let’s take a class where, if you had 10 weekly contact hours related to this course, you would have a full load. 15/10 = 1.5, which is greater than 1 (performance factor). Again, this means that you will have quite a bit more preparation/evaluation time than a course with a factor of 1. [Most often, the performance factor relates to music, dance, and drama/theater courses where there are lots of outside of class practices, rehearsals, and performances.]

What if you had a course where 25 weekly contact hours related to this course (or other contractual duty) would be equivalent to full time. Then the associated factor would be 15/25 = 0.6. This means the course/duty would have less preparation/evaluation time than a course with a factor of 1.

Do you have to calculate these? Thankfully no! They are included in the Contract in appendix 3.

In its most basic form, LHE is simply the product of the weekly faculty contact hours (“WFCH,” or time in class with the students), the discipline factor, and the performance factor. (See Contract section C.3.0)

LHE for a course = (WFCH) (discipline factor) (performance factor)

Calculating LHE from Contact Hours and Factors

Math 102 is a course that is 4 units to students, but has a 3.5 hour lecture and 0.5 hour lab component for a total of 5 weekly contact hours. Both discipline and performance factors are 1, so the formula becomes: LHE = 5 x 1x 1 = 5 LHE. Based on this, a person would need to teach 3 of these courses to make a full load of 15 LHE. [I know, we started with an easy one.]

5 contact hours of counseling and/or library duties with a discipline factor of 0.6. The performance factor is 1, so the formula for LHE = 5 x 0.6 x 1 = 3 LHE. Based on this, a person performing counseling and/or library work would need to do 25 contact hours to make the full load of 15 LHE.

You want complicated, well there’s a class like Dance 160 with both lecture and lab components, and the lecture has a performance factor while the lab has both discipline and performance factors. Off we go!

Lecture portion. 0.5 weekly contact hours with discipline factor of 1 and performance factor of 1.667. LHE = 0.5 x 1x 1.667 = 0.83 LHE.

Lab portion. 3 weekly contact hours with discipline factor of 0.833 and performance factor of 1.667. LHE = 3 x 0.833 x 1.667 = 4.17 LHE.

Total. Assigned LHE for this course is 4.17 + 0.83 = 5 LHE.

Our contract, and the folks who worked on it when it was just a “working conditions manual” back in the late 2000’s, also created a way for a full load (15 LHE) or even each individual LHE to be broken down into prep and contact hours using those same proportions. (See C.3.5) It’s not really that bad when you think about it in the way this article has presented it.

Classroom: For a workload factor of 1.5, we can see that came from 15/10, meaning there were 10 weekly contact hours to make a full load. So in this case, there would be 20 additional hours of preparation/evaluation to bring this up to 30 hours per week.

Classroom: For a workload factor of 0.75, we can see it came from 15/20, meaning there were 20 weekly contact hours to make a full load. So in this case, there would be 10 additional hours of preparation/evaluation to bring this up to 30 hours per week.

Non-classroom: Counselors and librarians don’t have the required 5 hours per week for student contact related to classroom teaching, so their jobs require 35 hours per week total. For a workload factor of 0.6, we can see it came from 15/25, meaning there were 25 contact hours and 10 additional hours of preparation/evaluation to bring this up to 35 hours per week.

You can divide each of these weekly hours by 15 to get the associated amount per LHE if you wanted to, and that may be helpful if you’re working a split load between counseling/library and classroom.

So there you have it - workload in a fairly large nutshell. Good luck with your alchemy and trying to control your Mini-Me!

-Scotty