April 19, 2009

Workload Comparisons

I've been grading exams. I have 65 of them. I also have a stack of 21 essays in progress. As these are not the only things I am trying to get done, occasionally I feel a bit overwhelmed. However, here's some information to keep my workload in perspective:
It has been estimated that in the Faculty of Letters in Cairo 180,000 examination papers have to be marked by 100 teachers.*
*Derek Hopwood, Egypt: Politics and Society 1945-90 (Harper Collins, 1991).


R. T. said...

Thanks for the note about the Egyptian university's grading nightmare. Now, with my own final exams and final papers pending grading, I feel rather foolish when I think about complaining about 3 courses with 90 students. I also know that I need to avoid any possibility of ever teaching in Cairo!

R. T. said...

You know, the more I think about your statistics from Hopwood, I see it as an absurd fiction, especially if it is supposed to represent an end-of-term or even end-of-year accounting. How on earth could 100 teachers evaluate 180,000 papers? My limited arithmetical skills tell me that means each teacher "grades" 1800 papers! I cannot even fit that many papers into my office let alone think about grading them. Have you offered the statistic as a tongue-in-cheek "gotcha" moment or has Hopwood served up some rather bad data? I'm just wondering because I have been accused in the past of letting satire and irony go over-my-head. This one, though, has me reeling. In fact, I shared the numbers with a colleague and got the strangest look (one of those "Oh, really? Yeah, sure!" moments) in return. So, here's back at you: "Oh, really?"

Rohan Maitzen said...

Well, I'm certainly not deliberately pulling your leg, I promise! I am not sure of the timeline involved in that data (for instance, whether it's across a year, or a term, or whatever), and stupid Google Books won't let me preview the relevant page (the book is in my 'real' office). But these passages from Soueif's In the Eye of the Sun seem to confirm that large quantities are involved (like her character Asya's mother, Soueif's mother was a professor at Cairo University):

"Since it is Sunday, her father is out at her clinic. And her mother is probably locked away in her bedroom surrounded by hundreds of university students' exam papers. Asya knows these papers so well. They have been arriving at the house regularly every June since she can remember. Her parents would come back from work with a car-bootful of them. . . . They come in bundles of one hundred, arranged back to front in alternating tens . . . . Her mother always has many more papers than her father. Her father's papers would be placed neatly on a table in his study and he would go in there and close the door. Her mother's would go into her bedroom: on her desk, under her desk, in her wardrobe beneath her dresses, in the shoe cupboard attached to the dressing table. Sometimes even under the bed."