Reducing “sludge” to boost instructor morale: Opinion


Reducing meaningless tasks that slow down processes, or “sludge,” can boost instructor morale and help them feel valued, writes Kevin Van Winkle. Van Winkle argues that “sludgy” and convoluted tasks, such as waiting to submit an error report or searching for appropriate software for a task, demotivate instructors and impede their cognitive capacity. The author recommends reducing sludge in a variety of ways, such as by decreasing the length of forms and prefilling information, making meetings less frequent, and opting individuals into activities such as voter registration, professional training, and text alerts. Van Winkle encourages institutions to assign a person or committee to focus on reducing sludge and to allow departments to find and share solutions, which can lead to a positive ripple effect. Inside Higher Ed (Acct. Req.) Note: Archived stories may contain dead links or be missing source links.

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