Adjunct Professors

by Vadim Belogorodsky

The new debate in university administration is the effectiveness of adjunct professors. Some studies show that they can focus more time to students than full time employees because adjunct professors are there more by choice than for employment. They simply enjoy teaching. Other studies show that they have negative effects which include scheduling classes at late hours around their schedules and not being tied into the curriculum goals as full time staff.  This week’s article. “Net-Zero” by Colleen Flaherty examines a third opinion in which adjunct professors do not impact the success rate of students at all.
New research discovered that schools that use part-time faculty have a matching set of data to schools with tenured and non-tenured professors. The research was done by Hongwei Yu, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Office of Community College Research and Leadership. His findings reported no true effect on student success and were based on  school size / class size, location, and students’ high school GPA. Although his research was extensive, he still thinks there is more to discover.  Adjuncts in the college setting are still treated poorly, and Yu is telling colleges to “proceed with caution” in treating them in that fashion.  Students still learn with adjuncts as their guides so cutting their resources is taking away from the students in the long run.
It’s difficult to prove if adjuncts are “good” or “bad,” in the same way you would judge a professor.  Success rates don’t truly depend on professors themselves, but on a plethora of different aspects. Some curricula are more difficult than others, some majors are more demanding than others as well. The process of judging if adjuncts help or hinder their students is a gray area that can’t really be defined, and this can be seen in all of the contradicting studies that are found on their success ratings.

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