Adjuncts and Retention Rates

June 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm 1 comment

Adjunct faculty are particularly important in computing, where we want students to understand something about computing practice and in particular, gain from the experience of those who have developed expertise through years of effort.  However, we already have retention problems in computer science classes.  Studies like these are important for us — we need to figure out how to use adjuncts to enhance the educational opportunities that we offer students, but we need to do that in a way that avoids a rise in failure rates.

Freshmen who have many of their courses taught by adjuncts are less likely than other students to return as sophomores, according to a new study looking at six four-year colleges and universities in a state system. Further, the nature of the impact of adjunct instruction varies by institution type and the type of adjunct used, the study finds. And in some cases, students taking courses from full-time, non-tenure track instructors or from adjuncts well supported by their institutions do better than those taught by other kinds of adjuncts.

via News: Adjuncts and Retention Rates – Inside Higher Ed.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Alfred Thompson  |  June 21, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    It appears that at some schools (not all by any means but some) the use of adjuncts is a way to save money on faculty and accomidate more paying students. That is not bad in and of itself unless those are the only goals. The masters program I took was taught by a good number of adjuncts and most of them were really good. They were real experts in their fields and good at teaching. I learned a lot. They also seemed to have some good support from the university.
    On the other hand (confession) I taught as an adjunct at a for profit institution where I had no support and frankly agreed to teach at least one course I probably shouldh’t have because I needed the money. Did the students get value out of it? I hope so but clearly not as much as if I had been better prepared to teach that course. The courses I was well perpared for I think they got a lot out of – at least I hope so.
    The problems come when institutions see students primarily as a source of income and adjunts primarily as a way to save money. For unsupported adjuncts who need the money it is hard to turn down courses even if you are not well suited to it.


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