» Analysis News, Opinion, Analysis and More For the Adjunct Faculty Nation Thu, 29 Sep 2016 17:23:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 New Study: College Students Taught by Good-looking Lecturers Learn More Tue, 13 Sep 2016 16:43:24 +0000 By Daniel Akst

“Effects of Instructor Attractiveness on Learning,” R. Shane Westfall, Murray Millar and Mandy Walsh, Journal of General Psychology (July 13)

How to help students do better in school? Maybe we should try hiring better-looking teachers. Or subsidize gym memberships and makeovers for the teachers we already have.

Those, at least, are the implications of a new study from researchers at the University of Nevada, who designed a simple but revealing experiment using college students to see whether a lecturer’s attractiveness has any impact on how much of the lecture students retain. If you guessed that the answer is yes, go to the head of the class. Extra credit if you intuited that teacher attractiveness had other effects as well.

Students found the attractive instructors more motivating, easier to follow and possessed of greater health, intelligence and competence.

Students found the attractive instructors more motivating, easier to follow and possessed of greater health, intelligence and competence.

More surprising: The researchers don’t think that sexual interest explains the results, which held up whether the teacher and students were of the same sex or not. This suggests, they write, that the improved student performance was “driven by processes independent from human sexual attraction, such as attention and motivation.” Or, as one of them put it, it’s just human nature.

Here’s how the experiment worked. The researchers asked 131 college students to listen to a recording of a 20-minute introductory physics lecture. The students were randomly assigned to a male or female lecturer, each of whom read an identical text. While the lecture was playing, a computer displayed what the volunteers were told was a photo of the lecturer—who was highly attractive in some cases and not as fetching in others. (Earlier volunteers had rated some photos of possible “lecturers” for attractiveness, enabling the researchers to pick the best- and worst-looking.) Taking notes was barred.

After the lecture, participants got a 25-item quiz on the material. For those with the attractive instructor, the average score was 18.27; for those with an unattractive one, the average was 16.68. That gap isn’t huge, but it is statistically significant, the researchers said.

After being quizzed on the material, participants were asked to evaluate the lecturers. Sure enough, students found the attractive instructors more motivating, easier to follow and possessed of greater health, intelligence and competence. They also generally agreed about the attractiveness of the lecturers.

Overall, the findings are consistent with a mountain of previous research about the effects of physical attractiveness. Earlier studies have found that good-looking people are considered more capable, intelligent, persuasive and socially skilled.

R. Shane Westfall, the lead author of the new paper, says that jurors are more likely to acquit accused murderers who are better looking. The benefits of good looks start early, he notes: Mothers pay more attention to good-looking babies (and babies pay more attention to better-looking adults). There is also evidence that more attractive people get paid better at work, have an edge in winning political campaigns and are more likely to be helped by others when in distress.

 So do the new findings mean that schools should hire better-looking teachers? Mr. Westfall notes that the performance differences in his study amounted to about half of a letter grade; teacher training, experience and dedication would probably make a bigger difference. Besides, he says, good-looking people are more likely to get hired in almost any context—suggesting that schools have preferred to hire more attractive teachers all along.

Originally published in the Wall Street Journal. Used here with permission. 

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New Study: Jobs With Tenure Few and Far Between for Adjunct Women Thu, 01 Sep 2016 15:31:36 +0000 by Kent McDonald

Tenure is a goal many professors strive for — but it remains further out of reach for women and underrepresented minorities, according to a recent research study from the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association Institute. Martin Finkelstein, a professor at Seton Hall University and one of the co-authors of the study, said the number of faculty positions offered to people from diverse backgrounds has increased, but mostly in part-time, non-tenure positions.

“(Tenure) is what we would call a career ladder opportunity,” he said. “It’s an opportunity where there is a timetable and a procedure for getting promoted.”

Finkelstein said part-time or adjunct faculty positions lack the structure and commitment that tenure or tenure-track positions have. From 1993 to 2013, there was also an 84.3 percent increase in the number of full-time positions offered without any tenure or tenure-track opportunity, he said.

The study’s authors reveal that, “The magnitude of women’s growth in full-time and tenured or tenure-track appointments, however, pales in comparison to their growth in part-time appointments (144.2%) and full-time, non-tenure-track appointments (121.8%).”

Appointment_TypeBetween 1993 and 2013, the proportion of all women faculty who are tenured or on the tenure-track has actually declined from 20% to 16% and from 13% to 8%, respectively, while the percentage of all women who are in part-time appointments has increased from 48% to 56%. Less than one in ten academic women have achieved the ultimate prize, a full professorship.

The growing number of positions without tenure is damaging higher education, said Maria Maisto, president of New Faculty Majority, a national adjunct faculty advocacy organization.

“Essentially, tenure as we know it is evaporating before our eyes and that is to the detriment of higher education,” she said.

Maisto said tenure is often misunderstood and does not prevent faculty members from getting fired.

“Tenure is nothing more than a guarantee of due process — which means you cannot be fired for an arbitrary reason,” she said. “There has to be a process by which your termination is reviewed, if necessary, and overturned, if necessary.”

Altha Cravey, a UNC geography professor and member of the Faculty Forward Network, said it is discouraging to see how the lack of tenure positions has undermined the classroom.

“Putting people in such insecure jobs with low pay and almost nonexistent benefits means that they are scrambling to attempt to teach a lot of students and a lot of classes,” she said.

Being a professor is no longer a secure job like it once was, Cravey said.

Maisto said this research is important because it underscores neglected trends in the higher education workforce. “And that is that this contingent employment model is disproportionately affecting faculty who are women and faculty who come from underrepresented minority groups,” she said.

Although more females and underrepresented minorities have been employed, these increases have not translated to actual equity, Maisto said.

“The vast majority of those people who come from those diverse backgrounds are in the most precarious positions,” she said. “It’s sort of giving with one hand while taking away with the other.”

Jack Schuster, a professor at Claremont Graduate University and a co-author of the study, said the data show how much work is still needed to achieve diversity in higher education.

He said opportunities to hire diverse faculty members are not abundantly present because, in general, higher education is under increased financial pressure.

Finkelstein said increased enrollment coupled with decreasing funds has put colleges and universities in a difficult situation when hiring faculty members.

“The public appropriations for higher education, particularly at the local and state level, are declining,” he said. “So, there is less money and you know, of course, most of the money — 80 percent of the instructional budget for instructional universities — is for faculty positions.”

Maisto said increasing the number of part-time faculty positions has also exacerbated the problem. “The use of adjunct faculty in some ways started out as a short-term solution to budgetary challenges,” she said. “But, because I think people found it was so easy to find people who were qualified and willing to teach, it sort of exploded.”

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Poor, Priviledged and Pedantic—Why America Ignores Under-Employed Ph.D.s Tue, 10 May 2016 18:23:02 +0000 Photo 26by P.D. Lesko

The latest NSF report, “The Survey of Earned Doctorates,” relies on data from the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. The report concludes that a high percentage of newly-minted Ph.D.s complete school with “significant debt” and without jobs. Yet, colleges continue to enroll increasing numbers of doctoral candidates.

Cue up “Casablanca” and Claude Rains’s Captain Renault: I’m shockedshocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

Get ready for the annual hand-wringing (Ph.D.s/academics), outrage (friends of Ph.D.s/non-tenured academics), fauxoutrage (academic administrators/staffers) eye rolls, head-scratching and, yes, mostly yawns (the rest of America, including 21,000,000 undergrads).

Laura McKenna, a former Political Science faculty member at Ramapo College and a contributing writer for The Atlantic, frets in a piece about the NSF study posted on April 21, 2016, “Yet few people seem to be paying attention to these findings; graduate programs are producing more Ph.D.s than ever before.” Her article is titled, “The Ever-Tightening Job Market for Ph.Ds.”  McKenna goes on to write, “So, you would think that this kind of information, which has already been discussed in many news articles and books over the years, would dissuade universities from admitting more students.”

Evidently, Laura McKenna is unaware that higher education is a trillion dollar industry accustomed to gorging on a groaning buffet of public and private money. Higher education is singular in that it is a trillion dollar industry whose spending on administrative pay, perks and benefits is relatively unencumbered by federal or state oversight. To make matters worse, higher education institutions routinely thwart media scrutiny and reporters’ efforts to unearth public records. Public colleges and universities—most of which post bare bones financial data online to satisfy the rubes—continue to be some of the most obstructionist and secretive nonprofits in the country concerning the exact particulars of their spending.

How is this possible? Politicians use higher education happy-talk to sway voters. Bernie Sanders would wave a magic wand over Wall Street and have the money to make higher ed. free to all. In 2008, then Senator Obama told voters: “We need to recruit an army of new teachers. I’ll make this pledge: If you commit your life to teaching, America will pay for your college education.” In return, higher education uses politicians. Since 2006, American colleges and universities have spent $1 billion to lobby Congress. College presidents and their lobbyists roam the halls of legislatures free to buy, bully, pressure, lobby, cajole and browbeat elected officials for increasingly large allocations.

The Atlantic’s Laura McKenna isn’t the only Ph.D.-holding education writer suffering from naiveté.

On April 26, 2016 The Chicago Reader published an essay by a Chicago adjunct named Dawn Kennard. Since earning her doctorate in 2014, Dr. Kennard has “juggled a trio of teaching jobs at three different Chicago universities.” Dr. Kennard begins her piece: “I’ve had a sore throat for six straight weeks. To soothe my pain and preserve my voice, I’ve tried the typical home remedies: drinking fluids, avoiding cough drops with menthol (which dries out vocal cords), and sitting in my steam-filled bathroom. If I really wanted my pain to end, I’d have to give my voice a break and go to see a doctor. But I can’t do either of those things because I teach six college courses and have no health insurance.”

tape-mouthAbout 25 percent of the country’s non-tenured faculty hold Ph.D.s. Yet, most of the higher ed. hand-wringing and media attention focus on unemployed and under-employed Ph.D.s. It can easily be seen as akin to mewling about one’s broken down Maserati and publishing pithy essays bemoaning the damned inconvenience of personal jet travel.

In 2008, 40,766 people earned doctorates from American universities. American universities awarded 52,760 doctorates in 2013, up 3.5 percent from nearly 50,977 in 2012 and nearly 8 percent from 48,903 in 2011. According to data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of adults completing a Master’s degree grew by 18 percent from 2008 to 2013.

Today, one-half of one percent of all Americans hold Ph.D.s. and about 8 percent of Americans hold Master’s degrees. Graduate and post-graduate degreed individuals, then, are a very privileged lot, academically speaking. In theory, education is supposed to translate into higher lifetime incomes. According to data from the College Board, a Ph.D.-holder’s average lifetime income will be between $2.5-$4.1 million. Someone with a Master’s degree earns in a lifetime, on average, between $2.2-$3.9 million. The lifetime earnings of a high school graduate, according to data from the College Board, are about $1 million.

Put these facts together and we have at least a partial understanding of why the average American just can’t relate to under-employed and unemployed Ph.D.s.

Then there’s the salary gap. Why do some of our nation’s brainiest people work at faculty jobs that include enormous pay gaps between women and men, full-time and part-time faculty? The AAUP’s recently released salary survey revealed a shocking full-time/part-time faculty pay gap. The highest paid full-time college faculty in the U.S. earn $260,000 per year. The highest paid full-time adjunct faculty earn $26,000 per year. That’s just cra-cra, as my 16-year-old might say. We live in Michigan, where teens are not required to be paid the entire minimum wage ($8.50), if an employer so chooses. My son has had his job for 16 months and is now looking for another, thoroughly irked that Kroger (a regional grocery chain) is paying him $7.25 per hour. I can only imagine his outrage if he were to find out his pay was 1/10th that of the other courtesy clerks bagging the same groceries.

My 16-year-old is “salty” about the fact that his 15 percent pay gap amounts to lower earnings and less disposable income. Needless to say, he doesn’t have a Ph.D.

In The Atlantic Laura McKenna asks good questions but offers no answers: “Why hasn’t all this information helped winnow down the ranks of aspiring professors—why hasn’t it proved to be an effective Ph.D. prophylactic? Are people risking so much in the hopes of getting a cushy job with a six-figure salary and no teaching requirements? Is it because academia is a cult that makes otherwise sane people believe that there is no life outside of the university? Are graduate programs failing to inform their students about the realities of the job market?”

As Facebook might say about one’s relationship status: it’s complicated. Or not, as my son’s limited experience facing down a pay gap might suggest.

Dr. Dawn Kennard’s Chicago Reader piece is a shot at Chicago colleges that capped the number of courses individual adjunct faculty can work rather than classify those adjuncts as “full-time” employees under the rules of Obamacare. College administrators are predictable. They can justify hiring 75 new interim vice associate assistant deans of living student engagement rather than provide benefits to adjunct faculty.

Before we pile on Chi-town colleges and unis, however, I just finished reading PSC-CUNY’s union contact. In it, the New York college faculty union exempts its thousands of adjunct faculty members from due process when fired— a perk reserved for full-time faculty union members only. The contract caps the total number of hours adjuncts can work on any CUNY campus. The union negotiated a total $14,000 raise for tenured profs over the three-year contract, and a total $16/hour raise for Adjunct Professors over the three-year contract.

If Dawn Kennard worked at CUNY and were covered by that union contract, she wouldn’t have health insurance until she’d taught six or more credit hours each semester for two consecutive semesters. One wonders, naturally, how often CUNY adjuncts find themselves teaching two classes and then a single course in the subsequent semester. After all, there are interim vice associate assistant deans of living student engagement needed on every CUNY campus.

If the under-employment of Ph.D.s and their salary gaps isn’t enough to enrage the American people, might Ph.D. college debt and penury do the trick? The NSF study states, “More than 12 percent of all Ph.D.s complete their doctoral programs with over $70,000 of combined undergraduate and graduate student-loan debt.”

American rage? Not so much.

We know that people with Ph.D.s will, on average, earn up to $2.5-$4.1 million over their lifetimes. Thus, $70,000 in student debt seems relatively manageable.

According to data collected by the Institute for College Access and Success, “Seven in 10 seniors (69%) who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2014 had student loan debt, with an average of $28,950 per borrower. Over the last decade—from 2004 to 2014….average debt at graduation rose at more than twice the rate of inflation.” These data are for the undergrads that graduate. Isn’t is fair to say that $30,000 in student debt to someone earning minimum wage is somewhat more insurmountable than $70,000 in student debt to someone who has earned a Ph.D. and has exponentially more job opportunities?

It won’t surprise anyone that the NSF study revealed that humanities Ph.D.s were least likely to find a job after finishing their doctorates, at 54.8 percent. It may be a surprise, perhaps, that in 2013 Ph.D. recipients in the life sciences and engineering didn’t do much better: 58.5 percent of the former and 59.3 percent of the latter had offers for either employment or further study lined up after graduation.

It’s important to point out that from B.A. to Ph.D., the percentage of America’s higher education students who fail is, literally, about the same. Half of all undergrads drop out and half of Ph.D.s find themselves under- and unemployed at graduation. A significant portion of undergraduates and, to a lesser degree Ph.D. graduates, struggle with student debt.

The Big Winners in this Game of Diplomas? America’s richer than Croesus (and tax-exempt) colleges and universities. They get their money whether or not undergrads matriculate or Ph.D.s find employment.

So should Ph.D.s just shut up and stop publishing essays about having to rely on food stamps and public assistance programs to make ends meet? Absolutely not. These people are our historians, truth-tellers about the corruption and disintegration of the system of higher education in our country. Just as the Romans (and posterity) needed Suetonius and his salacious, racy, gossipy history The Twelve Caesars to document the corruption and disintegration of the Roman Empire, America needs its under- and unemployed Ph.D.s. to keep writing. America needs these Ph.D.s to use their superior skills of observation, research and analysis to document the ongoing corruption, profound greed and failure of our system of public higher education.

Americans, as always, reserve as their right to ignore history and every salacious, racy, gossipy word written about higher education–even as they continue to fund the enormously expensive production of every soon-to-be unemployed Ph.D.

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College Graduation Rates Down? Blame the Adjuncts! Thu, 14 Apr 2016 19:43:23 +0000 Photo 26by P.D. Lesko

Salaries for full-time college faculty are at an all-time high, and the 4-year graduation rate for U.S. college students as of 2013 stood at 39 percent, the lowest 4-year graduation rate ever recorded. Who’s to blame for abysmal graduation rates according to the AAUP’s recently released Report on the Economic Status of the Profession? Adjunct faculty, of course.

According to the recently released AAUP Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, full-time faculty pay rose by 3.4 percent this year and 2.7 percent adjusted for inflation. That’s a modest drop from 2.9 percent last year, adjusted for inflation. In 2015, the AAUP’s survey showed that full-time faculty salaries rose by more than 2 percent for the first time since the recession.

“Higher education appears to be a crossroads,” says the report. “Administrators and faculty members must decide whether they will travel down the familiar road, investing resources to maintain the status quo, or take a road less traveled, reinvigorating academic units and institutions with longer-term strategies that produce measurable improvements in instructional quality.”

But while all ranks of continuing, full-time faculty enjoyed a 2.7 percent average salary increase in 2015-16, adjusted for inflation, the AAUP continued to argue–as the union has in each of its salary surveys over the past several years–that the salary increases are insignificant. The AAUP’s latest Report does contain data for non-tenured faculty and the facts are these:

After almost three decades during which adjunct faculty have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in union dues and agency fees, the highest paid full-time faculty members earn $260,000 per year and the highest paid non-tenured/adjunct faculty earn $26,000 per year. As the AAUP report has done in past years, researchers there used the release of the Report to take a swipe at non-tenured faculty, including the approximately 5,000 whom the AAUP represents and from whom the AAUP collects dues: “The increasing reliance on faculty members in part-time positions has destabilized the faculty by creating an exploitative, two-tiered system; it has also eroded student retention and graduation rates at many institutions.”

Rather than work aggressively on issues of pay equity, as Canadian faculty union leaders have done, American higher education unions have chosen to scapegoat their own adjunct faculty members.

The assertion made in the latest AAUP Report has been used since 2002 to justify a variety of programs and strategies aimed at convincing state legislatures and colleges to increase funding for full-time faculty hiring, salaries and benefits. Unions have trumpeted studies that conclude increasing reliance on part-time faculty members has eroded student retention and graduation rates at institutions around the country. The truth is that the majority of studies that have examined these questions since 2006 have concluded the employment of part-time faculty does not erode student retention or graduation rates.

A look at the use of academic studies (and their authors) by national faculty unions to justify limiting the numbers, pay and work opportunities of their own part-time faculty union members is chilling.

In 2006, University of Washington faculty member Dr. Dan Jacoby used cross-sectional analysis to estimate the graduation rates for all public community colleges based on data from a single year. The result of his Washington Federation of Teachers-backed project was the 2006 study titled, “Effects of part-time faculty employment on community college graduation rates,” published in The Journal of Higher Education, 77(6), 1081-1103.

Jacoby used IPEDS data from 1,209 community colleges to examine how adjunct faculty employment in community colleges impacted student graduation rates in the 2001 academic year. His conclusions were damning: community college graduation rates decreased as the proportion of part-time faculty employed at institutions increased.

Just months after the Journal of Higher Education published Jacoby’s study, Dan Jacoby’s name appears on a February 13, 2007 list of speakers in support of State Senate Bill 5514, a higher education Bill sponsored by a group of Washington State Senators that included long-time Sen. Karen Keiser. The Bill, crafted in support of the AFT’s FACE (Faculty and College Excellence) program called for Washington State legislators to mandate the following:

Each institution formulates a plan on how to meet the goal of having at least 75 percent of the FTE faculty positions held by full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty in each department with at least 8 FTE faculty positions. The plan must address how the institution intends to meet this goal by creating new full-time tenure track positions, rather than by eliminating positions for current employees. If departments do not meet the 75 percent goal, the share of full-time tenured and tenure-track must be increased to meet the goal by 2013. The governing boards must request funds for the projected costs.

In 2006, the Washington Education Association was among Sen. Keiser’s top campaign contributors. In fact, between the 2006 and 2008 election cycles, the Washington Federation of Teachers and the Washington Education Association appeared as top campaign donors in the campaign finance records of all of the Washington State Senators who co-sponsored SB 5514.

In the January/February 2007 issue of The Adjunct Advocate magazine, adjunct faculty activist Keith Hoeller addressed the so-called 75 percent staffing goal: “The AFT wants state legislatures to set a goal of having 75 percent of all courses taught by full-time faculty by 2013, but only in departments where there are at least the equivalent of 8 full-time professors. As noted by Doug Collins, ESL professor at South Seattle Community College, this goal could be met in part by having more full-timers teach overloads, thereby taking courses away from current adjuncts. This goal-setting strategy has failed in the past. The California legislature passed AB 1725 in 1988, which also mandated that 75 percent of community college courses should be taught by full-timers. Twenty years later, this bill has had little effect on part-time faculty, whose numbers have continued to increase.”

Two years after Keith Holler’s piece was published, the results of a 2009 study by A.J. Jaeger and M. K. Eagan indicated that the proportion of adjunct faculty at an institution did not have an impact on associate degree completion. The study’s authors pointed out that their results were inconsistent with the results of the 2006 Jacoby study. The authors criticized Jacoby’s analytical methodology: “By analyzing both student-and institution-level variables, this study appropriately separated multilevel variance and suggested that the reduced likelihood in graduation rates likely has more to do with individual student exposure to part- time faculty members than it does with the overall proportion of part-timers employed by a community college.”

A 2015 doctoral dissertation titled “The Relationship Between Adjunct Faculty Staffing and College Student Retention and Graduation” by Seton Hall Ph.D. candidate Stephen R. Deutsch concludes that the percentage of disadvantaged minority students enrolled and the preparedness of students entering a college or university (SAT Math scores, for example) have the greatest impact on an institution’s student retention and graduation rates. Deutsch writes:

In summary, the variable, part-time faculty, was not found to be statistically significant for the overall sample, nor was this variable significant in the subsample models that were limited to a single institutional control category. Also, the impact of part-time faculty was not found to be different between public and private institutions….The variable with the greatest absolute coefficient value in the overall sample, percent of disadvantaged minority students, exhibited a different impact for public and private institutions. At public institutions, the retention rate was found to decline by 6% for each point increase that an incoming cohort of freshmen was composed of students from disadvantaged minorities (beta = -0.0596, p < 0.01). But at private institutions, the impact was found to be greater, with a 13% decline in the retention rate (beta = -0.1340, p < 0.001).

Deutsch, unlike the other researchers who examined whether part-time faculty had a negative impact on student retention and graduation rates, “focused on characteristics of an institution, particularly the proportion of part-time faculty at institutions.” Deutsch observes that all the other studies on the topic (Calcagno et al., 2008; Eagan & Jaeger, 2008; Jacoby, 2006; Jaeger & Eagan, 2009; Jaeger & Eagan, 2011; Jaeger & Hinz, 2009; Johnson, 2011) have focused, instead, on “student-faculty interaction framework” as “the most common framework for studies linking the impact of adjunct instruction on student outcomes.”

In 2013, Pamela Hutto completed a doctoral dissertation titled “CORRELATIONAL ANALYSIS OF COURSE RETENTION AND FACULTY STATUS IN A COMMUNITY COLLEGE SETTING.” In other words, would increasing the number of full-time faculty increase student retention? Since 2006, AAUP, AFT and NEA union members and leaders have testified before state legislators across the nation that such a change would, indeed, improve student outcomes. Hutto’s study not only contradicted the results of Jacoby’s 2006 study, but Hutto’s analyses of student retention data gathered at Florida Community College led to this revelation:

Finding a correlation between course retention and faculty status was expected based on previous research associating faculty employment status with job performance (Schultz, 2002), student performance (Kezim et al., 2005), faculty/student interaction (Jaeger, 2008), and faculty morale (Hagedorn, 2010). However, the difference in course retention between the faculty groups was surprising. Based on a review of the literature, higher levels of retention in courses taught by permanent faculty members were expected. Previous researchers had reported that permanent faculty have higher morale (Sutherland, 2001), more institutional support (Wickrun & Stanley, 2000), and they are more available to students and entrenched in the campus community than their adjunct faculty colleagues (Hagedorn, 2010; Schuetz, 2002). However, findings in this study revealed the opposite. Results indicated that adjunct faculty members had higher course retention than permanent faculty members.

Deutsch and Hutto writing in 2013 and 2015, respectively, confirm research done by the American College Testing group years earlier. I wrote this about that research in a piece published in 2011:

Research by the American College Testing group into the percentage of students who move from freshman year into sophomore year is really where Bousquet loses any remaining credibility. According to the ACT study, the percentage of freshmen who move onto sophomore year has fallen from 74.5 percent to 74 percent. According to a recent study by the American Federation of Teachers, part-time faculty typically staff first and second-year courses, about half of the courses offered nationally, in fact.

The ACT study attributes the fall in student retention between those surveyed freshmen and sophomore students to open enrollment policies at two-year colleges, and declining student preparedness. In short, the ACT researchers conclude that when colleges chose to increase overall enrollment levels by relaxing standards for incoming students, it should have been understood that there would be an increase in first-year student attrition. That the attrition rate has risen only .5 percent in 14 years is, I think, a testament to the excellent work of the nation’s non-tenured faculty, to their reliability, devotion to their students, and their skill in the classroom even under the duress of poor institutional support.

The persistence of the AAUP, AFT and NEA and their allies in perpetuating the myth that student retention and graduation rates have deteriorated because the number of adjunct faculty employed within higher education has increased, is nothing short of political maneuvering. The AAUP’s annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession is widely written about in the mainstream media and the mainstream media often repeat verbatim misinformation about the alleged destabilization of higher education by the two-tier system under which adjunct faculty are employed.

College graduation rates are down and college competition is creeping, and over the past dozen years full-time faculty pay has increased over 25 percent. Instead of pushing for equity and equality for all college faculty, the AAUP’s solution focuses on increasing the number of full-time college faculty.

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New Study: Small Percentage of Ph.D.s End up Employed as FT Profs Tue, 02 Feb 2016 15:21:22 +0000 by Becky Rynor

Graduates themselves are often unsure of where to look for opportunities outside academe.

Valerie Walker admits it wasn’t so long ago that she was “that grad student” wondering what the heck she was going to do if she didn’t stay in academia.  After graduating in 2009 with a Ph.D. in physiology from McGill University, she said she was “open to options.” She just didn’t know what those options were.

“I really enjoyed research and teaching and communicating knowledge, whether to undergrads in a class or to other academics at conferences,” recalled Dr. Walker, who now serves as director of policy at the not-for-profit organization Mitacs. “I wouldn’t have thought when I was doing my Ph.D., ‘Oh, I’m going to be a director of policy.’ What is that?”

Most Ph.D. graduates set their sights on academia – and nearly 40 percent do work in the postsecondary education sector, according to a recent report by the Conference Board of Canada, Inside and Outside the Academy: Valuing and Preparing Ph.D.s for Careers. However, the report noted that less than one in five Ph.D.s – 18.6 percent – end up employed as full-time university professors, and that includes both tenure and non-tenure- track positions. The remainder of the 40 percent are employed in positions such as part-time professors, research and teaching assistants, college instructors, administration and support staff (e.g. career services professionals), and postdocs.

Just over 60 percent of Ph.D.s go on to work in other sectors such as industry, government and non-governmental organizations. However, they frequently have difficulty transitioning out of academia and knowing how or where to look for other opportunities, the report noted. Many also encounter negative attitudes from potential employers about the value of hiring a Ph.D. graduate.

Those employers that do hire Ph.D. grads “are actually very positive about them and feel they bring a lot of value to their organization,” said Jessica Edge, co-author of the report, who holds a Ph.D. in political science. “The challenge is that a lot of employers haven’t hired a Ph.D. so they don’t really know what to do with them. We need to correct the misperception, the lack of knowledge amongst those employers about how a Ph.D. might benefit their organization.”

Those benefits include great research and project-management skills, said Dr. Edge. “They can help business interface with universities and academia. As a personal aptitude, Ph.D.s are extremely hard working. They are driven and focused. They know how to take a huge problem or issue and break it down into manageable steps and address it.”

Dr. Walker, who was interviewed by the Conference Board for its recent study, ended up applying to the federal government’s Recruitment of Policy Leaders program and worked for three years with the Public Health Agency of Canada. She then segued to Mitacs, a national organization that provides research and training opportunities for graduate and postdoctoral students.

“In Canada, unlike the U.S. and unlike most of Europe, we have less knowledge or openness to understanding the breadth of ability and skills that Ph.D. holders can bring,” said Dr. Walker. “So our industry side and not-for-profit sides hire fewer Ph.D.s than those countries.”

PhD_EmploymentNot only do Canadian employers hire fewer Ph.D.s, we also produce fewer of them. The report found that there had been “significant growth” in the numbers of Ph.D.s granted by Canadian universities – increasing by 68 percent between 2002 and 2011. The number of students enrolled in Ph.D. programs also increased by almost 73 percent. But those numbers still lag other comparable countries. Dr. Walker said that’s a problem.

“Countries such as the U.S., U.K., Finland, Sweden – countries that are at the top of the world rankings when it comes to these macro-economic measures like competitiveness, labour productivity – produce more than twice as many Ph.D.s per capita than we do in Canada,” she said. “So we should continue to produce Ph.D.s at an increasing rate … and help them to transition from academia into their careers by providing the opportunities and increasing the awareness on the receptor side of how valuable a Ph.D. can be.”

On the positive side, once Ph.D.s do transition into a job, inside or outside of the academy, it pays off for most. The Conference Board report “shows they make more than other types of graduates,” said Dr. Edge. “We calculated about $13,000 more per year than master’s graduates, and that’s assuming Ph.D.s earn nothing during the course of their Ph.D., which we know is not the case at all, so in reality it’s probably a bit better than that. They also have lower unemployment rates than other types of graduates.”

However, the report also noted that Ph.D. students study longer and therefore take longer to close the earnings gap; they also appear to have lower earnings than their peers in the U.S. Moreover, the report said there remains a “striking” earnings gap between male and female Ph.D. holders.

Susie Colbourn said she undertook her Ph.D. studies – in history at the University of Toronto – with a lot of passion and a healthy dose of realism. Now halfway through her program, she is frustrated by the perceptions of employers and some media that question the value of a Ph.D. “A lot of students decide to take on graduate work because they love it and they’re excited by the fact that they can receive funding to just do what they want to do for a degree program,” she said.

“I think it’s good to be honest and open about the fact that we should temper people’s expectations before they pursue graduate work. There are very serious questions about whether it’s worthwhile to produce as many Ph.D.s if there are only so many tenure-track jobs. But, that also makes an underlying assumption that the only way to be successful with a doctorate is to walk into a tenure-track job. I don’t necessarily think that’s true.”

She also felt more can be done to change those perceptions. “We need to do a better job of convincing non-academic employers that the training of a graduate degree, be it in history or English or physics or engineering, teaches you valuable skills that you can bring into a workplace and that it’s not simply an apprenticeship to be a professor.”

Brenda Brouwer, president of the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies and vice-provost and dean of graduate studies at Queen’s University, said the challenge now is to collectively do a better job of helping students see how their knowledge, intellect and skills can be used in multiple sectors and environments. “We’ve got to give them a strong foundation – focused knowledge, expertise in whatever discipline they’re pursuing – and give them opportunities to work collaboratively not only with people from other disciplines, but also through community engagement,” she said. “Ramp up the number of local and regional partnerships. That’s what students are asking for. They’re seeking more interdisciplinary, ‘real world’ experiences.”

Ms. Colbourn at U of T doesn’t know what her career path will be, but she said she’s still “very happy” with her decision to pursue a Ph.D. “It may never lead to a tenure-track job. I hope it does, but if it doesn’t then I’m open to that possibility. I think that there are lots of opportunities to use a history education and my philosophy is to take them as they come.”

First published in University Affairs. Used here with permission.

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Why Every Adjunct Should Be Watching Friedrichs v. the California Teaching Association Sat, 23 Jan 2016 22:38:42 +0000 by P.D. Lesko

Agency fees, or as education union officials refer to them, “fair share fees,” are paid to faculty unions by individuals who either choose not to belong to a union, are barred from belonging to the union, or who once were members but for whatever reason decided to opt out of membership. Unionists recognize that agency fees create a strong incentive for those who must pay them to become full members of a union.

Now a case awaits hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court that could dramatically change this picture. In These Times calls Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association one “that could decimate American public sector unionism.” Perhaps that’s simply an ideological overstatement. Nonetheless, the case, if decided for the plaintiffs, could end the practice of “agency” fees—money paid to the union by nonmembers in exchange for collective bargaining services. Unions assert that their elimination would create a class of free riders, workers who would pay nothing while still enjoying the higher salaries and other benefits negotiated by unions.

Over at the blog “The Adjunct Crisis,” writer Geoff Johnson is of the opinion that the case, if decided for the plaintiffs, will hurt adjuncts. Johnson writes:

As for the claim that teachers unions often represent the specific interests of a few, there is some truth to this. Unions by and large represent its most active members, and particularly those who vote on the leadership, fill out negotiating surveys, come to meetings, participate in larger union activities, and vote on whether to ratify a contract or not. For the most part, because full-time employees usually work at one campus and are therefore more engaged with their on-site union than an adjunct teaching at multiple campuses and represented by multiple unions, they are more likely to have their interests and concerns heard by the one union they’re involved with. Ironically, on most, if not nearly all campuses where “wall-to-wall” unions exist, adjuncts represent the majority of members, but vote and participate in such small numbers that they do not effectively lead policy.

To address this problem, adjuncts simply need to vote and participate more, which takes needed time and energy, and will at times lead to frustration when others don’t see your way of thinking at first (welcome to being in a union).

In truth, agency fees are imposed on tens of thousands of faculty nationwide, many of them adjuncts. A look at the AAUP’s 2014 LM-2 financial report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor shows that 11,106 of the group’s 49,444 members are agency fee payers. Only 4,637 of the AAUP’s total members are part-time faculty. In 2010, the AAUP had 48,694 members 4,103 of whom were part-time and 7,977 of whom were agency fee payers.

What this shows is clear: the largest growth segment of membership for the AAUP between 2010 and 2014 did not come through the addition of either newly-organized full-time or part-time faculty, but rather through the addition of agency fee payers.


Lesa Curtis of Westchester, N.Y., right, who is pro agency fees and a former president of her union, rallies outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, as the court heard arguments in the ‘Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association’ case. The justices were to hear arguments in a case that challenges the right of public-employee unions to collect fees from teachers, firefighters and other state and local government workers who choose not to become members. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

American Federation of Teachers’ headquarters in Washington, D.C., reported no agency fee payers on its 2014 LM-2, stating on its financial disclosure that agency fee payers are not considered members of the union. However, in 2014 multiple state AFT chapters took forced fees. New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the largest AFT affiliate, took agency fees from 23,365 nonmembers. AdjunctNation has written repeatedly about NYSUT and its leaders’ penchant for negotiating so-called equal percentage raises. Such negotiating tactics rob adjunct union members and agency fee payers and shift exponentially more in compensation to full-time union members. AFT affiliate California Federation of Teachers reported 12,212 agency fee payers and 55,647 willing union members. California AFT affiliates engaged in similar thievery.

NYSUT’s chicanery to funnel the lion’s share of compensation to its full-time faculty is not unique. In California, union officials cooked up scams used to take money allocated by the California Legislature to raise the pay of part-time faculty and gave the money to full-time faculty, instead.

In “The Equity Pay Scam in California,” published in 2003, I wrote: “During negotiations in certain districts, union and district officials have been exploring ways to allocate the funds to full-time faculty, as well. Part-time faculty activist Margaret Quan, who teaches in the Contra Costa district, attended a BayFac (colleges in the Bay area) meeting last October 29th. ‘The main topic for discussion was not whether or not, but how full-time faculty could benefit by this augmentation. Parts of the discussion I found distressing…the union in [one of these] districts has decided that they would take the COLA [cost of living adjustment] entirely for full-time faculty, while giving the part-time faculty in their district a raise from the augmentation money.’”

AFT union leaders in Washington State used the same scams to funnel money legislators in that state had earmarked for equity pay increases for the state’s 10,000 part-time faculty.

Higher education union leaders have been doing the “pay equity” song and dance since 2009 and this epic failure to equally represent all union members has hurt non-tenured faculty badly. Per course pay averages $3,000 for part-timers thanks, in part, to equal percentage raises over the past two decades and policies crafted by unions that undermined the idea that adjuncts must earn equal pay for equal work. The current political push on the part of unionists and their allies to pay adjuncts $5,000 per course is equally misguided, and the equivalent of poverty wages as opposed to pro rata pay.

Is it any wonder, then, that agency fee payers, including adjunct faculty, would like to opt out of paying the six-figure salaries of the union officials who, for the past three decades, have worked diligently against their own members’ best interests? Union contracts negotiated on behalf of adjunct faculty union members have for decades capped, among other things, numbers of adjunct faculty, adjunct faculty hours, pay, benefits, denied due process and professional development opportunities.

While Geoff Johnson writes that union officials have perpetrated these actions against their own adjunct faculty members because adjuncts themselves participate in such small numbers in union life and leadership roles, I would gently and kindly reply thusly: Hell to the NO! That argument, quite simply, blames the victim. Perhaps adjuncts shouldn’t wear short skirts and perfume so their union leaders won’t screw them? Perhaps Friedrichs vs. the California Teaching Association will be just the cattle prod needed to jolt education union leaders at local, state and national levels into finally offering all members equal representation. Perhaps union leaders will uniformly begin to negotiate contracts that provide equal benefits and pay to all union members.

SCOTUS blog will have all the details when the Supreme Court’s decision is released. Until then, I’m of the opinion that Friedrichs vs. the California Teaching Association will be a game-changer within higher education. Education union leaders have, for 30 years, looked on the adjunct members from whom they’ve accepted union dues and agency fees to represent much like Scrooge looked on the poor, as so much surplus population that, if lost, would not be missed.

Geoff Johnson writes, “Chances are likely that the agency fee will fall, but that doesn’t mean you can’t join the union. What it does mean is that now, more than ever, you need to join the teacher’s union at your place of work. If you don’t have one, then you should contact a local teacher’s union about starting one. You know the old cliché, ‘united we stand, divided we fall.’ The fact of the matter is, it’s true. It’s time to unify and unionize good adjuncts.”

I agree, wholeheartedly with his sentiment but unionization in locals whose leaders, through the use of dues and agency fees, finance shoddy and unequal representation harm their adjunct members both professionally and financially.

If the U.S. Supreme Court can put an end to that decades-long travesty, the sooner the better.



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AdjunctNation Adjunct Salary Survey Tue, 08 Dec 2015 17:40:22 +0000 survey

This is our Salary Survey.  Please feel free to share it using the social media buttons above.

This survey seeks to collect, compile, analyze and publish compensation data for non-tenured teaching faculty at individual U.S. colleges and universities. is conducting a series of surveys in order to collect information about the professional lives and work of the approximately 1,000,000 non-tenured teaching faculty hired by U.S. colleges and universities each semester.

The 15 question survey will take about 10 minutes to complete. We will compile and share analysis of the collected data with our readers and the broader higher education community.

This survey will be ongoing. However, we ask that individual respondents participate only once.

If you have any questions about the survey, please email


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PC Culture on College Campuses—Who’s to Blame? Wed, 02 Dec 2015 19:09:42 +0000
Is political correctness on campus a real problem? Tellingly, it is less often defended than it is minimized. In the 1990s, it was sometimes dismissed as a conservative “myth.” In recent months — with students demanding resignations, apologies and various other concessions from their administrators over perceived slights — liberals have bent over backward to insist that PC culture isn’t “the real issue.” When the journalist Jonathan Chait wrote an essay criticizing progressives who want to silence those who disagree with them, he was called “a sad white man” and told that political correctness doesn’t exist.

One very influential liberal, however, is on Chait’s side. In a recent interview, President Barack Obama said that “hearing the other side” was important for progressive activists at colleges. The alternative, he warned, was a “recipe for dogmatism.” He made similar remarks at a town hall meeting in September: “I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view.”

Good for him. The president could have declined to say anything about liberal intolerance. Or he could have portrayed its recent expressions as isolated incidents that have been blown out of proportion. Instead, he treated it as something worthy of criticism. That’s especially praiseworthy since Obama’s reproach was directed at people he considers to be basically on his side.

But the administration Obama leads hasn’t been as stalwart in the defense of free speech and related values, such as procedural fairness for individuals. In fact, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has often encouraged universities to work against those ideals.

Hans Bader, who used to work in that office, summarized the problem in testimony to Congress in June: “The Education Department has effectively redefined constitutionally protected speech as ‘sexual harassment’ even when it would not offend the reasonable person; is not severe; does not occur on school grounds; and is not gender-discriminatory.” Colleges that decline to act against this expansively defined harassment face the loss of federal funding.

Earlier this year, Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis wrote an article criticizing what she called a “sexual panic” in academia, to which federal rules on campus sexual harassment had contributed. In the ensuing controversy, the university launched an investigation into whether her writing had run afoul of federal rules. It backed down after an outcry. But where might Northwestern have gotten the idea that it should regulate what its professors write on the Internet? Maybe, Bader suggests, from the Office for Civil Rights, which has said that off-campus activity can qualify as harassment. That office has also told colleges to lower the standard of proof used for allegations of sexual harassment.

It’s bad enough when universities decide to water down the rights of the accused and limit speech. It’s worse when the federal government is telling them to do so. Congress hasn’t forced the Obama administration to prod colleges this way: The administration is stretching the law, at the expense of traditionally liberal concepts of due process and unrestricted speech.

Obama deserves real credit for speaking up for those old ideas. If he’s serious about them, he should direct his Education Department to stop undermining them.

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Explaining The Higher Ed. Exodus Wed, 18 Nov 2015 18:51:59 +0000 by Dr. Aldemaro Romero Jr.

In the last few months a significant number of college faculty and administrators have stated – some officially and some to colleagues and friends through social media – that they plan to leave higher education. This new trend is adding to the many challenges faced by colleges and universities, and is part of the changing environment in higher education in the United States. Unfortunately, most of the general public hears very little about those challenges beyond issues such as the cost of college and its impact on student debt. Why the exodus and why now? The reasons used to justify the decision to leave are many, but none are surprising.

Financial: Higher education institutions, particularly public ones, have seen increasing budget cuts that have hurt their ability to provide students with the quality education they deserve. These cuts have been the direct result of the anti-tax rhetoric by many politicians who see no political benefit in publicly appearing as supportive of higher education. Unfortunately, the response from college and university administrators has not always been one of forcefully defending their institutions or finding new sources of revenues through entrepreneurial initiatives or more effective fundraising. Instead we have too often seen resignation on their part, and the trickling down of those budget cuts to all the units of their institutions. Another response has been to increase tuition and fees. This route contributes directly to the high cost of college in the U.S., which, according to several sources, is the highest in the world.

Mental health: A significant number of mass shootings in the U.S. occur on campuses and by members of those very institutions. According to the data compiled in the book “Mental Health Issues & the University Student” by Doris Iarovic, most higher education institutions lack adequate mental health support services and most of their members are not trained to detect and take preventive measures to stop this kind of incident.

Leadership failures: Many university leaders are very insecure due to their lack of training in college administration and leadership (virtually all learn through a process of osmosis, and then not always from good role models). Therefore, they tend to “appease” vocal critics by lending their ears to what most people consider the “outcasts” of their institutions, i.e., some faculty members whose intellectual contributions have ceased to be significant and who always seem to have an ax to grind against administrators. This approach leads to the faculty who really contribute to the institution staying away from college politics, depriving the institution of the service from the best and brightest.

Sexism and racism: According to an article published this year in Science magazine, despite all the talk of political correctness in academia the fact of the matter is that women face discrimination when it comes to employment, promotion and tenure. Across the board, female faculty receive around 10 percent less in compensation than their male counterparts, according to a study by the American Association of University Professors. Minorities are not faring much better. According to a study by the American Council on Education, every year fewer minorities are holding positions of leadership in higher education – even at primarily minority serving institutions.

Bad press: Misinformation about higher education is distressingly common in the U.S. According by a recent survey by Northeastern University in Boston, the American public supports funding for higher education, yet have become accustomed to hearing inaccurate and groundless assessments of the value of higher education. Unlike what many reports state about the employability and improvement in salary gains by graduates in non-professional careers, many politicians and talking heads are spreading the false impression that the pursuit of studies in areas such as the humanities is a waste of time. Never mind that such an education plays a vital role in areas such as ethics and critical thinking. Unfortunately, colleges and universities have not responded to clear the air on this misnomer. Rather, they keep emphasizing rankings that are sometimes carried out using questionable methodology and with an emphasis on marketing approaches more proper for toothpaste brands than for an educational institution.

Regulations: According to a congressional report, excessive regulation by federal agencies costs colleges and universities millions of dollars per year. And these costs are usually passed on to students. Coming on top of state and local laws, many of these regulations are an unnecessary exercise in micromanagement.

Preparation of high school graduates: According to ACT and SAT scores, every year for the past 10, high school graduates are less and less prepared for college. U.S. students rank in 20th place behind Iceland when their levels of literacy in the sciences are compared with other students worldwide. No wonder most faculty feel that they have to spend more and more time remedying the deficiencies in both content and skills of students. As the late journalist Joseph Sobran pointed out, “In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high schools to teaching remedial English in college.”

Search committees:  Because of a fear of change, search committees looking for every position from junior faculty to chief executive officers have a real problem understanding the difference between what they need and what they want. They usually end up not with the best candidate, one who will bring more competence and energy to move things forward or in a different direction. Instead they prefer someone who will keep the status quo. No wonder that many of those searches end up with an internal candidate chosen, even if not the most qualified.

Given the big challenges higher education is facing today, it is time for the members of those institutions to show the entrepreneurship, imagination and courage to carry out the necessary reforms to make colleges and universities really sustainable enterprises where students receive the education they deserve.

This was originally published in the Edwardsville Intelligencer and is used here with permission.

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Study Examines Whether Online Adjuncts Have it any Better Than Their On Campus Counterparts Fri, 13 Nov 2015 20:13:32 +0000 by Meris Stansbury

According to a new report, online adjunct faculty are experiencing many of the same challenges as on-campus adjuncts, mainly because the same policies governing on-campus adjuncts are used for those in online programs. But that’s only the tip of the online adjunct practice iceberg.

According to the report—a joint project of WCET and The Learning House, Inc., and written by Andrew Magda, manager of Market Research of The Learning House; Russell Poulin, director of Policy and Analysis at WCET; and Dr. David Clinefelter, chief academic officer at The Learning House—over 200 deans, directors and provosts at two- and four-year higher education institutions who were familiar with the online learning practices at their respective institutions were surveyed to gather information around the hiring, expectations, policies and support of adjunct and part-time faculty members for online courses.

Researching practices relating to online adjunct faculty is important, notes the report, since adjunct faculty members have been key in the exponential growth of online programs over the past decade. And though National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (2015) data shows that college enrollments declined close to 2 percent over the past year, the number of adjunct faculty continues to rise, performing duties in both face-to-face and online programs; allowing institutions to grow or scale their online operations.

“The Coalition on the Academic Workforce (2012) reported that 75.5 percent of faculty members at two- and four-year institutions were in ‘contingent positions’ off of the tenure track,” write the report’s authors. “Of this large group, 70 percent were part-time or adjunct faculty members, making roughly half of all instructors in higher education in 2011 an adjunct or part-time faculty member.”

The authors cite research that predicts this population will only continue to grow in size and proportion. The survey similarly found that more than half of institutions reported that their adjunct population that teaches online has grown over the last year.

“The percentage of adjunct faculty members who teach partially or only online is an increasingly significant group, contributing to the tremendous growth of online education,” the authors emphasize.

Due to such a large population of online adjunct faculty, with the number expected to grow, the authors feel it’s critical to better understand the policies and practices that affect this group. According to the survey’s findings:

1.It’s a one-size-fits all: Policies that were designed for on-campus adjuncts were frequently applied to those who are teaching online, notes the report. Only 74 percent of those surveyed have written policies in place for how often faculty members are expected to interact with students, 42 percent for policies on responding to student inquiries, and 76 percent for policies on how often they must hold office hours. However, the delay in formal policy, say respondents, is usually due to thought put into designing such policies.

2.More responsibility, but more flexibility: Online adjunct faculty are often given responsibility for course design (31 percent), but there is a large percentage of customization permitted in the courses they instruct (21 percent allow total customization), says the report.

3.A divide in online course development: College and universities usually use one of two differing philosophies over whether to use a “master course” (institutionally-developed) or “full development/customization (faculty member develops the course) for online courses taught by adjunct faculty. Only 23 percent of institutions allow little or no customization.

4.Training and PD not guaranteed: Though online adjunct faculty tend to receive high levels of tech and instructional design support (84 percent), professional development and training requirements varied, state the authors. “Responses from institutions note that online faculty adjuncts are often allowed to participate in similar training offered to all faculty members; however, this training often is face-to-face or offered on campus.”

5.Recruiting hasn’t changed: After analyzing the advertising and screening methods used, the authors found that online faculty adjuncts are hired in the same way as on-campus adjuncts.

“Adjunct faculty members have played a key role in enabling the rapid growth of online learning programs over the last ten years,” said Clinefelter. “What these findings show us, however, is that despite a recognition of the importance of online adjunct faculty, many in higher education still struggle with how to orient and support this group.”

“Online education can be every bit as good as face-to-face education, but it is a different environment” said Poulin. “While many colleges provide extensive orientation and on-going support services, some will allow a new faculty person to find their own way.  When we look at recent large-scale research on distance education retention rates, it becomes clear that the proper tools to recruit, orient and support these faculty must be implemented.”

The authors hope that the report will aid in benchmarking policies and procedures that colleges and universities are using in supporting their online adjuncts and that the recommendations also included in the report will help inform and guide institutions toward best practices in recruiting, orienting, and supporting online adjuncts for online courses, as well as benchmark their current operations against a larger sample.

For a more thorough analysis of findings, as well as recommendations, read the full report “Recruiting, Orienting, & Supporting Online Adjunct Faculty: A Survey of Practices.

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