Monday, September 9, 2013
David N. Figlio (Professor, Northwestern), Morton O. Schapiro (President, Northwestern) & Kevin B. Soter (Consultant, Greatest Good, Chicago), Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers? (NBER 19406):
This study makes use of detailed student-level data from eight cohorts of first-year students at Northwestern University to investigate the relative effects of tenure track/tenured versus non-tenure line faculty on student learning. We focus on classes taken during a student’s first term at Northwestern, and employ a unique identification strategy in which we control for both student-level fixed effects and next-class-taken fixed effects to measure the degree to which non-tenure line faculty contribute more or less to lasting student learning than do other faculty. We find consistent evidence that students learn relatively more from non-tenure line professors in their introductory courses. These differences are present across a wide variety of subject areas, and are particularly pronounced for Northwestern’s average students and less-qualified students.
Inside Higher Ed, The Adjunct Advantage:
A major new study has found that new students at Northwestern University learn more when their instructors are adjuncts than when they are tenure-track professors. ... [T]hey note that previous studies have looked at the impact of adjunct instructors on graduation rates and retention rates. But they argue that it is important to shift the analysis to student learning and to behavior associated with student learning. ...
The study tracked eight cohorts of freshmen (those who entered from fall 2001 through fall 2008), and looked not at the grades or completion in the courses taught by the adjuncts, but at whether students enrolled in another course in that subject and the grades that students earned in that course. The study found that students were significantly more likely to enroll in a second course in the subject when the first course had been taught by an adjunct, and that they were likely to earn a higher grade in that second course if the first had been taught by an adjunct.