Are Adjuncts Bad for Student Learning?

There is a new article out on how adjuncts aren’t really bad for student learning. At The Chronicle What Adjunct Impact? talks about a new study on adjuncts.

For their study, Bolt and Charlier looked at students who were considered to have “high exposure” to adjuncts (at least 75 percent of first semester courses taught by adjuncts) and “low exposure” (up to 25 percent of courses). About 30 percent of the students were in the low exposure group and about 41 percent were in the high exposure group.

Then Bolt and Charlier tracked student success over three years, looking at two measures of success: fall to fall retention, and program completion (either a degree or a certificate, depending on the student’s program). They found absolutely no correlation between adjunct exposure and either of those measures. But they also analyzed other factors, and they found a negative correlation on both measures of success with a student starting in remedial courses.

I’ve talked about this sort of issue elsewhere.

Adjuncts decrease later donations. If your favorite teacher isn’t there, you’re not going to give in his name.

Faculty and students are disengaged with adjuncts.

Adjuncts are the Stepchildren.

Adjuncts Feel Disconnected.

Clearly, I am an adjunct and I do not think that adjuncts are bad for student learning, though they can be. (For example, An Example of a Bad Adjunct.)

Most of the time, if adjuncts are bad, it is because they are on Adjunct Overload.

I do think that adjuncts may be more stressed, because of an extreme teaching load.

The study sounds like a reasonable one.

2 thoughts on “Are Adjuncts Bad for Student Learning?”

  1. What does it say to a professor’s commitment when, after a few months of teaching, commenting, and caring about the students’ success, he is basically told, “Thanks. There are no available courses for the Spring, so get back to us later.” I’ve been adjunct for many years, mostly at community colleges, and I’m starting to suffer from “detachment disorder.” I’m at the point where I’m balancing gas mileage, class size, potential office hours, and minutes looking at email. How does it help students if all I’m doing is cutting my losses?

  2. I don’t think it does help students if you are cutting your losses. I also think if you are in that situation, it’s time to find another job. You don’t have a career; you have a job. There are others that don’t require acceptance of part-time pay for full-time work.

    Schools don’t have to be loyal to us. That’s why they like adjuncts so much. But we have to be loyal to ourselves and our students.

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