Steve Street, a longtime adjunct, responded to the recent Jaeger and Eagan studies on part-timers and education.
Full-time faculty members are paid almost 75 percent more but are only 20 percent more effective than part-timers. If a 2-percent drop in students’ going on to four-year institutions results from a 10-percent increase in the use of part-time instructors, then replacing all the full-time faculty members with adjuncts would result in only a 20-percent drop in students’ continuing on. And there would still be a huge pay differential to come out of the hides of part-time faculty members.
He then goes on to talk about another study, by Umbach, which said that because adjuncts don’t work outside of class, full-timers who are paying attention to that don’t work outside of class either.
The researchers behind those studies qualify their results more than those who report and act on them. Jaeger called for more qualitative studies; Umbach set his numbers in the context of how academic institutions treat part-time faculty members, to use his qualitative term, “like crap.”
Now, I am also a longtime adjunct. I’ve been an adjunct for seven years. A full-time adjunct for a year now. My students have my home phone number. I have office hours. I’m as available for them as I can be. I’ve answered a phone call and an email today (Saturday, after finals and grades) from two students who called and emailed today. I think I have been just as accessible as any full-timer.
I teach just as many demanding courses as the full-timers. I have just as many (or more) graded essays as the full-time composition teachers. I have a PhD. But I’m not in a tenure track position.
I’d be interested in some studies that show how adjuncts have saved the colleges’ behinds. 1/4 of CC1 is full-time faculty. If CC1 had to pay triple their faculty salaries, I wonder if they could survive. I doubt it.