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ERIC Number: EJ792002
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Apr-4
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Keep Adjuncts Away from Intro Courses, Report Says
Glenn, David
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n30 pA1 Apr 2008
First-year college students are significantly more likely to drop out if their high-stakes "gatekeeper courses" are taught by part-time instructors, according to the findings of a study presented during the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association last week. The paper is the latest in a long parade of studies suggesting that part-time instructors can be detrimental to students' well-being. Audrey J. Jaeger, an assistant professor of higher education at North Carolina State University, has been examining the effects of part-time instruction for several years. Most previous studies of the topic have looked at a single institution or at aggregated national data. But in her new study, which she conducted with M. Kevin Eagan Jr., a graduate student at the University of California at Los Angeles, Ms. Jaeger examined four public four-year universities in a southeastern state to see if she could find common patterns. Working with transcripts of roughly 30,000 students who enrolled in the four universities between 2002 and 2005, Ms. Jaeger and Mr. Eagan looked closely at first-year "gatekeeper" courses. Like other scholars, Ms. Jaeger and Mr. Eagan define a gatekeeper as any large introductory class (enrolling 90 or more students) that must be passed in order to move forward in a course sequence. Biology 101 and Chemistry 101 are the classic models, but the study also included, for example, English classes that count toward general-education requirements. They found an unhappy pattern: If gatekeeper courses were taught by part-time adjuncts, lecturers, or postdoctoral fellows (which occurred from 8 percent to 22 percent of the time, depending on the institution), those students were significantly less likely to return for their sophomore years. That pattern was consistent across all four universities. Ms. Jaeger and Mr. Eagen urge institutions to consider assigning part-time instructors to smaller, advanced courses, rather than to large, introductory courses populated with first-year students who might be vulnerable to dropping out.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Administrators
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A