ERIC Number: EJ945818
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 18
Do Regular Social Work Faculty Earn Better Student Course Evaluations than Do Adjunct Faculty or Doctoral Students?
Thyer, Bruce A.; Myers, Laura L.; Nugent, William R.
Journal of Teaching in Social Work, v31 n4 p365-377 2011
Nationwide, the percentage of faculty who are tenured (or in tenure-earning positions) is declining, with proportionate increases in the amount of instruction provided by adjunct and other part-time instructors, including doctoral students. These trends are mirrored within academic social work and have given rise to some concerns about the potentially adverse effects this could have on the quality of instruction provided to MSW and BSW students. A review of the social work literature, however, failed to locate any systematic investigations published on the topic of evaluating the quality of teaching provided by adjuncts or doctoral students. The authors undertook a comprehensive analysis of the course evaluations obtained from a large urban school of social work in the Southeast over a 3-year period, covering 294 courses (61% BSW, 39% MSW). Of these, 181 classes were taught by regular faculty, 63 classes were taught by community-based adjuncts, and 50 classes by social work PhD students. Inferential tests found no statistically significant differences in the global course evaluations earned by regular faculty or adjuncts. However, there were statistically significant differences in the course evaluations earned by regular faculty and doctoral students, favoring the former, but the effect size was small and of little practical import. In general, the authors found no strong evidence that adjuncts or doctoral students provided less positively evaluated teaching than did regular faculty. The authors' results are limited to one university setting but their research design can be readily adopted by other programs, given the widespread use of quantified student-completed course evaluations generally maintained on university databases. More serious attention needs to be given to determining whether the course evaluations commonly used by universities are truly valid. (Contains 1 figure, 1 table and 2 notes.)
Descriptors: Validity, Universities, Urban Areas, Course Evaluation, Social Work, College Faculty, Adjunct Faculty, Student Attitudes, Teacher Effectiveness, Tenure, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students, Doctoral Degrees, Masters Degrees, Effect Size, Statistical Analysis
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A