Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Relationship between Part-Time Instructors and Final Grades in the Principles of Business Statistics Course

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Relationship between Part-Time Instructors and Final Grades in the Principles of Business Statistics Course

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper analyzes the relationship between part-time instructors and final course grades received by students in the principles of business statistics course in a comprehensive IIA university. The only type of part-time instruction employed at the university was adjunct faculty. It was found that part-time instructors, on average, assign higher grades than do full-time instructors. With the use of a multiple linear regression equation in which the response variable is the grade assigned to the students, the explanatory variable, instructor status--i.e., full-time or part-time--is statistically significant at a 0.05 level (p-value = 0.011). However, the explanatory variable, GPA, is most closely related to the students' grade with a p-value of 0.0000001. In addition, the students' age is statistically significant at an alpha level of 0.01. The overall model yielded an adjusted R-Square value of 0.6427, that is, approximately 64% of a student's grade is accounted for by the explanatory variables which included the student's age, cumulative grade point average, and whether the instructor is a full-time or part-time faculty.

INTRODUCTION

The increasing use of part-time instructors at both community colleges and at four-year institutions has been well chronicled in several educational publications (Bolge, 1995; Leslie, 1998 & Sonner, 2000). The Chronicle of Higher Education reported from a survey of the National Center for Education Statistics, "The proportion of adjuncts has doubled over the past 25 years, to more than 40% of all faculty members. At community colleges, 64% of faculty hold part-time posts, compared with 29% of the faculty members at four-year institutions" (Leatherman, 1997).

Reasons offered for the increasing utilization of part-time instructors include: 1) The budgetary constraint facing numerous educational institutions. In the face of such constraint, colleges and universities save money by employing more part-time instructors. Part-time faculty can usually be terminated with much less difficulty than full-time instructors, giving universities flexibilities when enrollments decline or the university is facing other financial exigencies. 2) The increasing number of academic program offerings. In an effort to recruit more students, many colleges and universities have increased their offerings to include more Saturday and evening program courses. Additionally, satellite campuses and convenient electronic offerings via the Internet and other distance learning methods have increased. 3) A shortage of full-time qualified faculty. University enrollments have increased and projections are that the next ten to fifteen years will see an even greater number of students applying to colleges and universities as the more recent baby boom population attains college age (DeBarros, 2003). Even with new modes of instruction, the demand for faculty should increase to meet the rising student enrollment. If full-time faculty is unavailable, part-time faculty will be needed to fill those needs.

Issues relating to the increasing use of part-time instructors largely center on the question of whether the use of part-time instructors is beneficial or detrimental to the educational process. Many, if not most, educational institutions have embarked on formal programs of self-study and continuous improvement. One of the requirements for continuous improvement is that the university strives for consistency in multi-section course content. Since measuring the quality of instruction is such a difficult undertaking, other surrogate measures or observations are offered in support of both sides of this question. It is suggested, for example, that part-time instructors who usually have other full-time jobs outside academe may bring beneficial unique "real world" insights into the classroom. Moreover, evidence suggests that part-time instructors are comparable in their teaching abilities (Freeland, 1998; Rifkin, 1998). …

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