Exploring the Effects of Part-Time Instructors in the Principles of Marketing Course at a Comprehensive Iia University in the Mid-South

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper explores the effects of part-time instructors in the Principles of Marketing course at a comprehensive IIA university in the Mid-South. We find part-time instructors assign grades 0.86 points higher than assigned by full-time instructors. Using a multiple linear regression, in which the response variable is students' grades, the explanatory variable instructor status-i.e., full-time or part-time-is statistically significant at less than a 0.01 level of confidence (p-value = 3.4E-22). Additionally, the explanatory variable grade point average (GPA) is also significant at an alpha level less than 0.01 with a p-value of 1.57E-51. The model yielded an adjusted R2 value of 0.52, indicating that 52 percent of students 'grades are accounted for by the explanatory variables included in the model.

INTRODUCTION

There is an increasing trend towards the use of part-time instructors at community colleges and four-year institutions (Leatherman, 1997; Leslie, 1998; Sonner, 2000). Many four-year institutions employ part-time instructors in an effort to contain escalating operating costs. Leslie (1998) finds that hiring patterns have shifted to the point where more than 40 percent of college or university instructors are part-time. Clery (1998) finds that between 1976 and 1995, the number of part-time instructors increased by 91 percent compared with an increase of only 27 percent in the number of full-time instructors. According to The New Professoriate, a report released in October 2002 by the American Council on Education (ACE), non-traditional faculty "now make up the majority in academe" (Marklein, 2002). DeBarros (2003) states several reasons for the increasing utilization of part-time instructors, including the following: the budgetary constraints facing numerous educational institutions; the increasing number of academic program offerings; the shortage of qualified full-time instructors, and the manpower flexibility associated with the use of part-time instructors.

Government-provided funds to community colleges and their students have declined markedly in recent years. Consequently, academic administrations, in an effort to stretch available financial resources, have increasingly turned to the use of part-time instructors.

In an effort to attract more students, many colleges and universities have increased their course offerings and non-traditional scheduling times to include more Saturday and evening program courses. Additionally, the use of satellite campuses, course offerings via the Internet, and other distance learning methods has increased. Since they participate in scholarly activity, committee responsibilities, student advising, community service, and other university requirements in addition to teaching, full-time instructors have little time to assume a heavier course load. Part-time instructors are filling many of these expanding course demands.

University enrollments have increased and projections are that the next 10 to 15 years will see an even greater number of students applying to colleges and universities as the Generation Y 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 instructors are unavailable, part-time instructors will be needed. They can usually be terminated with much less difficulty than full-time instructors, giving universities flexibility when enrollments decline or other financial exigencies dictate.

There are other potential advantages to the use of part-time instructors. It is suggested, for example, that part-time instructors who usually have other full-time jobs outside academe may bring unique, real world insights into the classroom. Moreover, evidence suggests that part-time instructors are comparable to full-time instructors in their teaching abilities (Roueche, Roueche & Milliron, 1996).

There are also drawbacks to the use of part-time instructors. …