Academic journal article Peer Review

Toward High-Impact Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

Academic journal article Peer Review

Toward High-Impact Non-Tenure-Track Faculty

Article excerpt

Now that 70 percent of the faculty are off the tenure track (both full- and part-time), higher education leaders need to pay close attention to how their institutions support or hinder this growing set of employees. Not recognizing and supporting non-tenure track faculty (NTTF) negatively affects our ability to engage students in high-impact practices (HIPs) proven to affect retention, success, and deep learning in positive ways.

One of the major barriers to NTTF using new teaching practices is that they are often excluded from professional development opportunities where these practices are introduced and encouraged. In the rare case where NTFF are invited, professional development sessions are offered at times that are difficult for NTTF to attend. Providing evening and even weekend professional development opportunities as well as online experiences is important for NTTF. Many NTTF (particularly part-time) describe the hardship of attending professional development because they are not paid for their time to learn about HIPs.

NTTF also are leery to try new pedagogical practices because using them could impact their student evaluations, which institutions often rely on to determine if they will be rehired. In my research, I have found that NTTF want to experiment with their teaching, but often retreat to lecture methods after having any dips in their evaluations. This hesitation for NTTF to experiment for fear of poor student evaluations was also noted in a recent research study by Rutz et al. (2012). Unless we are willing to re-examine the evaluation processes and heavy emphasis placed on student evaluations, it is unlikely that NTTF will risk participating in HIPs.

Ideally, an NTFF orientation could describe expectations around using HIPs and then be followed up with professional development opportunities. But faculty need real-time guidance on new pedagogical practices, which can be provided through mentoring. On many campuses, experienced tenure-track faculty will serve in this role. However, NTTF can also serve as mentors after they have gone through the experience of teaching with HIPs. …

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