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Topic: Re: Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers?
Replies: 7   Last Post: Sep 16, 2013 10:54 AM

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Phil Mahler

Posts: 126
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers?
Posted: Sep 15, 2013 6:41 PM
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Always glad to kindle the fire of discussion, even if I do it unwittingly. :-)

I am not defending education by under-qualified individuals.

Perhaps it is my Northeast (Massachusetts) area that means that most of our adjuncts are quite well qualified. Lots of colleges and universities, high tech companies etc mean a good pool. It may well be that in other areas, less qualified individuals are hired.

I am not up to googling the matter but I have indeed seen purported evidence that adjuncts teach about as well as full-time individuals.

And certainly if someone were to be hired full-time they should meet minimal standards of the department. It is my opinion, not always a majority opinion, that if a college can hire an adjunct year after year to teach, and that person is minimally qualified for a full-time position, they should have it. To say they can't provides some evidence that the college has, for years, foisted inadequate educators on its students. A professional crime.

Over my way-past-30 years of teaching, I have come to believe that you hire stars, not make them. (It may take even 2 years to shine, but if there is no light by then there never will be.) A department is in a position to make that judgement about its adjunct faculty.

I certainly agree that all com clg deparments should operate at 90% or above full-time. Good luck selling that to those who pay the bills, who might even be in agreement about the theory.


On Sep 15, 2013, at 5:23 PM, Lars <> wrote:

> Hi Phil,
> On Sun, Sep 15, 2013 at 11:00 AM, Phil Mahler
> <> wrote:

>> I agree with Alain's statement below.
>> If there is a conclusion to be drawn from the referenced article it is that when one is allowed to focus on teaching, one teaches better. I believe that is generally true. Of course this study refers to one selective university, but I think the statement is true.
>> But the fact that 3/4 of math courses in community colleges are taught by non-full-time faculty is problematic in the areas outside of the classroom: advising, curriculum development, office hours ? . For which I absolutely do not blame these individuals, who, as I said, deliver quality instruction.

> How can one possibly make such a general statement without any data to
> support it? If the last statement above is correct, then aren't you're
> essentially saying that no particular qualifications beyond possibly a
> thumbs-up/thumbs-down interview with a department member is necessary
> to teach at the community college level? None of us have a degree in
> "advising, curriculum development, office hours." Do you really agree
> that anyone with a degree remotely related to mathematics can teach
> math at the community college level as long as they can "pass" a
> thumbs-up/thumbs-down interview with the chair? That people who teach
> at a degree issuing institution like a community college don't need a
> degree in the field they are teaching in? Most other fields hire
> professionals with degrees and licenses. I believe we are
> professionals, and that it is essential that we hire folks with solid
> degrees in mathematics in order to get the job in the classroom done
> well. And I think the current state of math education at the community
> college level is a testimony to that. In my opinion, community college
> math departments ought to operate on no less that 90%
> tenured/tenure-track faculty, mainly filling in positions until a
> tenure track faculty can be hired. I wish that our professional
> organization AMATYC support a stand like this.
> Sincerely
> Lars.

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