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Tenure Track Professors Not Necessarily Best Teachers

(Credit: Frank Polich/Getty Images)

(Credit: Frank Polich/Getty Images)

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By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –  When college students select their courses, the teacher is often as important as the subject: usually they want the better-known professor.

A paper, “Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers?,” was recently released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, weighing into the debate whether adjunct instructors are hindering or helping students’ learning.

Based on research findings from Northwestern University, those instructors who were not on the tenure track system surprisingly outperformed the tenured professors in introductory, undergraduate classes.

Students who were less qualified academically fared particularly well when taught by those adjunct faculty members, especially in courses where high grades were harder to earn.  And they were more likely to take a second course when taught by a non-tenured faculty member.

Maybe it’s a good idea to have a combination of research-intensive, tenure-track faculty members and teaching-intensive lecturers as an efficient and educationally positive solution.

Read more in the article by Dan Berrett in September 20th edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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