Do you know what the most constant and most significant indicator of student success is? It is not student access to fancy adaptive learning tools or integrated learning management systems or even digitized retention programs (not that these don’t add ease and value to the student experience).
What has the greatest impact on student success is the quality and preparation of their instructors.
A growing body of literature indicates that effective teaching improves students’ critical thinking and persistence and that “when faculty improve their teaching, students learn more, and their performance on course work improves” (Condon, Iverson, Manduca, Rutz, & Willett, 2016, p. 125). The evidence is clear: With effective instruction, college students learn more, develop critical life skills, and complete their degrees.
Whether your institution calls them facilitators, professors of practice, TA’s, or adjuncts, non-tenured faculty now account for almost three-quarters of the instructional faculty in this country. This faculty has the ability to make a tremendous impact on your students’ learning outcomes. Non-tenured faculty that have been provided with professional development opportunities are more likely to use evidence-based teaching practices that produce positive student outcomes than those with no training or development. (Eagan et al., 2014). On a majority of campuses, however, adjunct faculty receive little, if any, formal preparation or professional development in effective teaching practices. This despite the fact that the second biggest complaint about teaching as a non-tenured faculty member is a lack of professional development opportunities.
A growing body of researchers and policymakers are beginning to acknowledge that “the necessity for improving quality teaching has never been as compelling” (Saroyan & Trigwell, 2015, p. 92).
As you think about budgeting your institution’s limited resources in the 2017-2018 school year shouldn’t you consider some investment is the single most significant factor in predicting student success…teaching your adjunct faculty how to teach and how students learn?