Merits, demerits of adjunct profs

June 19, 2009
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Ivy Tech Community College canâ??t hire adjunct faculty fast enough to teach its ballooning number of students.

The system is scouring locales where its campuses are located for people with masterâ??s degrees who could teach part time: The going rate: $2,200 per course.

The upside to adjuncts is their current, real-world experience. Thatâ??s particularly valuable for students who have to hit the job market with skills demanded by employers.

The downside is they seldom have the highest degrees available in their fields, which limits their expertise.

What has been your experience with adjuncts? Do you prefer adjuncts or full-time professors?
  • Having taught as an adjunct many years ago, I have to say that the assumption that adjunct faculty's expertise is limited is untrue. There are many PhD's teaching as adjuncts because they are unable to find full-time teaching positions. The upside for the universities is that adunct faculty is part-time and typically receive no fringe benefits, especially health insurance. If Ivy Tech is having a problem finding enough faculty to teach its courses, perhaps they ought to consider hiring full-time faculty. I know I couldn't be lured by a measly $2,200 per course. The universities are making out like bandits as long as they continue to use adjuncts and refuse to hire full-time faculty as they ought to.
  • As someone who has taught as an adjunct and is pursing a doctorate, I agree that there is a misperception that all adjuncts are created equal. Sure, some adjuncts may lack the conceptual framework to back up their practical experience. At the same time, some full time faculty lack the current practical experience to be able to translate theory to implementation. Universities are a business, and as long as the labor market will work for $2,200 a class, that's the price the university will pay--straight from introduction to economics.

    Ivy Tech cannot hire full time faculty due to the Indiana budget, which allocates funds differently for full time or adjunct. If you want to fix the problem, call you state reps but just remember, there's only one pot of money and it all comes from the taxpayer as tuition at Ivy Tech does not carry the full cost of running the organization.
  • I have a graduate degree. I am sorry to say my time is worth more than $2,200 per course. Most are sixteen weeks in duration. That equals less than $150 per week. Deduct tax, and expenses such as gas, and they will be fortunate to net $100 per week. Good luck recruiting with that pay scale.
  • While I agree that some may actually have better real-world experience that could translate into better teaching, I have found from my courses taught by adjunct professors at IUPUI that these professors typically (not always) lack the actual teaching traits... yeah, some may be smart, and some may be good teachers, but my experience is that I'd rather be sleeping, on my blackberry, or even at home reading the dang book by myself than listening to someone stumble and ramble trying to make the class understand...
  • As others have said, I have worked as an adjunct and quit. The expectations of time and quality to prepare for and teach the class is the same as the university requires of its full-time faculty, yet the pay stinks, there are no benefits, the status is lower than low, and there is no space allotted on campus to meet with students privately when they need help. About the only advantage adjuncts have is the freedom from required university committees and the lack of the expectation to publish and bring in grant money. If I could get a full-time faculty job I would gladly serve on committees, publish and write grant applications; alas, that ship sailed long ago.

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