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Do College Instructors Matter? The Effects of Adjuncts and Graduate Assistants on Students' Interests and Success

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  • Eric Bettinger
  • Bridget Terry Long

Abstract

One of the most pronounced trends in higher education over the last decade has been the increased reliance on instructors outside of the traditional full-time, Ph.D.-trained model. Nearly 43 percent of all teaching faculty were part-time in 1998, and at selective colleges, graduate assistant instructors teach over 35 percent of introductory courses. Critics argue that these alternative instructors, with less education and engagement within a university, are causing the quality of education to deteriorate and may affect student interest in a subject. However, little research exists to document these claims. This paper attempts to fill this void using a unique dataset of students at public, four-year colleges in Ohio. The paper quantifies how adjunct and graduate assistant instructors affect the likelihood of enrollment and success in subsequent courses. Because students with alternative instructors may differ systematically from other students, the paper uses two empirical strategies: course fixed effects and a value-added instructor model. The results suggest that adjunct and graduate assistant instructors generally reduce subsequent interest in a subject relative to full-time faculty members, but the effects are small and differ by discipline. Adjuncts and graduate assistants negatively affect students in the humanities while positively affecting students in some of the technical and professional fields.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10370.

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Date of creation: Mar 2004
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10370

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  1. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Would School Choice Change the Teaching Profession?," NBER Working Papers 7866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Peter Temin, 2002. "Teacher Quality and the Future of America," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 285-300, Summer.
  3. Peter Temin, 2002. "Teacher Quality and the Future of America," NBER Working Papers 8898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin, 2003. "Does Public School Competition Affect Teacher Quality?," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of School Choice, pages 23-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. David H. Autor, 2001. "Why Do Temporary Help Firms Provide Free General Skills Training?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1409-1448, November.
  6. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  7. George J. Borjas, 2000. "Foreign-Born Teaching Assistants and the Academic Performance of Undergraduates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 355-359, May.
  8. Hanushek, Eric A. & Rivkin, Steven G., 2006. "Teacher Quality," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  9. Figlio, David N. & Rueben, Kim S., 2001. "Tax limits and the qualifications of new teachers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 49-71, April.
  10. Ehrenberg, Ronald G. & Brewer, Dominic J., 1994. "Do school and teacher characteristics matter? Evidence from High School and Beyond," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 1-17, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Maria De Paola, 2009. "Does Teacher Quality Affect Student Performance? Evidence From An Italian University," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(4), pages 353-377, October.
  2. Dahlia K. Remler & Elda Pema, 2009. "Why do Institutions of Higher Education Reward Research While Selling Education?," NBER Working Papers 14974, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bruce A. Weinberg & Belton M. Fleisher & Masanori Hashimoto, 2007. "Evaluating Methods for Evaluating Instruction: The Case of Higher Education," NBER Working Papers 12844, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long, 2005. "Do Faculty Serve as Role Models? The Impact of Instructor Gender on Female Students," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 152-157, May.

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