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Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers?

Author

Listed:
  • David N. Figlio

    () (Northwestern University)

  • Morton O. Schapiro

    () (Northwestern University)

  • Kevin B. Soter

Abstract

This study makes use of detailed student-level data from eight cohorts of first-year students at Northwestern University to investigate the relative effects of tenure track/tenured versus contingent faculty on student learning. We focus on classes taken during a student’s first term at Northwestern and employ an identification strategy in which we control for both student-level fixed effects and next-class-taken fixed effects to measure the degree to which contingent faculty contribute more or less to lasting student learning than do other faculty. We find consistent evidence that students learn relatively more from contingent faculty in their firstterm courses. This result is driven by the fact that the bottom quarter of tenure track/tenured faculty (as indicted by our measure of teaching effectiveness) has lower “value added” than their contingent counterparts. Differences between contingent and tenure track/tenured faculty are present across a wide variety of subject areas and are particularly pronounced for Northwestern’s averages and less-qualified students.

Suggested Citation

  • David N. Figlio & Morton O. Schapiro & Kevin B. Soter, 2015. "Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 715-724, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:97:y:2015:i:4:p:715-724
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    File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/REST_a_00529
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Liang Zhang, 2005. "Do Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Matter?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
    2. Scott E. Carrell & James E. West, 2010. "Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(3), pages 409-432, June.
    3. Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 2012. "American Higher Education in Transition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(1), pages 193-216, Winter.
    4. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long, 2010. "Does Cheaper Mean Better? The Impact of Using Adjunct Instructors on Student Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 598-613, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Feld & Nicolás Salamanca & Ulf Zölitz, 2020. "Are Professors Worth It? The Value-Added and Costs of Tutorial Instructors," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 55(3), pages 836-863.
    2. Feld, Jan & Salamanca, Nicolás & Zölitz, Ulf, 2019. "Students are almost as effective as professors in university teaching," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C).
    3. Karthik Muralidharan & Venkatesh Sundararaman, 2013. "Contract Teachers: Experimental Evidence from India," NBER Working Papers 19440, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Cassandra M.D. Hart & Elizabeth Friedmann & Michael Hill, 2018. "Online Course-taking and Student Outcomes in California Community Colleges," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 13(1), pages 42-71, Winter.
    5. Jason Brennan & Phillip Magness, 2018. "Estimating the Cost of Justice for Adjuncts: A Case Study in University Business Ethics," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 148(1), pages 155-168, March.
    6. Tian, Zhilei & Wei, Yi & Li, Fang, 2019. "Who are better teachers? The effects of tenure-track and part-time faculty on student achievement," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 140-151.
    7. Shao-Hsun Keng, 2018. "Tenure system and its impact on grading leniency, teaching effectiveness and student effort," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 55(3), pages 1207-1227, November.
    8. Tommaso Agasisti & Joanna Wolszczak-Derlacz, 2016. "Exploring efficiency differentials between Italian and Polish universities, 2001–11," Science and Public Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(1), pages 128-142.
    9. Artés, Joaquín & Pedraja-Chaparro, Francisco & Salinas-JiméneZ, Mª del Mar, 2017. "Research performance and teaching quality in the Spanish higher education system: Evidence from a medium-sized university," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 19-29.
    10. Zhang, Haifeng & Zhang, Junsen & Zhang, Yanfeng, 2019. "Do tournament incentives matter in academics? Evidence from personnel data in a top-tier university in China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 84-106.
    11. Catherine D. Rawn & Joanne A. Fox, 2018. "Understanding the Work and Perceptions of Teaching Focused Faculty in a Changing Academic Landscape," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 59(5), pages 591-622, August.
    12. Rita A. Balaban & Donna B. Gilleskie & Uyen Tran, 2016. "A quantitative evaluation of the flipped classroom in a large lecture principles of economics course," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(4), pages 269-287, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    education; Northwestern University; tenure track; teaching; learning; faculty;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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