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Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers?

  • David N. Figlio
  • Morton O. Schapiro
  • Kevin B. Soter

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 non-tenure line faculty on student learning. We focus on classes taken during a student's first term at Northwestern, and employ a unique identification strategy in which we control for both student-level fixed effects and next-class-taken fixed effects to measure the degree to which non-tenure line faculty contribute more or less to lasting student learning than do other faculty. We find consistent evidence that students learn relatively more from non-tenure line professors in their introductory courses. These differences are present across a wide variety of subject areas, and are particularly pronounced for Northwestern's average students and less-qualified students.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19406.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19406.

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Date of creation: Sep 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19406
Note: CH ED LS
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  1. 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.
  2. Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 2012. "American Higher Education in Transition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(1), pages 193-216, Winter.
  3. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Liang Zhang, 2004. "Do Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Matter?," NBER Working Papers 10695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Scott E. Carrell & James E. West, 2008. "Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors," NBER Working Papers 14081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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