APPAM Presentation: Tenure Track for Teaching-Oriented Faculty: Faculty Characteristics, Growth, and Impacts on Undergraduate Learning Outcomes
2018 APPAM Conference
Presentation Title: Tenure Track for Teaching-Oriented Faculty: Faculty Characteristics, Growth, and Impacts on Undergraduate Learning Outcomes (Poster Paper)
Authors: Sabrina M. Solanki, Di Xu
Research universities aim for excellence in research and teaching and have relied on employing different faculty types to reach these goals. With the rise in undergraduate student enrollments and increased teaching obligations, their reliance on non-tenure-track teaching faculty has grown substantially over the past decade. However, given concerns about whether these instructors are in the best position to provide high quality instruction has led to the implementation of other teaching faculty models.
This paper examines a model of tenure-track teaching faculty unique to the University of California (UC) system called teaching faculty series. Faculty in these positions are designed to meet the long-term instructional needs of a University, where teaching faculty's primary responsibilities are teaching, and their secondary responsibility is to engage in research. As part of the tenure system, teaching faculty are also Academic Senate members. They therefore have voting rights on departmental decisions, are eligible for appointment to Senate committees, and are evaluated for promotion in the same manner as research faculty in the UC system.
Current higher education literature exploring the influence of faculty type on student learning has yet to include tenure-track teaching faculty. Knowledge about their impacts will provide policymakers and higher education administrators with a better understanding of the consequences to their staffing decisions.
Drawing on a unique dataset that includes 6 cohorts (N = 39,096) of administrative data collected at a public R1 institution in the UC system, we examine whether instructor rank (i.e., tenure-track research faculty vs. lecturer vs. teaching faculty) influence student learning outcomes in introductory courses. Specifically, we include as outcome measures: (1) contemporaneous course grade and (2) subsequent course outcomes, such as whether the student took another course in the same field of study as the introductory course and the grade they received in the subsequent course.
To estimate the relationship between instructor rank and contemporaneous course grade, we use a two-way fixed effects model that includes an individual fixed effects term and a course fixed effects term. The individual fixed effects term controls for both observable and unobservable student-level characteristics that are constant for an individual, while our course fixed effects term captures course-level characteristics. We use the same model specification for subsequent course outcomes, but include a next-class-taken fixed effects term to estimate the impact on subsequent course grade.
Consistent with existing studies that estimate the impact of instructor rank on student academic performance, our results suggest that student outcomes are related to faculty type. Specifically, students taking their introductory courses with teaching faculty instructors are more likely to attempt another course in the same field of study by two percentage points compared to students who took their introductory courses with research faculty. They also receive a small but significant boost in their subsequent class grade by 0.04 points, or almost 5% of one standard deviation in course grade. In contrast, there is no noticeable difference between research faculty and lecturers.