Date of Award

Fall 9-28-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy

Department

Education Leadership, Management and Policy

Advisor

Rong Chen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eunyoung Kim, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Kelchen, Ph.D.

Keywords

adjunct faculty, part-time faculty, student outcomes, retention rates, graduation rates, panel data analysis

Abstract

The rise of non-tenure track, part-time faculty, referred to as adjuncts, has brought a significant shift to the academic workforce. The count of part-time faculty on campuses has followed an upward trend for the last few decades and now part-time faculty form half of the total faculty workforce. This begs the question, in the face of institutional policies that favor increasing the proportion of adjuncts on faculty rosters: Has the use of adjuncts negatively impacted the student experience and quality of education, leading to lower persistence and graduation rates? This dissertation examines the relationship between adjunct faculty and student outcomes measured by both retention and graduation rates. This study employs Berger and Milem’s (2000) framework as the conceptual model linking an institution’s structural-demographic characteristics to student outcomes. Using a national sample of baccalaureate degree granting institutions from IPEDS data, I used panel data models to estimate retention and graduation rates. My panel models include a host of input variables, with an institution’s proportion of part-time faculty as the key variable. My fixed effects panel data models indicate that an institution’s proportion of part-time faculty does not have a statistically significant impact on retention and graduation, controlling for other input variables.

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