A university near Chicago plans to require that all its freshmen take courses from full-time professors instead of adjuncts, as reported by Colleen Flaherty, in Inside Higher Ed.
The school in question, Governors State University, was previously an upper-division institution that only recently expanded "downward" to include beginning freshmen. (Texans in some regions of the state may recollect this historic phenomenon at nearby universities.)
The IHE article cites a study purporting to show that students learn more from full-time teachers. Upon closer examination, however, the evidence is sketchy, and based on surveys. So that's one problem. But the study cited does raise interesting issues.
Would this be a good idea generally, including at community colleges?
The tentative response may come down to an example of pie-in-the-sky. The cost of such a move would be astronomical, as reported in a recent piece in Slate, by the same author (previously in IHE as well). Paying all instructors of introductory courses a decent salary and benefits simply can't happen under the current funding structure and physical infrastructure. Now, speaking hypothetically, would the pie be good for us? Probably not. You can look around your campus and see wonderful adjunct teachers with whom you would enroll your own kids eagerly.
In fact, some colleges now plan to hire lots of full-time instructors, as reported in this piece by Ellie Ashford, in Community College Daily, including Lone Star College here in Texas, which is profiled in the piece. Whether your school is prepared for such a move will likely depend upon local factors such as the property tax base. Perhaps the new hires are also the result of retiring Baby Boomers at colleges that were opened during a particular time frame. If you were hired during the 70s, your mind is probably drifting to the next chapter of life.
Everyone wants incoming freshmen to receive the best instruction. And we all know that part-time teachers are…well, part-time, with little opportunity for meaningful office hours and participation in campus life. On many campuses there are hundreds of adjunct instructors. They are here to stay. It's tragic that some of these individuals actually try to live on the money they receive from teaching.
Finally, in terms of today's adjunct situation, at community colleges we may have a particular dilemma with developmental education—presently criticized from several sides, with some advocating its abolishment. If you were choosing a field to explore for a full-time career, would you pick developmental education today?