Rating College Professors

On a lark, I decided to attend a conference being held this week in San Diego that is focused on improving the lives of professors.  Understandably this is not a subject that worries families, who are too freaked out about paying for college.

The conference, which was sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, brought together heavy-hitter speakers, who had worked for decades to improve the teaching profession.

Here’s what struck me about the conference:  The speakers were BORING. I think my nail clipper possesses more spunk than some of these guys.  And this, of course, left me incredulous. Are these experts really the ones the higher ed world is depending on to improve the quality of teaching? Yikes.

I did walk away from the conference with a handout that shared some stunning statistics. The traditional professor who enjoys  tenure (and can apparently get away with boring lectures) is disappearing.

Here are the stats:

  • The classic tenured professor represents less than one-third of today’s college faculty.
  • Over the next decade, 40% to 60% of faculty will retire.
  • Among full-time faculty, 32% of teachers are not on the tenure track.
  • More than 50% of new full-time hires are not on the tenure track.
  • About 80% of part-time and  67% of full-time non-tenure track profs don’t hold doctorates.

Why should you care?

Studies have shown that freshmen are more likely to drop out of school if part-time profs are teaching their intro classes. Part-timers trying to make a living must run from campus to campus to pay the bills, which means office hours are rare or non existent to help struggling kids.

Research also suggests that teachers, including those with tenure, are less likely to put as much effort into teaching when there are many part-timers on campus.

Want to avoid mediocre teachers? You’ve got a better change if you learn how to evaluate schools — right down to academic departments — by reading The College Solution.

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