Student Performance May 10, 2017

How Faculty Teaching Load, Employment Status Affect Student Performance

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Some years ago, Witt Salley, EdD, director of online education at Clemson University, was working for a community college in Missouri. The college had a growing online presence, and it was handling this demand by allowing faculty who were willing to teach online to do so as an overload. This policy made online instruction very attractive to the faculty and allowed the institution to meet its growing demand. Unfortunately, some of the students were beginning to suffer. “Assignments were going ungraded and discussion boards were ignored,” says Melanie Shaw, PhD, online faculty success coordinator at Clemson. The college hired adjunct faculty to teach online to lighten the load on full-time faculty, but the full-time faculty responded negatively, citing concerns about the quality of instruction from the adjuncts. So Salley undertook a study to examine how faculty workload and status impacted student success. The results shed some light on this important issue.