Recently I was reading an article from Adrianna Kezar on the great divide between non-tenure-track and tenure-track faculty members. She argues that both academics have two different worlds.
Tenure-track have different resources to do research, to improve their development, to implement new pedagogies (I don’t agree with this 100%) and to be involved in a series of reforms to improve student success, engagement, completion, and learning.
In the other world, non-tenure-track, don’t have the time, the motivation, or the monetary benefit to participate in those initiatives. Non-tenure-track faculty members have different titles and working conditions, they can be part-time, full-time, they can be hired to teach one class one semester. Some of them work teaching several classes in the same university, some of them teach several classes in different universities, some others have a full-time job and teach only one class just for fun or particular interest.
Most non-tenure-track don’t serve in committees, are not required to have a presence in campus, most of them don’t even have office hours (because they don’t have an office). Most of them are excluded from the conversations about curricular change, they don’t participate in pedagogical initiatives that some others may have to improve teaching, they don’t take part on assessment initiatives to evaluate engagement on the learning community. Some times (especially in engineering) they don’t even participate in the design of tests, assignments, or homework.
I consider that Universities lack a support structure for non-tenure-track faculty members, I think something needs to be done to involve them in all the activities required to be effective in academia, they need to be motivated, because the reality is that now they are the majority, and according to most experts the tendency is not going to change, in fact, some authors argue that their majority will increase in the years to come.
Here at VT for the Fall 2013 we had 1393 tenure-track instructional faculty members and 1541 non-tenure-track faculty members. More than half of our courses are being taught by teachers that don’t have a motivation to be there in most cases.
I invite you to see this website from the Chronicle, “In Academe, the future is part-time” and watch the videos.
After you graduate, have you consider working as a faculty member part-time?