We have previously written on this blog about how adjunct faculty can make a college’s published student-to-faculty ratio statistics pretty meaningless. The statistic does not really tell you anything about the quality of the teaching that is taking place. While students and parents often place a great deal of importance on student-to-faculty ratios, a more important question may be who is teaching the majority of your courses? Are you going to be satisfied if the majority of your courses are being taught by adjunct faculty members?
A recent article on InsideHigherEd.com summarizes a study published by the Education Journal which shows that “freshmen who have many of their courses taught by adjuncts are less likely than other students to return as sophomore”. However, this particular study goes beyond looking at adjuncts in general. It also looked at different types of institutions and different types of adjunct instruction (full-time, part-time, postdoctoral fellows, etc.).
So, if you want to know about the quality of the teaching at a school that interests you, it is important to connect with a faculty member and to ask multiple students about their classroom experience. The academic experience you receive at the college level is important so this is definitely one aspect of college life that is worth looking into.