First, the facts of the case. One, two reports indicated that the
number of students being taught by adjuncts and part time faculty appeared
at about the same time. These (AAUP and ALise) reported that more
students than ever (about the 1960s) were being taught by non-tenured
faculty. I note that my own analysis of LIS education faculty at
http://web.utk.edu/~gwhitney/alisegraphics/chart11.html while a decade
old, noted the rise of part-time faculty in ALISE.
This is the first fact of the case. I think that we can agree on the
data from the AAUP, ALISE, and my own analysis of the ALISE directory that
as a national trend, and as a disciplinary trend, more and more students
are being taught by part-time faculty. This is a quantitative trend that
is clear from this data.
My second point is partial fact, and partial assumption. At my
university, student evaluations are based not on challenges to learning
but liking the teacher. YMMV. This not an uncommon assessment of the
Faculty Senate regarding teaching evaluations. Admittedly, it is a
My third point is not to devalue the work and contribution of adjuncts
and part time folks. It is simply to assert that that experiences and
knowledge that they offer students is different from academic folks.
Folks imbued with corporate and institutional work experience offer that -
the ability to offer to students what it is like to work with real world
challenges in offering technical design and support. How to cope with a
corporate environment which wants to make money. How to design things and
services that people want, or to design things that make them want them.
Academic folks, on the other hand, ideally live in an ivory tower
(ideally) which enables them to explore ideas wherever they take them, to
live above the practicalities of getting things done, to explore history,
to undertand big trends, to get answers to big questions, to explain
things to the rest of the population.
These two positions are very different, however you describe them. On
the one hand is the world of practical work, and getting those books
across the counter or getting that software delivered. On the other hand
is figuring out DNA and matching individual DNA to cancer cures or getting
pictures from space and figuring out how the universe started and why
lions are the only cats in the big cat family who have prides.
While there are folks who mush in between the two, the point is to
acknowledge that there are two end points, and two places from which you
can start. One is worker, the second is academic.
This is the third point: PTAs and adjuncts, as one group, have a
different beginning point and perspective, from academics. It is not that
they have a different cultural value, they are just different.
My fourth and last point regards whether university administrators
suppport your decision to be liked or respected. At this institution,
administrators chose the method of faculty evaluation, apparently without
faculty senate input. My comments may be personally skewed. YMMV. But
other reports would be interesting.
Gretchen Whitney, PhD, Retired
School of Information Sciences
University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN 37996 USA [log in to unmask]
On Mon, 29 Jul 2013, kslisadjunct wrote:
> I would like to reproduce here a post I read on JESSE and to which I
>answered as the convener of our SIG.
> The reason I am sharing this is that my first reaction was outrage at
>feeling insulted by having yet another time the quality of our work as
>educators being questioned by the implication that we care more about
>being liked by students than about what students learn (so we can keep
>our jobs). However, I chose to look at Dr. Whitney's comment differently
>and wondered if what she tried to say is that university administrators
>are responsible for educators wanting to be liked rather than respected.
>I'd like to know what others think. Dr. Whitney mentioned at the end of
>her post that she was not interested in getting answers. But I am.
> Below is G. Whitney's post followed by my answer(its posting is pending approval by G. Whitney who moderates the list).
> De : Gretchen Whitney <[log in to unmask]>
> À : [log in to unmask]
> In addition to the note appended, please note the AAUP report on the use
> of adjuncts in general in higher education at
> Or at tiny url
> I mix into these articles the assertion that undergraduates and graduate
> students are paying more and more for their education. Granted. Given.
> I assert that the other half of the equation ", but students are getting
> less and less for what they pay" is being given little attention.
> In other words, students are going to college and paying more and more,
> but they are being asked to do (and learn) less and less.
> They are being asked to do (and learn) less and less because they are
> being taught by graduate students and adjuncts who are judged in their
> student evaluations by how well they are liked. Not challenged to broaden
> their thinking, challenged to consider new ideas, or challenged to do work
> that they did not know that they could do, but discover that they can.
> Of course, if you want to be liked you are more likely to assign 2
> two-page essays and a multiple choice final exam for your course, rather
> than a big term paper and other assignments and a comprehensive written
> Just some more things to think about, and pulling diverse comments
> together talking about the same thing.
> Here is a really ugly question. I don't want or expect answers. But it
> is something to think about. As a faculty member, is your primary goal to
> be liked or respected?
> And does your administration support you in that goal?
> The above two sets of evidence suggest the first.
> My answer
> I wish here to respond to the comments accompanying the note circulated
>on JESSE LISTSERV. I am writing not only as an adjunct but as the
>convener of the ALISE Part-time and Adjunct Faculty SIG.
âˆ†> First, I would like to remind our colleagues that PTA faculty are not
the only educators "who are judged in their student evaluations by how well they are liked." All faculty are submitted to the same multiple choice student evaluations and all educators are automatically entered by students in a popularity contest. Therefore it would seem that our tenure track colleagues share our lot and would be as vulnerable as we are
> in "want[ing] to be liked ] . . . [and being] more likely to assign 2 two-page essays and a multiple choice final exam for . . . [their] course, rather than a big term paper and other assignments and a comprehensive written
> A prejudicial implication seems to be that adjunct and part-time faculty are not doing their job as educators properly because of the precariousness of their employment. Still, let us not debate this point; I would like instead all our colleagues to focus their energies on trying to answer the question regarding the administration's role in supporting the goals of achieving popularity status rather than educational goals deserves consideration as well as the question "what are the goals and motivations of higher education administrators for our LIS programs?" In particular, I would to invite Dr. Whitney to participate as a panelist in the Part-time and adjunct faculty SIG session Casualties and Collateral Damages: A Critical Look at Educational Entrepreneurship at the ALISE 2014 conference.
> Catherine Closet-Crane, Phd, MLS
> Convener ALISE PTA Faculty SIG
> [log in to unmask]
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