Opinion

Are there too many adjuncts?

One of the perks of attending a small college like Castleton is the interaction students have with their professors over the years.  With small class sizes, it’s easy to get to know teachers and establish connections with them, especially those who teach the classes for their majors as students take multiple classes with the same professor.
However, some students have taken some required classes for their major – some with necessary information for a job after college – that have been taught by an adjunct, first-time teacher.
These adjuncts are much more difficult to get in touch with because many of them have other jobs and not many office hours. Their suggestion is to email them questions about the class, but they are often slow to respond. As far as actually teaching during class, sometimes they forget they are talking to students trying to learn, not their co-workers, and they move too fast through lessons. They are very knowledgeable about their subjects, but often times, they’re not the best at explaining it to students.
Out of 231 instructional faculty members in the 2012-2013 academic year, 134 were part time, while just 97 were full time. Many students feel the numbers should be switched.
Other students have said they’ve had some good part-time professors. They were willing to help students outside of the class time and explained the lessons well.  

Now, in this economy, it’s understandable that this may be the only job for them or they may just be transitioning into the teaching profession. It can be nerve-racking to stand up in front of 20-30 college students and talk for an hour. They have little to no training on how to run a class and have no guidelines, other than a textbook, and they aren’t even paid that much. Students understand these reasons why the adjuncts may not be the best.
However, many of them are teaching necessary classes for certain majors. Students should be learning valuable information that a future employer will expect them to know, but many students said they don’t feel they’re getting that.  They don’t feel they are getting the information they’re paying all this money for and they don’t feel prepared to go into a job setting where they will be expected to know this material.
We feel that full-time professors, who are much more invested, should be teaching these courses.