Adjuncts don’t hurt — or help — student success at community colleges, concludes a preliminary study. Most research shows adjuncts aren’t as effective, notes Inside Higher Ed. But a study released earlier in the fall found students may learn more from adjuncts, “at least at research universities.”
Hongwei Yu, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Office of Community College Research and Leadership, was lead author of The Effect of Part-time Faculty on Students’ Degree and/or Certificate Completion in Two-Year Community Colleges.
The authors attribute their findings regarding adjuncts and student success to the possibility that community colleges “hire a significant percentage of part-time faculty who come directly from professional fields and have practical experiences, skills, and knowledge [...] which may help students achieve degree or certificate completion in two-year community colleges. In addition, part-time faculty may provide students connections to workplace or a community.”
Researchers found lower completion rates at large community colleges (10,000 or more students) and at rural colleges. High school grades also correlated with completion rates.
Some adjuncts are trying to organize for better treatment, but there’s a large pool of people with advanced degrees and limited job prospects.
The Adjunct Question is the topic for the week at National Journal.
Many “students have found themselves in health care limbo this semester,” reports CBS New York. “Community colleges in New Jersey used to offer cheap health insurance for hundreds of dollars a year” but cancelled coverage because the new federal health care law bans barebones policies.
Upgrading the college’s plan to meet Obamacare rules would cost “more than a thousand dollars per student,” said Stephen Nacco, a vice president at Union County Community College.
Students like Carlos Arias depended on the low-cost health care.
“I’m kind of healthy right now but I am worried that when something happens I’m not going to go to the hospital,” Arias said.
If students can sign up for Obamacare, many should qualify for subsidized policies. So far, few have been able to navigate the web site. Younger students may be insured on their parents’ health plans.
Community colleges in Maryland are cutting adjuncts’ hours to avoid paying for health insurance, reports the Baltimore Sun. Employers must provide insurance to workers who average 30 hours a week or more.
Cash-strapped community colleges in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Howard and Prince George’s counties, among other places, have pre-emptively limited adjuncts’ hours, starting this year. Expanding health coverage to such instructors would cost schools across the state $17 million, officials at the Maryland Association of Community Colleges estimated.
Community colleges in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and other states also have limited adjuncts’ work hours.
In Maryland, most adjuncts make less than $2,500 per course, which means less than $23,000 a year under the new limits.
Art history instructor Amy Poff can teach no more than three classes per semester at the Community College of Baltimore County this year. Poff, who also teaches at Harford Community College, has added a class at Howard Community College.
Adjuncts have been working without a contract since 2010. The Adjunct Faculty Association, an independent union representing 2,600 adjunct faculty, proposed a retroactive pay raise of 4.9 percent each year. The union estimates the contract would cost $14.5 million. The Board of Trustees, which estimated the total cost at $63.4 million through 2018, rejected the contract, triggering the strike.
In an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed, Alicia Steger, a college spokeswoman, said adjuncts are paid $5,100 to teach a three-credit course. “That is the highest of the colleges in the area. We have heard numerous reports from adjuncts who teach elsewhere that they would love to teach at NCC. So, that is our answer to the claim of unfair working conditions.”
Flexible work hours and good training for online teaching makes for happy instructors at Arizona’s Rio Salado College, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. Primarily an online college, Rio Salado employs 22 full-time instructors and 1,300 adjuncts. Pay is low. There are no benefits. Yet the college received high marks for job satisfaction in the Chronicle‘s Great Colleges to Work For survey.
Rebecca Chase, who has a master’s degree from Texas A&M, teaches communications online, while raising two young children.
”The expectations of me were very clear,” Ms. Chase says. “I don’t recall ever feeling stressed or overwhelmed or unsure. And now I can work in between naps, during play dates, and after the kids go to bed.”
. . . Ms. Chase received a two-hour orientation session when she was hired last fall. Then she was required to take “Introduction to Human Communication”—the very course she is now teaching—to get a feel for how students experience the course. Once a course has been created, all instructors teach the same material, students work at their own pace, and new students can start every Monday.
“You need to be prepared at any time to grade a Lesson 5 or a Lesson 10,” she says.
The faculty gathers for on-campus meetings only a few times a year.
Nearly all the comments come from angry adjuncts, who think flexibility isn’t all that great if the pay is peanuts. Rio Salado adjuncts earn $1,200 to $2,000 per course, the full-time equivalent of $16,000 a year, notes Hanzimanolis in comments.
Also on the Chronicle‘s list of great two-year colleges to work for are: Howard Community College (Maryland), Lake Area Technical Institute (South Dakota), Lord Fairfax Community College (Virginia), Miami Dade College (Florida), Mitchell Technical Institute (South Dakota, Morgan Community College (Colorado), Panola College (Texas), Sandhills Community College (North Carolina), Santa Rosa Junior College (California), Somerset Community College (Kentucky) and Southside Virginia Community College.
More colleges are limiting adjuncts’ work hours to avoid Obamacare’s insurance mandates, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Allison G. Armentrout, an adjunct instructor at Stark State College, an Ohio community college, earns $4,600 to teach two English composition courses. Though she’s not paid by the hour, she tracks her work hours to show she’s not working 30 hours a week.
On a recent week, she spent three hours preparing for her lectures, close to six hours in the classroom, and 16 more grading assignments for a grand total of about 25 hours. So she can breathe a sigh of relief because she won’t lose her job: She came in under the college’s new 29-hour-a-week wire designed to keep her ineligible for health-care coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Twice this semester, she’s undercounted her work hours to stay under the limit, says Armentrout.
Colleges in Ohio, Virginia, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have told adjuncts to keep their hours down, reports the Chronicle.
The Community College of Allegheny County reduced the workload limit for its adjuncts from 12 to 10 credits per semester. affecting about 400 part-time employees. Providing health benefits would cost at least $6 million, which would be “simply unaffordable,” said David Hoovler, executive assistant to the president. However, the college gave all its part-time employees a small raise and is trying to form a group health plan to offer part-timers discounted insurance rates.
Colleges must provide health benefits to adjuncts who work 30+ hours per week under Obamacare, which starts in 2014. Work hours include prep time, not just classroom teaching, the Internal Revenue Service advises.
. . . colleges must “use a reasonable method for crediting hours of service,” the IRS document says. In the case of an adjunct faculty member, the document adds, it would not be a reasonable method of calculating an instructor’s work hours for colleges to take into account “only classroom or instruction time and not other hours that are necessary to perform the employee’s duties, such as class-preparation time.”
Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, a national advocacy group for adjuncts, told the Chronicle of Higher Education that “the IRS is on the right track.”
Average pay for adjuncts at colleges and universitiesis $2,987 for a three-credit course, reports The Adjunct Project, which is crowdsourcing information on salaries and working conditions. Community colleges pay much less than most four-year universities, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. “Adjuncts at 16 colleges reported earning less than $1,000.”
Joshua A. Boldt, a writing instructor in Georgia, is working with The Chronicle on a web site that sorts data by department, college, and region of the country.
At top research universities, adjuncts average $4,750 per three-credit course. Adjuncts at rural, medium-sized, two-year institutions, where pay is the lowest, average $1,808 per three-credit course.
In California, where faculty at two- and four-year public institutions are unionized, the average pay is $3,888 per course, according to data reported to the Adjunct Project as of last month. In Texas, by contrast, a state where unions are rare, the reported pay is lower: $2,805 per course.
Salaries are lower in the humanities: Adjuncts who teach English reported earning an average of $2,727 per course. At Houston Community College, adjuncts average $1,200 to $2,200 for a three-credit English course. The national average for adjuncts who teach engineering is $4,789 per course.
Only 22 percent of adjuncts reported that they were union members. Seventy percent don’t serve on governance committees.
“We’re not compensated when we do that,” Peter Feiden, an adjunct economics professor at Montgomery College, in Maryland, says of part-time faculty members there. He earns about $3,000 per course at Montgomery and about $6,000 per course at Catholic University of America, where he is also an adjunct.
Few adjuncts qualify for health insurance, retirement or other benefits.
About half of all faculty members — 70 percent at community colleges — are part-time adjuncts, estimates a 2010 survey by the American Federation of Teachers. Eighty percent of community college faculty teach part-time, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.
Universities keep turning out English PhDs even though there are fewer full-time jobs, writes Mark Bauerlein. That makes it easy to find people to teach freshman composition for low pay and no benefits.
Community colleges were supposes to be “democracy’s college,” writes Keith Kroll, an English professor at Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Michigan. That “grand experiment” is coming to an end, Kroll writes. From President Obama on down, community colleges are seen as job training centers providing workers for local employers, not as places where students begin higher education.
Within the next 20 years, 80 percent of classes will be taught online, he predicts. Ninety percent of faculty will be part-timers who may never meet their students or each other.
In the community college of the future each department will have one full-time “faculty manager,” whose responsibilities will include distributing prepackaged, business-driven curricula and course syllabi; selecting the common textbook from which all faculty members will “teach”; scheduling and assigning classes . . . and managing the online grading program that all faculty will use to assess student performance. There will no longer be in-person department meetings, faculty representation on college committees, shared governance, or professional development . . . (faculty) will no longer be teachers, but technicians with no say in what they teach and how they teach.
English instructors will teach writing solely to give students the practical skills required by employers, he writes. Literature — indeed all the liberal arts — will be eliminated on grounds they have “no economic value.”
The revised mission statement of the Association of American Colleges and Universities is “to make liberal education and inclusive excellence the foundation for institutional purpose and educational practice in higher education.” I’m not sure what “inclusive excellence’ means.
To avoid paying for health insurance, a Pittsburgh community college will cut the work hours of 400 adjunct instructors and support staff by Dec. 31, reports Breitbart. Under Obamacare, employers have to provide insurance for employees working 30 or more hours a week. Community College of Allegheny County will cut part-timers to 25 hours a week. Adjuncts will be limited to teaching 10 credit hours a semester, down from 12, for $730 per credit hour. In all, the college will save $6 million.
The college can’t afford to fund benefits, said CCAC spokesperson David Hoovler. “Several years of cuts or largely flat funding from our government supporters have led to significant cost reductions by CCAC, leaving little room to trim the college’s budget further.”
“It’s kind of a double whammy for us because we are facing a legal requirement [under the new law] to get health care and if the college is reducing our hours, we don’t have the money to pay for it,” said adjunct biology professor Adam Davis.
“We all know we are expendable and there are plenty of people out there in this economy who would be willing to have our jobs,” said Davis.
CCAC’s faculty union doesn’t include adjuncts, notes Inside Higher Ed.
Adjunct English professor Clint Benjamin, who has been teaching at the college for six years, pays out-of-pocket for catastrophic health care coverage only and had vague hopes of improved insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Not only is he now ineligible for such help, but the course load reduction will translate to up to $600 less in pay each month.
But Benjamin still will be working full-time. Between the college and nearby Duquesne University, he currently teaches seven courses per semester. He estimated he works up to 70 hours per week, but doesn’t qualify for health insurance at either institution.
“There’s frustration and anger and sadness and resentment, you know, but you don’t have a voice,” Benjamin said.
Developmental education is a cash cow for colleges, some people believe. Others see it as a money pit. It’s complicated, writes Community College Dean.
Developmental courses tend to be more expensive in that they run smaller, so we have fewer tuitions to amortize the cost of the instructor. But they also tend to be staffed with adjuncts, who make less money. . . . They have lower pass rates than credit-bearing classes, so there’s an attrition loss. Developmental students also make considerable use of the tutoring center — especially in math — which is a cost center in its own right. That said, though, developmental classes don’t need chemistry labs or a lot of specialized equipment, which many credit-bearing classes do.
Low-enrollment upper-level classes that require specialized spaces, such as music, studio art, nursing or lab science, lose the most money, the dean writes, but it’s important to remember that remedial and college-level classes are run at a loss. Community colleges use public funding to keep tuition low, encouraging more people to pursue higher education. An educated citizenry and workforce is considered a public good.
If developmental courses generate success, enabling students to go to higher-level coursework, then they make senese as “loss leaders,” the dean writes. “If they don’t, then I see a valid educational case for junking them, or at least re-envisioning them in a pretty drastic way.”