Non-tenured professors are better teachers – Study

Tenured professors at American higher education institutions are certainly given more prestige than other lecturers. But are they better teachers? In a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers find quite the opposite – that is, tenured professors or those on their way to tenure don’t enhance student learning as much as lecturers outside the tenure system, writes Khadeeja Safdar for The Wall Street Journal.

In just under four decades, there has been a major shift away from the tenure system, with more universities hiring non-tenure-line professors. Nearly 60% of all instructional faculty, not including graduate student employees, were in the tenure system in 1975. By 2009, the share had declined to about half as much.

Using data on more than 15,000 undergraduate freshmen who entered Northwestern University between 2001 and 2008, researchers David N Figlio, Morton O Schapiro and Kevin B Soter compared the teaching quality of professors in the tenure system to non-tenure-track lecturers. They found that students taught by instructors outside the tenure system were more likely to take another class in the same subject and were also more likely to receive better grades in the subsequent class than those who had been taught by tenured or tenure-track professors.
Full report on The Wall Street Journal site