The Impact on Students
While it is clear that the universities and the part-timers suffer, where do the students fit into the equation? Most discussion favors the sentiment that students suffer from poorer quality teaching via part-time faculty; nowhere is it considered that students might be benefiting from the situation.
The Just-In-Time Professor report suggests that the trend towards declining working conditions and stability for contingent faculty “should be of concern to policymakers both because of what it means for the living standards and work lives of those individuals we expect to educate the next generation of scientists, entrepreneurs, and other highly skilled workers, and what it may mean for the quality of higher education." It could be argued, however; that students might actually benefit from a different type of instructor.
Ironically, the issue most people would consider as a negative –that older, more seasoned professors are not teaching a course — might prove the biggest advantage to students. In many institutions, the higher a full-time professor reaches in the administration, the less he or she is required to teach. A Dean, for example, might share a first-year course with another professor.
Indeed, several higher-ranking professors might share an introductory course because it fulfils their teaching commitment and frees them to pursue research. They have teaching assistants or lab instructors to meet with, and support the students, and the professors’ responsibility lies solely within the lecture hall. How does this benefit students? Use of part-time instructors in this case would free full professors to work with senior students in smaller classes with more specialized curriculum. Junior level students would be exposed to young, enthusiastic instructors who still enjoy digging deep into the subject, creating lectures based on recent developments, and questioning the status quo.