A National Study of Institutional Policy Adoption for Non-Tenure Track Faculty Members

Jones, Jill, Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Inkelas, Karen, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The following dissertation will be the first in fifteen years to provide descriptive information to the U.S. post-secondary community about the prevalence of policies available to non-tenure-track faculty members at traditional four-year institutions. Moreover, this research identified and experimented with best-practices in surveying higher education administrators, namely provosts and vice provosts. Utilizing the three manuscript dissertation option, these three manuscripts were intentionally designed as three related and interconnected studies that build on one another.

Manuscript 1-Methodological Manuscript:
The primary research question for the methodological manuscript is as follows: For administrators working at traditional four-year institutions, what combination of online survey platform(s) and mid-administration platform alternatives yield the highest response rates? The sample population was all 1,189 Title IV granting, tenure-granting, public and private, non-profit, four-year higher education institutions in the United States, classified as baccalaureate colleges, master’s colleges and universities, and research/doctoral universities. Additionally, the sample population only included institutions that submitted data to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which collects institutional information via surveys on an annual basis and is required by all institutions that receive federal funding. After a pre-notification, an invitation to participate, and three reminders, 40.3% of institutions completed the survey. All institutional administrators who received the survey were personally addressed by name in each email, received information about the other personnel member who was contacted, received targeted reminders for nonresponding institutions, and were offered an incentive to participate. However, there were four experimental conditions during the administration process, and the experimental group that had the highest response rate (47.5%) was that of university administrators, who received the web-based survey at the beginning of the survey administration and were offered an alternative to complete a fillable online PDF version during the second week of administration. Based on the results of these findings, practitioners should further experiment with and utilize low-cost mixed-mode and online administration techniques to boost response rates.

Manuscript 2-Descriptive Manuscript:
The primary research question for the descriptive manuscript is as follows: For a national sample of traditional four-year non-profit higher education institutions, what policies are most prevalent and discrepant across non-tenure-track faculty (NTTF) and tenure/tenure-track faculty (TTTF) populations? To answer this research question, I merged the National Survey of Postsecondary Faculty Policies (NSPFP) with the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data. As part of their participation in the NSPFP, institutional administrators identified whether their institution had specific policies and resources (or required departments/schools to have policies and resources) for 18 different policies. Moreover, respondents answered the policy questions for four different faculty groups including part-time NTTF, full-time NTTF, tenure-track faculty, and tenured faculty (TTTF). For most policies and resources, there is a hierarchy whereby TTTF have the most resources and policies that support their employment, and NTTF, especially part-time NTTF, have far fewer policies and resources that support their employment. Policies that supported faculty professional development and inclusion in campus governance structures were particularly discrepant across NTTF and TTTF groups. Across Carnegie classifications, doctoral/research universities were more likely than baccalaureate universities to have equal performance-based policies between NTTF and TTTF groups, such as merit-based salary increases, annual performance evaluations, and promotions in rank. Given that the two areas of greatest policy divergence between NTTF and TTTF were among governance and professional development policies, these policies should be targeted for future research and practice to further discern the ways in which institutions may improve governance and professional development policies for NTTF.

Manuscript 3-Multivariate Manuscript:
The primary research question for the multivariate manuscript is as follows: For a national sample of traditional four-year non-profit higher education institutions, what institutional factors relate to the prevalence of policies that support NTTF? To explore this research question I analyzed data from the National Survey of Postsecondary Faculty Policies (NSPFP) and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The dependent variables included a summation of the total number of policies—excluding governance-related policies—for part-time NTTF and full-time NTTF separately. The governance policies were inserted as independent dummy variables to account for the critical role that governance systems have in shaping faculty policies at the institutional and departmental/school-levels and in alignment with Bolman and Deal’s (2008) structural framework. Other independent variables included institutional characteristics such as Carnegie classification, proportion of revenues that were federal appropriations, institutions affiliation as a right-to-work state, among others. Institutional characteristics only accounted for less than 13% variance in any of the regression analyses and faculty inclusion on university and departmental governance structures were the most important predictors, alone accounting for greater than 17% variance in each regression analysis performed. Although a strong correlation exists between governance policies and policy prevalence for NTTF groups, this may be related to institutions’ valuation of NTTF generally and thus indirectly correlated with overall policy prevalence. Qualitative studies have indicated that NTTF governance inclusion is important in order to create working environments that support NTTF, this study corroborated these suggestions and provided more extensive correlation data. Moving forward, institutions should improve the clarity of their governance inclusion or exclusion policies, making eligibility requirements clear and accessible to part-time and full-time NTTF. Given that NTTF may view governance participation unfavorably, institutions should also explore ways to encourage and support NTTF participation in university and departmental governance structures.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Faculty, Faculty Policies, Faculty Affairs, Non-Tenure-Track, Adjunct Faculty, Contingent Faculty, Governance, Survey Research, Mixed-Mode Survey
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