Contingent Faculty Perceptions of Organizational Support, Workplace Attitudes, and Teaching Evaluations at a Public Research University

Min Young Cha, Carol A Carrier
Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education  •  Volume 1  •  2016  •  pp. 121-151
This research examines contingent faculty’s perception of organizational support, workplace attitudes, and Student Ratings of Teaching (SRT) in a large public research university to investigate their employee-organization relationship. According to t-tests and regression analyses for samples of 2,229 faculty and instructional staff who answered the survey and had SRT data (tenured and tenure-track faculty: 1,708, 76.6% of total; contingent faculty: 521, 23.4% of total), employment relationship of contingent faculty in this institution was closer to a combined economic and social exchange model than to a pure economic exchange model or underinvestment model. Contingent faculty’s satisfaction with work, satisfaction with coworkers, perception of being supported at work, and affective organizational commitment were higher than tenured and tenure-track faculty at a statistically significant level. In addition, contingent faculty had higher SRT mean results in all areas of SRT items in medium-size (10-30) classes and in ‘class presentation,’ ‘feedback,’ ‘deeper understanding,’ and ‘interest stimulated’ in large-size (30-50) classes than Tenured and Tenure-track Faculty. These results not only refute the misconception that contingent faculty have too little time to provide students with feedback but also support that they provide students with good teaching, at least in medium-size and large-size classes. Whereas these results might be partially attributable to the relatively stable status of contingent faculty in this study (who work for more than 50 percent FTE), they indicate that, as a collective, contingent faculty also represent a significant contributor to the university, who are satisfied with their work, enjoy the community they are in, and are committed to their institution.
contingent faculty, public research university, employee-organization relationship, perceived organizational support, workplace attitudes, student ratings of teaching
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