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Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers? (WP-13-18)

David Figlio, Morton Schapiro, Kevin Soter

This study makes use of detailed student-level data from eight cohorts of first-year students at Northwestern University to investigate the relative effects of tenure track/tenured versus non-tenure line faculty on student learning. The researchers focus on classes taken during a student’s first term at Northwestern, and they employ a unique identification strategy in which they control for both student-level fixed effects and next-class taken fixed effects to measure the degree to which non-tenure line faculty contribute more or less to lasting student learning than do other faculty. They find consistent evidence that students learn relatively more from non-tenure line professors in their introductory courses. These differences are present across a wide variety of subject areas.

David Figlio, Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy and of Economics, Director, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Morton Schapiro, President, Professor of Economics, Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Kevin Soter, Consultant, Greatest Good

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