Higher education is faced with many challenges at this time. Two, however, stand out as providing critical tests for the future viability of many institutions. The first is the growing set of constraints on revenues, and the second is the increasing necessity to improve student learning significantly (How can we think about the wave of new innovations in higher education?). Figlio, Schapiro, and Soter (FSS) recently published an important National Bureau of Economic Research working paper whose provocative title I have borrowed for the title of this post. That paper has important implications for responding to both of these challenges.
Analyzing data for eight cohorts of first year students at Northwestern University, FSS conclude:
We 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, and are particularly pronounced for Northwestern’s average students and less-qualified students.