Contingent faculty perception of organizational support and workplace attitudes, and their student ratings of teaching results in a public research university

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Contingent faculty perception of organizational support and workplace attitudes, and their student ratings of teaching results in a public research university

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This dissertation examines contingent faculty’s perception of organizational support, workplace attitudes, and Student Ratings of Teaching (SRT) in a large public research university. To address the gap in the knowledge on contingent faculty’s Employee-Organization Relationship (EOR) and how students perceive instruction delivered by contingent faculty, as evaluated in SRT, this study examines contingent faculty's perceptions of workplace support, workplace attitudes, and the relationships among them as well as students’ evaluation of their teaching performance. The analysis of the same variables for Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty (TTTF) was also conducted to understand any differences in these groups. In this dissertation, contingent faculty include both contract-based non-tenure-track faculty with professorial titles and instructional staff with instructional titles. T-tests and stepwise regression analyses were conducted for data from an institutional worklife survey at a large public research university that was collected three times in three years—2008, 2010, and 2012. Samples of TTTF and contingent faculty were drawn from 2,229 faculty and instructional staff who answered the survey and had SRT data (TTTF: 1,708, 76.6% of total; contingent faculty: 521, 23.4% of total). The SRT data were connected to the survey data and then were sorted by the size of class (e.g. under 10: small-size, 10 to under 30: medium-size, 30 to under 50: large-size, and over 50: mega-size) for results. In the case of the institution where this dissertation is based on, the employment relationship of contingent faculty 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 was higher than TTTF at a statistically significant level. Their satisfaction with coworkers and perception of being supported at work were also higher. Their affective commitment level was slightly higher than TTTF as well. 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 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. SRT results indicated that, overall, students were satisfied with teaching by contingent faculty and TTTF across all sizes of classes. Nevertheless, there were statistically significant differences in SRT means between contingent faculty and TTTF in medium-size (10-30 students) and large-size (30-50 students) classes. Contingent faculty had higher SRT mean results in all areas of SRT items in medium- size classes and in ‘class presentation,’ ‘feedback,’ ‘deeper understanding,’ and ‘interest stimulated’ in large-size classes than TTTF. These results not only refute the misconception that contingent faculty have too little time to provide students with feedback but also support that they also provide students with good teaching, at least in medium-size and large-size classes. Perception of being supported at work was the strongest predictor for explaining both overall satisfaction and affective commitment of contingent faculty. Satisfaction with pay and benefits was the next most significant factor.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2015. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Carol Carrier. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 159 pages.

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Cha, Min Young. (2015). Contingent faculty perception of organizational support and workplace attitudes, and their student ratings of teaching results in a public research university. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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