Elon hires mostly full-time professors, but there is no doubt that as a first or second year student you will have a couple part-time professors. With that said, these professors grades count for as much as any of your other classes towards your GPA and often require a different approach from a full-time professor. Part-time professors are often referred to as adjuncts, and if this is the case I’d be sure to follow these key tips:
1. Quality vs. Quantity
A full-time teacher tends to have seen all the tricks for making work seem longer than it is. On top of that they have likely received similar answers from many of their students over the years. Through this a full-time teacher will hand out better grades for those who have a higher quality of work compared to a part-time (or adjunct) teacher who tends to favor those who work hard, and this is usually rewarded based on the quantity of work.
2. Professional vs. Casual Relationship
This idea refers to full-time professors favoring a professional relationship. This isn’t to say you can’t talk about your weekend plans or bring up your hobbies, but full-time professors tend to prefer those who communicate on a more professional basis and focus on the class material. Part-time professors are much more relaxed when it comes to discussions not based on the class material, some actually prefer this and it is smart to engage in these discussions before or after class.
This idea of participation varying between a full-time and part-time professor goes back to the quality versus quantity point. A part-time teacher tends to reward participation as the word is defined, simply participating. A full-time teacher looks for engaging points that actually further the discussion. Going into the discussion grade is also paying attention and not playing on your phone or computer in class, a part-time teacher often does not take this into account as they are less likely to notice such nuances (eyes not focused on them, ext.)
4. Exams – Memorization
Often part-time professors are only selected for the more basic and introductory classes. With that said these classes inherently have more memorization involved, but part-time teachers tend to ask questions that almost always require memorization. Full-time teachers have obviously been through the process many more times, but they are also looking for your true understanding of concepts rather than memorization. Your teachers will guide you, but expect to have to memorize a lot of information with part-time teachers throughout the unit so you are not stuck doing it all at the end of the semester.
While this may seem ridiculous, you’d be surprised that adjuncts or part-time teachers tend to grade homework harder. Full-time professors see homework as more of a way for students to practice their work they’ve been taught, while part time teachers see it more as a part of the students core grade. To be fair this grade can account for 15-20% of your final course grade, but you may need to put in more effort with a part-time professor.
Some part-time professors you can’t even tell are part time, but this is often not the case as they usually teach and grade the class in a different manner from a full-time professor. Avoiding these professors can often be the best option as students have had terrible experiences in the past, but if you must take a course with one it is not the end of the world and by following these tips, you can succeed just as you would with a full time professor.