Full-time non-tenure track faculty, commonly referred to as NTT faculty, shoulder much of the teaching load within academic institutions. Self-determination theory (SDT) has shown promise as a conceptual frame for characterizing the relationship between environmental support factors and NTT faculty satisfaction. Full-time NTT faculty were sampled nationwide to investigate an SDT-based model positing basic psychological needs (i.e., volitional autonomy and relatedness) as mediators between six environmental support indices and NTT faculty satisfaction. Structural equation model results showed volitional autonomy and relatedness fully mediated the relationships between the six environmental supports and both indices of faculty satisfaction.
Non-tenure track faculty are a growing majority in American higher education, but research examining their work lives is limited. Moreover, the theoretical frameworks commonly used by scholars have been critiqued for reliance on ideologically charged assumptions. Using a conceptual model developed from Hackman and Oldham’s (1980) Job Characteristics Model (JCM) and prior research on faculty workplace experiences, this study considers the extent to which full-time non-tenure track and tenure line faculty share a professionalized approach to their jobs, working conditions, and how this is associated with their organizational commitment.
Satisfaction with resources, rewards, autonomy and feedback had a significant positive relationship with odds of organizational commitment for all faculty groups. Overall, the results suggest being removed from the tenure track is not associated with faculty viewing their jobs in a substantially different way than those in tenure line positions, which underscores the importance of conceptualizing full-time faculty work as an integrated whole.