Laura McKenna looks at how the use of adjunct professors adversely affects students.
From my own experience as an adjunctsee my academic autobiography for the detailsI know that the demands made on adjunct faculty often reduce their effectiveness in the classroom. But this can take many forms.
When I was an adjunct, I was fairly well paid and managed to do most of my teaching at a single school. So most of the time I didn't have to dash from one school to the next, but when I did have to teach at more than one school, I was able to take the subway or a commuter train, which allowed me to relax or work as I saw fit.
I was always prepared for class and was able to meet with students in my office(s) when they needed to see me. (I was fortunate in that I always had some sort of office space wherever I was teaching.) I even managed to write recommendation letters for students and occasionally was able to improvise a field trip (that sounds odd coming from a former philosophy professor, but it's the best description that I can think of) to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
But as the years of adjunct teaching went on, I often found that I was exhausted. This led to increased illness, among other things. Fortunately for me, I was never seriously ill, but I had to cancel more classes on account of illness as the years went on. And as I became increasingly sleep-deprived, there were a few mornings when I simply couldn't get out of bed, and thus I had to cancel class again.
The job search also became more involved, as schools became more demanding in what they wanted applicants to include in their application packages. So my job search tended to take up more time as the years dragged on. I didn't have any choice but to apply for jobs, so I occasionally had to cancel class in order to have time to get my applications in the mail to meet the deadlines.
So, I guess, the most direct effect on my students of my being an adjunct was my missing class from time to time as I tried to juggle everything that I had to do. (That is, I missed more classes than I would have if I had been a full-fledged professor.) I'd like to think that I didn't fail my students in any major way during my decade as an adjunct. I worked very hard and did the best I could. I'm just glad that I don't have to work at such a ridiculous pace anymore.