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Abstract

This study examines differences in grade distributions in the introductory public speaking course at two American universities based on instructor rank. A sample of 442 sections with 11,381 students over a 2-year period was collected and analyzed using analysis of variance and chi-square analysis. We found significant differences in grade distributions, with instructors assigning lower grades overall than graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) and adjunct faculty. Instructors assigned significantly more D’s and F’s than tenure/track faculty, adjuncts, and GTAs. Chi-square analysis also revealed instructors and tenure/track faculty assign fewer A’s, but tenure/track faculty assign more B’s than the other faculty groups. The results point to pedagogic implications of maintaining a high number of adjuncts and GTAs in teaching the basic course. Implications of the study are discussed including ways to develop a more inclusive instructional community and culture for adjuncts through course standardization, mentoring, assessment, and technology use.