Executive Summary

There is no appreciable difference in Penn Engineering core classes based on whether or not a professor is a full-time lecturer or part time lecturer, part time researcher; however, CIS courses in particular experience a high professor turnover rate, and therefore suffer from significant course quality/instructor quality discrepancy between terms.


Anecdotally, many Engineering students feel that there does exist a discrepancy between these lecturers and researchers. Especially for courses taught concurrently by different professors, this potentially leads to incongruity in knowledge obtained, and inequity in grading. This section will seek to determine if there exists a significant discrepancy between professors employed solely as lecturers, and professors additionally employed as researchers.


From here on, lecturers will refer to faculty whose primary job is teaching, while professors will refer to faculty with an additional researching role.

Key Findings

With few exceptions, most of the required core classes within each Penn Engineering major have no significant professor vs lecturer discrepancy. Almost every class taught had all researchers as professors, or all lecturers as professors. Further, many classes, especially within the CBE, MSE, and BE departments, had the same professor teaching the same class for an extended period of time. Therefore, there appears to be no teaching discrepancy with regards to researchers and lecturers.

The CIS department, although not facing the lecturer/professor incongruity, appears to experience a significantly higher professor turnover rate, and subsequent course quality differentials. Especially between the Fall and Spring 2016 semesters, each core CIS class averaged around a 0.5 differential in course quality, course difficulty, and instructor quality, which on a scale of 1-4, is a non-insignificant difference.


EDAB recommends a further investigation into CIS department professor turnover rates,  to determine whether this is a significant issue, and if any alleviative steps can be made.