Category Archives: Article

Adjunct faculty in developmental education: Best practices, challenges, and recommendations

Datray, J. L., Saxon, D. P., & Martirosyan, N. M. (2014). Adjunct faculty in developmental education: Best practices, challenges, and recommendations. The Community College Enterprise, 20(1), 35-48.

Datray, Saxon and Martirosyan provide a summary of research from as early at 1998 through 2013 concerning the challenges in the use of adjuncts in Developmental Education programs, particularly in community colleges.  Newer studies contradict older studies indicating that exposure to part-time faculty during the first semester “yielded unacceptably low pass rates”.  Newer studies begin to question if the issue is with the part-time faculty themselves, or with the support that they receive from the institution.  One example given from a 2009 study indicated that students felt they received less support from part-time faculty.  However, an earlier 2004 study questioned whether that was a problem of the part-time faculty or a lack of support by the institution, as typically these faculty are not given offices or meeting rooms, nor paid for office hours.  Pulling information from a Bramhall and Byok 2009 study, the authors offered that providing support to complete a pedagogical certificate resulted in a 7% increase in retention rates for the participating faculty.  Datray, Saxon, and Martirosyan see adjunct faculty as valuable assets that need the solid support of institution and program leaders to meet their full potential.  They offer twelve recommendations for leaders of developmental education programs to use in developing and utilizing adjunct faculty as the valuable assets they are.  The authors do advocate for an appropriate balance of adjunct to full-time as well as selecting quality teachers in the hiring process.  Training and various types of institutional support and integration of adjunct faculty into the campus mainstream are discussed.  Retention of qualified adjunct faculty is discussed as a way of achieving student success outcomes equivalent to that of full-time faculty.

What adjuncts need

Karpf, J. (2015). What adjuncts need. Chronicle of Higher Education, 61(26), B30-B30.

This brief Chronicle article discusses four main needs of adjuncts, as seen by the author.  Job security tops the list, followed by livable wages, health and retirement benefits, and institutional support to do what they’ve been hired to do.  Unions are touted as one way of providing an avenue to help meet these needs.  Using the 2012 report by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce the author makes a case for meeting the needs of adjunct faculty through the unionization of contingent faculty.

A canadian college where adjuncts go to prosper

June, A. W. (2010). A canadian college where adjuncts go to prosper. Chronicle of Higher Education, 56(41), B39-B41. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/A-Canadian-College-Where/123629/

Vancouver Community College (VCC) in has, over a two-decade, period managed to develop a program that lends to solidarity among part-time and full-time faculty, creating a one-faculty environment.  Unlike many programs in the U.S. Vancouver offers its adjuncts job-security and much more equitable situations than U.S. institutions.  The Chronicle of Higher Education article details some of the differences between the VCC program and many higher education institutions in the U.S.  Some notable differences are the ability to move from a part-time status to a more “regular” status in which there is more job security.  Compensation is also based on the compensation of full-time faculty, not solely what the market will bear in paying adjuncts.  VCC adjuncts who meet certain criteria can also qualify for professional development opportunities such as the cost of conferences and  research subscriptions.  VCC and the union representatives are still working toward even more equitability, but they have made good progress.

Building the roadmap to adjunct faculty success

Jacobson, K. N. (2013). Building the roadmap to adjunct faculty success. Techniques, 88(4), 10-11.

Jacobson outlines five milestones in a “comprehensive and successful adjunct faculty roadmap” that lays the foundation for a program that will allow the institution’s adjuncts to be part of the campus community and to be a part of the college’s mission of student success.  These five milestones, general in nature, can be used as the backbone of institutions wanting to develop a successful adjunct program that will attract quality candidates and retain quality instructors.  The milestones, as stated in this article are: a strong start, building a community, one-stop-shop resource center, dedicated adjunct faculty consultant, and a flexible and inclusive approach.  Jacobson gives a succinct description of each of these milestones and how they work together to create a roadmap to success.

Teachers as adult learners

Lawler, P. A. (2003). Teachers as adult learners: A new perspective. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, 2003(98), 15-22.

Outlining the Adult Learning Model for Faculty Development developed by Lawler and King, this article asserts that faculty (teachers of adults) are adult learners and, hence, their learning should be thought of in the same perspectives as other adult learners.  Using the six adult learning principles of: create a climate of respect; encourage active participation; build on experience; employ collaborative inquiry; learn for action; and empower the participants, Lawler shows how each can be applied to teachers of adults.

Chronicle survey yields a rare look into adjuncts’ work lives

Wilson, R. (2009). Chronicle’ survey yields a rare look into adjuncts’ work lives. Chronicle of Higher Education, 56(9), A12-13. http://chronicle.com/article/Chronicle-Survey-Yields-a/48843/

Wilson summarizes Chronicle survey of 625 adjuncts in the Chicago area.  In contrast to the popular belief that adjuncts were working part-time because they could not find full-time work, the Chronicle survey found over half of the adjuncts preferring part-time work and satisfied with their jobs.  Wilson lists brief highlights from the survey including highest degree attained, primary reason for working as a part-time adjunct, satisfaction with working part-time, what types of classes were taught, amount of pay, types of support provided, number of institutions taught in and and types of activities involved in at those institutions.

Professional development for adjunct teaching faculty in a research-intensive university

Webb, A. S., Wong, T. J., & Hubball, H. T. (2013). Professional development for adjunct teaching faculty in a research-intensive university: Engagement in scholarly approaches to teaching and learning. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 25(2), 231-238.

The term field practitioner is used in this article by authors from University of British Columbia, Canada to describe its adjunct faculty.  The tenure of the article is more supportive of adjuncts than many U.S. articles, for example it starts with “Research universities around the world are increasingly drawing upon leading practitioners in the professional fields as adjunct faculty to deliver high quality student learning experiences…”  A refreshing change from so many articles that tend to denigrate the abilities or motivations of adjunct faculty. The authors discuss the results of pilot programs at the Faculties of Dentistry and Education that provided opportunities to investigate, and provide opportunities to meet, the needs of their adjunct faculty.

Mentoring and other professional support for faculty in institutions of higher learning

Osa, J., Oliver, A., & Walker, T. (2015). Mentoring and other professional support for faculty in institutions of higher learning: A study report. In A. A. Howley, & M. B. Trube (Eds.), Mentoring for the professions: Orienting toward the future (pp. 127-143)

This study report looked at 45 full-time faculty and the perceived impact of mentoring for these individuals.  Of note is the similarities in perception to those of adjunct faculty in other studies.  The research attempted to answer four questions: (1) What do faculty members think of mentoring? (2) What are the areas in which faculty members receive professional support? (3) What did mentors do to support and develop the all-around growth of mentees? (4) What are the hindrances to mentoring in an institution of higher learning?.  A large majority of respondents (64%) felt that mentoring was very beneficial. Mentoring support proved to be highest in areas of understanding the culture of the institution and resource awareness.  The methods of mentor strategies that topped the list included modeling professionalism and valuing the mentees knowledge and experience, as well as share of personal success and failures.  Some impediments to mentoring of full-time faculty mirror that of mentoring adjunct faculty, including: lack of time, lack of institutional support, and lack of incentives.  The writers conclude that mentoring is an “effective strategy for reducing the stress, pain, frustration, insecurity, and failure” that new members in higher education may experience.

A learning Outcomes model for mentoring adjunct faculty

Maybee, R. (2015). A learning Outcomes model for mentoring adjunct faculty. In A. A. Howley, & M. B. Trube (Eds.), Mentoring for the professions : Orienting toward the future (pp. 187-203)

After a brief overview of recent literature concerning adjunct faculty needs, Maybee puts forward a practical approach to mentoring adjunct faculty.  Maybee asserts that using the learning outcomes model presented in this article “can foster an effective, interactive, and dynamic mentor-mentee relationship” (p.201).  Using a combination of learning tools and learning outcomes to establish a sense of accountability he develops a program for more successful collaboration between the mentor and mentee.  Five communication tools are given to assist the reader in developing a program of adjunct faculty development.  These include: building rapport and community with full-time instructors and other adjuncts; constructive evaluation of adjunct teaching and class management; seeking alternative methods, attitudes, and techniques; maintaining accountability for action plans, progress, introspection, and evaluation.  Learning outcomes forming the basis of the plan can include demonstrating successful learner-centered teaching strategies, improved classroom/course management, and improved teaching by applying technology.  Maybee offers a completed model to assist the reader, and suggestions on building your own model based on the individual needs of mentors and mentees.

What types of support do adjuncts need?

Kelly, R. (2014, May 6). What types of support do adjuncts need? Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/faculty-development/types-support-adjuncts-need/

This entry discussed the quantitative study done at Northern Oklahoma College comparing the perceptions of adjuncts and administrators concerning the importance of support for part-time faculty.  Kelly concisely reviews the relevant findings in the support areas of orientation (both campus and job duties, professional development, and access to support services.  Kelly summarizes the recommendation from the study’s author, Dr. Judy Colwell into three main areas; workshops or meetings must be convenient and relevant; listening is an important skill and seeking input is part of that; and keep the adjunct input in perspective.