Category Archives: Dissertation

Examining an adjunct faculty professional development program model for a community college

Messina, L. S. (2011). Examining an adjunct faculty professional development program model for a community college.  
(Ph.D.). (AAI3461092). Retrieved from

This study looked at a one-year Adjunct Faculty Professional Development program in a two-year multi-campus community college in Massachusetts.  The study focuses on the development of curricula content for professional development and program characteristics of adult learning.  A fully developed background and description of the study followed by an extensive literature review.  The study was equally quantitative and qualitative.  The quantitative questions explored the differences between those adjunct faculty who participated in the professional development program and those who did not.  They also questioned the differences among adjunct faculty perceptions, based on the number of years of teaching experiences, of program characteristics that were perceived as being valuable .  The qualitative questions explored more deeply the responses from the quantitative portion of the study.  The study use 57 adjuncts who participated in the program and 101 who did not for the quantitative survey.  Twenty-eight focus groups accounted for the qualitative portion of the study.  Two surprising findings in this study were the major themes of a lack of mentoring and the need for better orientation.

Perceptions of community college adjunct faculty and division chairpersons

Diegel, B. L. (2013). Perceptions of community college adjunct faculty and division chairpersons: Support, mentoring, and professional development to sustain academic quality. Community College Journal of Research & Practice, 37(8), 596-607. doi:10.1080/10668926.2012.720863

This dissertation explores the differences in perceptions of community college chair persons and adjunct faculty with respect to the support, mentoring, and professional development of adjuncts. The researcher conducted her investigation at a mid-sized rural community college and chose participants in the Humanities, English, and Science departments. The college had a contingent of adjunct faculty that comprised thirty percent of the teaching staff. The role of divisional chairpersons in the support, or non-support, of adjunct faculty is viewed through an interpretvist lens which allows for looking at multiple realities emanating from a common context. The research looked at the experiences and perceptions of fifteen adjunct faculty and three chair persons through a set of semi-structured interviews and focus groups. The study attempts to answer three questions: What is the perception of division chair people of adjunct faculty members on campus; What is the perception of adjunct faculty regarding the role of division chair people in providing teaching support, mentoring, and professional development opportunities; and What, if anything, do division chair people do to support or hinder adjunct faculty on campus.  The social identity theory was used as a lens to understand how adjunct faculty perceived their roles at the college.  The researcher noted that “taking the time to understand this culture from the perspective of the adjunct faculty will allow division chairs to better serve their needs which, in turn, will benefit students and academic departments in a positive way so learning and quality can thrive.”  There were four roles identified for the chair persons – professional resource link, institutional authority or representative, and evaluator conducting ongoing assessment.  The research identified three major findings concerning adjunct faculty needs – teaching preparedness, feeling valued, and communication.  The limitations of the study were well-noted and there was no attempt to generalize the findings beyond the studied institution. The findings from the research may offer important insights to those that manage adjuncts and to institutional leaders where adjuncts are part of the community.

The experience of adjunct and full-time faculty participation in a public university teacher education department

Aker, C. M. (2010). The experience of adjunct and full-time faculty  participation in a public university teacher education department (Ph.D.). Available from ProQuest Education Journals. (753498131).

This doctoral dissertation delves into the question of adjunct and full-time faculty in one specific university and one specific department, perceive their participation in the campus community.  This qualitative study looked at the community of practice with the teacher education department using in-depth interviews with seven faculty members, 3 adjunct and 4 full-time.  Through interpretive phenomenology, Aker determines that the adjunct faculty members did not perceive their participation in departmental activities as affecting their instruction, whereas, full-time faculty felt that it did influence their instruction.  Concerns were raised over the apparent lack of adjunct input during discussions of current information about teacher preparation. The concern was not only over the lack of the adjuncts receiving the information, but since many of them are also practitioners, there was a sense of missed opportunity in not receiving their input. Other areas of investigation included what resources were used by both groups and how various experiences (both personal and work related) affected participation. Recommendations for action from this research include determining what the career goals are of both full-time and adjuncts; departmental products, processes, documentation should be available to all to help create and revise; meetings which both ranks can attend should be held when possible to help increase participation; and faculty mentor, materials, and other resources should be made available to both ranks.