Category Archives: Occasional Paper

Critical foundations: Delivering standardized professional development to adjunct faculty

Louch, L., & Simpson, S. (2014). Critical foundations: Delivering standardized professional development to adjunct faculty. Paper presented at the Higher Learning Commission 2014 Annual Conference,

This brief essay reviews how Baker College, a private, not-for-profit multi-campus school has approached the professional development of its adjunct faculty and the challenges faced in that process.  By using standardization of professional development Baker College has been able to leverage data gathered to make data-driven decisions and create a shared culture of knowledge and goals at the same time.  With a multi-campus environment they have discovered that delivering standardized materials is much more effective for adjuncts when done via multiple delivery methods.  The data that they have been able to gain because of standardization have shown a “notable increased level of understanding and implementation of various teaching, learning, and assessment concepts and strategies.”

Delphi Project-Dispelling_the_Myths

Kezar, A., & Maxey, D. Delphi Project-Dispelling_the_Myths – DelphiProject-Dispelling_the_Myths.pdf Retrieved from

Especially useful links such as, Resources and Tool Kits: Example Change Processes and Practices at make this resource a practical guide for the adjunct manager.  The authors, Kezar and Maxey, go through a detailed list of examples of no-cost, low-cost and more costly options for supporting adjunct faculty.  After each one of the sections they provide additional resources to either support or help implement their recommendations.  For leaders this is a document that can be used as a road-map to creating a more uniformly supported faculty, increasing the chance of student success within the institution. For managers of adjuncts, these recommendations are backed up with research and examples that can be used when appealing to leadership for more resources to support adjuncts.   The Delphi Project website is a must for those managers seeking to learn about the changing nature of the academic workforce.

Best practices for supporting adjunct faculty

Coburn-Collins, A. (2014). Best practices for supporting adjunct faculty. Paper presented at the Higher Learning Commission 2014 Annual Conference,

The five best practices outlined in this conference paper are practical steps that every institution can take to help develop a campus culture that accepts adjunct faculty as equal partners in student success. From a comprehensive orientation to recognition for quality work these practices this institution set up an Office of Adjunct Faculty Support with a budget of $250,000, roughly the cost of four tenure-track assistant professors.  This program supports 350 adjuncts.  The math alone suggests that the investment is well spent and the return on investment is measured in improved student success and a “sense of belonging” among the adjuncts.

Part-time faculty: Building a quality team

Adams, M., Dority, K., & Distance Education and, T. C. (2005). Part-time faculty: Building a quality team. DETC occasional
 ( No. 24). Washington D.C.: Distance Education and Training Council. Retrieved from

The writers analyze two interviews and four sample faculty contracts to develop  comprehensive recommendations for creating an “effective working relationship” with these “free agents”, or part-time faculty in the online/distance education realm of graduate education.  The two professors interviewed have extensive experience in the online and adjunct world of higher education. Adams and Dority study both the interviews and contracts to determine what elements must exist to create and maintain an effective working relationship.  They explore the characteristics of adjuncts, their needs, what administrators need from the adjuncts, and how this all affects the students.  They then develop a path that will result in an effective working relationship, beginning with the recruitment and continuing through the motivating of adjuncts. There is a reasonable list of recommended resources for the effective development and management of adjunct faculty. At the time of this reading, some of the sources are dated and the URLs are not all functional.  It should be noted that the Sloan Consortium has renamed itself and is now the Online Learning Consortium.  The URLs that are still viable provide useful information for the online/distance learning instructor, as well as those that manage them.