Tag Archives: qualitative research – interviews

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.

American academic: A national survey of part-time/Adjunct faculty

AFT Higher Education. (2010). American academic: A national survey of part-time/Adjunct faculty. volume 2. Washington, DC: American Federation of Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.aft.org/sites/default/files/aa_partimefaculty0310.pdf

This 2010 telephone survey of part-time/adjunct faculty conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of AFT looked at 500 part-time and adjunct faculty members.  Participants were currently employed as part-time/adjuncts in either a 2-year or 4-year institution (public and private, union and non-union).  Some respondents held full-time positions at other institutions, or outside of higher education.  One notable group not included in this survey were the part-time/adjunct faculty for graduate studies. The survey looks at areas such as attitudes towards part-time teaching; preference for full-time over part-time work; job conditions, including compensation, benefits, work-loads, and support; and motivational aspects such as professional support and advancement opportunities.  Demographically the survey looked at the type of institution; type of employment (teaching jobs or non-teaching jobs outside of the adjunct position); and factors such as sex, seniority, race, and income. While most percentages are well within the realm of expectation, the overwhelming number of respondents that identified as white non-Hispanics (84%) does not speak well to the hiring of a racially diverse teaching force.

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
paper.
 ( No. 24). Washington D.C.: Distance Education and Training Council. Retrieved from
http://www.deac.org/UploadedDocuments/Occasional-Papers/24%20-%20Part-Time%20Faculty%20-%20Adams.pdf

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.