Adjunct faculty are educators, too.

49% of college instructors nationwide are classified as adjunct faculty.

Adjunct faculty are seen as peripheral to higher education, but play a vital role in student education. Community colleges are leading the way in developing programs and professional development opportunities for adjuncts.

At North Shore Community College in Massachusetts, the college developed a one-year adjunct faculty professional development model to foster diverse thinking and collaboration around teaching skills and expertise. Laurel S. Messina and Dawn Spangler, both of North Shore, explained the program and the extensive research project that demonstrated its value as an annual program over six years.

Full-time or adjunct faculty facilitate collaborative workshops. In addition, an adjunct coordinator receives a stipend for overseeing the workshops. These workshops are held twice per semester on Saturdays and come with a nominal stipend to attend and learn. Adjunct faculty resources are also available online and through the university’s center for teaching and learning.

Adjunct faculty are more likely to seek professional development in teaching than their tenured, tenure-track, and full-time counterparts. Universities can harness this energy and experience by providing opportunities for involvement, training, and development of the talent in our adjunct faculty members.

Results of the study demonstrate that adjunct faculty would prefer the following formats:

  • Faculty collaboration with colleagues
  • Cohort-based learning
  • Sharing experiences and Best Practices
  • Faculty as Adult-Learners Approach
  • Demonstrations of Best Practices in Teaching and Learning

The Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) annual conference on General Education and Assessment was held at the New Orleans Marriott in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 23-25, 2012. I attended on behalf of Queens University of Charlotte with four faculty colleagues. Read all the articles on this conference here.

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