Outside Looking In: Breaking the Connection Barriers for Online Adjunct Faculty

Concurrent Session 4

Brief Abstract

With the diverse backgrounds and experiences of part-time faculty who also serve as practitioners in their career fields, they are continually sought out at institutions of higher education.  Just under half of all faculty in higher education have part-time status. This panel engages participants in valuable discussions with stakeholders with connection to adjunct faculty at various institutions on how to break through barriers to increase effectiveness and success.

Presenters

Lori Kupczynski, Ed.D. has served over 20 years in higher education in the areas of English, Communication, Adult Education, Higher Education and Educational Leadership. She currently serves as a Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. Previously, she has served as Associate Professor and Program Director of the Educatonal Leadership doctoral program, doctoral level transcripted certificate program in Higher Education Administration and Leadership (HEAL) and the Adult Education Masters Program. She was the Recipient of the 2012 United States Distance Learning Association’s Outstanding Leadership by an Individual in the field of Distance Learning Award and the 2012 Distinguished Researcher Award from Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She also received the 2017 Outstanding Senior Faculty Award in the College of Education and Human Performance at TAMUK. Her research agenda focuses on developing a deeper understanding of interactions among adult learners in online learning environments through the development of grounded theory to explain the interactions within the Community of Inquiry Framework (CoI). A secondary track of research is on new and emerging technologies complementary to research with adult learners online. Lori has published over 75 peer reviewed articles in the field and has presented at numerous prestigious national and international conferences.

Extended Abstract

With the diverse backgrounds and experiences of part-time faculty who also serve as practitioners in their career fields, they are continually sought out at institutions of higher education.  It is clear that colleges and university benefit from this expertise and also apparent that these organizations may alleviate budgetary concerns through employment of part-time versus full-time instructors. As of 2013, of the one and a half million faculty at institutions of higher education in the United States, 49% were identified as part-time status (National Center for Education Statistics, 2015).  Adjunct faculty may choose to work at multiple institutions concurrently (Coalition on the Academic Workforce, 2012); thus, the need to provide an environment of sustainability at the institution for part-time faculty is imperative. While individual institutions have varied standards for performance and work obligations not consistent across academia, relationships amongst administration, adjunct faculty, and staff must offer value for all participants. The goal to foster success for the student, the institution, and the faculty is a continual issue.

Success may stem from nurturing a relationship where online faculty feel connected to a team, department, and/or institution while the adjunct faculty may have the personal motivation of being there to do their job. Finding the middle ground is a constant struggle. Low levels of adjunct faculty engagement and lack of feeling connected can negatively impact work performance, service to students, and overall retention of high performing employees (Dolan, 2011).  Additionally, adjunct faculty may feel isolated, disengaged, and uninformed (Center for Community College Student Engagement, 2014).

Outside of the obligatory training or meeting requirements for all faculty, adjunct and full-time, the question is how to leverage technology to increase the connectedness with part-time faculty in a way that does not impede their time and offers a purposeful opportunity for professional engagement and development.

This panel engages participants in valuable discussions with stakeholders with connection to adjunct faculty at various institutions on how to break through barriers to increase effectiveness and success.

Panel

Panel Facilitator Role:

Facilitate the discussion.

 

Administration/Supervisory Role:

Connecting adjunct faculty to the roles and goals of the program to maintain learning integrity and educational standards.  What is the goal for bringing in, training, and maintaining superior performance by adjuncts.

 

Adjunct Role:

Where was/is the disconnect, what connections and engagement did/do they look for at an institution and why, what tools were/are used or should be used.

 

Technologist/Digital Learning/Instructional Designer Role:

How do you connect with adjunct faculty? What should your role be in helping connect the part-time faculty through technology in addition to “help desk” requests? What would you want to tell disengaged faculty? How can adjuncts connect to the institution through technology?

 

References:

Center for Community College Student Engagement. (2014). Contingent commitments: Bringing part-time faculty into focus. Retrieved from http://www.ccsse.org/docs/PTF_Special_Report.pdf

Coalition on the Academic Workforce. (2012). A portrait of part-time faculty members. Retrieved from http://www.academicworkforce.org/CAW_portrait_2012.pdf

Dolan, V. L. B. (2011). The isolation of online adjunct faculty and its impact on their performance. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(2), 62-77. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/793/1787

National Center for Education Statistics. (2015). Number of faculty in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by employment status, sex, control, and level of institution: Selected years, fall 1970 through fall 2013. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d14/tables/dt14_315.10.asp