Building Adjunct Faculty's Capacity to Innovate
Adjunct faculty make up the majority of higher education instructors nationwide, yet, they seemed to be left out when planning professional development opportunities and it’s more difficult to build their capacity to innovate. Through our project, we worked with 10 adjuncts to design innovative courses to increase student success.
Though our adjunct faculty are asked to teach many courses across a variety of disciplines, they seemed to be left out when planning professional development opportunities or when paid course building opportunities arise. Because of this, it’s more difficult to build their capacity to innovate. Innovation is a concept that challenges many colleges and universities. How can we inspire adjunct faculty, who feel underappreciated and underpaid to use innovative tools and pedagogies as they teach their courses and improve student outcomes?
We've developed a program to build a support structure for adjunct faculty and to increase their capacity to innovate. Historically, our adjunct faculty have not have the same level of support that the full time faculty have. This led us to design an innovation framework that was both collaborative and supportive, specifically for adjunct faculty. The project was approved by our Strategic Plan Project Committee. We were able to offer 10 adjunct faculty members a fellowship to take our online innovative course design workshop and to spend time working one on one with instructional designers and instructional technologists to create innovate course designs. We faced challenges and successes through this project; however the end result was very positive. By offering adjunct faculty the opportunity to collaborate and be supported as they tried new things, innovative ideas emerged, adjunct faculty felt valued and supported, and students received high quality courses.