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Contracts with Community College Adjunct Faculty Members: Potential Supplemental Benefits to Increase Satisfaction

Kimberly Ann Page, Johnson & Wales University


During the 21st century Great Recession, college enrollments increased as displaced workers trained to advance their skills (Baum & Ma, 2012). At the same time, state funding to community colleges declined (Baum & Ma, 2012; Ehrenberg, 2012). Although higher enrollments increased tuition revenues, they were insufficient to cover the gap left from reduced state funding (CCCSE, 2014b). To accommodate the shortfall, many community colleges hired more adjunct faculty (Desrochers & Hurlburt, 2014). The influx of part-time instructors created new problems and exacerbated existing ones (CCCSE, 2014b). The Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE, 2014b) identified six areas in need of improvement for adjunct faculty members: hiring practices, subsequent employment, orientation, professional development, performance evaluations, and support services. Herzberg postulated that employees do not perform well when they are highly dissatisfied with their working conditions, which correlates to inferior results (Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959/2010). This qualitative research explored supplemental benefits, which could be included in adjunct faculty contracts with community colleges in order to promote workplace satisfaction, without causing stress on budgets. Adjunct faculty who realize greater job satisfaction are more beneficial to their institutions because they promote student learning and retention (CCCSE, 2014b; Hollenshead, 2010; Jacoby, 2006). The descriptive study included three phases: record reviews, interviews with key informants and elite informants, and a reflective questionnaire. New England was selected as the research site because all six states have or are developing statewide contracts for adjunct faculty at community colleges. For the record reviews, existing contracts were examined (N = 5); for the key informant interviews, community college presidents and a vice president (N = 4) and adjunct faculty representatives (N = 4) were consulted; and for the elite interviews and a reflective questionnaire, state human resource administrators ( N = 7) were contacted. The study concluded with recommendations for community college leaders, those engaged in negotiations with adjunct faculty, in seven areas: contractual issues, recognizing seniority, instituting meaningful performance evaluations, improving communication, expanding professional development, managing teaching assignments, and providing academic amenities.

Subject Area

Community college education|Education

Recommended Citation

Page, Kimberly Ann, "Contracts with Community College Adjunct Faculty Members: Potential Supplemental Benefits to Increase Satisfaction" (2016). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI10125162.