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Professional development for continuing education adjunct professors: A Massachusetts perspective

William B Hurley, Johnson & Wales University


A major trend in higher education is the increased use of adjunct faculty to lower instructional costs and to enhance flexibility to adapt to changing academic needs. In the fall of 2004 more than half of all postsecondary instructional faculties were part-timers. However, adjunct faculty frequently have little or no formal training in teaching and most colleges limit the accessibility for professional development of adjunct faculty. This descriptive, survey research study (N = 91) used a multistage sampling approach to examine the perceptions of Massachusetts adjunct faculty (n = 60) and continuing education administration (n = 31) to ascertain the value of different types of professional development to improve adjunct faculty teaching. Data was collected using the same survey instrument with both adjunct faculty and continuing education administrators. Primary results indicate that "adjunct faculty professional development as a tool for improving the quality of adjunct faculty teaching" was perceived as "highly valuable" or "valuable" by both adjunct faculty (80.0%) and continuing education administrators (90.3%). Among adjunct faculty professional development opportunities, either "currently provided" or "preferred", most frequently indicated by respondents were adjunct faculty handbooks, in-service workshops, and pre-service orientation. Of nine identified adjunct faculty professional development opportunities listed among "current opportunities" and "preferred opportunities", a cross-tabulation generated significant chi-square values (p < .005) for five of the items. Of 14 professional development topics, nine were identified as "highly valuable" or "somewhat valuable" by adjunct faculty. Using the results of this study, a suggested model of adjunct faculty professional development was developed using the Adult Learning Model for Faculty Development proposed by Lawler and King (2000).

Subject Area

Higher education|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Hurley, William B, "Professional development for continuing education adjunct professors: A Massachusetts perspective" (2006). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3234958.