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Examining An Adjunct Faculty Professional Development Program Model for a Community College

Laurel S Messina, Johnson & Wales University


The Annual (2009) Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) emphasized "part-timer status of adjunct faculty as one of the greatest challenges that community colleges face in creating strong campus connections" (Gonzalez, 2009, p. 6). In 2008, adjunct faculty represented 68% of the two-year public college faculty and 49% of higher education faculty nationally (Digest of Educational Statistics, 2008). Adjunct faculty play an important role, yet are often considered peripheral to college life, marginalized, isolated, and seldom provided professional development opportunities available to full-time faculty. A significant body of literature (Bransford, 2000; Cox & Richlin, 2004; Gillespie & Robertson, 2010; Hurley, 2006; King & Lawler, 2003; Leslie & Gappa, 2002; Nilson & Miller, 2009, 2010 Roueche, Roueche, & Milliron, 1995) points to a critical need for adjunct faculty professional development and reviewed models of best pedagogical practices. However, few studies have examined program design within an institution to study the necessary components for program success. Fewer have examined models specifically designed for adjunct faculty and the preferences of adjuncts who participate in such programs (Bransford, 2000; King & Lawler, 2003). The purpose of this study was to explore adjunct faculty (N=424) perceptions of the value of a one-year adjunct faculty development program (AFPDP) model. The study examined adjuncts' preferences for curricula content and program characteristics perceived as valuable components of an (AFPDP) compared to components of best pedagogical practices described in the literature. The study employed mixed methods, sequential explanatory research design. A cross-sectional survey, using a comparative group design was administered (N=158), with follow-up focus groups with participants ( N=18) and non-participants (N=9) of a one-year adjunct professional development program (Gall, Gall & Borg, 2007; Creswell, 2009). The findings indicated the (P-AFPDP) group valued their professional development experience and preferred program components significantly more than the (Non-P-AFPDP); although both groups valued adjunct professional development and program components presented in the model. The study was able to capture an in-depth, descriptive view of the adjunct perceptive to provide a better understanding of program content and characteristics adjuncts perceived valuable components of an (AFPDP) model designed to benefit their teaching practices within a community college setting and to provide mapping for future research on program design and evaluation models.

Subject Area

Community college education|Teacher education|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Messina, Laurel S, "Examining An Adjunct Faculty Professional Development Program Model for a Community College" (2011). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3461092.