How to Create Access to Professional Development for Your Adjunct Faculty
Over the past several decades, institutions of higher learning have become increasingly more reliant upon part-time or adjunct faculty to do their teaching. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has this number at 40% today, which is a significant increase from 24% in 1975. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has it at 47% across all institution types, while 67% of teachers are adjunct at community colleges.
While there are many benefits that come with adjunct faculty—including current industry experience, flexibility in scheduling and lower cost—many adjuncts enter the field with little to no formal study of andragogy. It proves challenging for institutions to adequately train adjuncts on policies, procedures and systems, with teaching methodology often left completely unaddressed.
At my own institution, nearly 80% of all teaching faculty are adjunct with some 700 adjuncts teaching in programs that I supervise alone. We are very fortunate to draw from a large metropolitan area with diverse industry clusters and depth, in the way of having industry experts interested in teaching. Over the years it has become clear that such industry experts have little time to become proficient in college systems, often receiving their assignments very close to the start of the term. So, many of them possess great knowledge and enthusiasm, but have little to no formal study of or experience at teaching.
Given this reality, College of DuPage Continuing Education worked with the Office of Adjunct Faculty Support and two accomplished adjunct teachers to create the Adjunct Faculty Training Institute (AFTI). Launched at the College of DuPage in 2016, the purpose of the Adjunct Faculty Training Institute is to provide a comprehensive program of professional development for adjunct faculty from regional colleges and universities. Professional education offered through AFTI is best-practice teaching strategies designed to increase student achievement while reducing student attrition rates. The Adjunct Faculty Training Institute has four courses designed to rapidly develop adjunct instructors. Online and hybrid courses offered are designed to deliver instruction effectively and create a cohort environment where instructors can share best practices.
Heather Martin and Tara Schwab, both accomplished adjunct faculty members, worked with staff to create a 12-week hybrid course to cover both the logistics and methodology of teaching. This introductory course has been supplemented by three additional, fully online six-week modules covering the emerging and critical education topics. Some of the courses include; Assessment of Student Learning, Learner-Centered Teaching, Diversity, Social Justice and Inclusion in the Classroom.
Over thirty adjunct professors have gone through the training and have offered extremely positive feedback. For example:
“I benefited from the individualized feedback on each assignment. Going forward, I will be shifting more of the responsibility for learning to the students so that class time is spent in a workshop/application setting. The goal is to spend less time lecturing and more time engaging in meaningful activities.” — Shannon Caldwell
The initial course (Introduction to College Teaching) provides basic and advanced teaching techniques, syllabi preparation, classroom management as well as formative and summative assessment. Learner-Centered Teaching is an advanced follow up module designed to transform students from passive to active learners. Diversity, Social Justice and Inclusion in the Classroom explores social justice in the context of the college environment. The course explores equity and inclusion, serving a diverse student population and prepares the adjunct professor with the tools necessary to thrive in our multicultural setting. Assessment of Student Learning focuses on student learning outcomes as the central purpose of instruction. Instructors will learn strategies to measure the degree to which students are meeting the course objectives.
Collectively, these courses prepare both new and experienced educators to teach at the college and university level.
The next 12-week Introduction to College Teaching course will be offered both in the hybrid and fully online formats Spring 2019. The National Council for Continuing Education and Training (NCCET) is helping take this dynamic program to the national stage through a partnership with the College of DuPage. There is still time to enroll in the Diversity, Social Justice and Inclusion in the Classroom module that begins in October. Modules can be taken in any sequence and will have an immediate impact on your adjunct faculty abilities and student outcomes.
Mention NCCET or The EvoLLLution to receive a discount to this affordably priced program. Scholarships may be available.
To Register, please call (630) 942-2208 or email CE@cod.edu.
For more information contact Jenifer Walsh, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (630) 942-3045.
Author Perspective: Administrator