A new study from Cengage finds that although adjunct faculty are very student-focused and believe they offer unique value, including real-world expertise and industry contacts, they feel disconnected and less valued than full-time faculty.
And, while more than half of adjuncts are using digital learning tools, they want more opportunities for collaboration and professional development using these materials, the survey finds.
Cengage and Zeldis Research Associates conducted both qualitative and quantitative research over a six-month period and connected with nearly 500 adjunct instructors.
“More than half of the nation’s college instructors are adjuncts, so ensuring we understand their unique needs and how we can support them is crucial,” said George Miller, senior advisor, Cengage, who spent years in Congress pushing for better support of adjunct instructors during his time on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “Cengage is taking an important lead to provide adjuncts with collaboration and professional development opportunities, as well as training using digital tools to improve the learning experience.”
The survey notes that more than half of adjuncts (55 percent) currently have another job, and most (76 percent) feel pressed for time when preparing for a course. Adjuncts often do not have access to the same resources and training as full-time instructors and, while they get confirmation of course logistics, they don’t often have a reliable source for information about additional resources, professional development and course content or challenges, according to the survey. This translates into about one-third of adjuncts feeling less valued than full-time faculty.
And while about half of adjuncts use digital teaching tools, the majority want more support and training when it comes to using new technology.
Two-thirds of adjuncts participate in professional development, which is not often required and for which they are often not compensated. Adjuncts value professional development opportunities that help them understand how to better engage and connect with a diverse range of students through technology, how to use digital materials, and how to network/connect with peers.
Recognizing the limited funding available for adjunct resources, and adjuncts’ desire to feel more connected to peers, Cengage is partnering with the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) and AdjunctNation, a publication focused on adjuncts, to launch the “Applaud an Adjunct” program. Running through the month of April, faculty/administrators can nominate an adjunct they’d like to recognize for making a difference on their campus – whether it’s through a unique connection with students, an innovative teaching strategy or other contribution. Each Friday, randomly selected “winners” will get to choose from a selection of complimentary professional development resources offered by AdjunctNation’s book imprint The Part-Time Press.
For more information on the “Applaud an Adjunct” program, please visit the campaign page http://www.cengage.com/learn/applaud-an-adjunct. Visit Cengage’s Facebook page throughout the month of April as Cengage leaders take time to thank adjuncts.
Adjuncts can also benefit from joining the Cengage Higher Ed Faculty Community site at https://community.cengage.com/. Built with input from faculty, the Cengage Higher Ed Faculty Community is a place for instructors to connect, share ideas and get support. Participants can join conversations, read blogs, dig into specific disciplines, ask Cengage Faculty Partners expert questions, submit product ideas and more.
For more information on Cengage’s long-standing partnership with NISOD, please visit www.nisod.org/striving-for-excellence/. To access the white paper “Experiences, Challenges, and Perspectives of Adjunct Instructors,” please visit https://blog.cengage.com/experiences-challenges-and-perspectives-of-adjunct-instructors/.
Material from a press release was used in this report.