Date of Dissertation

5-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Department

Social Work

Abstract

The increased use of adjunct faculty in academic institutions presents both challenges and opportunities for students, faculty, and administrators (Clark, Moore, Johnston, & Openshaw, 2011). Most of the challenges center around the lack of preparation and knowledge required for the responsibilities of teaching in an academic setting. This banded dissertation explores educational opportunities and supportive programs to prepare adjunct faculty for success in academia.

The first product of this banded dissertation is a conceptual paper proposing three program options for offering ongoing institutional support to adjunct faculty. The conceptual framework guiding this scholarship agenda is Albert Bandura’s social learning theory, examining strategies for increasing teacher effectiveness and sustaining academic quality. Providing ongoing institutional support has implications for administrators who have the responsibility in hiring and developing adjunct faculty.

In higher education, the perception of adjunct faculty as valued team members contradicts academia’s lack of investment in supportive programs and educational opportunities for adjunct faculty. The second product of this banded dissertation is a quantitative study examining the attitudes, perceptions, behaviors, and experiences of adjunct faculty across the United States. Practical implications include the opportunity for adjunct faculty to collaborate with full-time faculty to gain a better understanding of teaching strategies.

Investment in institutional support for adjunct faculty is vital to the growth of academic institutions in the future. The third product of this banded dissertation is an overview of the findings from the research study in product two, presented at the Baccalaureate Program Directors (BPD) annual conference in March 2017. This presentation sought feedback from administrators about their efforts and strategies in supporting adjunct faculty.

The three products of the banded dissertation emphasize the adjunct faculty as a focal point in academia and the reliance on a group of professionals that enter the academy without the proper preparation. Integrative programs and educational opportunities will prepare adjunct faculty to build knowledge and skills to become effective teachers and sustain academic quality. This has implications for academic administrators interested in creating a more inclusive work environment and building a stronger faculty team.

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