In a recent article titled “put your money where your Adjuncts are”, http://chronicle.com/blogs/onhiring/put-your-money-where-your-adjuncts-are/35319?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en the main theme is lack of funding opportunities for adjuncts. I do believe lack of funding opportunities is a huge understatement, considering how many institutions depend on adjuncts nowadays to teach their classes. In the nontraditional market, adjuncts are the majority faculty.
Some schools like to talk proudly about their “practitioner model” of instruction versus “research model”, and in theory having someone who is currently working in what their teaching should benefit students, especially the growing population of nontraditional students. However, how many times do we see classes not filled by a professor until the last minute (professor is consequently unprepared), or classes cancelled because they could not find a professor? This is a symptom of not paying your adjunct professors and treating them as second-class citizens.
It is important that adjuncts feel they are part of the greater school community, their input should be included with current curriculum, advancement opportunities should exist, and good adjuncts should be valued and cherished. Unfortunately, many institutions attitude today is “oh there are more where they came from”, so turnover for adjuncts can be large. Teaching requirements have also gone up, especially with new technology/software and delivery methods such as online/hybrid being introduced, but instructor training is often not given, or if it is, not in a meaningful and helpful way. What that means is more pre-class preparation, more class work, and more post-class work, for less pay. Do we not want out instructors to be successful? Why set them up for failure? Why set the stage for easily preventable student complaints?
Where are the professional development opportunities for adjuncts such as conferences or in-house training? Adjuncts who want earn a terminal degree often are not allowed to take classes or degree programs at the free or reduced rate that regular staff or faculty is allowed to, unless of course they are teaching the equivalent of full time load. If you know any fulltime adjuncts, you know they often have to work at multiple institutions just to make a full time load.
So, what is the solution? I think some of the things I have mentioned would be a good start, but it would have to go hand in hand with a major culture change:
Value your adjuncts, remember they are teaching your students, and students today are looking for a place that is going to help them get a job. Good instructors can help get them there.
Dr. Flavius A B Akerele III