Changing the Role of Adjunct Faculty in Online Professional Education

Author Information
Melody Thompson
Penn State Univesrity
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of Illinois-Chicago/Great Cities Institute
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

University of Illinois-Chicago and Great Cities Institute integrate adjunct faculty into the community of practitioners through different activities and incentives.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

There are a number of challenges facing implementation and expansion of this new approach to adjunct faculty. Financial issues, instructor incentives, definition of responsibilities, and monitoring adjunct faculty response are of few of the areas to be studied as the program matures.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

faculty satisfaction: Institutions can provide access to previously unreached students through the use of online education. However, their ability to do so depends on capacity of the faculty. Many institutions have responded to this need by hiring adjunct faculty to teach online courses. This practice increases capacity, but also has potential negative consequences. On the one hand, this practice raised concerns about quality and commitment. On the other hand, it contributed to a growing cadre of adjunct faculy members who feel marginalized by and isolated from the program and institution they serve. The new paradigm developed by UIC/GCI's Online Certificate in Nonprofit Management (CNM) program promotes a view of "e-adjuncts," who have roles and responsibilities beyond those traditionally assigned to adjunct faculty members. Although remaining peripheral to the core teaching faculty of the institution, e-adjuncts are central to the online program in which they teach. For example, in addition to instruction, e-adjuncts are involved in program and curriculum development, marketing, and program evaluation. They participate in faculty development and curriculum-team activities that provide a consistent standard of online instructional quality, as well as a high level of faculty commitment to the program. This approach to adjunct faculty increases satisfaction by removing the isolation that usually characterizes this position, integrating them into the challenging and supportive community of practitioners.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Kate Prevara, University of Illinois, Chicago
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