Getting faculty—all faculty—involved in student success

Grant will fund programs to bring adjuncts into classroom reform

Adjunct faculty will soon aid full-time faculty in community college reform efforts under a new initiative from Achieving the Dream

The nonprofit awarded two-year grants to six institutions: the Community College of Baltimore County, Harper College, Patrick Henry Community College, Delta College, Renton Technical College, and the Community College of Philadelphia.

The schools will then develop their own programs to increase adjunct engagement, such as mentoring programs or sharing teaching responsibilities with full-time faculty.

"We want adjunct faculty more strongly connected to everything their institution is doing around student success, and that begins in the classroom and supporting their development as teachers, but also showing them how an institution handles advising or an early alert system," says Jon Iuzzini, associate director of teaching and learning for Achieving the Dream. "We want adjuncts just as well informed of these opportunities for students."

Related: Engage faculty to ensure lasting change in student outcomes

At Patrick Henry, this means connecting adjunct and full-time faculty who work within the same disciplines and encouraging them to develop new ways of teaching, as well as adding additional opportunities for adjuncts' professional development—likely through distance learning.

At Harper College, meanwhile, administrators plan to integrate adjunct faculty members into "learning communities," where they can improve their teaching, as well as develop professionally with the help of full-time faculty.

Additionally, a portion of the grant will go toward building a way to recognize adjunct faculty, such as guaranteeing them interviews for full-time positions should they provide additional services to the college, like joining a shared governance committee or developing curriculum. 

An initiative of this type is overdue, says Maria Maisto, president of adjunct advocate group New Faculty Majority.

"There's a lot of good thinking about being more inclusive and bringing core faculty into the life of the institution," Maisto says. "But I would hope some of the proposals (from the colleges) discuss how they can transform their budget models and spending models so they could afford to pay these faculty what they're worth."

The Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University's Teachers College will follow the initiative and monitor how well each program does.

"We're hoping to see some real impacts at the faculty level, both for the adjuncts and the full-timers, too," says Sue Bickerstaff, a senior researcher at CCRC. "We hypothesized that within the departments the full-time faculty will benefit from trying to have more relationships and engagement with colleagues, too" (Smith, Inside Higher Ed, 8/5). 

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