All Adjuncts are Not Created Equal: An Exploratory Study of Teaching and Professional Needs of Online Adjuncts

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Publication Date

Spring 2013

Originally Published In

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration

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Online education programs continue to rely on a significant contingent of adjunct faculty to meet the instructional needs of the students. Discourse relating to this situation primarily focuses on the extent to which adjuncts are able to ensure the rigor and quality of instruction as well as the ability of the organization to attract, retain, and support qualified professionals. In response, organizations have created very structured, standardized professional development opportunities, meticulous monitoring of adjunct activities and inflexible policies to guide interactions with learners. This one-size-fits-all strategy limits the organization’s ability to facilitate an adjunct-organizational relationship that supports the adjunct in ways that meet their individual needs. The purpose of this exploratory, quantitative questionnaire study was to examine the difference between the adjuncts’ primary rationale for teaching, and their self-identified professional category. In addition, the study sought to explore the difference between the adjunct’s primary professional needs and their self-identified professional category. The results of the study demonstrated that there was a significant difference between the self-identified professional employment groups in the areas of student focused instruction, personal needs, an interest in online pedagogy, career advancement, and flexible work schedule categories. There was not a significant difference in the self-identified professional employment groups and the category of skill development.