Growth within the adjunct faculty role: an interaction of challenge, support, and context

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Educational Leadership


Department of Educational Leadership


Advisor: Thomas M. Falk


Adjunct, part-time faculty members account for a majority of the faculty group on many campuses in the U.S.A. The hiring of adjuncts saves higher education institutions money, and it provides part-time roles for those interested. However, there is not the rigor of planning for employing adjunct faculty as exists for employing full-time faculty. As a result, adjuncts and institutions may experience confusion and fail to garner sufficient benefits from the arrangement. Adjunct faculty members can experience significant challenges as they work to fulfil the responsibilities of their role on campus. This study examined the relationship between the challenges that a group of adjuncts face and the supports that they have available to them. The culminating interaction provides insight into the potential that exists in the adjunct faculty role. A constructive developmental lens is used in this phenomenological study of the growth that participants construct about their present and past experiences in an adjunct role. Empirical materials were comprised of interviews of sixteen participants at one private institution. Findings indicate that these adjuncts struggle with challenges in the structuring of the role, in feeling neglected by the institution, and of not having a community on campus. The supports available to address these challenges varied widely among the participants, but the implications are that solutions may already exist for the more basic challenges. For the more complex challenges, this research offers some suggestions for further investigation.


College teachers, Part-time Job satisfaction, College teachers, Part-time Attitudes, College teachers Job satisfaction, Universities and colleges Employees Job satisfaction, Educational Leadership, Higher Education, adjunct faculty, constructive developmental theory, phenomenology, growth, challenges

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Copyright © 2017, author