Understanding instructor onboarding practices at career colleges

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Educational Leadership


Department of Educational Administration


Advisor: Steven Hinshaw


While scholarship on faculty orientation and development is prevalent in traditional four-year universities and community colleges, the same cannot be said for for-profit (proprietary) career colleges. Given the proprietary nature of most private, career colleges and the lack of required faculty research, little research exists on the practices and effectiveness of practices at these types of colleges, although much opinion exists about the negative outlook on such types of schools. A secondary goal of this study was to add to a limited conversation on the practices at these schools, with a focus on faculty orientation and onboarding.Faculty orientation and onboarding, also referred to as organizational socialization, is a process by which a new employee acquires knowledge and skills necessary to assume a role in a new organization (Bauer, 2010; Feldman, 1981; Schein, 1968; Tierney, 1997; Van Maanen, 1978; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979). This process is important especially when an employee is a neophyte in a sector, which happens often in career colleges because many instructors teaching at these institutions have little to no preparation as instructors, having been formerly employed or being currently employed in their fields (Hentschke, Lechuga, & Tierney, 2010; Lechuga, 2006). The primary goal of this study was to help understand how career colleges approach this important process.The findings revealed that more structured and formal onboarding programs are found at multiple-site institutions, while single-site career colleges often have informal and non-structured programs. These programs were then compared to a human resources framework provided by Bauer (2010); because the institutions are often run as businesses, an HR framework was more appropriate than other frameworks used in faculty development research. The comparison to the framework showed all participating institutions focused on helping instructors understand their role, policy, and procedure, but only the more formal programs included helping new instructors understand the culture and feel connected to those with whom they would be working. Bauer's suggestions of compliance, role clarification, culture, and connection offer a framework for career colleges to use in creating new programs or in improving current practice.Overall, this study helps add to a conversation and provide a narrative about the onboarding practices currently occurring at career colleges and offers suggestions for a continued conversation about the effectiveness of these practices for student success-a stated goal of many career colleges.


Educational Leadership, career college, faculty onboarding, faculty orientation, for-profit, proprietary schools

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Copyright © 2018, author