ERIC Identifier: ED363797
Publication Date: 1993-00-00
Author: Lankard, Bettina A.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Adult Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Part-Time Instructors in Adult and Vocational Education. ERIC
Part-time instructors represent an increasing proportion of the education
work force. Special programs for adult students, such as vocational-technical
training, adult basic education, workplace literacy, and English as a second
language, rely heavily on the first-hand knowledge and experience that adjunct
instructors bring to the classroom. Because many educational institutions and
programs are facing reduced budgets and the challenge of "doing more with less,"
the hiring of part-time instructors offers a solution to problems of staffing
and cost containment. These instructors, however, bring to educational
institutions their own set of special needs. This ERIC DIGEST looks at the
increased use of part-time instructors in adult and vocational education. It
examines the education and training needs of part-time instructors and suggests
strategies for their professional development.
Since the 1970s, part-time instructors have been increasingly in demand
across the educational community. Between 1970 and 1988, the number of part-time
community college faculty increased by 164 percent compared to a 37 percent
increase for full-time faculty (Ostertag 1991). In the state of New York, "the
part-time instructional faculty represents 50.5 percent of the state's higher
education teaching staff" (Samuel 1989, p. 42). A national evaluation of adult
education programs reports more than 80 percent of adult education instructors
are part time (Development Associates 1992).
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF PART-TIME INSTRUCTORS
two greatest benefits an educational program realizes by employing part-time
instructors are cost savings and staff flexibility. Part-time instructors
typically are paid at a lower rate than full-time instructors, have no fringe
benefits, receive no office space, and have no financial commitments for
continued employment. The cost benefit of employing part-time instructors is
augmented by the benefit of academic flexibility. Part-time instructors offer
up-to-date knowledge and skills in specific occupational areas, linkages to
business and industry, and a willingness to teach off-site classes and classes
held at unusual hours--flexibility that allows a program to adjust to shifting
enrollment and expand its outreach (PROCEEDINGS 1990). Despite the financial
drawbacks, part-time employment offers certain benefits to instructors.
Particularly drawn to such teaching commitments are semiretired professionals
who have skills in specific occupational areas; individuals who are enrolled in
full-time degree programs, particularly those in education; and people who wish
to augment their income by holding a second job.
Lower salaries, lack of health insurance and other benefits, and lack of
negotiation power regarding raises and promotions are among the frustrating
aspects of part-time employment. Many part-time instructors are also frustrated
from lack of involvement in personnel and budget matters, curriculum
development, and the formulation and implementation of policy, as well as from
the lack of services available to them--office space, clerical assistance,
copying machines. Since they rarely come in contact with other educators,
part-time instructors often feel a sense of isolation and sometimes even
rejection (Smith 1990).
Because they are employed primarily for their professional competence rather
than pedagogical training, many part-time instructors lack the teaching skills
and teaching experience required in the classroom. A large number are not
college graduates and many lack training in adult education, even though the
majority of the students they teach are adults. Those with credentials in adult
basic education may lack skills in functions they are increasingly called upon
to perform, such as counseling, assessment, and career planning (Fairgrieve and
Jimmerson 1988). Professional development of part-time adult and vocational
instructors must be a priority of programs that employ them.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR PART-TIME FACULTY
importance of professional development, few institutions offer such activities
to their part-time instructors. In a study reported by Hoerner et al., "over 55
percent of the responding community and technical colleges rarely have part-time
faculty participate in professional development activities and 48 percent rarely
make professional development activities available to part-time faculty" (PROCEEDINGS 1990, p. 3). Adult basic education teachers in such community
programs as English as a second language may be so isolated that they are
unaware of such activities, even when they are available.
Rewards for participation in professional development are skewed in favor of
those who work full time. Such benefits as travel funds, purchase of special
equipment, release time, paid tuition, sabbaticals, and paid subscriptions to
professional journals are most often directed to full-time instructors, with
such intrinsic rewards as improvement of instruction and individual
professionalism the primary incentives afforded part timers (ibid.).
The selection of programs most needed by the increasing numbers of part-time
instructors must be considered in planning professional development activities.
A 1988 research study undertaken by the Scottish Community Education Council on
the training needs of part-time community education workers (Munn et al. 1989)
revealed four broad categories of training needs: (1) introduction to the
educational setting, (2) development of the basic skills needed by part-time
adult educators, (3) refresher courses for experienced workers, and (4)
specialized courses such as counseling, assertiveness, and computers. Topics
most desired in a short-term training course for part-time adult instructors in
Strathcona, Alberta (Ryan 1986) included methods for teaching adults, needs
assessments, adult learner characteristics, and learning styles and group
development. In a survey of community colleges, the topics most addressed in
professional development of part-time teachers were teaching methods, computer
applications, evaluation, and college mission (PROCEEDINGS 1990). Part-time
tutors in Cheshire, England, identified training in their own subject,
orientation to learn about adult education as well as to get organizational
details, and personal development as their three top needs (Summers 1991).
Whether in institutional settings or working in isolation, however, part-timers
can assume some responsibility for their own professional development. Imel
(1990) provides guidelines for developing a personal development plan,
identifying resources, and eliciting feedback.
IMPROVING INSTRUCTIONAL QUALITY OF PART-TIME
ORIENTATION. "Orientation is the most critical phase in the
socialization process in developing employee loyalty, commitment, and
productivity" (PROCEEDINGS 1990, p. 79). Part-time instructors need to be
informed about policies and procedures through such activities as facility
tours, a complete syllabus for each course, a handbook answering often-asked
questions, information about student evaluation and performance expectations,
handbooks and newsletters, inclusion on mailing lists, and social events
specifically for them (Osborn 1990). Mentoring programs that pair full-time and
part-time instructors are also recommended.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING. Three types of training suggested by Galbraith and
Shedd (1990) are on-the-job training, inservice training, and graduate education
degree programs. On-the-job training affords the benefit of interaction between
experienced full-time teachers and their part-time counterparts. Modeling, peer
groups, and mentoring relationships are some of the ways to help
less-experienced instructors improve their teaching. Inservice training, usually
short term, focuses on specific topics in workshops, seminars, or other group
training sessions. Topics should be relevant to the needs of part-time staff and
the training offered at times they can attend. Incentives should be offered and
communicated through newsletters, memos, posters, and other media. Graduate
degree programs should be encouraged--especially enrollment in courses in adult
education, curriculum and instruction, and instructional design.
EVALUATION. The terms of evaluation must be determined by the administrators
and communicated to part-time teachers when they are hired. Peer observations
and reviews, supervisor reports, one-on-one interactions on the job and in
various inservice training sessions provide relevant feedback from experienced
staff and supervisors. At Sinclair Community College, mentoring programs
"provide instructional support for new part-time faculty and those whose
performance is in further need of development, improve coordination of
instruction between full- and part-time faculty, recognize the needs and
problems of part-time faculty at the satellite centers, improve evaluation of
part-time faculty, strengthen the professional relationships between full- and
part-time faculty, [and] improve retention of part-time students by improving
the performance levels of part-time faculty" (Hosey et al. 1990, p. 5).
ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT. Spotlighting part-time instructors and their
works/accomplishments across the institution gives testimony to the importance
of their role. "An occasional nonthreatening visit, accompanied by a few words
of genuine interest by the division chair, dean, or president is held in the
highest esteem by part-time faculty" (PROCEEDINGS 1990, p. 70). Pay and benefits
are topics for continual review. "If possible, pay and benefits should be
comparable to those received by full-time for equal qualifications and equal
work. This might mean increasing the workload to include office hours and
institutional service for those who want more involvement" (ibid., p. 135.).
Part-time teachers should be encouraged to increase their involvement in the
institution. Inviting them to meetings scheduled at times that are convenient to
them and holding special meetings for them are two positive steps in this
The following recommendations offer guidance for enhancing the quality of
part-time instructors' performance (ibid.): (1) improve salary structures to
reward part-time teachers who are involved in professional development; (2)
encourage them to engage in more instructional-related activities; (3) promote
collegiality between full- and part-time instructors; (4) alter office hours of
regular staff so that they interact with part-time staff; and (5) review
institutional policies as they affect professional development activities.
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no. 2 (Fall 1990): 6-14.
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