Presenters: Russell Poulin and David Clinefelter
I attended a FREE online webinar today entitled, “Recruiting, Orienting & Supporting ONLINE Adjunct Faculty: A Survey of Practices” and I learned several things I feel compelled to share. The webinar was sponsored by The Learning House, Inc., and WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies). I’ve highlighted some of the takeaways and more information below. I do wish we had the same data about full-time and tenure-track instructors who teach online.
Be careful about # of courses adjuncts can teach so it doesn’t lead to full-time equivalent.
Employment for online instruction is stable – little turnover per the data and demand for online adjuncts is growing.
Policies for formal evaluation
– Student evals – per term
– Supervisor – per term or once per year
– Peer reviews – very limited
– Some institutions have no policy for evaluation
Only 35% offered “required” instructor-led training before an adjunct can teach online.
Written policies for interactions with students (i.e., within a specific timeframe)?
– Posts a topic on message board
– Respond to posting
– Grade Assignments
– Respond to student email or inquiry (w/i specific timeframe)
Researchers were surprised that many institutions did not have any policies for interactions with students.
Institutions tend to use highly different philosophies for course design by adjuncts.
Pedagogical training is limited at many institutions.
Customized vs Master Course – need to pick one and stick to it based on institutional culture.
- Choose a model for course design and fully develop it.
- Set clear expectations for faculty engagement with students (create guidelines).
- Use best practices to select new adjunct faculty and then provide comprehensive training (is institutional training & support provided? list of cheating tools, students services, online pedagogy).
- Provide an ongoing system of professional development, training and performance review.
- Systematically include adjunct faculty in the life and governance of the college or university.
- Understand and address internal and external polices – Intellectual property, another caution to be careful of full-time status of adjuncts, academic integrity policies.
Finally, here is a list of the key findings from the report according to the Learning House website:
- One-size-fits-all policies are common. Policies that were designed for on-campus adjuncts were frequently applied to those who teach online, which can present challenges in the different modality.
- Adjuncts teaching online are often given responsibility and flexibility. Thirty-one percent of online adjunct faculty are often given responsibility for course design, and 21 percent of institutions allow online adjunct faculty the ability to totally customize the courses they teach.
- There are two approaches to how institutions have adjunct faculty develop online courses. Colleges and universities tend to fall into two camps, either using a “master course” philosophy (the institution develops the course) or “full development/customization” (the faculty member develops the course.
- Professional training and development are not guaranteed. Eighty-four percent of respondents reported high levels of technical and instructional design support, but most professional development and training requirements were offered face-to-face or on campus.
- Recruiting is the same for online and on-campus adjuncts. Online adjuncts are hired using the same advertising and screening methods used to hire on-campus adjuncts.
You can download the report on the Learning House website but you will need to provide your name and an email address to access the full report. Keep in mind that Learning House is a vendor and not a non-profit like WCET.
Thanks to WCET and Learning House for this FREE professional development webinar!