Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Molly H. Duggan

Committee Member

Ted Raspiller

Committee Member

Steve Myran


Nationally adjunct faculty comprise almost 70% of all two-year institution faculty while in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) adjunct faculty teach 60% of the community college courses, and should past trends continue, the number of adjunct faculty members is expected to grow 10% within the next fifteen years (Caliber, 2007; Phillipe & Sullivan, 2005). Research conducted regarding adjunct faculty in the community colleges (Gappa & Leslie, 1993; Rouche et al., 1995) has tended to focus on descriptive characteristics and attitudes of adjunct faculty (Valadez & Anthony, 2001) and on quality of life issues (Rhoades, 1996). While these national studies may have addressed professional development, it was generally not the focus of the research. What researchers have concluded, however, was that professional development for adjunct faculty was lacking (Salmon, 2006).

Many community colleges are choosing not to replace departing full-time faculty with full-time faculty members turning instead to adjunct labor to meet their needs (Flannigan, Jones, & Moore, 2004; Salmon, 2006). The economic benefits of hiring adjunct faculty are inarguable: part-time employees are simply less expensive than full-time employees. Without the efforts of these adjunct faculty members, however, community colleges would not have the staffing necessary to meet the demands of their diverse constituents. Reliance on adjunct faculty means that, in many cases, students are more likely to be taught by adjunct faculty than by full time faculty. Community colleges are obliged to assure quality instruction is provided for students regardless of the faculty member's employment status. Quality instruction is supported by providing professional development for all faculty members.

This study found that adjunct faculty perceived content delivered during professional development opportunities to be valuable and useful. However, the data also indicated that only small percentage made requested changes, yet 90% of the adjunct faculty reported making other changes based on professional development content. The study affirms that professional development for adjunct faculty did have an impact on their behaviors but it was not a sizable impact.


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