Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Higher Education

Committee Director

Alan Schwitzer

Committee Member

Mary H. Duggan

Committee Member

J. Worth Pickering


In recent years all public higher education institutions have increased their reliance on adjunct faculty. Adjuncts provide expertise in key areas, are available at times that meet the needs of the changing student demographic, and cover an increasing number of introductory courses. It has been suggested that adjunct faculty may be more weakly linked to their students, colleagues, and institution. This may, in turn, be detrimental to the organizational health of the institution. Prior research has indicated that adjunct faculty have different motivations and expectations from teaching that impact the connections they form in the higher education workplace. This study examined sense of belonging and organizational commitment among adjunct faculty at a public research university. The study also investigated the distribution of adjunct faculty types at the institution.

The study was conducted using an online Survey of Workplace Relationships and included 292 adjunct and fulltime faculty participants. Self-report measures were used to gain demographic information and employment characteristics, and to place adjunct faculty in a pre-established typology. Individual subscales were used to obtain measures of Organizational Sense of Belonging (OSB) and Affective Organizational Commitment (AOC). A variety of methods were used to analyze the data, including descriptive analyses, ANCOVA, and Pearson Correlation.

Results indicated that, at the institution being studied, adjunct faculty had a slightly weaker OSB than full-time faculty; and that development of OSB varies among the different types of adjunct faculty. Results indicated a statistically significant linear relationship between OSB and AOC. Further research is needed to clarify factors that contribute to the development of OSB in a higher education setting. Further research is also needed to determine causality in the OSB-AOC relationship.