Another Hoorah for Adjuncts
by Steven R. Van Hook, PhD
This kind of finding may be counter-intuitive.
Adjuncts typically receive little in the way of
institutional support, even though they total more
than 70% of all faculty.
Adjunct course development is mostly unpaid, there few
employment benefits to relieve survival pressures, no
sabbaticals; all at a fraction of the pay tenured
instructors receive for teaching the same class.
And yet adjunct instructors teach so well.
Based on my experience as and with adjunct
instructors, there are some obvious reasons for this:
Adjuncts are frequently joining academia as outsiders,
bringing real-world battle-proven skills with
Thatís a big reason they are adjuncts Ė they havenít
followed the normal academic career path of those
who quite often never leave the schoolyard.
The students respond well to an adjunctís practical
life experience, and the out-of-book perspectives it
Adjuncts by necessity scramble for nontraditional
resources and networks to prepare for classroom duty.
Their classes are thus often more current, lively,
engaging; resulting in better student learning and
higher teacher evaluations.
Or I may be all wrong. But whatever the reason, the
finding is clear: adjuncts do teach well.
Itís hard to say what the fallout from such data
Will administrators use it to justify their increasing
reliance on adjuncts, at the continued disparity in
pay and benefits, since the model is evidently working
Will the worth of adjuncts become ever more evident,
so compensations increase fairly?
Will student demands for the skillful teaching
provided by adjuncts shift market forces towards
Or is all this just part of a metamorphosis into
transformations we canít begin to guess?