And What New Adjuncts Should do if Colleges Don’t do It
When a new term is approaching college administrators may need to scramble to staff all of their courses. This provides excellent employment opportunities for those seeking their first college teaching job. However, if you are one of them, and you are not careful, it could be your last teaching assignment in higher education.
Why Colleges Hire Adjuncts on Short Notice
Enrollments are up at many colleges. Most of the community colleges in my area have seen an increase of more than 10 percent each of the last two years. In response, colleges add new course sections, but these are seldom taught be full-time faculty, at least not in the short term. It is not uncommon for colleges to hire adjuncts to teach more than half their course sections.
The courses that seem to be most in demand are general education courses in areas like English, mathematics, science, arts and humanities. These are the courses that usually require a master’s degree, but not even a Ph.D. will automatically translate to success in the classroom.
Advice for Hiring New College Adjuncts
As the start of another school year rapidly approaches, college administrators confront the employment challenge of filling unstaffed courses. This often requires hiring new adjuncts on short notice, sometimes leaving them just a few days to prepare for their first class. As a result, some new instructors are set up for failure. Here are some pieces of advice I would offer those who are new to this last minute hiring frenzy, especially when they are considering candidates with no prior higher education teaching experience:
- Explain to candidates the amount of time and effort that is required to successfully prepare to teach a new course, and ask yourself if they realistically are willing and able to put in that effort.
- Emphasize the importance of being prepared and organized.
- Identify the pitfalls that have challenged new faculty at your institution, and make them aware of what they should do to avoid them.
- Provide them with sample syllabi, and have them submit their syllabi for you to review prior to the first class.
- Give them sample lesson plans that illustrate methods to engage students, create rich learning experiences, and avoid the “sage on the stage” syndrome.
- Encourage them to have their students complete one-minute papers.
- Follow up with them after the first week, keeping in mind that much like their students, many of them will not come to you to ask for help. In some cases they won’t even know they need help.
Advice for New College Adjuncts
Think about my advice for those who are hiring you. If you don’t have the time to prepare don’t accept the assignment. You would be setting yourself up for failure. And if you are not provided with the information and resources you need, ask for them. It is not a sign of weakness.
Also, know that some students are much more likely to complain to your dean or department chair than voice their concerns directly to you. Therefore, have your students complete one-minute papers so you won’t be blindsided by students who are afraid to share their issues directly with you.
Want one more piece of advice? No? Well, here it is anyway. Read my prior articles.
© 2010 Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.
Posted August 1, 2010