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Study Suggests Online Adjunct Faculty Feel Isolated, Unheard


Increasingly, online degree programs are using adjunct faculty to teach core and elective courses.

But how do adjuncts themselves feel about teaching online? 

Pay is often low—too low perhaps? And professional training and advancement opportunities are often non-existent.

Do online college teachers feel the same lack of emotional belonging and influence that plagues telecommuters in other career sectors? Are they happy with their wages and working conditions?

Vera Dolan, a researcher working at Depaul University and Ellis University, and writer for the The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, has published the results of a qualitative survey of adjunct satisfaction (or the lack thereof).

Dolan examined the attitudes of 28 online adjunct faculty, all of them teaching at the same distance learning degree program.

The online adjuncts themselves identified three issues they believe impact poorly on their motivation and teaching performance: 1) inadequate frequency and quality of communication, regardless of whether that communication occurred online or face-to-face; 2) lack of recognition of the value their teaching brings to the university overall; and 3) lack of training and career advancement opportunities.

Overall, the results of the study suggest the need for online schools to develop programs and procedures targeted toward improving the sense of affiliation and belonging that online adjuncts feel for their institutions.

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