Some of my best learning experiences in higher education – both in the physical classroom and via online delivery – were facilitated by adjunct faculty at my local community college and a few of them were simultaneously full-time faculty members at other institutions. I am sorry to say that I was very disappointed in the decrease in student-teacher interaction when I transferred to a large research-oriented university. (In their defense, however, mine was an entirely new online degree program, so we were the guinea pig class.) I remember having a conversation once with an adjunct faculty member who got a chuckle out of a similar statement that I made. They replied that community colleges are for teachers and large research universities are for researchers. I have given this statement serious consideration as I continue to refine my path because I had hoped to find a place where I can do both and do them both well; but, these days, the odds favor employment of adjunct faculty.
Adjunct instructors were some of my best teachers, but they never seemed to have access to the same opportunities available to full-time faculty. Even the full-time faculty teaching psychology at that community college are researching, writing, and presenting – both within their discipline and outside it and frequently with the assistance of students. Maybe my local community college particularly advocates faculty research and development. If so, WAY TO GO LCCC! My question, then, is are we sacrificing research with the increasing use of adjunct faculty? Maybe they are truly not that interested in conducting research. Maybe they have access to other avenues to do so. What if they don’t? Could the increasing use of adjunct faculty negatively impact the future of research and scholarship?