Odessa College’s teaching faculty is comprised of about 60% part-time faculty, based on data for Spring 2019. Drop rates (the percentage of students who withdraw from a course before its completion) for the overall institution hover around 4%, but for many of our part-time faculty, that number is approaching 30%. For full-time faculty, success rates (the percentage of students who remain in the course for its duration, completing with a grade of C or better) hover around 80%. Yet for our adjunct faculty, that number is significantly lower according to research by Institutional Effectiveness.
In order for Odessa College to maintain its standing as one of the top ten Community Colleges in the nation (Aspen Institute, 2019), we must ensure that our part-time faculty are held to the same standards as our full-time faculty, especially with regard to training and support.
The success rates that we attained in the past demonstrate a strong commitment to our learners and to our community. But as our base of part-time faculty continues to grow, we will not maintain the high success rates we have held in the past unless we provide training, continuous opportunities for development, and strong support for our part-time faculty. We must make an investment in this, our largest population of educators. By making this investment in our part-time faculty, we are making an investment in our learners and in our community.
Through research, we have seen innovation plans that failed miserably, such as Los Angeles Unified School Districts (LAUSD) attempts to provide iPads to all students (Lapowski, 2015). Reading case studies such as this provides us with the opportunity to consider those obstacles that might stand in the way of successful implementation of a Network of Support and Development for Part-Time Faculty. For LAUSD, the issue involved not being prepared; not researching all the technological needs, and not maintaining open communication with all stakeholders. For the Network of Support and Development for Part-Time Faculty, we know that we must work with our full time faculty to develop mentoring partnerships with our part-time faculty. And we know that we must work with administration to identify ways that we can incentivise the program, to compensate the part-time faculty for their time. The delivery of online professional learning experiences will be developed collaboratively between the Teaching and Learning Team, and OC Global, the Instructional Design Team. As we work toward changes in behaviours, we will keep lines of communication open, with regular meetings to discuss progress. For more on the processes we will implement to insure a smooth transition into the Network of Support, read my article on 4DX – Disciplines of Execution Strategy.
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