In higher education, adjuncts are employed at higher percentages than are full-time instructors. These teachers are vital to colleges because they form such a large contingent of teachers, especially in community college systems. At rural community colleges, adjuncts fill the greatest percentage of teaching positions; but, because of factors associated with small rural communities, qualified adjuncts are difficult to recruit and to retain. One factor that leads to higher levels of retention, more positive teaching experiences, and better perceptions of fitting in the career is having positive professional self-identity. The problem addressed in this study was that adjunct instructors often are not perceived to be professional teachers. The purpose of this qualitative study was to discover and describe the perceptions of professional identity among adjunct instructors at a small rural community college, adding both to theory and to understanding of how this group identifies itself as professionals. A generic qualitative research approach was utilized throughout the research process. Data were collected during semi-structured, one-on-one, interviews with 10 adjunct instructors at one campus of a larger 11-campus system. The results indicated that these adjunct instructors could be studied through the lenses of three professional identity theories. First, classical professionalism theory provided the framework for showing that these adjuncts have created their professional identities through the attributes of knowledge and training, autonomy, calling and service, and ethicality. Second, self-categorization was the scaffolding for determining identity by perceptions of belonging, or not belonging, to a group. Ninety percent of the adjunct instructors came to SRCC identifying as a member of professional teachers, previously created through experiences and self-assignation. The third theory germane for this group of adjuncts was psychosocial identity development, the theory under which these adjuncts found themselves at a developmental stage where they could achieve their own life’s goals while at the same time helping their students attain their goals. Future studies could be conducted at other campuses within the same college system, at other small rural community colleges, and colleges in general to determine similarities or differences in results due to context.
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Community college education|
|Keywords:||Adjunct instructors, Professional identity, Rural community college|
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