Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Promoting Faculty and Adjunct Faculty Professional Development: An Open Dialogue

Promoting faculty development, and more specifically adjunct or part-time faculty, within the community college system requires a systematic approach to ensure success. Faculty development must focus on developing those who are charged with teaching. Successful faculty professional development should include community building, professional and personal growth and recognition and appreciation (Oromaner, 1998; Wallin, 2006) and focus on improving faculty as teachers, regardless of their discipline (Chickering and Gamson, 1987). Regardless of the structure of professional development, the most effective element is a contextual approach, meeting the immediate needs with immediate solutions (Watts and Hammons, 2002). Likewise, professional development should be available, regardless of delivery method, and reinforce the mission and goals of the institution (Stern, 2003).

One element in professional development that shapes and directly influences and impacts the success is the ability of faculty members to become critically reflective. To teach, or more specifically, to become a better teacher requires us all to stop and examine what worked, and what did not work as envisioned. Brookfield (1995) stated that “we have available four lenses through which we can view our teaching” (Brookfield, 1995, p. 29). The four lenses are “(1) our autobiographies as teachers and learners, (2) our students’ eyes, (3) our colleagues’ experiences, and (4) theoretical literature” (Brookfield, 1995, p. 29).

As faculty, we look at what we do through the perspective of a student. We listen to and observe our students. We often seek the advice from peers, and may observe them in the classroom. We read pedagogical literature in our discipline to stay abreast of current teaching strategies. Through each lens, we may see opportunities for professional development and growth. It is through the reflective process that we have the opportunity for growth, improvement and professional development.

Rather than dwell on topics that cannot be directly related back to teaching and learning, the program should be relevant for both the novice and the experienced community college faculty member. The topics should provide a holistic approach to teaching and learning and not focus on unique discipline aspects with potential limited impact (Watts and Hammons, 2002). The program should be well rounded and well grounded in contemporary pedagogical approaches (Schuetz, 2002). Topics for professional development should contribute to success professionally, personally, and institutionally (Hilsen and Wadsworth, 2002).

An overall approach must be both supported institutionally and acknowledged as contributing to the overall success of the faculty member, the academic units, the institution, the students and all stakeholders. From an institutional perspective, professional development programs for both faculty and adjunct faculty must “cross divisional lines [and be] responsive to [the] mission and all of [the] employee groups” (Oromaner, 1998, p. 5). Any formalized or non-structured program should have a focus and goals that align with overall institutional goals and strategic plans (Murray, 2002).

The success of the faculty professional development rests with those who are responsible for the design, development and delivery, with the faculty who attend and implement or modify their practices, with the institution to ensure the emphasis is placed on professional development and ultimately with the students who are the indirect recipients of successful faculty development (Murray, 2002). Professional development for faculty, and adjunct faculty, should address the four functions from Boyer (1990), “the scholarship of discovery; the scholarship of integration; the scholarship of application; and the scholarship of teaching” (Boyer, 1990, p. 16). Professional development should meet the needs of local faculty and connect faculty to faculty with the overall goal of improving teaching and learning (Fink, 2002).

Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities of the professoriate: A special report. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Chickering, A., & Gamson, Z. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin 39(7), 3-7.

Fink, L. (2002). Establishing an instructional development program: An example. In K. H. Gillespie (Ed.), L. R. Hilsen and E. C. Wadsworth (Associate Eds.), A guide to faculty development: Practical advice, examples, and resources (pp. 35-44). Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc.

Hilsen, L., & Wadsworth, E. (2002). Staging successful workshops. In K. H. Gillespie (Ed.), L. R. Hilsen and E. C. Wadsworth (Associate Eds.), A guide to faculty development: Practical advice, examples, and resources (pp. 108-122). Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company, Inc.

Murray, J. (2002). The current state of faculty development in two-year colleges. In C. L. Outcalt (Vol. Ed.), Community college faculty: Characteristics, practices, and challenges. New directions for community colleges. Number 118. (pp. 89-97). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Oromaner, M. (1998). Faculty and staff development. Los Angeles, CA: ERIC Clearinghouse for Community Colleges. (ERIC Document Reproduction Services No. ED416941). Retrieved March 26, 2007 from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2/content_storage_01/0000000b/80/2a/2a/e0.pdf.

Schuetz, P. (2002). Instructional practices of part-time and full-time faculty. In C. L. Outcalt (Vol. Ed.), Community college faculty: Characteristics, practices, and challenges. New directions for community colleges. Number 118. (pp. 39-46). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Stern, S. (2003). Professional development: Leading organizational change in community colleges. Los Angeles, CA: ERIC Clearinghouse for Community Colleges. (ERIC Document Reproduction Services No. ED477912). Retrieved March 26, 2007 from http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICDocs/data/ericdocs2/content_storage_01/0000000b/80/2a/39/9c.pdf.

Wallin, D. (2006). Short-term leadership development: Meeting a need for emerging community college leaders. Community College Journal of Research and Practice 30(7), 513-528.

Watts, G., & Hammons, J. (2002). Leadership development for the next generation. In G. E. Watts (Vol. Ed.), Enhancing community colleges through professional development. New directions for community colleges. Number 120. (pp. 59-66). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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