Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gyant, LaVerne

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling and Higher Education (CAHE)


This study explored the experiences of part-time adjunct faculty members in a community college setting. It specifically looked at how adjuncts described: (1) their career journey to being adult educators, (2) their socialization experience, and (3) how teaching adult education influenced their perspective on teaching. All participants were experienced adjunct instructors in an adult basic and secondary education department (ABE/ASE) at a suburban community college. By looking at experienced adjunct instructors, the study informs practices to support both experienced and new part-time college faculty members.

A qualitative case study approach was used to explore the participants’ experiences. Ten adjunct faculty members who had been teaching for two years or more in the ABE/ASE department were interviewed. Participant artifacts added to the data collection and were explored using photo elicitation. The study was framed by Lawson's 1983 model of socialization, specifically organizational socialization, which happens when individuals enter the workforce and are introduced to their organization’s communally held norms, attitudes, beliefs, and social knowledge—known as “learning the ropes” of the organization.

Contrary to many studies on adjunct college faculty, participants described mostly positive experiences. Findings indicated that participants found adult education teaching positions accidentally while seeking part-time teaching positions in related disciplines at the community college, participants’ socialization experience was most influenced by students and colleagues, and participants felt well respected by the college administration. These findings can be used to assist in the integration of adjunct faculty into the college setting and inform practices that influence their retention.


218 pages




Northern Illinois University

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