Towards Professionalism in Higher Education: An Exploratory Case Study of Struggles and Needs of Online Adjunct Professors

Dennis Butters, Courtney Gann


The purpose of this research was to gain an understanding of the unique professional development needs related to the struggles of online adjunct professors. Twenty-one participants from within a purposefully selected group of online adjunct professors in the United States participated in this qualitative investigation. Data were gathered in two phases: the first phase consisted of a six open-ended-question Qualtrics questionnaire completed by the 21 respondents, and the second phase was follow-up interviews with six of the 21 participants along with the collection of pertinent documents related to professional development. Results indicate that online adjunct professors receive varied and limited professional development, and therefore need more training in the following major categories: course preparation and technology awareness, access to course materials and online resources, and improved communication interaction and engagement. The participating online adjunct professors confirmed that training within these professional development areas would be most beneficial for all stakeholders and should be provided by their employing institution or attained through self-initiated methods.



adjunct, faculty, online education, professional development

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