Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Center for Teaching and Learning has launched a new professional learning community for adjunct instructors at the University. Its goal is to build community among the participants and provide pedagogical support, which will benefit the faculty members as well as their students.

“Our adjunct faculty teach a large number of our students and often are instructors for gateway courses that are foundational for other classes,” said Heather McCullough, associate director for the Center for Teaching and Learning. “It is essential that all our faculty are engaged and supported; it promotes better instruction that results in a better student experience.”

Nationally, adjunct faculty comprise nearly 60 percent of all faculty at four-year institutions. While UNC Charlotte’s percentage is less than the national average, part-time instructors are instrumental in helping the University meet its teaching mission, McCullough explained.

“The Center for Teaching and Learning conducted a survey of adjunct faculty in fall 2014, and we discovered that issues related to isolation or lack of contact with colleagues were a challenge for adjuncts, and a significant portion of respondents lacked teaching/pedagogical support,” stated McCullough.

Using funding from the Division for Academic Affairs, CTL staff developed a program that would address these issues.

The 18 participants in this initial professional learning community for adjunct faculty are meeting face-to-face four times in the fall for workshops devoted to pedagogy and instructional technology. Virtual meetings will be in the spring.

Kim Buch, a professor of psychology and a faculty fellow in the Center for Teaching and Learning, is leading the program.

She said the one-year program is an effort to provide adjunct faculty with opportunities to network with each other and explore strategies to improve instruction. “We hope they will find the opportunity to be reflective about their teaching and become better connected to the University and more satisfied in their work here.”

Heather Bersot, a lecturer in criminology and criminal justice, views the adjunct learning community as an opportunity to cultivate a more meaningful connection with colleagues and the greater University community, as well as a “desire to engage in an exchange of pedagogical ideas in order to better serve my students’ learning needs.”

In addition to Bersot, other  adjunct faculty participating in this program are Monica Belus, America studies; Saxby Chaplin, English; Karen Cushing, sociology; Christin Dow, nursing; Sharon Ewing, communication studies; Tara Galloway, special education and child development; Joachim Ghislain, languages and culture studies; Felicia Harris, Africana studies/women’s and gender studies; Honore Missihoun, Africana studies; Atif Mohammad, software and information systems; Louise Murray, gerontology/social work; Maria Teresa Rains, languages and culture studies; Toussaint Romain, criminal justice and criminology; Susan Savage, music/art; Rodney Stringfellow, film/languages and culture studies; Holly Suarez, sociology; and Kamila Valenta, global, international and area studies.

The Center for Teaching and Learning is a unit within the Information and Technology Services Department; its goal is to enhance the University’s mission of teaching and learning excellence, provide enterprise level instructional technologies and champion the advancement of scholarly teaching.