Instruction and Assessment Technique Choices of Adjunct Humanities and Social Science Instructors in Virginia Community Colleges

Lyda Kiser

Advisor: Kelly Schrum, PhD, Higher Education Program

Committee Members: Jan Arminio, Amy Swan

Research Hall, #402
April 06, 2017, 10:00 AM to 08:00 AM


Issues of instruction and assessment at community colleges are influenced by the high percentage of classes taught by adjunct faculty.  In 2014 for the Virginia Community College System, part-time instructors comprised 70.3% of instructional faculty.  This dissertation describes the instruction and assessment technique choices of adjunct instructors in humanities and social sciences at five Virginia community colleges, identified through survey, interview, and observation data, and how instructors in this study make choices about what techniques to use.    Profiles of observed instructors provide examples of specific instructor experiences. Four themes are identified:  1) personal dedication of instructors; 2) instructors’ practice of teaching how they learned; 3) constant revision of courses taught; and, 4) limited availability of collegial interaction or professional development opportunities.  With the increasing importance adjuncts play in providing undergraduate education, understanding how these instructors teach and assess student learning informs college practices in decisions about using adjuncts, appropriate professional development, and processes for hiring and evaluation.