Without the stability of tenure, adjunct faculty have few barriers to leave their position. The purpose of this article is to understand the variables that predict commitment among adjunct instructors.
This paper statistically analyzed data from a survey completed by adjunct instructors at two 4-year universities. The survey included scales on commitment, satisfaction, investments, alternatives and the psychological concepts of grit and self-efficacy. In addition, a qualitative analysis was conducted on supplemental open-ended questions that allowed participants to describe the basis of their commitment.
Satisfaction and investments were the main predictors of commitment and those together accounted for just over 50 percent of the variance. Grit and self-efficacy did not correlate with commitment, but did correlate with satisfaction and investments.
Given the predictive power of satisfaction to explain commitment, understanding the specific rewards and costs experienced by this population can give administrators ideas for making the part-time position more appealing. Similarly, given the predictive power of investments, administrators might consider identifying avenues for adjunct faculty to contribute to the department and university in a meaningful and rewarding way.
Universities are increasingly dependent on adjunct instructors, so it is worthwhile to understand the experience of such faculty. This is best done through research, rather than relying on assumptions, stereotype or anecdotes.
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