For the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring various aspects of adjunct instructors’ experiences, such as the top challenges that adjuncts face, as well as the top benefits of teaching as an adjunct instructor.
Among the benefits, 75% of the more than 170 adjuncts who responded to our survey named “interactions with students” as one of their favorite aspects of their jobs. Undoubtedly, this comes from the classroom experience: their ability to interact and engage with the learners who enter their (physical or virtual) classrooms.
In today’s post, we’ll explore in greater depth what adjunct instructors had to say regarding their ability to connect with students, as well as the strength and quality of those connections. How confident are they in the current state of those connections? And, what might help them develop even stronger connections that lead to improved student success?
The quality and strength of adjuncts’ connections with students
Fortunately, we can offer positive news on this front!
Most adjuncts do believe they have enough time to foster positive connections with the students in their courses. When asked, “Do you have enough time to interact with students?,” 71% responded that yes, they do.
Furthermore, the great majority of our respondents also believed that the quality of their connections with students is positive. In response to the question, “Do you feel strongly connected to your students?,” 84% replied “yes.”
The adjuncts’ believe in the quality of their connections speaks well to the quality of the instruction they deliver. After all, student engagement and classroom community are important to both students’ and instructors’ success. When instructors and students connect, students can see the investment that their instructors have in their academic success, and instructors (such as these adjuncts) can experience job satisfaction and take pride in what they do.
As positive as these results are, we can always look to see what might strengthen the instructor–student relationship and deliver a course experience that fosters students’ success, confidence, and satisfaction with the course. What do adjuncts, in particular, believe could improve their ability to build constructive relationships with students? Below, we’ll take a look at what they had to say.
Resources that could help adjuncts develop their connections with students
According to our survey results, many adjunct instructors believe that they would benefit from more time and space for meeting with students. Of our respondents, 38% said that “having my own or shared office space” would help them develop their connections with students, and 36% said that “more time for one-on-one interactions outside class” would be of use. (This is not to say that adjuncts aren’t already making themselves available; 57% of our respondents offer office hours on campus, and 49% offer online office hours.) In addition, 23% stated that “more on-campus meetings” could be beneficial.
Given their schedules, which often include travel between campuses, it may not always be possible for adjuncts to spend more time on campus. And as we just mentioned, they’re often limited by a lack of a physical space for meeting. In many ways, online tools might provide adjunct instructors with a “space” in which to meet students, at a time that’s more convenient for all.
In fact, a good number of our respondents—around one quarter—said that a variety of online tools could help them foster stronger connections with students. “Web resources specifically for instructors at my campus” received the largest vote on that score (at 26% of our respondents); this makes sense, given that these types of tools can be built in response to the particular needs of the students and instructors at a college.
“Online communities” and “online meetings” both received 22% of our respondents’ votes. These online community settings can be beneficial, as they extend communication beyond the physical classroom and allow students (as well as instructors) to continue conversations that might otherwise be limited by the time constraints of a class session. If you’d like to develop a sense of community in an online forum, review our previous post, Overcoming Obstacles to Creating Online Community. And if you’re teaching a fully online course, read our post Creating Community in Online Courses: Tips from Faculty for proven ideas that will help you increase engagement among your students.
Fifteen percent of instructors said that “social media” could help them develop stronger connections. Though social media is popular among students (and among instructors as well!), you might find that a secure network like ConnectYard offers all the engagement and connectivity that students appreciate in social media, with fewer of the privacy concerns that you might otherwise have regarding the use of social media in a college setting. Want ideas for using social media to your advantage in the classroom? Read how Timothy Smith, Professor of Administration of Justice Studies & Homeland Security at Arizona Western College, uses ConnectYard (within MindTap) to engage his students.
Connecting with students: tips for adjunct instructors (and others)
If you’re an adjunct instructor and you’re looking to improve your ability to connect with students, review the points suggested in these three posts, featured previously at the Engaging Minds blog. Instructors and students provide their insights as to what helps build connections and improve communication.
- How to Communicate Effectively With Your Students
- Make the Most of Your Interactions with Students
- Connecting with Students: What They Want and Expect
Support and resources for adjunct instructors from Cengage Learning
Are you an adjunct? Are you using a Cengage Learning solution this fall? Your team is here to help take the stress out of your class prep!
We’ve created a site specifically for adjunct instructors, where you can find resources and people that will answer questions about your course materials, help you set up and implement your Cengage Learning digital solutions, and work with you to identify strategies that will engage your students and drive improved outcomes.
Visit http://services.cengage.com/adjunct to get started!
Adjuncts: how do you build strong connections with your students? What else could help you communicate with students and support their academic success? Share your thoughts in the comments.