First Advisor

Michael J. Smith

Term of Graduation

Summer 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Postsecondary Education


Educational Leadership and Policy




College teachers, Part-time -- Psychology, Career development, Respect, Motivation (Psychology)



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 236 pages)


Part-time non-tenure track faculty, also referred to as adjunct faculty, are the fastest growing instructional group in higher education, but they are provided minimal professional support from their employing institution(s). This lack of support is a problem because working conditions shape instructors' investment and efficacy of performance in their professional practice. Well established in the literature are inquiries into adjunct faculty working conditions that prioritize analysis of the organization over the lived experiences of the faculty. However, the lived experiences of adjunct faculty offer a unique and important lens from which to interrogate the impact of institutional policies and practices on individual employees.

In response, this study explored the individual professional growth experiences of four adjunct faculty at a large, urban, commuter, four-year, public, research university. An exploratory embedded single-case study model examined the relationship between participants' motivation, institutional engagement, and professional growth. Findings revealed that participants were motivated by their professional identities, which were shaped by academic and work experiences, as well as long-term goals. Participants' professional identities shaped the ways in which they engaged with students, their academic unit(s), and with the university. Additionally, participants' professional growth experiences differed, based on whether or not they felt respected in their instructional role and how their personal career stage needs were met. Findings suggest that collegial interactions and access to resources are essential elements that can positively impact adjunct faculty work experiences.


©2021 Bethany Ann Potts

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