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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

An Online Mentoring Model That Works | Online Education - Faculty Focus

Recent findings indicate that higher education enrollment is being outpaced by online enrollments while overall enrollment in higher education has declined over the last three years (Betts, 2017), according to

Photo: Faculty Focus
Data analyzed from the U.S. Department of Education confirm that enrollment in online courses in higher education has more than tripled in the years from 2002 to 2014: 2002, 1.6 million; 2014, 5.8 million (Poulin & Straut, 2016).

Parallel to the growth of online learning, non-tenure track positions now comprise about three out of four appointments in higher education and half of these are part-time assignments (Morris, 2016). Challenges face higher education institutions when online programs reflect a significant percentage of part-time faculty. If a high rate of turnover exists, the cost of replacement can be substantial. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the institution to retain adjunct online faculty by searching for solutions (Reed, 2015).

In early studies, adjuncts reported feeling disconnected from their campus community for a variety of reasons; lack of institutional support was cited by 43.70 percent of respondents as a significant discouraging factor (Alejandro & Brown, 2009), and 73.33 percent responded that continuous training provided by the university would encourage them to stay. In order to be effective, online instructors are expected to develop new skills, which must be taught or demonstrated. Pedagogical transformation begins with faculty who investigate their practices with the deliberate focus on successful online practices. Major (2010) studied the impact of online teaching that changes teachers’ traditional activities and learning assumptions, a practice that is often used in Online Learning Communities (OLCs) through sharing research on exemplary online teaching practices, including concerns, challenges, and solutions found in the literature.

Robinia (2008), in a study on the efficacy of online teaching faculty, found that effective faculty supported the value of instructional expertise and peer/mentoring support. Mentoring adjunct faculty is beneficial as it helps them become connected and part of a community; they feel valued and inspired, and they are invested in the university in which they teach (Linton, 2017). Moreover, such mentoring should exist throughout the retention of the adjunct faculty member, and not be limited to only new adjunct faculty, to continue to achieve positive results with students.

Source: Faculty Focus