What Does An Adjunct Professor Do?
Adjunct professors are part time teachers who find themselves completing many of the same tasks as full time college professors. The working agreements of adjunct professors can be very different depending on what they teach, and which school they work for, and can include a variety of responsibilities.
Depending on the individual position, an adjunct professor’s responsibilities can include:
A job as an adjunct professor is often seen as a job on the way to getting a better tenured position. Some adjunct professors don’t want to hold a tenured position.
They may be professionals working in a specific field of expertise and choose to teach as an adjunct professor on the side, either to give back to the community, make additional money, or to remain involved in the educational environment of a school or university. Or they may just enjoy the flexibility and decreased responsibilities of an adjunct position.
Adjunct professor positions are often temporary, or available only when a university or school needs extra help. Therefore, many adjunct professors can teach for more than one educational program at the same time, some with actual physical campuses in their city and some online, working remotely.
They are often hired by an educational program to teach classes that are in high demand – usually large, introductory, lecture classes. Sometimes adjunct professors are hired to teach classes that cover very specific, specialized material. This happens when an educational program doesn’t have a qualified professor on staff, doesn’t want to add the class to the course load of an existing professor, or would rather hire a professional who is currently working in the specific field so that they can bring their current professional experience into the classroom.
Adjunct professors can be found working in many different types of educational settings, including:
- Community Colleges
- Technical Schools
- Online Educational Programs
- Professional Schools
Teaching includes many different tasks. Adjunct professors can be responsible for directing labs, teaching small, higher level, seminar classes, or teaching large introductory classes.
Adjunct professors must develop and change the course syllabus, and make sure the course content meets the requirements of both the department and the educational program. Often they must meet with other professors in the same department to decide how the courses will line up and work together to cover the necessary subject material.
Adjunct professors must plan and carry out lectures, discussions, and lesson plans to teach the course content to their students. In addition, they must develop and assign research papers and projects to check for student understanding. They also need to design and give quizzes and tests.
The adjunct professor must then grade the assignments and tests, provide a score, and provide helpful feedback to each student. Adjunct professors must be flexible and able to adapt the course as necessary to reteach difficult lessons that their students may not be learning as quickly as expected.
The adjunct professor is also responsible for deciding and assigning final grades for the course. The grades must be based on participation, performance on assignments, projects, in class activities, and exams, and must line up with the expectations explained in the syllabus at the beginning of the course.
Adjunct professors can mentor students both in and out of the classroom. In class, the adjunct professor mentors students as a group by clearly explaining to them what is expected to complete the class successfully. This includes both behavior and attendance expectations, as well as performance expectations for class assignments, projects, and tests.
Adjunct professors must also provide office hours for students outside of class time. Office hours allow the professor to meet with students as needed to give them extra help with classwork, either by explaining expectations or tutoring a student one on one. They may also give students advice and guidance about which classes are a good choice for them to take to reach their individual goals, and refer them to the school career counselor if necessary.
Some adjunct professors are required to complete research projects. This is less common for adjunct professors, and is often the responsibility of tenured professors. Sometimes it is necessary. Therefore, adjunct professors must stay up to date on any new changes or important developments in their specific area of expertise. Sometimes they are required to research, write, and publish academic papers in their subject area. This work can be completed alone, or while working collectively with colleagues in the same department.
In order to complete their assigned job requirements, adjunct professors must have excellent written and verbal communication skills. They must be able to work with students in an interesting way, and communicate with other professors, colleagues and department leaders. Adjunct professors must be organized, and able to use their time wisely to complete all of the different parts of their job.