Collaboration Between Full-Time and Adjunct Faculty in Creative Inquiry
Suma Bhat, Adjunct Professor, Greenville Technical College
According to a report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement, part-time faculty teach more than half of students at two-year institutions. Adjunct professors at community colleges often have a good understanding of how skills are used in the work place and offer students practical knowledge and real-world experience. An article for the American Association of Community Colleges also states that colleges often hire adjunct faculty for their technical skills and practical knowledge that are beneficial to students.
In this blog, I propose that full-time faculty with teaching and research experience and adjunct faculty with research and industrial and/or practical experience can collaborate through Creative Inquiry courses, like that of Greenville Technical College, and encourage students’ critical thinking. Greenville Technical College’s Creative Inquiry (CI) program offers students the opportunity to engage in collaborative research with a faculty member with similar research interests. Students involved in CI enroll in a three-credit-hour research methods course in their chosen field.
As an initial step toward collaboration, I, an adjunct professor, collaborated closely with Dr. Poonam Shores, a full-time faculty member, as part of her CI course, BIO 299. Students who registered in this course were interested in research related to exercise physiology. I worked with Dr. Shores to design a project with the goal of helping students understand the relationship between exercise and blood glucose levels. We brainstormed three research ideas with the potential to be completed using the limited resources available. One such project was an analysis of online databases to study the correlation between exercise and diabetes. Another project focused on understanding the effect a change in diet had on blood glucose levels. Because students were attracted to research projects that involved experiments, we designed and executed an experiment to understand the relationship between exercise and blood glucose levels. This project, which students are now completing, is titled, “Blood Sugar Balancing Act: How Exercise Tips the Scales.” Currently, students are performing a literature survey and establishing a baseline for the study. Our next step is to assist students with analyzing the results and drawing conclusions, in an effort to guide them in presenting their project at a symposium.
Together, Dr. Shores’ experience in academic research, her teaching experience, and my experience in physiology research, helped to develop a research project that engages students who are interested in understanding exercise-related changes in blood glucose level. Over time, Dr. Shores’ and I would like to develop a database of adjunct faculty experience so that, in the future, collaborative opportunities can be readily identified. Collaborative research between adjunct and full-time faculty can result in a unique perspective and creativity, and help broaden students’ critical thinking skills.
Creative Inquiry at Greenville Tech, http://www.gvltec.edu/creative-inquiry/.
“Contingent Commitments: Bringing Part-Time Faculty Into Focus.” A special report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement: ERIC (Education Resource Information Center).
Wallin, Desna L. “Valuing Professional Colleagues: Adjunct Faculty in Community and Technical Colleges.” Community College Journal of Research and Practice. Volume 28, 2004, pages 373-391.