Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Kerrigan, Monica

Committee Member 1

Rose, Steven

Committee Member 2

Thompson, Carol


adjunct faculty, community college, identity, loosely coupled systems, sensemaking, student success


Community colleges--Faculty


Community College Leadership


Now that community colleges are being pressured by external forces to improve student completion and transfer rates, it is important to determine how part-time faculty are conceptualizing change and implementing it in their practice. They comprise the majority of the teaching staff at these schools, so they are a vital component to ensuring comprehensive change. I undertook an embedded case study to examine how adjunct faculty teaching a gateway English course make sense of the shift in mission to emphasize one school’s commitment to improving student success and whether or not their understanding of this change is impacting their pedagogy. I chose a case study methodology because it allowed me to approach my research from the angle of answering “how” and “why” questions in my process of examining an evolutionary and complex process within a limited period of time.

Data were collected from documents, participant observation in relevant committee work, interviews with eight institutional leaders, interviews with and classroom observations of nine adjunct Composition I faculty, and a survey of 16 adjunct Composition I faculty. I analyzed my data using theoretical propositions and rival explanations. In the process of analyzing my data, two main themes emerged: adjunct Composition I faculty are not part of the formal discussion about institutional change and adjuncts have a secure sense of teacher identity.