Socialization experiences of part -time faculty: A study of socialization programs and employment longevity
In this examination of the socialization experiences of part-time faculty at a four-year comprehensive university, a survey was administered to part-time faculty that gathered data on (1) their perceptions of their socialization experiences through its processes and outcomes, (2) the professional profile of these part-time faculty, and (3) the factors behind their employment longevity---referred to in the study as non-transient part-time faculty. For the most part, part-time faculty who participated in this study had positive perceptions about their socialization experiences and exhibited a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to their institution. However, they did not participate much in socialization programs provided by the institution, and individual socialization efforts were also minimal or limited to informal activities such as lunches or holiday parties. Non-transient part-time faculty at this institution had an average employment tenure of 4.75 years and attributed their employment longevity to intrinsic factors such as intellectual satisfaction in the process of teaching and interaction with students, professional satisfaction in being associated with an institution of higher learning, and convenience in their flexible teaching schedule. This study was remarkable in the fact that the data did not support the somewhat negative perspectives on part-time faculty employment in the conventional literature. Part-time faculty here chose their employment status willingly and primarily to earn extra income. A majority had no desire to seek full-time teaching positions, and a minority indicated that they were teaching part-time due to a lack of more favorable employment options. This study highlighted the importance of customizing and adapting socialization programs to the needs of the institution and the part-time faculty. It also emphasized the importance of studying part-time faculty from a human resource perspective, focusing on their deployment as contingent workforce---or contingent faculty---as higher education continues to manage tight or diminishing budgets.