Melissa Weber

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Karen A Card


As online adjunct instructors continue to fill an instructional role and meet the needs of online learners, university leaders need to look for ways for professional development to increase online adjunct instructors’ sense of community and meet their diverse needs. The critical problem of this study recognized that online adjunct instructors have different needs than those of on campus faculty; these needs are not being met by traditional means currently used in university settings. Therefore, the overall goal of this qualitative phenomenological study sought to explore how university leaders could establish a sense of community while meeting the professional development needs of online adjunct instructors. Six participants engaged in individual semi-structured interviews with the researcher to provide their online adjunct instructor experiences with the expectation that emerging themes provided insight on future professional development improvements. Responses were analyzed and compared, and common themes were viewed through the theoretical lenses of the sense of community theory and worker satisfaction theory. Each of the five themes aligned with at least one of the elements in the sense of community theory. Five themes emerged from the data: effective communication fosters sense of belonging; responsive support services contribute to success; barriers to campus participation are perceived as personal, not organizational; benefits of being an adjunct meet various needs; and opportunities for engagement strengthen connection to campus community. The findings offer insight into the diverse needs of online adjunct instructors in the graduate education program.

Subject Categories

Higher Education | Higher Education Administration


adjunct, community, instructor, needs, online, professional development

Number of Pages




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