As the number and percentage of adjunct faculty members has risen, various groups have been formed to meet their needs. Some are unions, some closer to support groups, and some aim approach adjuncts professional needs through training and certification. One of these organizations is the Society of Certified Adjunct Faculty Educators, or SoCAFE. Dr. Rochelle Santopoalo, the president and founder of SoCAFE, was gracious enough to answer a few questions regarding SoCAFE’s thoughts on the question of adjuncts and writing. (If you’re interested in learning more about SoCafe in general, you might visit their website.)
AA: What role does SoCAFE see for writing in its attempt to help train and promote adjunct faculty?
SoCAFE: We see our role in writing as an important communication path between student and faculty. Notably, writing is important in the area of feedback to students on assignments. For online courses, writing is the primary communication path making the written word that much more critical. Embedded in the materials for the certification are readings that describe and demonstrate techniques for faculty writing on feedback.
AA: Where does writing fit with the ten core competencies identifies for adjunct instructors, and why?
SoCAFE: Writing is most aligned with Core Competency 8: Provide student feedback in a manner that supports learning. In this competency, the intent is to promote consistent, critical, and constructive information back to the student with the purpose of helping them improve their skills.
AA: Does SoCAFE provide training in academic writing/publishing for its members?
SoCAFE: No, not at this time.
AA: How about scholarship in general; how does SoCAFE approach scholarship? For example, does SoCAFE argue that scholarship should be taken into account when evaluating adjuncts? That adjuncts should focus on teaching, and not on scholarship?
SoCAFE: Our position is that the focus of adjunct faculty is on teaching. Rather than scholarship, we opt for practice as being of equal importance to teaching, hence a teacher-practitioner approach. I was introduced to this approach in 1975 at Rush University’s College of Nursing where Luther Christman was spearheading this approach, alongside the medical community. It had inherent logic to have teachers also be practitioners.
In the 1970s the use of adjuncts came into popularity with them being hired by community colleges. With community colleges having a focus more on application than on theory, hiring educated practitioners made sense. That trend has continued especially for business adjunct faculty as evidenced by the promotional material of most business programs that tout their faculty bringing real world experience to the classroom.
AA: I notice that one of the revenue streams for adjunctpreneurs is writing. How / where does writing fit with this professional model?
SoCAFE: Writing fits into the adjunctpreneurs revenue stream in several ways. For one, the format that you are using, a blog, is an extension of knowledge by adjuncts into the written and electronic world. Adjuncts have content as their base, ideally they are up-to-date on current events and can address a given topic from a variety of perspectives that help put today’s issues in perspective.
Another revenue stream using writing for adjuncts would be writing articles on their area of expertise for any number of broadcast medium. For example, an adjunct can serve as a columnist for a newspaper on their area of expertise. I’ve submitted articles on the shifting trend in job skills for my local paper as a representative of the college where I was teaching. Most higher education institutions desire a connection to the local media and having an adjunct faculty initiate this relationship opens the door to exposing both the institution and the adjunct.
A final stream of revenue for adjuncts based on writing would be the opportunity for self-publishing and print on demand. Rather than navigate the publishing maze, adjuncts can take their body of knowledge and self-publish. A popular approach is to promote on their own websites or barter with other website owners to provide them content in exchange for exposure. Writing becomes the tangible form of an adjuncts knowledge that can be bought and sold as intellectual capital. The need for quality content that is well written remains strong in today’s market with an explosion of placement opportunities available as digital formats continue to expand.
AA: Thank you for sharing your time and expertise with us.