Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Judith B. Harris

Committee Member

Mark J. Hofer

Committee Member

Pamela L. Eddy


Higher education institutions are increasingly turning to adjunct faculty to teach online courses to accommodate online course enrollment growth. While many adjunct faculty are attracted to the flexibility of online teaching, they also face several challenges, such as feelings of isolation and disengagement, negative stereotypes, and lack of professional development opportunities. These challenges can be detrimental to their instructional performance and, therefore, the student learning experience. Thus, fully integrating online adjunct faculty into an institution’s community and creating an environment in which they feel supported is critical to the success of an institution’s online programs. Research suggests that higher education administrators are responsible for fostering a sense of community among online adjunct faculty, yet their approaches to fulfilling this responsibility remain largely unknown. Hence, the purpose of this study was to learn more about the strategies higher education administrators use to cultivate community among online adjunct faculty. Data were generated and analyzed using a constructivist grounded theory approach to understand the practices, influences, and challenges of 17 higher education administrators from different 4-year public and private institutions who reported fostering a sense of community among online adjunct faculty. Results indicated that the participants fostered a sense of community through intentional inclusion, operationalized by four interconnected processes: socialization, communication, participation, and recognition. Multiple contextual factors and challenges influenced participants’ community-building practices. The findings from this study provide a framework for creating inclusive working environments for online adjunct faculty and recommendations for further research to explore their nature and efficacy.



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