The following article appeared in the November 30, 2006, edition of AACRAO Transcript.
Experiences Differ Between Part-time and Full-time Community College Students, Report Shows
By Heather Zimar
The Community College Survey of Student Engagement, based at the University of Texas at Austin, recently found a significant difference in the experiences of part-time and full-time community college students, reports The USA Today.
The report suggested the key reason for the different experiences is that part-time students - about two-thirds of all community college students - are more likely to be taught by part-time faculty.
Research has shown that students who are actively engaged with faculty and staff are more likely to be academically successful. The report showed, however, that part-time students are less likely than full-time students to: discuss grades with an instructor (41 percent vs. 51 percent); communicate with an instructor by e-mail (34 percent vs. 47 percent); or talk about career plans with an instructor or adviser (19 percent vs. 30 percent).
A similar survey of community college instructors, which was included in the report, found that part-time instructors are less likely than full-time instructors to advise students outside of class.
"Part-time faculty bring great value to community colleges because of their experience in the workplace, but they typically are not paid to be around for students beyond the class period," said Kay McClenney, director of the survey. "As a consequence, part-time students have a qualitatively difference experience than full-time students."
Today, part-time instructors represent about two-thirds of all community college faculty. They typically teach evening and weekend classes, when part-time students are more likely to be enrolled.
Some colleges are starting to reward part-time faculty who advise students, McClenney said, adding that "it requires strong leadership and real commitment for community colleges to step up to the challenges."