What Does an Adjunct Instructor Do?

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  • Written By: Nick Mann
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2020
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Working as an adjunct instructor is perfect for a person who wishes to work only part-time or is trying to establish a career at a college or university. These individuals sometimes teach during the week, but often work irregular hours to accommodate the needs of students who take night or weekend classes. To be successful, an adjunct instructor usually needs a flexible schedule and expertise in a particular subject. While the types of courses an individual teaches can differ, his essential responsibilities are much the same. These include creating a syllabus for each course, teaching courses, assisting students, grading assignments and tests, and attending meetings.

Prior to the start of a semester, an adjunct professor will usually create a syllabus for each course. In the syllabus, he will outline the basic structure of the course, what materials will be discussed and any other important information. This document acts as a guide for students and should keep everyone on the same page throughout the semester.

Teaching courses is a fairly obvious and essential part of this position. In most cases, an adjunct instructor will work part-time and will only teach a few classes. Methods of teaching can include holding lectures, giving presentations and leading class discussions. To be successful, the instructor will need an extensive knowledge of the subjects he teaches and be able to communicate well with students. He will also need to follow the layout of each course's syllabus and adhere to the school's academic standards.


Along with teaching courses, an adjunct instructor must also assist students on an ongoing basis. While some students may comprehend a subject with ease, others may experience difficulty. When this happens, it's up to an adjunct instructor to provide additional instruction or materials, often during regularly-scheduled office hours, to get students up to speed. Helping students succeed is critical to his own success, and is essential if he wants to be hired as a full time teacher.

To measure each student's comprehension, it's necessary to provide periodic assignments and tests. For each test, an adjunct instructor will cover materials from previously learned lessons. In some cases, he will create his own unique tests, while in others, he may use tests available in the teacher's manual provided with the course textbook. Along with this, he will need to grade tests upon completion and provide students with feedback.

Attending meetings is an additional part of this job. Since an adjunct instructor isn't a full time staff member, it's important for him to be aware of institutional standards and policies. Attending meetings helps him to network with colleagues and stay aware of changes in policy that may affect his students.


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