From novice to expert: Intentional changes of part-time instructors in a community college setting

Date of Completion

January 1991


Education, Community College|Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Teacher Training




Community colleges have always employed a significant number of part-time instructors to augment their full-time faculty. When hiring part-time instructors, community colleges ideally select faculty who possess both academic credentials in a given subject area as well as demonstrated teaching skills. In reality, community colleges often retain a number of part-time instructors who have subject matter expertise yet are novice to teaching. In order to design and implement effective staff development programs for part-time faculty, community college administrators must better understand the skill acquisition process by which novice teachers gradually become expert teachers.^ As a first step in addressing this problem area, this study investigated the intentional change strategies used by a group of part-time instructors who were new to teaching. The Dreyfus and Dreyfus (1986) Skill-Acquisition Model was used to operationally define a group of 25 novice instructors at a New England Community College. Using the intentional change structured interview developed by Tough (1982), each instructor was interviewed regarding their largest or most important intentional change during the previous twelve month period related to: (a) gaining knowledge about the subject area of their courses (expert area), and (b) the teaching process used in their courses (novice area).^ The interviews were conducted by six interviewers who were trained by the researcher. Four major hypotheses were tested to determine whether significant differences existed between instructors' intentional changes related to their subject area vs. their teaching process area. Each hypothesis was analyzed utilizing the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) procedure.^ The study was significant in that it served to highlight the fact that the differing skill-levels of part-time instructors indeed affects the ways in which they approach intentional change activities. In implementing teaching process changes (novice area) instructors tended to rely on themselves throughout the change process. When implementing subject area changes (expert area) part-time instructors appear to make wider use of books and other individuals to facilitate their intentional changes. ^