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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Glimpse into the Lived Experiences of English as a Second Language (ESL) Contingent Faculty

  • Author(s): Tener, Andrea M.
  • Advisor(s): Huie Hofstetter, Carolyn
  • et al.

There is a growing awareness of the issues facing part-time faculty in higher education. However, it is difficult to find equity among the faculty of higher education institutions across the nation. From two-year colleges to four-year universities throughout the United States, there is an increased reliance on these faculty whose working conditions are often inconsistent. These educators lack a standardized title, so for this study, contingent faculty will be the given name for those who are not full-time, tenured, or on the tenure track. Contingent faculty are quickly becoming the faculty majority on all higher education campuses. As the number of foreign-born refugees and international students increases so does the number of faculty teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). This exploratory study examines how ESL contingent faculty define their lived experiences. The study investigates their lives through four areas; (1) why ESL contingent faculty enter and remain in the field, (2) how working conditions impact their experiences, (3) interactions, supports, and inclusion within the ESL department and campus cultures, and (4) factors that affect personal well-being. The literature reviews working conditions of contingent faculty and the impact of these conditions on institutions, faculty, and students. The literature also shows a need for more ESL faculty because of the escalation in students who need ESL in higher education. Although less documented, the review concludes with what has been recounted of lived experiences of this group. The perspective known as the sociology of everyday life, which entails the theories of symbolic interactionism and ethnomethodology, was explained and employed. By using narrative inquiry, the study explored the lived experiences of ESL contingent faculty at a four-year institution of higher education. The participants recounted their experiences and then considered them from a perspective of relationship through symbolic interactionism and sense making through ethnomethodology. The findings of this study give insight through the accounts of each member so the voices of ESL contingent faculty could be heard.

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