Teaching English in a Texas Community College: The Focus

Two-year colleges focus on teaching. They sometimes focus on it to the extent that even tenure reviews ignore presentations and publications (Berry). Teachers are free to pursue research, but do not generally receive much institutional support (Woolston). That does not mean there isn’t any though.

One of my college systems has in-house presentations of research. This can either be work already presented or something someone is trying to get accepted. The other college system does not have this, but they will allow teachers to assign extra work to the students and take a class day of in order to go present.

While the focus of community college schools is one teaching (Jacoby) and not on research, according to an older study from the 80s, those who do research are more likely to receive teaching awards than their non-published counterparts at a rate of 31 percent to 17 percent (Oromaner). And a 2005 study looked at the top ten factors relating to the rewarding of Exemplary Teacher awards in a community college system; four of the ten factors could be considered research (Silvestri). So while there may be little institutional support for research, it is still valued.

Whether or not there is strong support, though, research is important. Teaching the same course or same two courses every semester for years without doing any research is an easy way to burn yourself out and make your teaching stale.

Even as a voluntary adjunct, I’ve found that to be true.

Two-year college teachers stay busy teaching and without an institutional commitment to research, the continued development of scholarly expertise can easily disappear. The course load for the two-year college teacher is five courses a full semester and, for 10.5 month contracts, two summer courses.


Berry, David A. “Community Colleges and Part-time and Adjunct Faculty.” Organization of American Historians. 1999. 10 August 2008 <http://www.oah.org/pubs/commcoll/berry.html>.

Jacoby, Daniel. “Effects of Part-time Faculty Employment on Community College Graduation Rates.” Journal of Higher Education (November 2006). 12 August 2008 <http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-26679697_ITM>.

Oromaner, Mark. “The Community College Professor: Teacher and Scholar.” Eric Clearinghouse for Junior Colleges. May 1986. 10 August 2008 <http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-924/scholar.htm>.

Silvestri, Jacob.  “Exemplary Professors: Factors Leading to the Development of Award Winning Teachers.” On Research and Leadership 17.1 (Fall 2005). 10 August 2008 <http://occrl.ed.uiuc.edu/Newsletter/2005/fall/fall2005_3.asp>.

Woolston, Chris.  “The Community College Scientist.” Chronicle of Higher Education. 25 February 2003. 9 August 2008 <http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2003/02/2003022501c.htm>.

Articles in this series include:
Teaching College English in a Texas Community College: The Teachers
Adjuncting, especially in a community college
Teaching English in a Texas Community College: The Courses
Teaching English in a Texas Community College: The Students
Teaching English in a Texas Community College: Summary

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