The experience of African-American faculty in adult education graduate programs

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Smith, Sherwood E.
McElhinney, James H.
Issue Date
Thesis (D. Ed.)
Department of Educational Leadership
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The current data (Otuya, 1994) show that African-Americans represent less than two percent of the male full professors and less than seven percent of the female full professors. "Demographicchanges provide compelling reasons for increasing concern about the continuing under-representation of ethnic and racial minorities in adult and continuing education programs"(Ross-Gordon, 1990; p. 13).The purpose of my research was to investigate the frustrations and rewards of African-American faculty (AAF) in Adult Education programs of graduate study. Adult educators were defined as fulltime graduate faculty teaching in adult education programs. Individual semi-structured telephone interviews were used to gather the evidence from the total population of eight individuals. Resumes served as further sources of evidence. Domain analysis was used to organize the evidence. The information serves to aid in the retention and tenuring of more African-Americans and informing non-African-American faculty. The evidence collected showed the experience of AAF to have important themes on frustrations and rewards:1.Lack of senior faculty who share their research interests or as specific role models within the field and institution,2.Committee and student involvement expectations that were perceived as different for AAF then their White peers3.Daily challenges to their knowledge by students and peers were presented in the conversation as events during which "people tried to dismiss or diminish them." Success in meeting these challenges was often a validating experience for AAF4. The positive feelings of seeing their students succeed5. Being true to the African-American community, their family, their personal values and God was important to AAF.The research indicated that African-Americans as faculty experienced a wide range of frustrations and rewards. For these AAF the frustrations and rewards did not cause them to leave the profession. Many of the frustrations presented were items that could be address by the employing universities. Many of the rewards were perceived as not receiving sufficient recognition in the tenure or professional development processes and both internal and external frustrations and rewards were important to these AAF.