Community college instructors provide more than 40 percent of higher education in the United States, yet professional organizations, administrators and even accrediting bodies pay them little heed. Community college teachers are like neglected middle children; they are not scholars in research universities and they are not K-12 teachers with education degrees. They are content-educated, with a teaching focus. Knowing how to support and evaluate such professionals is difficult.
Currently, most academic professional associations are organized to support researchers. National conferences provide avenues for researchers to present and debate their latest works. Papers are read and presented for discussion with the hope of publishing the papers after important feedback. Many of the papers are quite technical and narrow in focus; often only a few colleagues and graduate students in the audience fully understand the nuances of the paper. Leadership roles in the organization are usually based on the number, quality and prestige of the leader’s publications.
Community college professors rarely attend these meetings. When they do, they feel like outsiders. They are like fans watching from the sidelines rather than participants in the game. The conferences are for researchers, and community college teachers don’t do much research. The conferences are for specialists; community colleges require generalists. <Read more.>