Virtual Ancillary Faculty: A Model of Support to Avoid Burnout and Foster Self-Efficacy

Virtual Ancillary Faculty: A Model of Support to Avoid Burnout and Foster Self-Efficacy

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5709-2.ch008
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Virtual ancillary faculty are instrumental in delivering online instruction and fostering student success across higher education institutions. Program directors should create models of support using performance outcomes and verbal persuasion to foster self-efficacy in order to help instructors avoid feelings of depersonalization that can lead to burnout. The job-demands resources model has been shown to support supervisor efforts to recognize work-related demands in order to provide purposeful resources. The authors of this chapter work as program directors and share examples, rationale, and expertise through a case study approach which highlights best practices for working with virtual ancillary faculty including an in-depth examination of teacher evaluation and professional development strategies.
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Teaching is considered one of the most stressful occupations (Saloviita & Pakarinen, 2021), and burnout is considered a variable that can affect the mental health and stability of educators, including university-level faculty and those working with adult students (Cooper, 2018). Burnout has been a variable-of-interest in social science research dating back to the 1970s when Freudenberger (1974) conducted research on mental health. Maslach and Jackson (1981) furthered burnout research by conducting quantitative and empirical studies on the construct and created the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), an empirical scale still considered the most widely accepted measurement for burnout research (Martínez-Monteagudo et al., 2019). The MBI measures three symptoms or factors of burnout: emotional fatigue, depersonalization, and low personal accomplishment. Burnout used to be a phenomenon primarily studied for effects on medical or nursing professionals, but it is now recognized for how it can affect a person in any field, including education (Raimondi, 2019; Ziaian-Ghafari & Berg, 2019). Maslach and Schaufeli (2018) described burnout as a construct with ongoing research value.

The published literature on the phenomenon of burnout can be used as rationale for the importance of instructor support systems, including professional development initiatives as well as instructor evaluation measures. Koenig et al. (2018) discussed the prevalence of burnout among educators and mentioned the need for professional development opportunities. Pyhältö et al. (2020) researched educator burnout levels and suggested mitigation strategies be employed proactively. Werner and Springer (2021) looked at coping strategies as important in the battle against burnout. Jackson and Boyer (2019) suggested that instructor burnout levels may ultimately affect the student experience. Burnout should be considered for effects at the individual level, but significance can extend to include an institution’s ability to achieve recruitment and retention goals.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Ancillary Faculty: Online instructors who receive part-time contracts rather than salaried employment, and are often referred to as non-design instructors who teach using established curricula.

Depersonalization: One of three burnout factors experienced by employees who feel a sense of disconnect.

Burnout: Work-related stress that is not being managed.

Online Education: Learning that takes place in a virtual space not reliant on geographical location, unlike traditional on-campus education that shares a physical space.

Professional Development: Training to enhance instructor performance as it relates to goals and expectations.

Verbal Persuasion: As one factor of self-efficacy, this is credible feedback used to communicate goals and expectations.

Self-Efficacy: The belief in one’s ability to successfully complete a task.

Teacher Evaluation: Practices used to determine instructor effectiveness.

Job Demands-Resources Model: An empirical model which highlights the importance of determining demands felt by employees in order to inform supervisors regarding necessary resources with direct purpose and meaning.

Performance Outcomes: As one factor of self-efficacy, this is a measurement to determine effectiveness in relation to goals and expectations.

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