An adjunct lecturer teaches college-level classes as a contractual hire, rather than as a tenure-track professor. Teaching includes developing a course syllabus, designing strategies to impart knowledge to students, advising students as needed, testing them and completing course administration. Colleges and universities have two categories of professors: tenure-eligible and non-tenure track. Adjuncts are hired to teach classes but can never be considered for a permanent tenured position within an academic department. Many schools limit the number of classes an adjunct lecturer can teach per semester.
In an academic setting, the concept of a lecturer is the functional equivalent of a professor, in most instances. A lecturer teaches a class based on a course syllabus. Occasionally, a school will use the title of lecturer to indicate a person who teaches a course that runs over a shorter time period than a regular course and may award a smaller number of academic credits. For example, if classes at a college typically run for twelve weeks and award four credits, a lecture might run for four weeks and award two credits. In that instance, the class moderator might be called an adjunct lecturer, rather than an adjunct professor.
Adjunct faculty perform the same classroom tasks as permanent faculty. This includes teaching and advising students, designing courses, managing classes and performing general administrative duties as required by the school. An adjunct lecturer is distinguishable from other faculty because of the non-guaranteed nature of his employment and the lighter workload that he often carries.
Typically, an adjunct lecturer works in the position as a supplement to a regular job. Sometimes, adjuncts are recognized experts in their fields and teach classes as special guests who have practical world experience. Many schools only allow an adjunct lecturer to teach one or two classes during a semester. The limited work load means they are rarely full-time faculty.
While an adjunct usually performs the same functional duties in the classroom as a tenure-track professor, there are differences in duties outside of the classroom. Part-time adjuncts are typically not involved in the management of academic departments. They are not required to sit on committees or participate in volunteer activities that further the goals of the school. Most importantly, an adjunct lecturer does not have a requirement to publish academic articles, like tenure-track faculty. Adjuncts in academia are often treated the same way as part-time employees in other industries and are not included in the workplace hierarchy in the same way as permanent employees.