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Contexts for the professional development of part-timers.


This paper is part of a much bigger study that sheds light on the professional identities and professional development practices of part-time Higher Education (HE) instructors teaching at one Lebanese university. This paper simply highlights the impact of contexts, both at a country and a university level, on the professional development practices of the part-timers under study. The numbers of part-timers joining the workplace, particularly in Higher Education has been increasing (Kimber, 2003, p 41). However, the topic of part-timers is generally under researched: "Much of the literature focuses explicitly or implicitly on the interests of full-time tenured academic staff only. Yet around these core staff are large numbers of fixed-term contract staff and part-time teachers engaged in activities critical to core functions" (Blackwell & Blackmore, 2003, p 9).

Professional development remains an area of high interest in the education field, not only for its own sake, but rather for its many implied consequences. It contributes to the self-esteem, self-worth, motivation, dedication, and contentment of teachers (Day et al., 2003). In turn, these qualities may lead to better teaching and learning practices in colleges (Bathmaker & Avis, 2005). Learning, in turn, is perceived to be an essential input to economic growth and stability, social equity, and fine citizenship (DES, 2002).

It is argued that the professional development of individuals greatly enhances their 'lifetime employability', in an era when lifetime employment is no longer sustainable (Friedman, 2005). However, these professional development practices remain limited if not embedded in the right contexts and without the support of employers (Mujis et al., 2004). This is especially the case with respect to part-timers who are worried about the deterioration of their skills due to time and financial constraints (Mallon, 2000).

The 'American Oriental University' (AOU) (a pseudonym) was chosen to conduct the research at. It is a private, non- profit institution that applies the American system which is credit-based. The AOU, with its mission statement, academic systems, programs, size, student body, personnel mix, recruitment, and professional development practices, is typical of many other universities in Lebanon and the region (Abouchedid & Nasser, 2002).

Lebanon has suffered from a long civil war that lasted for 15 years and ended in 1990. It was also hit by another wave of instability and violence upon the assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in February, 2005. These unfortunate recent and less recent events, coupled with the geopolitical trends in the region and the Middle East conflict (UNESCWA, 2006), have blemished the social, economic, political, environmental, and educational sectors of Lebanon. The general Lebanese context and the university, in particular, will prove in the study to have detrimental effects on the miniature details of the professional lives and practices of the part-timers under study.

The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. In the next section, a review of the literature is provided to show the importance of professional development for academics, but how these are greatly impaired for part-timers by the neoliberal capitalist forces, along with country and organizational influences. In section three, a thorough explanation of the methodology is provided, particularly elaborating the two analytical methods used. In section four, presentation and analysis of data is made using thematic analysis where both the country and the university situations are closely dissected to reveal their multi-faceted impact on the professional development practices of part-timers. In section five, the university situation is further explored, using discourse analysis, to reveal more intensely the effect the university has on these development practices. Finally, some concluding remarks are made.


The increase in part-time work is attributed to changes in the demand and supply of part-time workers. The changes in the latter are triggered by changes in demographic and psychographic variables. The number of women joining the labor force is on the constant increase (Armstrong & Kotler, 2005). The other psychographic factor is manifested in more people striving for more balance between their personal and work lives (Blackmore & Blackwell, 2003). Moreover, there seems to be too many PhDs, but few job opportunities, which forces these PhD holders to make a living from more than one part-time job (Bradley, 2004). From the demand side, the increased reliance on part-timers could be attributed to the new restructured, reengineered, and fluid firm (Mayne et al., 1996). Universities, worldwide, have been greatly affected by business practices prevailing in organizations, since they aim at producing education at lower costs (Welsh-Huggins, 2001). Colleges are driven to manage themselves according to capitalist practices (Avis, 1999). To survive under such a system, universities are undergoing cost-cutting measures and market-responsive steps (Davies, 2003, p 176).

The current state of the educational sector, including higher education, is marked by the supremacy of neo-liberal values, which are derived from the capitalist project and aimed towards remodelling educational institutions, including universities in ways similar to those of commercial enterprises (Hill, 2006). This was partly due to the globalization of economic competition and the big technological advancements (Hirtt, 2004). The managerialistic practices and marketization forces, which are hallmarks of neoliberalism, are not exclusive to a particular country; rather they are spread throughout the globe where each country applies them in a different way, each depending on its own history and situation (Marginson & Wende, 2006).

These managerialistic forces have proved to have far reaching effects on the educational institutions, their values, and inhabitants (Hill, 2006). They seem to condemn institutions that fail to generate profits (Apple, 2000). Accordingly, those have been pushed to pursue cost-cutting measures, such as expanding the intake of students, employing part-time teachers, and using these to teach courses outside their direct specializations (Gewirtz, 2002). "There is the ongoing casualisation of academic labour and the increased proletarianisation of the teaching profession" (Hill, 2006, p17). By casualization, Hill (2006) means the use of more part-timers, and by proletarianization he means the move towards declining wages and benefits, the elimination of the unions' influence, and the intensification of teachers' workloads. This latter development is deskilling teachers and leading to negative emotional, social, and pedagogical consequences (Gewirtz, 2002). "Teachers who cannot renew their knowledge and receive emotional support from within the social context of their work place, will eventually either become out of date professionally or retreat into psychologically defensive positions" (Fitzsimons, 2002, p 5).

The professional identities and professional development practices of part-timers do not seem to be detached from the contexts in which they are set. On a country level, anguishes and struggles of communities seem to impact individuals rather directly (Kearney, 2003). Giddens (1991) argued that any crisis, no matter how remote it seems to be from the individual, can create "a general climate of uncertainty which an individual finds disturbing no matter how far he seeks to put it to the back of his mind; and it inevitably exposes everyone to a diversity of crisis situations of greater or lesser importa nce" (p 184-185). On a narrower level, the university seems a major site for the observation and manifestation of advanced modern influences. It is suggested that "the organizational sphere provides an important middle range conceptual link between political economy on the one hand, and personal and social identities on the other"(Webb, 2006, p 15). The larger country situation and the particular university conditions, nevertheless, seem to be linked in various ways: "So, like the rest of society, the university mirrors society at large insofar as issues around class, race, gender, sexual orientation, and normative bodies are concerned" (Davies, 2003 p 175).

This scenario is prevailing in times when Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is becoming an expectation of every professional (Day & Sachs, 2004, p 4). "CPD is increasingly seen as a key part of the career development of all professionals. It is a shared responsibility with employers because it serves the interests of both, though not necessarily simultaneously" (Mujis et al., 2004, p 291). There seems to be no general agreement on how to pursue CPD, however research is considered a major formal measure an academic should delve into, to bring about career developments (Katz & Coleman, 2002).


The researcher conducted a case-study at the AOU. She followed the constructivist school of thought out of her belief in the subjective nature of knowledge and in conformity with the research purposes.


The researcher made 26 interviews, 23 with part-timers and another three with full-timers (ex-part-timers). The sample size was reached at saturation, that is when the researcher felt that no more new ideas were brought up. Quota-selection was used where a sample of 23 part-timers was chosen, based on their respective part-time prominent case scenario: gender (males versus females), seniority (equal or less than three years, above three years), educational standing (PhD and Masters holders), number of jobs held (working at one or more places), and motivation behind their work (personal choice or forced one). The researcher has offered rich descriptions of the cases (individual participants) and their biographic details in Tables 1 -3 in Appendix A. The researcher had followed up on four of these key interviews by providing the subjects with a guided diary, on which they reflected in their writing. The researcher met again with the diary participants four weeks later to discuss their views and reflections in form of reflective interviewing. There were four in-depth diaries, two filled by females and another two by males. Those were particularly chosen to reflect the diversity in the sample chosen and because they have shown a liking for writing.


The researcher took a series of steps to prove a trustworthy research. They were mainly manifested in piloting research instruments, data, methodological and analytical triangulation, negative instances citation, and member validation. Data triangulation was made through seeking the opinions of different part-timers and few current full-timers (former part- timers). Methodological triangulation was marked by the use of semi-structured interviews along with diaries and documentation checking. Analytical triangulation was achieved through two levels of analysis, both thematic and discourse analysis.

Access to the research site and permission to contact the participants was confirmed more than once at different occasions and stages of the research process. Conducting the research ethically was a main concern for the researcher. Utmost care was taken in dealing with information about participants and their work-related issues. Fictional names were assigned to participants and approval to tape record the interviews and to use quotations was retrieved.


Qualitative analysis of transcribed interviews, diaries, and documents was done through both thematic and discourse analysis. Under the former analytic method, categories were formed from data for the purpose of creating themes that correspond to key research questions. The latter approach to analysis was equally important to use in a high-context culture, such as Lebanon (Deresky, 2003). A high-context culture uses a communication mode in which people express messages indirectly and implicitly (Deresky, 2003). Discourse Analysis (DA), as it relates to the researcher's purpose, was devised to take into account the deficiencies residing in qualitative research analysis. Talja (1999) argued that under ordinary approaches "summary solutions are problematic, because consistency is an achievement of the researcher, rather than a feature of the participant's discourse, and the context-dependent nature and cultural logic of the answers is missed" (p 4). DA thus highlights the relation between text and context by viewing language as a form of social interaction (Gee, 2005). DA had been particularly chosen to analyze the data retrieved through interviews and diaries for more than one reason. First, DA seems appropriate in this research, since both case-based studies and discourse analysis entail a serious consideration of the context of the study (Stake, 2005, p 449). DA, which analyzes data by mainly relating it to its contexts, is used to investigate these same contexts in which professional development practices take place, so the method and the aim of the research are tightly linked together (Cohen et al., 2000). Second, DA seems particularly beneficial in a high context culture, such as the Arab world (Deresky, 2003). One has to read between the lines and look for the meaning under the sentences, for Arabs often do not mean what they say. To understand the intensity of their emotions and the reality of their thoughts, one has to consider the background contexts and the underlying reasons behind their discourses.

There are no specific guidelines or a detailed road map to follow when doing DA (Wooffitt, 2005, p 43). Choice of words was conceived to be a probable indicator of something important. Careful comparison of finished and unfinished statements throughout each interview was made to inspect any prevailing themes, confirmations, repetitions, contradictions, or negations. Invisible forces such as emotions and power relations were highlighted, since these are the hardest to be spoken of explicitly. Themes that were highlighted, revisited, detailed, or first came to the mind of the interviewees seemed to be especially important to them, and thus were given greater attention. As such, the meaning was sometimes embedded in a word, a sentence, a paragraph, or even a whole transcript, document, or diary. In many circumstances, these embedded different possible interpretations. All of this had to be recorded, so that later on it could be further checked and scrutinized. Issues already revealed through thematic analysis and new ones had emerged to provide a fresher view of the data, and to provide through the two levels of analysis a joint complete analytical work.

For thematic analysis purposes, each interview transcript was colored with different shades to indicate each section or sentence's relevance to different themes as shown in Appendix B, where only a sample section of Michel's transcript is presented for scarcity of space. The transcript's sub-sections are colored differently to indicate the different themes looked for. For example, green was used to indicate country influences, pink for university influences, and so forth. Then, sections that were colored similarly in all interviewees' transcripts were copied to a distinct document that tackled one context. In turn, each distinct category relating to this context was further coded to indicate the relevance of its different sections to different political, social, economic, or other forces. Thus, analysis was made in several steps. For discourse analysis purposes, each transcript had to be dealt with individually as a first step, as revealed in Appendix B. Left margins of the transcripts were used to indicate the page number and the note spotted, example '1 a' refers to page '1' of the interview transcript and 'a' refers to the note. Then in footnotes, explanation of the '1a' note is made. The reason why analysis was not done directly in the margins is because the transcripts were used twice for thematic and discourse analysis purposes, so the researcher avoided jamming the papers with coding and analytical notes.


Country situation

Lack of work opportunities

The turbulent situation in Lebanon, between 2005 and 2008, has greatly impacted academics' lives, among others. Even though some claim that the educational field is less affected by the prevailing situation than other sectors, still it is generally agreed that everyone is touched somehow.
   The trouble we are living in affects your whole being. The regional
   situation affects the state, the country, the university and the
   academics. Although academics are accused of living in their ivory
   towers, in their books and theories, they cannot get away from
   reality, they cannot separate themselves from the rest of the
   population, or distance themselves from what is happening around
   them (Danny, 14050703). (The previous reference indicates that this
   statement is made by Danny while interviewing him on the 14th of
   May, 2007, and taken from his interview transcript page three.
   Similar referencing would be used with all other interviewees'

Professionals and some PhD holders were forced into academics in the first place, because of the absence of non- academic opportunities, as 10 interviewees commented. Serge and George confessed that if there was decent work in the industry, they would not have time for teaching, not even on a part-time basis. Another four interviewees commented on the hardship of getting loans and the high costs of credit, in case anyone decided to do certain entrepreneurial work.

Ripple Effects of the Country's Insecurity

It was generally agreed by participants that the insecure economic situation affects every entity inside the educational regime: the university, the students, the staff, the full-time and the part-time faculty members. Monia and Michel pointed out that the university is suffering because it is losing part of its students, who have decided to study abroad given the instability in the country. It also failed to attract students from neighbouring Arab countries, especially Syrians who stopped coming to Lebanon after the political clashes that took place between the Syrian and the Lebanese governments. Fewer students mean less income for the university and thus fewer funds for recruitment and professional development opportunities.

After the July war in 2006, half of my students did not come back. They were sent by their parents who work abroad to continue their education here because they do not want them to be raised outside Lebanon. However, with the current security situation, some stopped sending their children. Also, at the university we have a special program for Arab students to upgrade their foreign language skills. Those were good sources of money, money for everything including us. (Monia, 09050706)

Part-time instructors are especially hit, since their working instability piles up with the insecurity in the country to make life harder. They have to work at multiple sites to earn a living. They do not have any work benefits or insurances to protect them in harsh times and their contracts are the easiest to manipulate. "All my contracts were cancelled when the war broke, and I spent two months doing nothing" (Denise, 14060703). Denise, George, and Danny, who work at multiple sites, were particularly at risk, since they did a lot of commuting among campuses in times when roads were either unsafe or shattered, as after the July, 2006 war.

Resource Insufficiencies

The country in general is blamed for being unsupportive of research. "I do not believe in research in Lebanon. I had seven publications when I was abroad. If I were here, by that time, I would have done probably just one" (Anthony, 13060703). In order to get some supplies for research purposes, you need authorization and you need to prove to the government that they are demanded for research, rather than military action. This takes time and effort, as explained by Maria, Denise, and Hadi. Internet service is not as cheap and as fast as abroad, as complained about by Anthony and Freddie. The availability of funds for research is negligible, due to the scarcity of private and public agencies that sponsor research for commercial or educational purposes, as commented by seven participants.

Psychological Effects

Participants felt the strain of the situation differently, each depending on his/her personality characteristics. Sixteen out of 26 participants stressed the fact that the worries did not affect their teaching performance, but rather their emotions, thoughts, and psychological state leaving them inert to plan for the future or take any development measures. "I don't want to deal wit h anything that has to do with the news, because you cannot watch news and still have any breath to do anything" (Jack's diary, 21080702).

Different participants reacted differently to the insecure and volatile country situation. Positive and cool personalities (Monia, Sara, Dina, Freddie, Nabil) as they liked to describe themselves were the least affected by the unfortunate flow of incidents, while others were more susceptible to them. "If something happens I don't feel well inside the classroom or outside it" (Fadi, 15050705). Others could not decide the impact it had on them, and explained that their reaction depends on their personal state. This is the case of Sara and Monia. Lara mentioned experiencing some behavioural disorders, like eating and sleeping more than usual, which could affect her performance indirectly. George summed up this argument by stating that the amount of stress, from the unstable political, economic, and security situation, makes it difficult for any researcher to concentrate on research. However, Sasha, Maria, and Richard (ex-part-timers) explained that their current full-time position gave them more confidence and strength in confronting events.

With part-time status there was a question mark, a big one, whether I have to stay or leave the country, but once I got my stable position, finish, that is what I want, even if the situation is not good, it only affects me psychologically, like the rest of the people and I'm more willing to take different development measures to keep this situation sustainable. (Maria, 21060702)

A multiplicity of factors must be present to aid in professional development, but it seems that for these part-timers under study, many of these are missing or worse yet are playing a negative role. Thematic analysis revealed that direct and less direct influences of the country's situation, such as the scarcity of work opportunities, the insecure and unstable country situation, and resource insufficiencies joined hands in countering professional development endeavors.

The University

There seemed to be general liking for the AOU and to what it represents. George, Maria, Ziad, and Fadi looked at it as a reputable university with a promising future, a nice place, with a pleasant ambience and a lot of attractive social activities. There also seemed to be loyalty to the university in the classes of both young and senior part-timers. The former revealed gratification towards the institution that first welcomed them and believed in their skills. The latter's dedication was mainly due to the fact that they felt part of a family, since they witnessed and shared in its growth and development, as Elias, Fadi, and Roger explained. Among the other mentioned advantages of the university were the good coordination and the fine relationships part-timers enjoyed with the chairpersons and department heads, as emphasized by Nour, Freddie, Monia, and Jack. Six other participants showed understanding for the university's difficult situation. Being impacted directly and indirectly by bad economic and political circumstances in the country, and the resulting increase in the number of immigrants and thus the decrease in the number of students and the decrease in their living standards, many accepted the fact that the university cannot offer much more. "I see sacrifice on the side of the university, when classes are opened with three or four students only, which is not economic to the university, what more can be done..." (Michel, 02050708).

Sample of the Society

Part-timers were rather bothered by the fact that the university is a sample of the society they lived in (Davies, 2003). Nine participants believed that the university could not protect itself from the general state of the country, with all its disillusions. Leverage or wasta as it is known in Lebanon has its say, as contended by Fadi. Others blamed the system for being abusive and mistrustful, as it is the case with the wide held perception of politicians in Lebanon.

They do something, but they hide the true reasons behind doing it. They promise one thing and then change their minds with no regard to the implications of that on one's career. They also cheat the system and bend the rules, if it runs in their favour. Let me illustrate, it is against the university bylaws for part-timers to give more than two courses per semester, but they do often give us more than two, because it is less costly than making us full-timers, and this is the case with respect to all other universities. (Freddie, 13060704)

Centralization of Power

Another area that they were disturbed about is the centralization of power, as pointed out by Lara, Freddie, Roger, and Elias. When it comes to key issues, such as their promotions or development measures, it is mostly placed in the hands of upper level management. Deans and chairpersons, who interact mostly with part-timers and who are aware of their abilities and needs, lack the authority to take needed measures. Part-timers are finding it difficult to build direct bridges with upper management where the center of authority lies. "I might be very good at my job, but I need to have affiliations with the president, like in any other job, it is normal ... I don't have the patience to do that and I don't have to prove to anyone who truly I am" (Lara, 15070703). Here, Lara is indicating that it is not enough to be good at what you are doing, but you have t o expose yourself to people in power, a thing that she does not like to do. Similarly, Lolwa admitted that: "I interact mostly with the chairperson, but I can't make more relations because I'm tired, I don't know many other administrators anyway" (Lolwa, 23070705).

Lack of Support

Eight out of 23 part-time participants saw that the university is becoming more research-oriented, but believed that its actions should be more in line with its orientations. They thought that the university asked for research, without providing the means for that. The interviewees believed that full-time is a precondition for research, whereas the university is asking for degrees and research as conditions for tenure.

They asked me to bring a PhD, so I did. Then they told me to do research and get published and then they will make me a full-timer. As if they are telling me to go to the sea, to throw the net and if I got fish, they will buy it from me, if not then it would become my problem.(Freddie, 13060702)

The university wants part-timers to be involved in research, in fact, it is demanding that for any promotional possibilities, but want the part-timers to carry the whole burden of the process. Michel, Hadi, Anthony, and Danny believed that research is still un-established, due to the absence of its cornerstones. Ziad believed that the university should play a more active role in skilling its workforce especially so that it can make contacts with universities abroad, thus rendering the road easier for those interested in improving themselves. Michel pointed out that any research intention should be coupled with enough support on the side of the university, which should be mainly revealed through a smaller teaching load which is four courses per semester at the AOU.

The university is still a young one where laboratories, facilities, research assistants, access to journals, conferences, and sabbaticals are still limited. Denise and Hadi feared that they might not be able to do much different in terms of research, even if they became full-timers, since the number of full-timers in faculties is small and group work is needed to make any noticeable progress. Moreover, while funding for research carried by full-timers is considered to be insufficient, it is totally absent when it comes to part-timers. "How can we develop our departments if we do not have a budget to improve ourselves?" (Denise, 14060710). Almost all participants thought that the role of the university in supporting their professio nal growth could never be overvalued, especially that their development should be continuous instead of a one shot event. Thus, development entails their internal motivation coupled with external support.

I was very happy to attend this seminar in England, but I can't do this every time. I did it once and finish. I'm still single and my parents are helping me out with my living expenses, but I'm not ready to do it again. (Denise, 14060703)

The liking the participants felt towards the university was tarnished by the fact that it resembled the society that they were not so fond of and by the centralized power systems as well as by the insufficient support for their professional development endeavours. It is worth noting that participants belonging to different cases shared these views and were impacted by the contexts in which they lived and worked regardless of their situation. After all, participants are simultaneously members of different cases and thus one could be both a female and a Masters' holder, or female and a PhD holder, so sharp segregation among different groupings is unattainable and unreasonable (Leathwood, 2005; Stake, 2005).

Presentation and Analysis of Data by Discourse Analysis

The University is further explored through a discourse analysis lens. Some implicit views and attitudes could not have been extracted without the use of discourse analysis, given the unbalanced power relations between the participants and their employer on one hand and the high context culture on the other.

Masked Disdain

Participants tried to hide their true opinions, but upon digging deeper at their interview transcripts, a more profound story was told. When asked about her work load, Maria said that it is fine, but soon contradicted herself. She then explained that research is time-consuming, demanding much more time that she is afforded with her prevailing work load. Hadi, too, when asked about whether the university was supportive of research, tried to talk in a positive way about its practices. "I think there is a trend towards doing research in this particular area, so instead of doing research in different fields, the efforts would be more concentrated on one thing, and then the research process might go faster" (Hadi, 16050705). However, this is not his true opinion, since in a previous comment he pointed out that research would be particularly helpful if done in the field of interest of its pursuer.

The interviewees implicitly revealed a lot of fury towards University practices. This was mainly mirrored in the number of times the issue was raised by the participants without being directly asked about it. This was the case of Elias, Nabil, Denise, and Freddie. The latter, for example, objected to the university's practices five times, as when he pointed out to the dishonouring of its promises, its recruitment problems, its dishonest treatment, uncaring nature, and lack of motivators. Thus, the fact that the University was the first to come to their minds implied that it is a high priority issue for them. Participants avoided talking negatively about the University, its agendas or policies; instead they put the comparison object in a better light, as if they are implying that this university is worse off without saying it.

I don't like to become full-timer here, because at the school (her other work site) I'm more in control of the space, if I want to talk to the administrator I can instantly, if I want to order anything it will come right away, I have the office boys who are very helpful, it has to do with space and space. (Lara, 12060704)

Repetition of the term 'space' by Lara has deeper inferences, since space is a substitute for unbounded horizons, where lawless instincts wander freely (Gove, 1993). This space (freedom) is not present at the AOU; at least, it is not available for this part-timer. Michel, too, when making a point that any academic would aspire to become a full-timer, gave the impression that the status of a full-timer is the attractive part of the equation and not belonging to AOU in particular. "Of course everybody wants to be a full-timer in aaa university, not running around, one hour they teach here and another they teach over there this is labour" (Michel, 02050705). There is a feeling of annoyance about the University's administration, since i t is enforcing its argument without taking into consideration part-timers' longer-term perspectives.

There is an opening now, but this is not my major, in fact this major is not present among any of the parttimers in our department, so they are asking for something which is not present in their part-timers, so they are aiming at something else, I have been told that they have somebody coming from abroad and they started with their bla, bla, bla. (Denise, 14060706)

Politics and Power Relations

The university had more power at its disposal in the workplace. Monia explained that there is more supply than demand for academics and thus any part-timer could be easily replaced. "Take from the country situation, they have, they have a lot of applications, if you won't accept another will, cause there are a lot of people who hold similar degrees" (Monia, 09050703). Making a choice such as how much to work and when and where is a luxury that these part-timers are not supposed to afford. They are at the mercy of their employer's will. "Part-time is a choice for me, but I will not publish it cause they will run away from me" (Farah, 10060701). The subordinate status of part-timers with respect to the university was further disclosed in the participants' inability to enforce their arguments and projects, no matter how much they believed in their necessity. Michel, when explaining the reasons behind the university's refusal for his proposal, tried to hide his anger and dismay, by putting the blame on some other entities, talking in the plural, and using mockery.

The university here and the municipalities, although they know the immediate and urgent problem in our community, you see them talking about more rosy projects, I don't say that I don't like or don't appreciate but what is the more urgent issue!

-You feel it is the responsibility of the university to do something like this! When they talk about helping the community maybe... -Did you propose it? I did once and I don't know what happened to it, they are expecting some funds from certain sources, they went to some other rosy projects rosy I'm not saying that my project is not needed or it is not good, but not rosy, I'm not saying they dropped mine but as I told you they want to avoid the bad smell. (Michel, 02050704)

This use of anonymity, plurality and ambiguity seemed to be intentional, since in other circumstances when participants aimed to speak positively about something or somebody, they made sure to call things by their names. Nour, for instance, when talking positively about her dean, mentioned his name. Equally, Dina specified the party that has been good with her. She made it a point to show that her teachers are the good ones and not her employer, since she used to be a student and instructor at the AOU. "This is the push that they give, mostly I'm talking about the teachers" (Dina, 07060704).

Political tensions inside the organization seemed to affect part-timers and their work lives in indirect but strong ways. Richard pointed out that the internal politics are a hidden but decisive factor in running the university. "As I understand, there is tug of war inside the administration, these things should not be talked about, but our dean is mainly doing this so that we can have more say and autonomy" (Richard, 04050704). Denise, equally, believed that the social and professional contacts of people in power are a decisive tool in her future, which greatly annoyed her.

Our dean is a graduate of this university in Italy, he has strong contacts with it, and these guys are dedicated to this project, that is why he is introducing this new program to our department and actually all our courses and activities centre around it, so I'm obliged to direct any developmental course of action towards their compass. (Denise, 14060709)

Thematic analysis has thus shown the participants' dissatisfaction when it comes to some university practices, such as the centralization of power issue and the unsupportive developmental role it is playing. However, discontent with the university's practices, implicit power relations, and the inferior position of the participants were detected only upon using a DA magnifying lens. These conditions, however, proved to have a more negative effect on the professional development attempts of the part-timers than they liked to admit. In appendix B, the pink colored part of Michel's interview transcript showed, under thematic analysis, Michel's understanding for the University's practices, whereas the 1a note under discourse analysis showed his non-approval of the University's practices. Thus, both levels of analysis joined forces in giving a complementary and comprehensive picture of explicit and less explicit forces impacting part-timers in their professional development endeavours.


There is plenty of literature about the drawbacks of part-time work. However, this paper has specifically touched upon one issue which is the impact of contexts on the key but lacking professional development practices of part-timers. This study has given an up-close picture of the multifaceted role that these contexts play in the professional development endeavours of the part-timers under study. Both thematic and discourse analysis have been used to empirically show how specific country conditions and university level circumstances conspire against any developmental seeds of growth for the part-timers under study.

It seems that common difficulties encountered by part-timers are intensified by the existence of the unfriendly contexts prevailing at the AOU and in Lebanon. Nevertheless, the AOU is typical of other universities in the region in many aspects (Abouchedid & Nasser, 2002), thus mirroring what is happening there could be used to give an idea about the difficulties encountered by other part-timers at other universities in the region.


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Biographic Data of Female Part-time Participants

               Age       Educational    Years of
                          Standing      Seniority

Sara *       Mid 20s       Masters       3 years

Lara         Mid 40s       Masters      11 years

Nour        Early 40s      Masters       3 years

Dina        Late 20s       Masters       7 years

Monia       Early 30s        PhD         2 years

Lolwa       Late 40s         PhD         7 years

Denise      Early 30s        PhD         2 years

Farah *     Early 40s        PhD         3 years

Magda       Late 30s         PhD         5 years

                              Institutional Status

Sara *                  Part-timer at 1 university only

Lara          Part-timer at 1 university & fill-timer at a school

Nour                       Part-timer at 1 university

Dina         Part-timer at the university & full-timer at 1 school

Monia                Part-timer at 3 different universities

Lolwa               Part-timer at 2 universities & 1 school

Denise               Part-timer at 3 different universities

Farah *                   Part-timer at 2 universities

Magda                     Part-timer at 2 universities

                           Personal vs. Forced Choice

Sara *     Currently pursuing her PhD, in the hope of becoming a full
                    timer, since she enjoys teaching a lot.

Lara      Lara greatly enjoys her work at the school, so she does not
                         really mind being a part-timer

Nour      Nour accepts her part-time status, since she did not receive
                                  her PhD yet

Dina      Dina feels luckier than her part-time colleagues, since she
                         has a secure job at the school

Monia        Monia greatly values seniority, i.e why she is looking
                           forward to become tenure.

Lolwa       Lolwa is looking for more stability in her career, thus
                            hoping to become tenure.

Denise           Denise is eagerly looking for a full-time job.

Farah *      Part-time is a choice for Farah, since she has family

Magda       Magda is stressed out from the part-time work conditions

Biographic Data of Male Part-time Participants

               Age       Educational    Years of
                          Standing      Seniority

George       Mid 40s         PhD         3 years

Michel      Early 70s        PhD         4 years

Hadi        Late 20s         PhD        1.5 years

Freddie     Late 20s         PhD        2.5 years

Anthony     Late 20s         PhD         3 years

Fadi        Early 60s        PhD        19 years

Danny        Mid 30s         PhD         1 year

Elias        Mid 30s       Masters      10 years

Samir       Early 30s      Masters       4 years

Ziad        Late 30s       Masters       5 years

Roger        Mid 30s       Masters       7 years

Serge       Early 30s      Masters       3 years

Nabil       Early 40s      Masters       1 year

Jack *      Early 50s      Masters       2 years

                              Institutional Status

George               Part-timer at 3 different universities

Michel                  Part-timer at 1 university only

Hadi               Part-timer at 3 universities and 1 school

Freddie                   Part-timer at 4 universities

Anthony                    Part-timer at 1 university

Fadi        Part-timer at the university and full-timer at a public

Danny                Part-timer at 3 different universities

Elias           Part-timer at 2 universities & has his own work

Samir                   Part-timer at 1 university only

Ziad         Part-timer at the university and has his own business

Roger       Part-timer at the university and full-timer at a public

Serge     Part-timer at 1 university & 1 college & has his own office

Nabil        Part-timer at 1 university & part-timer at another job

Jack *                    Part-timer at 3 universities

                           Personal vs. Forced Choice

George                 Prefers to work on full-time basis

Michel            Forced into part-time because of elderly age

Hadi       Prefers to become a full-timer one day. Hadi believes that
          hard work could be tolerated as long as one is still young &
                               fresh on the job.

Freddie    Part-time is not his preferred option, but he is unsure of
          whether he will continue in the academic domain or take over
                              his family business.

Anthony         Anthony is dissatisfied, because he feels he is
              unappreciated, thus he decided to leave the country.

Fadi                    Part-time is a choice for Fadi.

Danny      Danny believes that full-time is a priority for any junior
                               standing academic.

Elias       Forced into part-time because PhD is demanded for tenure

Samir       Currently working on his PhD for the hope of becoming a

Ziad       Ziad appreciates the diversity of experiences brought from
                         working in different contexts.

Roger       Roger prefers practicing his own profession rather than
                                  teaching it

Serge          Part-timer is not bothering Serge, since he enjoys
                      practicing his own profession a lot.

Nabil         Nabil believes it is impossible for him to become a
          full-timer at a Lebanese university without a PhD, i.e. why
                        he is considering pursuing one.

Jack *           Newcomer to the academy . Part-time is forced.

Biographic Data of Full-time (ex-part-time) Participants

             Sex        Age      Educational    Institutional
                                  Standing          Status

Maria       Female   Early 40s       PhD        Served 4 years
                                                as part-timer.
                                               Now, full-timer
                                               for the 3rd year

Sasha       Female    Mid 30s        PhD        Served 3 years
                                                as part-time.
                                               Now, full-timer
                                               for the 4th year

Richard *    Male    Early 30s     Masters      Served 2 years
                                                as part-timer.
                                               Now, full-timer
                                                 for 2nd year

                 Perceived Reason for

Maria        Maria believes that hard work
              and commitment are the main
                  reasons behind her

Sasha        Sasha believes that a vacancy
              and hard work are the main
                  reasons behind her

Richard *   Richard believes that the need
                 for his major was the
             preliminary reason behind his

Hala Khayr Yaacoub, University of Balamand
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Author:Yaacoub, Hala Khayr
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Date:Jul 1, 2010
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