“The amount of labor we do for free” and other contradictions: a collective inquiry into the pedagogical choices of CUNY adjunct and graduate student instructors who taught with free of charge materials during the year 2020
A collective of five CUNY researchers developed and conducted a survey-based study of how CUNY adjunct and graduate student faculty taught with free of charge materials during the year 2020. A total of 152 respondents filled out the survey. Four themes emerged from the analysis of their responses:
- Adjunct and graduate student faculty who taught with free of charge materials at CUNY in 2020 were motivated by economic, logistical, and pedagogical benefits. They invested considerable amounts of time in both creating and selecting material.
- Their pedagogical choices about learning materials were formed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the imposition of austerity measures in higher education, and #Black Lives Matter protests.
- Respondents faced challenges making their free of charge materials accessible to disabled students.
- Their experiences are imbricated in the power dynamics of the classrooms, departments, and the university at large.
The report ends with a series of recommendations for the administrators, librarians, teaching and learning centers, and professional development offices who have been involved in the discussion around “open” pedagogies at CUNY. We highlight the inconsistencies and contradictions that surface when centering the experience of adjuncts and graduate student instructors.