Questions and Rationale: Many countries rely on sessional teachers to teach in their universities. These teachers are also known as casuals, adjuncts, part-time, contingent, non-tenure track, teaching or graduate assistants, and visiting scholars. In Australia, the majority of teaching is undertaken by sessional teachers. This reliance on sessional teachers has become institutionalised and is therefore predicted to be a constant feature of the tertiary education workforce. While we know that sessional teachers are a diverse cohort, our data on sessional teachers are limited which makes a systematic approach to engaging and supporting these staff challenging. A quality student learning experience is dependent upon these teachers, yet we need to consider how quality can be both assured and enhanced if resourcing, organisational engagement and management and professional learning opportunities for sessional teachers are not systematised. This complex issue aligns with the conference sub-theme of Engagement: leading inside and outside the academy. Research Outcomes: Australia is leading good practice in the scholarship of teaching and learning with sessional teachers. The speakers on this symposium are leaders in the academy . Each is leading and presenting on scholarly research and practice with sessional staff, at multiple levels of the higher education sector, and thereby multiple perspectives are offered. The role of leading quality learning and teaching with sessional teachers nationally is presented through the example of the BLASST (Benchmarking Leadership and Advancement of Standards for Sessional Teaching) national standards. Holistic institutional approaches and programs, which have been nationally recognised as award winning, are then introduced. A disciplinary perspective for Law is provided through the national ‘Smart Casual2’ project. The individual sessional staff perspective is offered through the voice of female casual teachers explored through verbatim drama. Throughout the symposium, a global perspective is provided by an international discussant. Methods & Models for Reflective Critique and Audience Engagement: The audience is invited to engage with this symposium through reflective discussion and critique of the symposium presentations. Specifically, this symposium will engage the audience with an invitation to consult and challenge the symposia panel with questions about the issues they are encountering with quality learning and teaching with sessional teachers in their own international context. The activities will be modelled on an adaptation of the Finnish tradition of ‘brief solution therapy’ where the audience hear from a panel (in this case higher education researchers and educators) before presenting the issues they are facing. Each person seated round a circle then offers how they see the issue and what, on the basis of their own experience, they wouldthink of doing. The aim is for the audience to evaluate what strategies offer the best fit for their own international institutions.
12th International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) Annual Conference, Melbourne, Australia 27-30 October 2015
Proceedings of the 12th International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Annual Conference / pp.198