I continue to share brief lessons from the modules in Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching, a free massive open online course (MOOC) designed for new teachers, those who wish to enhance student learning or teaching practice and emerging leaders in higher education. The MOOC is currently open for enrolment. Sign up at https://canvas.instructure.com/register and use the following join code: 64BHPE.
Sessional staff is Module 7. It is part of the ‘New to teaching’ pathway through the course.
Developed by Marina Harvey (Macquarie University) this module is designed to support the professional development of sessional teaching staff in higher education. Sessional staff are any teachers in higher education employed on a casual, short-term contract, adjunct, contingent, zero-hours contract or sessional basis.
Sessional or casual staff provide the majority of teaching across universities and private higher education providers.
(In Australia, data on casual staff is reported as full-time equivalent of all university staff so exact numbers are difficult to ascertain).
The module offers straightforward advice: make sure you understand the conditions of your employment. The exercises and checklists guide you through identifying your immediate network of professional support, reading the industrial award or enterprise agreement under which you have been employed and identifying your responsibilities to students and to your supervisor.
Whether or not you are a sessional staff member, consider your responses to the following prompts:
- I actively engage in formal and/or informal professional development in learning and
- I receive on-going formal and informal feedback from the Unit Convenor, peers and
- I critically reflect (with myself and/or with others) on students’ learning, my teaching and my professional development as a teacher.
- I am aware of opportunities in my institution/department to gain recognition and reward for my contribution to quality teaching and learning.
If you are a sessional staff member, investigate options that enable you to respond positively to these prompts. If you are teaching with sessional staff, share resources (including Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching) and advocate to support their professional development as teachers.
Need help developing your knowledge, skills and capabilities to follow this advice?
Enrol in Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching! The MOOC is free, self-paced and open to all. You can choose to complete just one module, a whole pathway (eg New to Teaching which is 8 modules) or more. Each module takes approximately 2 hours.
Find professional development and resources for sessional staff at MQ
- Explore the PLaCE Persona Tool to find PD and resources for different learning and teaching roles at MQ informed by Macquarie’s Professional Learning & Capability Enhancement (PLaCE) Framework. In particular, look at the Sessional Staff PD and resources.
- Make teaching development part of your game plan – an overview of all professional development offered centrally.
- Hands up if you’ve got new tutors or sessional staff teaching in your unit this session – for Unit Convenors looking to support their teaching teams.
- 15 ways to evidence your teaching achievements at University.
- 2022 VC L&T Sessional Staff award winner – Joshua Fitzgerald – celebrating the most recent Sessional staff award winner!
Previous posts in this MOOC series:
- Teaching your first class
- Planning for learning
- Teaching today’s diverse learners
- Technology enhanced learning (TEL) and online learning
- Feedback for learning
- Learning Theories
Banner image: : Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash