Dr Josephine Paparo (School of Psychological Sciences, FMHHS) convenes PSYU2235/PSYX2235 Developmental Psychology, a large undergraduate unit delivered online and on campus at MQ and also via OUA (Open Universities Australia). As Unit Convenor, she has responsibility for a large* team of tutors and markers to help manage the teaching.

For context, LARGE means:
* 1400 students
* 15 tutors
* 30 markers

In this post, Jo shares the lessons learned and hot tips on how to manage a large teaching team.

But first, here’s Jo’s story.

Before 2021, I was skipping along happily as a convenor of small units…

Jo Paparo

Find out what happened next in this 1-minute video.

Lesson 1 – Start recruiting early… but not too early

  • Make sure to recruit your teaching team early to allow sufficient time for the administrative tasks required before your unit kicks off.


  • You can recruit too early. Bear in mind that tutor and marker availability may change closer to the start of session.

HOT TIP: If new to the unit, see if you can acquire a list of tutors who have tutored on the unit previously and canvass them first. There’s no need for you AND your teaching team to be learning the unit for the first time!

Lesson 2 – Take the time to vet your teaching staff

  • Though it might be time consuming, it pays to vet your teaching staff for suitability for teaching on the unit.
  • Approach Course, Unit and Program Directors, asking them to kindly disseminate your advertisement on iLearn or via email to suitable candidates.
  • As a minimum, review CVs. But if you can, conduct interviews.

HOT TIP: Your Faculty may have procedures where they provide a pool of sessional teaching staff for unit convenors to approach – do not assume all in the pool have been vetted!

Lesson 3 – Appoint a Senior Tutor

Should the Department or School allow for it, appoint a Senior Tutor to provide administrative support, including:

  • Assigning other tutors to classes
  • Coordinating links for online tutorials
  • Allocating and coordinating marking
  • Managing special considerations and penalties
  • Assisting with double marking
  • Assisting with the iLearn discussion forums

HOT TIP: The ideal candidate is someone who has been a senior tutor on the unit before. Otherwise, select someone with experience as a senior tutor for another unit OR longer-term tutoring experience on your unit. There are pros and cons for both.

Lesson 4 – Have a strategic approach to opening tutorial classes

  • Open tutorials across a wide range of times so as to best meet the needs of different students, in line with the Students First approach, as per the MQ Operating Plan 2020-2024.
  • Students will enrol across all tutorial times available. Note that this does NOT mean that you will be able to staff tutorials at those times.
  • Use doodle polls or similar tools to canvass tutor availability.

HOT TIP: When sending out your poll, don’t ask tutors “Which classes can you take?”, ask “Which classes would you NOT be able to take?” You can then ask them individually what their preferred classes would be.

Lesson 5 – Don’t make promises

  • Recruit more tutors and markers than you may need… but don’t make any promises – class sizes and times will change.
  • This extends to your allocation of tutors to certain classes and allocation of markers to certain topics.
  • You won’t know final unit numbers and class registrations until well after assembling your teaching team. Let your team know this.
  • Your unit’s marking needs may also remain unclear until (or even long after!) the assignment is due.

HOT TIP: When making your tutorial allocations, if possible, assign a “relief” tutor to each class so that if someone needs to take a leave of absence, there is someone in place to cover that class.

Lesson 6 – Communication, Communication, Communication

  • As with managing any team, effective two-way engagement and communication is key.
  • Create a SharePoint site for your unit.
  • Use an email distribution list for tutors and for markers.
  • Schedule email reminders ahead of time.
  • Consider using live spreadsheets for markers.
  • Have regular team meetings to discuss teaching delivery and any issues arising during the course of the unit, as well as marking protocols.
  • Online meetings are ideal for maximising attendance, and enables you to record meetings for those who can’t attend.
  • The personal touch matters!!! Provide and share positive feedback, enable genuine opportunities for collaboration and co-design, offer lots of encouragement, do regular email check ins, etc (engenders goodwill and loyalty that pays dividends latter!!!)

(1) Create a WhatsApp group for your unit
(2) When a tutor or marker asks you a question, just like we do for individual student queries, post a response to the full group via the email distribution list. This also assists with the standardisation of unit delivery and marking.

Lesson 7 – Provide LOTS of resources

Ensure your teaching team is well resourced to do their job effectively. This includes:

  • Developing logical standalone guides and materials for the delivery of each tutorial.
  • Providing well-thought out marking rubrics and instructions for the marking process.
  • Offering exemplar marking samples (at all grade levels).
  • Provide examples of the feedback to provide to students.
  • Share Turnitin Feedback Studio Quickmarks for your unit with your teaching team.

HOT TIP: Have an experienced tutor deliver the first class of the cycle and record this. Making these recordings available to other tutors not only supports standardised content delivery, but assists with the training of novices.

Lesson 8 – Invest in processes that will encourage standardisation across the teaching team

  • Provide tutor and marking training/mentoring as standard.
  • Think through moderation of marking carefully, and in line with assessment policy.
  • Conduct double marking for calibration purposes for both those markers new to the unit, and those who have tutored on the unit before, early in the marking process:
    – Double marking for assignments graded “below expected standards” and/or on the border
    – Review assignments graded as “high distinction”.
  • Review marker distributions systematically.
  • Initiate dialogue and communicate the same information across the teaching team.

HOT TIP: You will likely have some very experienced tutors in your teaching team – invite them to contribute to the training of novice sessional staff!

Lesson 9 – There’s strength in numbers… BUT avoid too many cooks

Take advantage of the strong teaching team numbers and delegate. For example:

  • Ask tutors to assist with responding to questions on the iLearn discussion forum, contribute to cohort feedback documents, suggest future assignment topics, suggest exam questions.
  • Reallocate marking swiftly.

Delegation is good… but remember Lesson #7 and think carefully through the implications for standardisation. Make judicious decisions and monitor.

HOT TIP: If asking tutors to contribute to the iLearn discussion forum, think about setting up a roster that provides a full weeks coverage.

Lesson 10 – Not all are created equal

  • Just like any team, members of your teaching team will have different areas of strength.
  • Many will be students themselves, so keep your expectations – and their workloads – in check.
  • Monitor and intervene accordingly.
  • Consider performance management when needed.

HOIT TIP: Keep good notes! You will forget year to year with such a big team who have been proven assets and who requires further development, and in what areas.

Must Do’s as a leader of a large teaching team:

  • Be prepared
  • Be organised
  • Be resourceful
  • Be engaged
  • Be communicative
  • Be approachable
  • Be collaborative
  • Be realistic
  • Be humble

Academics who lead large teaching teams of often inexperienced sessional staff have a dual role in professional development. They are both provider and participant.

Davis, C. (1998). Professional development for leaders of a large teaching team: A dual role. The International Journal for Academic Development, 3, 12-17, https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144980030103

Jo presented her 10 lessons for managing a large teaching team to a meeting of the Teaching & Leadership Community of Practice. View the full presentation in the video.

Dr Josephine Paparo is a Senior lecturer in the School of Psychological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences. She is also a Clinical Psychologist and Course Director of the Master of Professional Psychology program. Josephine teaches Developmental Psychology and is involved in a number of external research collaborations, with the aim of improving psychology education and training.

Banner image: Created by pathdoc on Shutterstock
Lesson 1- Open.spotify.com
Lesson 2- plum.io/blog/why-structured-is-better-when-it-comes-to-interviews
Lesson 3- Dribble.com
Lesson 4- Segalbenz.com_SB-blog-5-research-stats
Lesson 5- Cliparts.co/Pinterest
Lesson 6- Gifer.com
Lesson 7- Dribble.com
Lesson 8- Deviant art.com
Lesson 9- Polgovpro.blog
Lesson 10- giftumblranime / Pinterest

Post collated by Kylie Coaldrake

Posted by Teche Editor

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